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"Revenge" Is Just Too Sweet

 

By Keith Helinski

 

From Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope:


'For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the
Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi

'A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi


From Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi:

 

'Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and BECAME Darth Vader.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi

'Anakin was a good friend. When I first knew him, your father was
already a great pilot, but I was amazed how strongly the Force was with  him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong. He is more machine now than man; twisted and evil.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi

 

From Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:


'You are strong and wise, Anakin, and I am very proud of you. I have
trained you since you were a small boy. I have taught you everything I know. And you have become a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be, and you have saved my life more times than I can remember.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi


'Twisted by the dark side, young Skywalker has become. The boy you
trained, gone he is . . . Consumed by Darth Vader.' - Yoda


'You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness. You were my brother, Anakin.' - Obi-Wan Kenobi

Star Wars as a pop-culture.

I once heard an English teacher stating there are seven-type stories
that is repeated over and over through out the generations of story
telling. Before movies became such a mass media, books filled the
imagination. Some were fiction. Some were not. But one thing was for certain, the stories that provided the human condition always prevailed. Whether it be "The Iliad", "Bible", "Hamlet", or even today's standards like "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars", and "Harry Potter". People is always seduced by great story-telling. Fiction - non-fiction. It does not matter. If people can relate through the concept of the human condition, people will be seduced by it. And the seduction is expanded if it is told sexy enough.

Star Wars may provide complex settings, subtle events, and even
allegoric characters - it's a pretty good simplistic story. The journey
of self-discovery. That's pretty much where it all leads into. All the
minor-sub plots are important, but not as bold as the main plot-point.

It truly is hard to imagine life without Star Wars. Star Wars did not
invent fantasy story telling. It did not invent movies. It just enhanced it. Because truthfully, the story is no different than the story of Lord of the Rings. Same basic plot and principles are there. Same characteristics and settings. Even the title-parts are similar:


A NEW HOPE
FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
THE TWO TOWERS

RETURN OF THE JEDI
RETURN OF THE KING

So why is Star Wars so popular? The misc-en-scene/visuals. Since 1977 and Star Wars, thanks to Sir Lucas - ILM, THX surround sound, better visual effects for films, and other neat tidbits were formed. You don't have to be a fan to know Star Wars certainly made a impact in filmmaking, and film-watching for that matter. I mean - if there was no Star Wars, would you think home theater systems would be so popular? So while the debate may stand, Star Wars did not create movies (like "The Beatles"/music debate), it certainly enhanced it.

BEFORE the prequels.

There was a time before the special editions and the prequels. Star
Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi was all loved and
endeared for many people, for many years. Before DVDs, VHS' was the market. Exactly ten years ago - the Star Wars trilogy was released for the first time in THX surround sound. The Star Wars buzz and mania was there again - and right in the middle of my child-hood. And the talk of the famous Anakin/Obi-Wan duel grew more rapid among fans. Many speculations on what exactly came about that back-story. And while indeed, there were prequels/spin-off's, and sequel stories novel-formed that gave depth to the Star Wars mythology - one thing that was always vague, the beginning of the empire and the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan.

The Special Editions...what was he thinking?!?

1997 marked the 20th anniversary of the first Star Wars. And ideally, a "director's cut" was in the works. So Lucas was at work - and re-created the films with enhanced mumbo-jumbo mish-mash, and added some inserts here and there. They were iffy all right. I accepted them - but also held the "original" set in my heart. Many people pondered, WHY? In the scheme of things, was it to cash-in more money? Or was Lucas really creating the first stages of this massive saga that was only half-done?

The "Phantom Menace".

1999 came and went. Menace was a huge film, just on how it was the first Star Wars film in a very long time. But it also failed on many people's expectations. Jar-Jar annoyed a lot of people, which I thought was unfair. It was just another comical side-character, like the Ewokes or Chewie. And it was a bit kiddy for what it was worth. Well - seeing as though it's a story about a kid name Anakin, it would only be assumed it would be geared for kids.

The upside to it all - gave perceptive to the Jedi order before all were destroyed, effects were top notch, and it was a first-parter to the DARTH-VADAR story.

"Attack" the Clones.

When I first saw this movie, was on the movie screen. And ideally - I
was in awe. Than, as I watched it on DVD - noticed all the annoying
flaws (and there were many.) But within story, it kept in line. Yes, the acting wasn't that great. But come on - a movie about a teen Anakin Skywalker PRE-DARTH VADAR. Teens are in fact over-the-top, whiny, and usually fall into deep love scenarios that leave in disarray of pathetic love-sickness. Despite Lucas' difficulty of mastering romance (and this goes back to his American Graffiti days, since he had a hard time then), it's suppose to be awkward and uneven. With a critique eye, is Romeo and Juliet any more just? It's all angst. And this was the beginning of the infamous "Clone War", which was mentioned in the first "original" trilogy.


What the hell is he thinking, though?

Many critics, fans, and goers has a problem with the first two prequels. Even with the release of "Revenge", many reviews repeats itself with the same complaints about the first two films. Ideally - Lucas blinded us all with the force. We looked at these two films so separately that we forgot the BIGGER picture. The DARTH VADAR story. The first film shows him as a kid, and GEARED FOR KIDS. The second one presents a weak teen soap opera, geared mostly for teens basically. So with the third one, rated PG-13 with some real good violence, geared for a more mature audience - it's a nice line of growing up. And the problem with what people are doing - they are truly missing the bigger picture, which is the story of "DARTH". It's almost like Smallville, people criticizes it right away, they miss the whole entire thing. And that's what Lucas had locked inside his mind all this time. He used the prequel trilogy as references for writing the original trilogy - and than going back as he fooled all of us. Might as well call this film "REVENGE OF THE LUCAS!"

Episode Three.

This film certainly is the ending chapter of the prequel trilogy, but it
is also the bridge that takes us to the beloved trilogy. As a stand-alone film, it certainly stands strong. I already knew what was going down. Hell - I read the plot overview, detailed script review, and the actual script itself. So I spoiled myself before even watching the film. I decorated my LJ with Star Wars goodies, and I really got into the whole Star Wars mood (the only thing I didn't do was buy a dozen tickets for opening weekend, and dressed up as a Jedi to the show - sorry, I am not that crazy of a fan!) I pretty much knew the whole entire movie as I was watching it, and already knew the flaws as majority of the reviews states the same exact thing.


Seeing it visually, really captivates you. It's obvious it does not end
pretty. But to see it on the screen, real epic in its own right. It's almost like watching Return of the King. Familiar with the story through the books, we all know what happens. But to see the emotional build-up unfold and than have it right in front of your very ends. From the Anakin transformation to the dark side, the killings of Jedi's, and the birth of Luke/Leia - it did give me Goosebumps.

Many critics say Anakin's turn was too short. The movie is about 2 hours and 20-something minutes. One thing is certain about movies, can never please those pesky little critics (and that says a lot, since I am a prospering one at best.) I recalled critics complained about how Return of the King was too damn long. Which do you want? A long movie...or a short one? I will overlook how silly he turned too quickly. Because quite simply, the subtle is the concept of seduction. And how quickly can seduction be occurred? The lust and controlling of it - takes seconds in some aspects.

The writing was a bit flat. I have a theory. Had Lucas have people
contribute more to the writing, as he had with Empire and Jedi - probably would be better prequel movies overall.

The Obi-Wan/Anakin duel was very satisfying. This was the duel of all
duels right here. Was fairly long. Was very intense BEYOND. And through Lucas' excellent direction, it was felt how emotional it was. It almost felt like the duel in Empire Strikes Back.

The problem, however - and this is a critical note from me, the friendship between Anakin and Obi-Wan isn't really done well. In the
first film, Obi-Wan basically refused any remote friendship toward Anakin. In the second film, Obi-Wan pretty much remarked all straight
through how arrogant Anakin is. And while there are buddy-buddy moments in this third film, it still seems a bit more like their long-time
acquaintances rather than "blood-brothers." I guess we have to view the spin-off books that fill the holes and depth to their supposed
friendship. Just something that didn't set with me.


But that still does not ruin the kick-ass duel. The setting upon a lava
planet made it so much more thrilling.

During the duel, another duel occurs planets away with the Emperor and Yoda. It's hard to say which duel is better. I guess I am the only
person that thought the Yoda duel in "Clones" was a bit silly looking.
This WAS NOT! But it did seem a bit short. And like many reviews state, Yoda walks away from a fight he could've easily put more effort in. But come as it may, satisfying to the bone.

One thing Lucas does well since Return of the Jedi is to jump from scene to scene, or sub-plot to sub-plot. Lucas mentions that style many times through his commentary tracks off the Star Wars DVDs. For the first time ever, it really does look slick how he does it - almost like a living inter-acting comic book. And with the subject matter of the story - it's very appropriate to have that style of filmmaking.

The last ten minutes or so really connects the entire saga together
almost perfectly. With the "birth" of Darth, this was the sequence in
which I can understand where the PG-13 fits in. Real graphic as we see a crippled and burnt (crisped) Anakin. And as the sequence goes on - it gives me real Goosebumps. Now - it's revealed how Anakin becomes Darth. And it works well. On a sad note, it does have a Frankenstein feel to it - with the eerie "NOOO" screams from Darth. But really - what is the difference between this or any other villain, for that matter? I mean - I saw the same exact scene with the Doc Ock in Spiderman 2. So I wasn't completely cringing over that. What I was cringing over, the scenes with Padme at the end.

The birth of Leia and Luke does happen - it is both well done and not so well done, I would say. I guess my biggest pet-peeve was something I was dreading. Yes - Padme does die. Tragic - fits the tone of the story - and is well done enough to be sad (and also connects with "Menace", which is sweet. However, how does that "just" with something that was revealed in Return of the Jedi?:

Princess Leia: Luke, what's wrong?

Luke: Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?
Princess Leia: Just a little bit. She died when I was very young.
Luke: What do you remember?
Princess Leia: Just... images really. Feelings.
Luke: Tell me.
Princess Leia: She was... very beautiful. Kind, but sad. Why are you
asking me this?
Luke: I have no memory of my mother. I never knew her.

Ideally - it is speculated that she has power of the force to remember such things like that. But nonetheless, it is a tiny little continuity problem.


Overall - Revenge felt like a Star Wars film. Moreover, felt like the
original Star Wars movie.

The saga as a whole.

Many people thought the Star Wars saga was about Luke Skywalker. I've heard it was really enough the two droids - since they are in it the entire series. But Lucas says, it's Anakin's story. Rise, fall, fall,
rise. Indeed, Anakin Skywalker is the certainly the central character,
as it rings around him. With the iffy special editions - as well as the
prequel(s), it was within questioned what Lucas was up to. He fooled us all! And now looking at it as a whole, it's amazing what he came up with. These are the space version of Lord of the Rings. Why does it succeed? The story is pretty much the same - but it is so well done and original-thought out early on that as it does loses its charm through minor moments - the whole entire story really sticks. And I must say, the cinematic achievement these films has made. AMAZING what they can do.


But a price has been made. While we now have a six-part saga and all, the original- original saga that started it all is lost somewhere in VHS heaven. And its unfortunate kids of today have no memories I had as a kid when I only had three films to explore. But Lucas really has given us a six-part epic in space. That's quite an achievement.

Something a critic by the name Garth Franklin of darkhorizons.com, wrote that I think, sums up the entire Star Wars saga.

"...the problem with this franchise more than any other series is that
everyone comes into this with different preconceptions. More than any other SF tale, the 'Wars' movies inspire a level of unconditional love or bitterness amongst reviewers. The former (the lovers) deliberately ignore the giant flaws they would take other films to task on, the latter (the haters) over exaggerate the problems which they would otherwise ignore in other movies this Summer.

These are popcorn movies and so the bigger a fan you are, the 'stronger' your level of enjoyment or loathing will be. As a sci-fi fan who really likes "A New Hope", loves "Empire", enjoys "Jedi", hated "Phantom" and tolerated "Clones" I found I enjoyed "Sith". It certainly doesn't validate the first two prequels, but it's the only one of the trilogy that actually works as both a good Summer movie and a solid sci-fi movie in its own right. It's a shame that just as the "Star Wars" universe is finally getting interesting again, it has to go away."

What does suck - is the hope of at least one last trilogy from Lucas
with Star Wars. Trilogy of trilogies, if you will. But on the other hand
- with the two failed basically, fluff in his hands - you won't find a
better ending than "REVENGE OF THE SITH!"

 


 

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