Friday, May 20, 2005
REVENGE OF THE SITH – Parno’s review. Okay... Where to begin... Should I talk about my initial reaction after viewing the film during the midnight screening Thursday morning? Or should I talk about how the movie definitely got better on my second viewing last night? Hmm... I think I’ll talk about both!!
First and foremost, let me mention how crazy it was to attend the midnight screening on opening night (which I never did before). All the people waiting in line inside the AMC 20 theater in Puente Hills Mall... Half of them either playing poker on the hallway floor, just kicking back on the lawn chairs that they brought, watching a movie on their Playstation Portables (PSPs), having faux battles with their lightsaber toys or watching The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones on their laptop computers. Some of them dressed in Star Wars costumes...with one dude dressed in a black cloak a la Darth Sidious and another dude wearing a brown robe a la a Jedi Knight. And let’s not forget the two hard-core fans who showed up in very authentic-looking, fully-fledged costumes as a Stormtrooper and Jango Fett, respectively. Damn, I wish I brought my camera!! But how would I know waiting in line for a movie would be this fun? And yes, I’m well aware that this is for Star Wars...
What made the midnight line-up more fun was that a couple of former Bishop Amat High School classmates fortuitously lined up directly behind me [and next to me, since the line for the auditorium they were originally going in (these two girls I knew in high school swapped tickets so they could watch the film in my theater) was only about 2 feet from the line I was standing at]...so I talked to them instead of watching Spider-Man 2 on the PSP I borrowed from one of my brothers that night.
What made the line-up even better was that we didn’t have to stand in line any longer... Around 9:00 PM, the AMC theater manager walked up to our line and announced we were gonna be seated around 9:30 PM. Sure, there were still 2 1/2 hours to kill before Revenge of the Sith was to begin, but at least we were immediately gonna get our seats for the sixth and final Star Wars film! It was inside the theater that I was sitting next to the two Amat gals who swapped tickets earlier. Obviously, we chatted...but I spent an hour of the wait watching Spidey 2 on PSP. For those of you actually reading this entry and want me to get to the friggin’ point, I’ll get to the actual reviews of Sith in a moment; right after I mention the fact 6 beach balls had to be confiscated by theater security before the movie began. That, and I got a little buzzed after taking a sip from one of my friends’ Diet Pepsi bottle...which was mixed with rum when those two girls went to a TGI Fridays restaurant outside the mall earlier.
Oh, and the audience cheered for the trailers to Fantastic Four, Batman Begins and Mr & Mrs Smith...and remained indifferent or booed the previews to Cinderella Man (that pre-show countdown special on this movie was quite disconcerting. Wear a friggin' hat, Ron Howard!!), War of the Worlds, Stealth and The Island. I was actually looking forward to seeing Stealth, since it reminds me of that old Clint Eastwood film, Firefox. Anyways, onto my reviews.
INITIAL REACTION: After the movie ended, I was looking for words to describe how I felt about the movie. It definitely wasn’t a disappointment!! The second I got home, I finally figured out the words to describe my reaction: The movie was emotionally draining. VERY brutal...especially after—Well, I don’t want to spoil it for any of you guys who haven’t seen Episode III yet (despite the fact I have all those spoiler pics at the bottom of this page)—Palpatine reveals his true identity as a Sith and Anakin finally gets the name of Darth Vader. The Order 66 scene, even though I already knew about it by reading spoilers over the past year or so, was still shocking to see onscreen... More so with the moment Anakin enters that Jedi Council chamber where all the Younglings were hiding, and ignites his saber to commit an act that only a real-life child killer wouldn’t find atrocious. Overall, the tone was just right... I was worried months back that Lucas might pull off a certain female character’s death as poorly as how Trinity’s death (My reaction before Trinity croaked: "Die already!") was portrayed by the Wachowski Brothers in The Matrix Revolutions...but fortunately, that was not the case. Lucas did a tremendous job conveying emotion throughout the film...especially during the last 45 minutes of the movie. From Anakin and Padme "staring" at each other across the Coruscant cityscape while Mace and his Jedi posse are about to arrest Palpatine, to Owen and Beru staring off into the twin Tatooine sunset with young Luke in-hand at the end of the film, Revenge of the Sith was truly an emotional experience.
REACTION AFTER MY SECOND VIEWING: I saw the film again at 10:00 last night, this time with another group of friends from high school, and the movie was definitely much better this time around. Even after my first viewing it was clearly obvious that Hayden Christensen did a tremendous job portraying Anakin, and Ewan McGregor, much like in Attack of the Clones, carried the role of Obi-Wan perfectly (some reviewers called McGregor's performance "uncharismatic." This ain't friggin' James Bond we're talking about here). Ian McDiarmid did an excellent job as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and his Sith alter ego...though I will admit that in the midnight screening I thought he was a bit over-the-top as Darth Sidious once his face gets disfigured by Force lightning. In this second viewing however, I thought it was actually okay, since McDiarmid was over-the-top (in a good way) as Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi.
And General Grievous was awesome. My favorite moment with this cyborg was when he deploys four lightsabers against Obi-Wan on Utapau. When he’s doing that buzzsaw action with those two sabers as he walks menacingly towards Obi-Wan, that was a sight to see. And the Boga (that giant lizard Obi-Wan rides as he chases Grievous on that wheel bike) kicked ass... Love that cry the beast makes! Too bad Boga dies though. Damn you, Commander Cody! Damn you!
As for Yoda... If you had any doubts about why he is a Jedi Master, even after seeing him in action against Count Dooku in Attack of the Clones, doubt no more... Not only did he "own" any clonetrooper who got in his way, but he owned Darth Sidious! Sure, Yoda flees from the fight, but that’s because at that point, he had a garrison of clones to worry about had he stayed any longer. And if he didn’t lose his lightsaber, he would’ve eventually killed Palpidious for sure. But then, there would be no Original Trilogy (Star Wars Episodes 4, 5 and 6), now would there? Oh, and I’m glad the Duel of the Fates theme was played during the Yoda/Sidious duel.
Speaking of duels, let’s talk about The Duel. The Obi-Wan/Anakin fight ruled...though you could pretty much argue about whether or not they could actually survive that close a proximity to lava during the entire duel. Actually, you can’t...what with this being Star Wars and science fantasy and all. I liked how the Battle of the Heroes music track was played in all its glory during the latter half of The Duel...and how the BotH track ended right when Obi-Wan chops off Anakin’s legs and left arm. Along with Order 66, Anakin catching on fire as Obi-Wan does nothing but watch was also gut-wrenching. To see this play out on the big screen as opposed to staring at all those pics I posted below was truly emotional. And the movie gets even more emotional with the birth of the Twins (that’s Luke and Leia for all of y’all non-Star Wars fans actually reading this) and the rise of Darth Vader. My favorite shot during the creation of the suited Sith Lord: When Anakin gazes on in fear as the mask is being lowered onto his scarred head. A nice touch that Lucas added were those red digital displays that appear on the eyepieces just as the mask is being lowered. Not only does Anakin have to wear that suit for the rest of his life, but he has to stare out at the world, err universe, in a way that only a robot would. And this adds poignancy to the line that a redeemed Anakin says to Luke in Return of the Jedi: "Let me look on you with...my own eyes." It also explains why Darth Vader's eye lens are somewhat red in A New Hope.
I could say more, but there are still too many things to talk about. Was the movie perfect? It felt that way in the second viewing, but it obviously wasn’t. It was still a bit tedious to hear Padme say, "Hold me, Anakin...like you did at that lake in Naboo so many years ago," in the second viewing. Heck, most of the romance scenes in the early half of the movie were tedious to watch...though that’s fairly insignificant compared to all the good things this film had. But where did Yoda get that new cloak that he wears on that asteroid Polis Massa (if you haven’t seen the film yet, he loses his old cloak when he falls off a Senate pod during his duel with Darth Sidious. And Polis Massa is that asteroid facility where Padme gives birth to the Twins)? I guess Yoda, while riding in that speeder with Bail Organa, felt a bet self-conscious...and told the Senator to stop by the Jedi Temple so Yoda could get another cloak that he kept in his personal locker. I know, I know... Too nitpicky... But that’s the only thing I can think of to explain this little continuity oversight.
OVERALL, I GIVE THE FILM 4 OUT OF 5 STARS. Now, if only I could stay away from that Jedi Council message board on TheForce.Net, this rating will stay. Bashers suck. Long Live Star Wars!! Though I don’t plan on watching that Star Wars TV series when it comes out a few years from now.
Monday, May 16, 2005
THIS THURSDAY...(or Wednesday night if you're attending a midnight screening, like I am...) Why Revenge of the Sith will be the next BIG family film... A dead Jedi youngling with a severed arm? Dooku's head about to get chopped off like a drumstick from a Thanksgiving turkey? Kentucky Fried Anakin being re-assembled like a Lego set? Padme being the victim of spousal abuse? Yoda getting shocked by good ol' "Force" lightning? Darth Sidious unhooded? (Well okay, those last two aren't PG-13 material.) Move over, The Incredibles, this movie is definitely a must-see for the Pixar-loving 6-year old! Not that a 6-year old would know what Pixar is... By the way, all Episode III merchandise have been released, so there's no need to feel guilty about showing these spoiler pics to you, haha! Ha.
UPDATE: Some "Sith" movie reviews...
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times (Thumbs-up)
Richard Roeper (Thumbs-up)
A.O. Scott - The New York Times
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
Kevin Smith review
The Associated Press
Harry Knowles - AICN
Joshua Griffin - TheForce.Net
Susan Granger - Modamag.com
The Daily Telegraph - Michael Bodey
National Post - Bob Thompson
The Digital Bits
Michael A. Smith - Nolan's Pop Culture Review
The Trades - Entertainment Industry Analysis
James Berardinelli review
Bob Longino - Kansas.com
Long Island Press
Emanuel Levy review
Peter Travers - RollingStone.com
Jeffrey Wells review
Gene Seymour - Newsday.com
Film Freak Central
Click above to go to the reviews listing page on RottenTomatoes.com (5/17/05)
UPDATE #2: More pictures have been added below! Hey, blame it on Lucasfilm for allowing European magazines to display these huge-ass spoiler pics on their pages! Anyways, Revenge of the Sith in all its PG-13-rated glory:
EDIT: For those of you who still think that little turd played by Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace was Luke Skywalker...