This Film Care For I Did Not!
Let's start with the good stuff.
The beginning battle is visually impressive and ends in a spectacular way. Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Annakin (Hayden Christensen) are sent to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the Droids who have captured him. Each in a ship, they navigate through a maze of droids and other ships to find him. The visual effects in the battle are very well-done and the sequence ends with a flourish bringing back memories of the first three "Star Wars" films. A rousing way to start the film.
Act Three of the film is also very memorable. In part, Lucas is tying all of the loose strings together taking us to the beginning of "Star Wars". Obi Wan hunts Annakin down and battles with him on a volcanic planet. At the same time, we see Yoda fighting with Darth Sithius. Intercutting between these fights, we see some truly mesmerizing action. One of the most brilliant things Lucas did was to make Yoda an action star. The little green guy can really get around and fight with the best of them. During these two battles, Padme (Natalie Portman) goes into labor. We also see how her two children, Luke and Leia, became separated. For anyone who has seen "Star Wars" this is powerful stuff. "Star Wars" was the beginning of many phenomenons and to get to the beginning of that film, to understand how Luke ended up on Tatooine, how Yoda went into exile, how Darth Vader ended up disfigured and behind a mask, all of this will naturally create a powerful experience for anyone who grew up with the three films.
Are these powerful feelings created by the drama, the acting, the dialogue? No. They are created by our attachment to beloved films that were created over two decades ago.
Now the bad stuff. Well, actually, we have already begun talking about that.
As George Lucas has fallen deeper and deeper into his magical box of CGI (Computer Generated Effects) he has lost more and more touch with his human actors. One of his early successes, "American Graffiti", was about kids growing up in a small town in the 60s. No CGI effects, a pretty good film. "Star Wars" was a groundbreaking film. Featuring real actors on real locations. The film had a heart and soul. We cared about Luke and Leia and Hans Solo. Hell, we even cared about Chewbacca and we can't even understand what he is saying.
"Star Wars" featured real people in an outer space opera. The special effects were created with models and weren't the focus of the attention. As money began pouring in, and Lucas and his team developed new special effects, he wanted to use them in his films, to show them off. These gradually became more predominant. "The Empire Strikes Back" features more and more special effects and a more polished production design. "Return of The Jedi" is even more advanced. But they feature real people on real sets. We feel a connection when we watch these films.
When Lucas announced the production of the newest trilogy, episodes 1 through 3, he said that he now had the tools necessary to make the film. The `tools'! Notice that he isn't concerned with the actors. The first two episodes were abysmal. Virtually everything was created in the computer, characters, backgrounds, action sequences, special effects. The actors walked numbly through the films spouting terrible, terrible dialogue. Either it was banal and trite or it was boring and over-expository. I remember well my shock at how bad Episode 1 was, after waiting hours in line for a ticket and then hours in line for a seat. Episode 2 was, if anything, worse, because it was more boring. It had a distinct lack of action and focused on the politics of the story.
I don't know why I was expecting Episode 3 to reach the heights of the first trilogy. There is no way that it could. But I was hoping it would be better than the previous two episodes of this current cycle.
In many ways, it is better. The special effects are great. But this is almost a given in any film with Lucas' hands on it. He created a company that is considered by many to be the company for special effects in Hollywood. They have their hands on virtually every film's CGI work. There is no way the special effects could or would be anything less than perfect.
As mentioned, the action scenes at the beginning and end of the film are very good. During the middle of the film, there is a lot of cutting back and forth between various battles, action scenes and drama. It makes them hard to follow, because we don't have enough time to concentrate on the characters. Unfortunately, one of these scenes is the droid battle on the Wookie planet. Because there is so much cutting back and forth from it, we can't enjoy the setting or the characters.
During the `love scenes' between Padme and Annakin (Portman and Christensen) people were actually laughing. These scenes are supposed to be serious and convey the feelings they have for one another. Instead, they resemble high school kids writing in their binders "I Heart Annie". Someone, perhaps Lucas, was unable or unwilling to have them show any real emotion. Its a shame, because they are the heart and soul of the film. I never once believed that Annakin actually loved her. Because we can't believe in them, we don't care about them.
I think Lucas should be lauded for his work creating special effects. But he doesn't seem to care about the humans in his films. He seems like a kid in a CGI shop. He has access to all of these neat tricks and wants to use as many as possible. But because he has spent so much time and money on this aspect of the film, the human element is given short shrift. Too bad. Because the human element is what made the first three "Star Wars" films so memorable.