Peteís Episode II Review (Contains Spoilers)
It was with incredible anticipation that I arrived at the midnight screening of the latest Star Wars epic, resplendent in my new stormtrooper gear, that I had loving polished to pristine whiteness. I could feel the admiring gaze of the assembled masses as I took my place in the line, but this is all par for the course when youíre a dedicated trooper (If youíre interested in finding out more, about 30 something nerds dressing up in play clothes: http://www.scgarrison.com/homebase/content.html
). My best girl was by my side, her token mouth-eaten Yoda ears contrasting starkly to the time-consuming perfect detail of my own outfit - but then what do you expect from a Lord of the Rings fan? I finally got to the front of the queue and greeted the usher through my helmet mike: "THX 1138 reporting for duty sir". With a cross between confusion, hesitation and sheer terror at the awesome might of the Galactic Empire on his pimply face, he tentatively took our tickets and ushered us in to the darkened cinema to MEET OUR DESTINY...
OkÖOkÖso thatís not how it happened.
I only saw token efforts at costuming like girls with hair ala Leia in Episode IV and some guy with an 80s mullet and matching Empire Strikes Back T-shirt featuring Luke in his Hoth outfit on a tauntaun, but still the atmosphere was good. The crowd was psyched. Even after they made us sit through about half a dozen trailers ("Eight Legged Freaks" looks quite good, but "Scooby Doo" likes like pure doggy doo Ė although I guess thatís probably the point). Thereís something about a Star Wars film when the beginning credits roll that fills you with an incredible sense of excitement...although the crowd on this occasion was a little quiet. Perhaps fearing another Episode I. Perhaps they were just stupid (this is Redcliffe, after all...).
Anyway, whatever their irrational fears, they need not have worried. The force is with this one.
OK...letís get the bad out of the way.
1. The love schlock between Anakin and Padme bites the big one. How the hell did Lucas ever get laid? Surely not with the lines he puts in Anakinís mouth. He and Padme spend a great deal of the first half of the film eating romantic dinners, frolicking in fields and admiring sunsets, all the while exchanging puerile banter about their hearts beating and the danger that their love might become a scar if not consummatedÖbleehh. Surely it would have been better to see them face a series of dangers together and grow closer through shared experience then Anakin blubbing about fancying her since the age of 9 (Iím sorry - I did not fancy girls at the age of 9 - or at least, I had certainly forgot about them 10 years later if I did). Still, I did enjoy their marriage at the end (I wonít spoil it for you...) and the scene as they enter the arena where they finally decide to give into their FOBIDDEN LOVE, is quite well handled.
2. Yes Ė the archnemesis Jar Jar is in it. However most of the other characters treat him like the annoying git he is and quickly make excuses to leave his presence, so the viewer is spared any extended dialogue. Also, he actually is responsible for accidentally handing the galaxy to the bad guys on a plate, so that kind of redeems him in my book. Kind of...
3. Itís a little slow-paced in the middle, mainly bogged down with the Anakin-Padme Return to the Blue Naboo-style love junk, and Obiwan playing Sam Spade, Jedi Supersleuth, but it sure picks up at the end...
4. I actually found Obiwan kind of annoying. Always lecturing Anakin and behaving like he knows best - and then stumbling into more trouble then he can handle. On reflection however, maybe this was because I could just associate more with Anakin whining about his father-figure holding him back then I could with the father-figure Obiwan himself. Hey - I never said I didnít have issues.
5. Plenty of B-movie moments. The mysterious assassin being silenced at the last moment just before she spills the beans on her employer. Anakin rushing across space to save his mother only arriving it just the right time for her to die in his arms. Yoda gesturing like some kind of miniature green Bruce Lee. At least George openly admits his films are not meant to be high art, I guess.
6. Kiwi accents in Star Wars.
OK...now for the good.
1. Yoda. I never thought I would say this, but I like Yoda in this film. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate that little green goblin muppet. Passionately. I actually like Return of the Jedi better than the Empire Strikes Back solely because Yoda dies in the last film and his extended presence completely ruins Empire for me. The only time he really pisses me off in this film is when he patronises the hell out of Obiwan about how embarrassing it is to lose a planet. If I was Obiwan, I would have slapped him one. With my lightsaber. Anyway, suffice to say that the end scene where Yoda hobbles in to confront Count Dooku after the Count has just laid waste to both Anakin and Obiwan, supposedly two of the better Jedi in the galaxy, had me in stitches. I think I uttered the words "HOLY SH***TT!" when that damn muppet actually started to fight. The funniest thing for me was after the battle, where he has just been bouncing around like a jumping jack on speed, Yoda picks up his cane and hobbles at a snailís pace towards his fallen friends with his back stooped...Jeezus, if George can make even Yoda look cool then whatís next? A cool Dark Side Jar Jar with a double-bladed lightsaber?
2. The CG was pretty good. Thereís only one scene where Anakin is riding some wild beast around the plains of Naboo to impress Padme that it really looks fake (although, maybe thatís just because the whole romance came off that way). The huge battle scenes at the end rock big time. In fact I would have been happy to watch two and a half hours of those...but I guess George had to make some concessions to people that like plot, dialogue and structure. Although letís face it...at least heís never made BIG concessions in that direction. I thought the droid foundry scene was probably the most imaginative in the film and led to some great action and comedy as well.
3. The sound was awesome. The sound of Slave Iís seismic mines going off gets my vote for best all-time movie sound effect. The silence...then...the BOOM! It perfectly complemented the on screen action and I thought the pacing and placement of the incidental music was spot on. John William is god.
4.There were lots of moments that harkened back to the original series for the "Old Skool" fans. Phrases were repeated in different contexts Ė for instance, Obiwan calls Anakin "My young apprentice" just like the Emperor calls Luke in Return of the Jedi. Plus there are a lot of scenes that pay tribute to scenes in the earlier films: Obiwan, for instance, using a Jedi mind trick on a drug pusher and using Han Soloís trick in Empire to escape the wrath of Jango and Bobaís ship. Hell, Jango even bumps is head on the door going into Slave I after his fight with Obiwan in homage to the "clumsy trooper" of Episode IV.
5. Jango is cool. Played by Temura Morrison of "Once Were Warriors" fame he looks good - especially flying around with his backpack, and has an amazing arsenal of stuff. Too bad he bites the bullet a bit too easily. Oh well, at least Dooku got away. Christopher Lee is good as Dooku - I thought called him Count Dooku harkens back nicely to his Hammer horror days as Dracula. I think I preferred him slightly as Saruman in LOTR...but maybe that was just that amazing prosthetic nose they gave him? Still, his force lightning ruled. Now all I want to see his Sideous wield the blade and my life will be complete (whoops...I just realised who sad that sounds).
6. Australian Actors all made a decent effort to cover their accents. Unlike the Kiwis.
OK. Bottom line.
Star Wars is back. Episode I is a distant memory. Evil is one more step closer to victory (this is a good thing, in my book). Episode III is now THREE whole years away (this is a bad thing, in my book). If you are in any way interested in Sci-fi you will not want to miss this film. George has well and truly worn off the rust of years of inactivity. Now all we can do is wait and see what he makes of Indiana Jones IV, and of course Episode III, tentatively titled "Death to the Gungans" (rumours are that all actors will be fully computer-generated for the first time ("synthespians"). George is banking on no one noticing - and with the scripts he kicks up, he just might be right).
Till next time. Probably "The Two Towers".
Incidentally if you have a good internet connection and are a fan of Star Wars and/or Fight Club you should check this out:
I must be cool. I already take mine out of the packages.