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Thread: Kvetching on Star Wars

  1. #1 Kvetching on Star Wars 
    Forum Freshman grazzhoppa's Avatar
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    Stars Wars is hardly a hobby for me. Not even a facination.

    I guess I just have an interest in the series.

    A few things kept me from enjoying the 3rd movie.

    Above all the trivialities of a sci-fi movie, the acting style sucked the life out of the movie, all 3 of the newer movies actually. Things were said with a properness and respectfulness that is utterly boring. The bite of the dialog between people in the original movies was great! The princess had an attitude, Han Solo had arrogance, and Luke had the charm of a farm boy. Obi-wan, in the older movies, had a very proper way of speaking but he said it in a relaxed way which matched his character of the learned teacher - confident but at ease with himself.

    Of the human characters in the newer movies, there wasn't much disparity in the way people spoke. It was a delibrate choice in the director's and George Lucas' vision, but was the formalistic meaning behind it enough to compensate for the lack of character expression? You can see how the "cuteness" of droids was amped up in the newer movies. Whether this was to keep children entertained while the stiff diologue bored them or as a substitute for the main character's egos and attitudes being held back, it made the movie itself lose character and the bite that made the originals so great.

    When I was younger I used to read a lot of the Star Wars books that extended the "universe" from the original 3 movies. Maybe I was spoiled by those books, so I didn't enjoy the third newer movie. I remember reading about Courescant being a much darker place with it being built on top of heaps of rubble of an older generation.

    There was also the rush of the Jedi being wiped out. The books of the series had Darth Vader commanding the extermination. And children with strong potential to become Jedi being tested with a simple carry-around machine. The books made it seem like it took years. All of that was lost in between the the 3rd newer and 1st older movie.

    I remember a review of the original movies praising Star Wars because it was a sci fi movie that didn't have shiny, perfect ships. It showed how the universe is a dirty place. The newer movies lost that...charm . Everything got cleaned up for the newer movies - ships became shiny and sleek; people talk with proper english and respect. Somewhere between the 3rd newer movie and the 1st older movie, that "cleanness" was lost in the universe. Again, it was a deliberate choice of George Lucas and the writers, but the appeal of the movies was lost because of it - for me at least.

    I try not to nitpick at movies. Instead I go for the aesthic and overall feeling they give me. In that respect, the newer trilogy is mediocre.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    and lets not forget the light saber battles. i almost fell asleep watching 2 guys swing blurry lights and each other endlessly, i mean how much is it to ask that characters lose a limb every few swings?

    the acting really sucked, i mean REALLY sucked, it colud not be any more monotonous script reading

    plus, the very few battle scenes it had, were spolide by the fact that the camera moved between objects so fast it was hard to tell much apart from white and brown blurs with green and red lights flashing constantly overtop

    i give that movie a 4/10(and that is generous)


    and so the balance of power shifts...
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  4. #3 Some thoughts .... 
    Forum Freshman Tiassa's Avatar
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    A couple of notes in response; I found very little to criticize about the current chapter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grazzhoppa
    Above all the trivialities of a sci-fi movie, the acting style sucked the life out of the movie, all 3 of the newer movies actually.
    I don't think the acting sucked any more life out of the films than the poor acting in episodes 4-6. I'm critical of the love story in general, as it really makes bad acting more obvious, but it has its proper place.

    But if we're critical, say, of Hamill's performance in 4-6, we can write it up to the nature of his "yokel" character, although nothing can redeem his moment of revelation in Empire. Likewise, if we're critical of, say, Natalie Portman, we must bear in mind the pretense of nobility. Political propriety is, in fact, rather quite boring. (Zell Miller's "Hardball" explosion is generally considered rare and undignified.) The stilted rhythm of the dialogue seemed apropos the story setting. What, for instance, if Slim Shady was the Chancellor of the Republic? Would that seem a little more natural?

    The bite of the dialog between people in the original movies was great! The princess had an attitude, Han Solo had arrogance, and Luke had the charm of a farm boy.
    Harrison Ford has become an archetype of his own. That power, along with Sir Alec Guinness and the voice of James Earl Jones (combined with the elegance of David Prowse's body acting) compensated largely for the poor performances put on by others in the cast. But episode 4 is hopelessly arrhythmic. (Most infamous is the "coordinates into the navicomputer" line, which Ford was known to joke about twenty years later.)

    Obi-wan, in the older movies, had a very proper way of speaking but he said it in a relaxed way which matched his character of the learned teacher - confident but at ease with himself.
    This can be written off as symptomatic of character evolution. Given that we're watching prequels, we're seeing a younger, less-refined, less-confident Obi-Wan.

    Of the human characters in the newer movies, there wasn't much disparity in the way people spoke. It was a delibrate choice in the director's and George Lucas' vision, but was the formalistic meaning behind it enough to compensate for the lack of character expression?
    Author Steven Brust, having planned a three-book cycle referred to as "The Khaavren Romances", ended up writing five. Sort of. The first two books were several-hundred pages apiece, and the third threatened to run even longer, so he cut it into three, making a note for fans that this was either his X novel (seventeenth, I think) or else the first third of it; the latter circumstance would make the fourth and fifth Romances into either the rest of the seventeenth novel, or else the eighteenth and nineteenth.

    I mention this because we must in some way decide how we view Star Wars. I generally disdain criticism that treats any one of the films in a stand-alone context.

    Inasmuch as the formalistic meaning of the dialogue might compensate for anything, in what context does it stand within the story? As much as I despised the love story for its simple clumsiness, that stumbling was a sad but necessary result of the manner in which these stories are told.

    It's almost as if you're being asked to view the whole of a chapter in history. Perhaps we might, in a movie about the American Revolutionary War, follow George Washington as he twists through the pains and grief of a long conflict. Or we might hop from battlefield to battlefield, from conference to conference, from scene to scene. And that latter is more akin to watching Star Wars. Lucas provided just enough of the love story to make the point, but how much should we dwell on it? How much effort, as a filmmaker, should he make to force the scenes to resemble something contemporary, instead of timeless? I mean, we never see them really and truly fight:

    <blockquote>ANAKIN: (annoyed) Damn it, be more careful! That casserole dish was the one thing I had of my mother!
    AMIDALA: (sharply) What? You can sense the presence of sixty battle droids shooting rapid-fire rounds at you, but you can't use the f@cking force to keep a dish from hitting the goddamn floor? What kind of Jedi are you?
    ANAKIN: (slyly) Well, lemme show you what I can do with my lightsaber. You know, the one that doesn't glow in the dark.

    (crescendo funk soundtrack)</blockquote>

    Do we really care? The mileposts we got should have been enough at least. Do we really want to see Chancellor Palpatine scratching his balls and moaning, "Ohhh ... yeah, that's it. Gads! I run the f@cking galaxy, you'd think I could scratch myself in public when I have an itch. Hmmm ... maybe I can use the Force ...." (crescendo funk soundtrack).

    I think it's enough. The lack of character expression is a symptom of the storytelling form.

    For instance, go find DVDs of V and V: The Final Battle. Yes, they're a bit cheesy, but there's a point to watching them. Because then you'll want (not really) to go out and find a copy of Ann (A.C.) Crispin's novelization of the two miniseries into a single volume (V), and in addition to the points of action, you get the partial omniscience of an overarching narrative. Thus, we don't just get the event--e.g. Brian the alien having sex with Robin the earthling--but we also get a glimpse inside Robin's mind. The scene is nonessential to the storytelling form, and included only for the minor titillation of a teenager being raped. (Minor; it's not a heavily-detailed scene.)

    Formalistic meaning, lack of character expression, it's all subordinate to the story form. We're not viewing a stand-alone complex here, but rather a segment of a larger whole. That the continuity is not atrocious over the course of six films is in itself an achievement. In comparison to the whole of the epic, the lack of character expression is no more troubling to me than the lack of a professor of English in a porno. What place does fine and rhythmic speech have in a skin flick? What place does common vernacular have in our examination of cosmic politics and politicians?

    Imagine 50-Cent doing Jimmy Stewart's filibuster in a modern remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Yes, it can be done, complete with sweet beat and a scratch to match, but you will have turned the film into a comedy at best.

    You can see how the "cuteness" of droids was amped up in the newer movies.
    I disagree. I don't see it.

    Whether this was to keep children entertained while the stiff diologue bored them or as a substitute for the main character's egos and attitudes being held back, it made the movie itself lose character and the bite that made the originals so great.
    I'm scrambling to think of where exactly I've seen this form recently, and it's not uncommon in literature, but when we pause to think about perspectives in Star Wars, the tale really does become a story involving one character.

    That I include this point here tells us which character that is.

    (I won't comment on the books; I didn't read them.)

    There was also the rush of the Jedi being wiped out. The books of the series had Darth Vader commanding the extermination. And children with strong potential to become Jedi being tested with a simple carry-around machine. The books made it seem like it took years. All of that was lost in between the the 3rd newer and 1st older movie.
    I don't think we can presume the Jedi yet wiped out. Defeated, but not wiped out. After all, Obi Wan and Yoda accounted for this issue in the story. (Spoiler information omitted for now.)

    Additionally, what, really, do we see of the rush? (Spoiler information omitted for now.)

    Everything got cleaned up for the newer movies - ships became shiny and sleek; people talk with proper english and respect.
    Regarding the ships (I won't reiterate about the dialogue here), this is something I was prepared for at the outset of the new installments. Now, mind you, I'm not much of a Star Wars freak insofar as I haven't any action figures or other paraphernalia, and I don't recall reading even a single one of the newsletters I signed up for via email several years ago.

    I do, however, recall touring a web gallery of the ships in advance of episode 1, and something made clear, I believe by Lucas himself, was that we would see a different kind of spaceship in this bloc of films. It has to do with industry and craftsmanship. Think of older, American cars. In fact, think American Grafitti. Before industrialization, things like carriages were crafted more than they were manufactured. As mass-production issues were sorted out, American automobiles became works of design art. Think of the fins on an old Caddy, the sinister beauty of a '50 Merc, the pristine class of a Buick Roadmaster. Now skip forward thirty years. Mid-1980s. Nissan Sentra. Toyota Tercel. Dodge Aries K. Kick forward into the 1990s, and go ask the folks at Porsche if anyone had anything to say about it when they standardized the freaking headlights between the 911 and the Boxster.

    In episodes 4-6, there was a sense of mass-production, of a manufacturing philosophy that centered around efficiency.

    X-Wings, Y-Wings, and TIE fighters, at the very least, look like they glided off a robotic assembly line. Same thing with Blockade Runners.

    Now look at Amidala's sleek silver ship, and even Naboo's fighter craft in episode 1. They look more crafted than manufactured, representing a different manufacturing philosophy. It is as the war machine cranks up, as thousands of clone pilots need spacecraft, that the mass-production really comes about.

    And yes, it was a deliberate choice of George Lucas, but if he were to assert that the story detail is not subordinate to marketing considerations, I wouldn't press the issue. After all, and I don't feel badly for including this spoiler, he did manage to work Jar Jar Binks into the film. Two fingers to his critics, indeed.

    Perhaps the movie would be more aesthetic to some palates if Star Wars gave over entirely to such issues, but I must confess that of all Lucas' errors in the prequel trilogy, I'm not sure these you've listed are necessarily among them. The primary issue I would ask after is whether the aesthetic and overall feeling is determined of one film, or of one chapter of a larger, longer story. I believe the aesthetic contextual demands change between the two perspectives.

    Or ... so says me. Whatever that means.
    "A red rose absorbs all colours but red; red is therefore the one colour that it is not." (Perdurabo)
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  5. #4  
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    A lot of what you say amounts to "explaining away." Like Portman's lamentable performance ascribed to the stiffness and formality of nobility. But this isn't a documentary, it's a movie and its primary aim must be to entertain.

    That said, I thought it was great. My critical faculties have evidently been blunted by the first two, and I could see that as a tenable motion picture it's quite flawed. My forecast made when I first saw Hayden Christensen in AotC proved to be quite correct: he's woefully lacking in the weight necessary to carry the journey to the Dark Side, and it's laughable to think of him being behind the mask for the original three movies. George Lucas's problem seems to be that he just does not have the ability to see what is wrong and to fix it. Last night I watched the dogfights of SW IV:ANH for the first time in years, and my pulse quickened and the hairs stood up on the back of my neck (which also had something to do with the music). ANH was followed on the movie channel with a documentary charting the development of the whole saga, so I was able to see a battle sequence from ..... uh, one of the prequels (I almost rest my case!) and it's a mess. There's so much on the screen, there's nothing to focus on, and all the real excitement is drained away. Lucas probably says, "They wanted more star battles, I gave them the biggest muthafkn star battle ever, and they still complain!" Well, twenty-five years ago we wanted more and better star battles, and what George gave us was an ice moon battle with large walking tanks....... and blew us away. Likewise, the mystique of the light saber was maintained by its being seen infrequently only, but by filling the screen with dozens of them, as he did at the end of AotC he was destroying the key light saber fight in the third movie (not to mention the one in the sixth movie!)

    Furthermore, I would have looked at Padmé's death scene and immediately said, "Let's reshoot. So far from being on the point of death from a broken heart, she looks like she's just come back from three weeks in Hawaii".

    But as a Star Wars movie, I really thought RotS was great! Ian McDiarmid was superb (though somewhat hammy in the second half after he was disfigured) and did a good job, I thought, of representing the way evil sees itself as good - for example, by turning the Republic into the Empire, at least you get peace. (Interestingly, he stands up in the senate and says that he has survived a vicious attack and despite being disfigured is ready to lead them ..... and I couldn't help think about what happened in the Ukraine last fall when the Presidential candidate was poisoned and ended up with a deformed face) Ewan McGregor managed to have sufficient gravitas without being stiff, as he had been in the previous movies - but then he had more important things to do, emotionally, and that is what he is good at as an actor. Christensen did finally manage to overcome his inabilities and provide some power when he really needed it, during their confrontation. I also quite liked the way the tie-ups to Episode IV became more evident towards the end of the movie, for example a sudden appearance by mouse robots, and a brief shot of a young Peter Cushing lookalike to briefly show an appearance by Governor Tarkin.

    George Lucas explicates the wooden dialogue thing by citing the attempt to achieve the feel of the 1930s serials. This is not an uncommon fallacy. But people forget that at that time movie making as a whole was only forty years old, and scripted dialogue for speaking, less than a decade. We, as an audience, have moved on, and our tastes are a little more sophisticated, as the art and craft of movie-making and script writing has developed.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman Jubei Yagyu's Avatar
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    Palpatine: Anakin, give in...you must join the dark side!

    Anakin: Well, I don't know...

    Palpatine: Oh c'mon!

    Anakin: Well...ok. (Shrugs)

    Palpatine: Great! From now on your name shall be Darth...oh, I don't know, Vader, or something...
    "All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
    -Schopenhauer
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  7. #6  
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    at least there are no vulgarities lol
    no time for lots of things
    must save time
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