Friday, May 20, 2005

High Ground

On a previous comment I said I was just going to let my review stand for my thoughts on Star Wars Episode III, but my review does not address the problems that have been brought up. It sort of ate at me today while I was at work, surrounded by the movie, and I took yet another look at certain scenes that were discussed in the past couple of days.

As with KW's post, there are spoilers.

1. High Ground

Obi-Wan jumps onto high ground after a fight on some sort of machine with Anakin. He says, "It's over, Anakin! I've got the high ground."

This does sound silly, considering we're talking about Jedis here. I mean, what the hell is high ground to a Jedi? But there are several reasons why this line makes total sense.

Reason 1: The Jedis are evenly matched. Earlier in the battle, both fighters try to jedi mind trick each other, and their hands are stopped in midair, neither able to get an advantage.

Reason 2: Anakin isn't yet the Jedi he's supposed to become. This is a major theme in all the Star Wars films, the hurry to become something you're not. The Jedi Council doesn't think he's ready, and he continues to prove it by being a whiny bitch, quick to anger. The high ground comment is a challenge to Anakin--I'll show this bastard Obi-Wan, and his arrogance gets him into a precarious position. Anakin is not a superior Jedi at this point. He's merely supposed to be in the future.

Reason 3: Obi-Wan does not want to fight Anakin. I believe the "high ground" comment is one last ditch effort to stop Anakin from destroying himself once and for all. Obi-Wan pleads, before Anakin makes the jump, "Don't try it." He doesn't want to kill him, and still thinks reason might win the day. It doesn't.

2. Jedis And The Force

Several comments were made about how Jedis can sense things all the time but when it becomes convenient for the plot, they don't. I thought this was a good point, but then I realized something.

Realization 1: The Force has never been an exact science. All through the films, people are seeing the future, and Yoda warns in The Empire Strikes Back, "Always in motion, is the future." The Jedi prophecy about Anakin--wrong. Darth Vader sensing the truth about his kids--not until years and years later, despite those who know the truth. The Emperor in Jedi talking about how Luke will turn to the dark side--complete hogwash. These creatures or humans or whatever you want to call them--I believe Lucas made a conscious effort not to make them God. They make mistakes. If they were God-like, then the battle for good and evil would be nothing but a complete stalemate.

Realization 2: Since The Force is hardly as all-knowing as we give it credit for, surprise attacks can happen. Points were made about how Anakin and Obi-Wan easily slice their way through tons of droids, and then the other Jedi can't defend themselves against the same said droids and get killed. But the Jedi are in the middle of battles on all sorts of different planets. Their focus is on the task at hand. They are certainly not prepared to get shot in the back. These attacks happen pretty quickly after the order is given, so it's not like there's a lot of time for the Jedi to sense something wrong and do something about it. These "easy" battles discussed concerning Obi-Wan and Anakin and droids are expected battles. They know they are going to run into these guys and know what they have to do. Then Yoda senses something amiss after the fact--he senses that something has gone wrong, not necessarily that something will. But he puts the pieces together in time to not be a victim.

3. Non-emotional light saber duels.

The point was made that the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight at the end is emotionless, and it's just quick saber hits back and forth, and no one ever seems to have the advantage. Also mentioned is the "lame" Yoda/Sidious duel.

At first glance, the final battle seems emotionless, but it's not. Obi-Wan pleads with Anakin at the beginning, middle, and end of this fight. This is his pupil, and he's gone horribly wrong. Obi-Wan cries, "I've failed you, Anakin," and makes a comment that Palpatine is evil. Anakin replies, "From my point of view, it's the Jedi who are evil." I mean, after all, aren't they holding him back, from his point of view? Obi-Wan also makes a heart-wrenching speech once Anakin starts getting cooked by the lava--"You were the chosen one! You were my brother! I loved you!" and Anakin says, "I hate you!" Geez...those are some damn emotional words being spoken during and after the duel.

As far as the battle is concerned compared to others--it's true there's never a time where it seems like someone has an advantage, that the battle seems lost for either one or the other. This goes back to my original observation about the hands being stuck in the air as they try to do some Jedi wizardry. The point is, neither have a real advantage, or ever would, unless there are other factors at work.

The Yoda/Sidious duel takes a lot longer than you think. It opens in one room, and Yoda gets blasted into the wall. He gets up, blasts the Emperor into the wall. Then they go at it with light saber intensity, Yoda leaping, somersalting, all over his enemy as they enter the Senate hall on one of those floating balcony things. They get separated, and the Emperor starts sending a bunch of those floating balconies towards Yoda, who stops one in midair and sends it back, which the Emperor dodges. Then there's the lightning attack, which Yoda tries to stop. He's actually collecting it in his hands, but then it's too much, he loses his saber, he falls, and has no chance of getting back into the battle. Personally, I don't know how else Yoda is supposed to get shamed in this fight, or what would be more befitting of his stature. No matter what happens, we're going to be disappointed that he loses, and it all ties into that misconception that we think the Jedi are gods. We keep thinking, "Surely he could have done something," but where does that lead us?

As far as other complaints go, my comments:

General Grievous and Count Dooku. Grievous was potentially a cool character, but like Jonathan said, this is really where Count Dooku should have been, and--well, crap---I wonder if Christopher Lee will ever do a large-scale film or trilogy again. His part was cut from the theatrical release of The Return of the King, and when it returned on DVD, he died in a most gruesome, undignified manner. The same goes here.

Bad Acting. Well, a staple really of all Star Wars films, but I didn't think the acting was that damn terrible. This is a completely different world with a different set of rules.

The Good Person comment in describing Anakin. Padme does not say that Anakin is a good person, just that she believes there is still good in him--that's a damn key statement for what will happen in the next few chapters. I have already discussed my disgust (hehe) with the dialogue between Padme and Anakin. One line is important though, even though you have to sit through some groaners to get there: I think love has blinded you. That's a key line, because Anakin lives with the shame that he couldn't save his mother and now he's living in fear that he won't be able to protect his wife--his turn to the dark side to save her in reality killed her (she had no will to live) and it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I like that.

Totally agree about Yoda's speech. Yoda's best lines are straightforward. " why you fail," and "No, there is another," and "You will be," when Luke says he's not afraid. Can you imagine The Empire Strikes Back with Yoda saying those lines in the backwards way? The emotional resonance is lost. "Why you fail that is," or "Another, there is," or "Be, you will." I think this is a major flaw in dramatic weight that nearly all of his dialogue in the prequels was set up this way.

Anakin should have been the one to kill more Jedi. But, since the Jedi are spread around all over the galaxy, I think that would have been hard.

Soldiers don't have a second thought about killing Jedi. I wonder, why they should? They are made out to be puppets in the first place. Palpatine has been given all sorts of power, and once he says the Jedi are enemies of the Republic, the soldiers must carry out their orders like the brainless puppets they are. Why would Palpatine lie? Everyone with simple minds thinks he's friggin' great.

I agree about the logic gaffes. This is something that ever since The Phantom Menace has been a problem. Even during this very series, when we have child Jake Lloyd, who is much younger than Natalie Portman (their characters share the same age difference), turn into older Hayden Christensen.

The Death Star taking so long to build, I buy that. And remember, first off, that once you figure out how to build something, it's faster, and second, in Jedi the Death Star was not nearly complete--but the Emperor wanted to use it anyway (there's that theme again, of doing something or wanting to be something too soon, and the weakness easily exposed).

I also agree about the "Noooooo!" and the childbirth scenes. Padme's instant-naming came off very false, and it reminded me of The Phantom Menace where the one black guy is announcing, "It's R2D2 sir!" to get some sort of rousing from the fans. The "Noooo!" scene is not only forced and bad, but Lucas decides to cut away from it using his familiar wipes--it gives the scene less resonance.

Anyway, those are my feelings. I get chills during some scenes in this movie, and ultimately, that's why I still like it a whole lot, despite the minor qualms. But I thought I'd answer some of these things, because I have a different perspective on these complaints.


At 5/20/2005 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Just a Couple of Add-ons to your points.

This scene also makes sense from a tactical advantage. Granted we don't have sword fights much anymore, but bear with me. If someone is at a higher place than you, and you try to jump to them; obviously you're at a disadvantage because they have a couple of seconds to hit you before you come down, and you really can't do anything except hope they miss. I didn't think the line didn't make sense; I just thought it was a stupid line.

They obviously can't make them Gods because that would be kind of boring if they knew everything that was going to happen; it would be like watching Queen Latifah's character in "Scary Movie 3." I do think most of it is done for convience sakes; this has been a pretty moot point in many movies dealing with psychics, ridiculously smart people, etc. Sometimes you have to overlook things for the sake of plot, and for the most part Lucas does his best to make it make sense.

At 5/20/2005 11:14:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

The line about the high ground does seem pretty stupid until you realize that Obi-Wan doesn't want to kill Anakin--now that I've watched this several times, he is trying to end it right there--it's sort of a nervous announcement.

At 12/16/2005 09:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Padme's instant-naming came off very false

Why? Do you have children? You have nine months to pick a name and believe me, you think about it a lot. She was keeping her pregnancy secret so she probably hadn't seen any physicians and likely didn't know if it was a boy or girl. She probably had a name picked out already for both sexes. Little did she know she would get to use both.

When my wife and I had our first child, we didn't want to know in advance and so had one boy and one girl name picked out.

At 11/18/2009 12:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize that Saruman being stabbed in the back by the humiliated Grima (except back in the Shire, rather than on top of the tower) is an "idea" taken from the books?
Go complain to him.

As for the "high ground", is it even certain he wasn't referring to "superior condition" or skill, rather than standing half a meter higher?

If yes, it DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Jedi can jump like dozens of meters high. He could've jumped to the side... or higher... was he killed when lying on the floor earlier on, effortlessly defending himself from the strike?

If taken literally, it is, yes, utter nonsense.

As for Yoda, he was about to scare the shit out of Sidious just before they BOTH were kicked away and Sidious JUST HAPPENED to manage to climb back up.

How is that a reason for Yoda to give up and run away?

At 11/14/2010 03:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh, i have to correct you on few things but i like your opinions.
1. High Ground
Reason 1.
Firstly, they are not trying to use the Jedi Mind Trick, as it works on weak minded. They are trying to use Force Push.
I think that all the years they've trained, fought together has brought them same kind of thinking in battle that is why the other doesnt get the upper hand.
also i am going to note that Obi-Wan and Anakin use different types of Saber fighting forms, Anakin being Physically and with the Force stronger but lacking with Experience uses Djem So
Obi-Wan having more experience and also different point of view to matters uses Soresu.
These styles work differently on each other depending on the user.

2. Jedis and Force
The Force does give Jedis a pre-cognitive abilities but also it allows them to have quicker reflexes due to the Jedis training and in general the Force gives its user abilites that others can only drem of (telekinesis, enhanced physical strength, ability to sense others presence etc)
but what i thought differently was that i think that Palpatine was only trying to push luke to the corner "theres no way out, you cannot win, submit to the darkside" just like Vader did to Luke and so on. its seen on the other movies, when battling the other one, usually Sith, tries to lower his/her opponents fighting spirit and convert to the Darkside.
also i am going to note the fact that that was Emperors style, he made Darth Vader think he was alone, made him kill his former friends and children so that no one would trust him and made him believe that he had killed his wife so that he wouldnt have anyone other than the Emperor.

like i said i like your ideas than these are mine, some of them are based on materials i have read from books and so on and other are just the feeling i have..


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