Friday, May 20, 2005

SW: ROTS. Further KW thoughts and responses

Okay, honestly...we could go back and forth for days and days about some of these points, when the truth is that we're probably none of us likely to change our opinions. But I'm really glad you posted to further explain your position. It helps me. I am less mad about some things after taking them in from your perspective. Don't be dismayed by how much I still disagree with you on the High Ground issue (listed first)...later on in my comments I start agreeing with you a lot. I promise. Here's my thoughts on your thoughts on my thoughts (Oh yeah....SPOILERS):

-1. High Ground: As far as the Anakin/Obi Wan duel....I thought Anakin was set up clearly as a better fighter. First, in the Dooku duel, Obi gets sidelined early and only Anakin keeps fighting. He also defeats Dooku (too easily for me). Last film, AOTC, Dooku fought Yoda and pretty much it was a stalemate. Yoda...barely loses in Sith to the Emperor. Granted...winning a single fight doesn't exactly mean that guy's a better fighter overall. But in general...these fights teach us that the Emperor is the strongest in a Duel, followed by Anakin, followed by Yoda and Dooku. (Mace had the Emperor beaten...but was it because he was better or because the Emperor's plan called for Mace to beat him?). Don't know where Obi Wan is in that list. But that's two fights with Dooku where Obi has been knocked out of it. And throw in the Maul duel from TPM and he's shown...on screen in the lose a lot in the saber duels. I don't know.

And maybe I'm wrong. Or reading too much into things. But I was convinced that the prequels were telling us Anakin was a much stronger fighter than Obi Wan. I can't remember specific lines to back that up, though. I just remember things said here and there about Anakin's abilities. But even if you're right...and they're totally equal...that doesn't mean the fight has to be completely without one or both of them having the edge. In fact, in real life...take boxing. Take Ali and Frasier. How many times did they fight? The bouts went back and forth. Same with Vader and Luke in ROTJ. Same with great playoff series in baseball. The fact that two people are equal doesn't mean neither one can have advantages at times. Doesn't mean neither one can strike a blow here and there.

Now....let me back off a bit and say that you're right about the fact that the point is that Anakin gets cocky there at the end...and that's why he is defeated. I just happen to think that the high ground line is retarded. And I believe the film presents that line as a legitimate reason why Anakin shouldn't attack at that moment. And I think that's preposterous. Again, if high ground mattered then Yoda would lose every freaking duel in 30 seconds. If high ground mattered....Yoda whould have beaten Dooku in AOTC when he jumps up on top of the spaceship there for a second. MOST IMPORTANTLY: if high ground is supposed to matter in Jedi battles....Lucas should have shown us that and had some wise old Jedi say a line or two about it. But what Lucas actually showed us was five and a half movies of Jedi jumping several times their own height. While I do see the general merit of having the high ground in a sword fight....Star Wars has done plenty to show us that Jedi have enough phyical abilities to overcome typical sword fight shortcomings.

It's like if Agent Smith had said to Neo at the end of Matrix Revolutions, "Neo...don't try to defeat me...I have the high ground. Even though you can fly...I have a few inches on you so you're dead." It wouldn't work because we'd been shown that normal gravity laws didn't apply to Neo at that point. Same with the Jedi.

I would have preferred for the duel to have more back and forth. Maybe even having them both get scarred or burned or injured. Each having an edge at times, but being overall equal. Then maybe Anakin loses a hand near the end. Obi Wan could then have said, "Give up, Anakin! I've got you defeated." And Anakin's cockiness could be thinking he can beat Obi with only one good hand.

-2. Jedis And The Force. I will concede this point to you. I think you're right that the battles they were fighting could have distracted them enough not to sense the attack. I just wish there'd been more explanation on that or something. It's frustrating to know they can sense things sometimes but not other times and have to guess at why there's a difference. But I'll take your explanation on that. I still think the one Jedi that gets taken out by seven droids goes out like a chump...ambush or no, a Jedi should be able to handle seven droids...especially a Jedi Master.

And the three Jedi who go with Mace to arrest Palpatine still go out like wussies in my book. They freaking just stand there while they are stabbed. That was weak. And some of them are Masters...on the council. There's a lot of inconsistencies with the Jedi. They're like Jack Bauer's backup on 24 when the scene calls for it...dispatched and killed with ease. Red shirts and all that. But then at other times they're standing in an arena with a thousand robots firing at them and they deflect every laser beam. Which Jedi on the council are good at fighting and which ones aren't?

3. Non-emotional light saber duels. Yeah, I agree that the end of that last duel is emotional, when they're screaming at each other and Anakin says "I hate you!" That's emotional. What wasn't emotional for me was the actual battle. The actual duel. There weren't any highs and lows during the battle. The action itself is emotionless. Again, I see your point about how Lucas might have been showing us they were equals...but it still felt sterile to me.
Part of the issue for me might be that I never bought Hayden's acting in these prequels....making it tougher for me to buy their friendship. Maybe that's why the duel feels empty to me.

You can have them walk out on a pipe. You can have them smash interior sets. You can have them surf on lava for Pete's sake. But none of those things in and of themselves bring any emotional punch to the fight. You're right about the words having emotion...and the scene having emotion. But I didn't feel the actual duel had much at all.

As for the Yoda duel...again, you're right that the "scene" is longer than I let on. I meant the actual lightsaber dueling was weak and short. And I stand by that. Sure, they throw those big circle things at each other. Sure the Emperor uses his lightning. But the actual use of lightsabers in that fight was short and there wasn't anything about their jumping and twirling that was new or exciting to me.

And I agree with you that Yoda had to crawl away from that fight as the loser. I might have used poor wording, but that's not what I was complaining about by calling the duel "weak ass." I just meant that I expected to see some cooler moves with the sabers in that fight...and I didn't. The sabers are put away in favor of other force powers pretty quickly too. That's all I meant.

Bad Acting. You're right. I don't think the acting is any worse than any other SW film. I agree. Again, may not have worded my initial complaint correctly. I think I just got so fed up by this third film with the bad performances. I could link you several reviews sharing my opinion of the acting, though. It's not good. It's not God Awful And Far Worse Than Any Other Star Wars. But it's not good. And not that you mentioned his name, but I cannot listen to anyone that would dare say Samuel L. Jackson gives a great performance in this, or any, Star Wars film.

-The Good Person comment in describing Anakin. I have only seen the film once, but I felt certain that this is the line I heard Padme say. You've seen it and been around it more than me, so I won't insist I'm correct. I did, however, do some internet searching and found a bunch of people who also heard this line the way I did. It's not a huge deal, and one of the smaller things I hated about the movie, but...for what it's worth....there are bunches of reviews (including the Hollywood Reporter) that quote the line the way I heard it.

It's not a big deal to me. Just one example of consistent poor dialogue. If I'm wrong about this line, we're all still right that the movie has too much bad dialogue.

Anakin should have been the one to kill more Jedi. I agree that the reason Anakin doesn't kill more is that the Jedi are scattered and it wouldn't be possible. I just meant that I wish the story had been written to allow him to do more of the killing. It's not nearly as impacting to see nameless clones doing it.

Soldiers don't have a second thought about killing Jedi. Again you're right....mostly. I agree that they're mindless puppets. My comment wasn't so much that they should have acted against the mindless puppet nature as much as it was that by having them be so overly friendly with the Jedi right before killing them doesn't seem to match the mindless puppet soldier persona. If you're going to have them coldly following orders, don't give me a scene where they warmly converse with Obi Wan like old chums. That's all I meant. Inconsistent to me. They're either mindless puppets or their cognitive humans. They can't be both.

Death Star I'll buy your reasons here too. It's not even close to my biggest complaint. Nor is it the most egregious of continuity errors (I'm much more concerned about what causes Obi Wan to age twice as fast as everyone else). You're right that they could build it faster the second time.

Here's the bottom line for me: Lucas should have been the creator...the story guy...the father of the mythology. He should then have hired someone else to write the script and someone else to direct it. He should also have used film instead of digital photography. Then, I think the movie might have been totally freaking wicked cool. There's just too much control for him. He has the final say on anything and everything Star Wars. There's no checks and balances at all. There's no studio or producers making suggestions creatively. It's just the George show. And clearly he's enamoured with digital filmmaking and effects more than any other aspect of his movies. Good thing he's not directing Indy 4, right?


At 5/20/2005 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

There might be another line reading with Padme saying Anakin is a good person--that I did not see when I was checking certain scenes out for the 3rd or so time. The line I mention is when she's just given birth--"There's still good in him," and I think that's what she's supposed to have meant all along.

Here's another thing: I agree about the way the story is written. It would have been nice to see the Jedi instructed to kill Anakin and one-by-one they get slaughtered by him--I get this idea in my head that he's in a palace and he keeps leading Jedi into traps where he has "the high ground," so to speak.

More and more I'm beginning to see it as important to note that Obi-Wan doesn't want to kill Anakin, hence the seemingly bad higher ground line.

Also, I was considering what you meant by emotional light saber duels from your first post. Since you had quoted a line, I figured you meant that the characters weren't being or saying anything emotional. I agree there's no oomph to them--this is a tactical mistake on Lucas' part.

Here's a topic about handicapping yourself: the Jedis going out like wussies--this is prevalent, especially, as you mention, in the Windu/Emperor scene. However, Lucas never developed those characters in the first place--the biggest mistake and most damaging of the entire series I feel, is the lack of Jedi/Sith mythology and I mentioned this in my original review.

Yes, Sam Jackson is bad in this. As always, though, it's miscasting or the script. No one can carry these lines out.


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