Monday, February 20, 2012

Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace in 3D

Jar Jar Binks is an anomaly in special effects history. State-of-the-art technology and special effects wizards worked endless hours to render a photo-realistic character who had been written and directed so poorly and who's human counterpart actor performed so cartoonishly, it completely undid the effect.  
*1/2 out of ****

Okay. I didn't watch all of this movie in 3D, just a few scenes which was enough to know that 3D does nothing for it. This is really an opportunity to talk about... I don't feel like saying it's full title so let's call it: The Ruination of Star Wars.

This is a movie I currently hate because it makes me mad at myself for all the time I wished for it, obsessively followed it's production online and in magazines, skipped school and stood in line all day with other fans when the tickets first went on sale, saw it... and spent a long time in denial of the disappointment it turned out to be. Yes. I was one of those people. I couldn't allow it to be bad in my mind. I'm embarrassed for defending the movie and more embarrassed that when I could finally acknowledge a few of it's many faults, I was preaching faith that the next one would be way better.

As a big Star Wars fan, it was kind of easy to filter out the crap that plagued this movie when I was seeing the first Star Wars episode to be released in sixteen years. The old familiar sights and sounds being delivered with state-of-the-art techniques made me bounce in my seat like a little kid. The things in this movie that seemed worth defending then, may still apply now. It is a gorgeous production and it may be the best-looking Star Wars movie ever. Every CGI effects artist, production designer, costume maker, stunt coordinator, location scout, and talented artist of any kind (besides the writer/director and mystified actors) who worked on this film believed they were working on a masterpiece and were giving it their all. This is one of the best-looking bad movies ever made. If you compare the look of this one to the two prequels that followed, it is astoundingly rich-looking by comparison. All of the artificial landscapes and city views in this film look so amazingly beautiful. What a shame they didn't really amount to anything more that the environment of a pitiful story for underdeveloped characters to inhabit.

The following is Star Wars fanboy criticism. If you are not interested and would rather get back to my review of this loathsome work as a movie, just skip over the BLUE TEXT.

The Ruination of Star Wars was a poorly written back-story. So much of it doesn't fit with what we know and assumed about the beloved Star Wars Universe: 
•The Jedi, who had fallen into legend by Episodes IV-VI, are a group of peace-officers who everyone in the galaxy seems to know about. Does it only take twenty years for the extinction of Knights who once resided in the galactic capitol and displayed their superpowers all over the galaxy to be forgotten or referred to as a 'hokey religion'? I always imagined them to be a secret group of protectors who officials in the Republic called upon in times of crisis but your average civilian didn't know much about.
•Technology in the past seems more slick and advanced. Droids seem to have less physical limitations. It only took a few decades for all robots to be reduced to rolling garbage cans or anthropomorphic tin men.
•Strange creatures and aliens are everywhere in the Republic. Where did they all go when it became the Empire?
•Anakin built C3PO? Whyyyy? What does that symbolize? What kind of meaning can be gathered by that kind of needless story coincidence?
•This movie introduces lots of characters like Qui-Gon Jinn and Queen Amidala who are supposed to be very important but who's legacy has no existence in the original trilogy. 

That list of inconsistencies goes on and on.

If this is all a back-story with the idea that you're supposed to watch all the episodes in a row, don't the prequels just give away all the surprises? The identity of Yoda, Anakin Skywalker being Vader, and Leia being Luke's sister are robbed of their drama in Episodes IV-VI if you watch I-III first. It is a shame that no one realized this before these movies were made, but the story of Anakin turning to Vader, even if it had been done well, is pointless. We already know what we need to about him through the original movies. What this movie and Episodes II and III needed to be solely about was how the Republic became the Empire.

Perhaps the worst expansion in this movie is the way the Jedi are portrayed. Now that the history of the Jedi has been brought to the big screen, I can honestly say I think they're the dumbest looking so-called wise men I've ever seen in fantasy. Everything that was cool about the Jedi in The Empire Strikes Back is ruined with this movie alone. Their conduct is pseudo-mystical. They're full of contradictions. Worst of all, they try to scientifically justify the Force which is an idea that is beyond terrible.

This movie has characters who are boring or annoying. The same can be said for the situations they're in. When it was written, I'm sure that this movie was constructed like many other action flicks: Come up with a bunch of cool ideas and action scenes. Then attempt to connect them together with plot and you have a story. It is the plot that seems very lackluster and hardly thought through. What wasn't so clear to me until recently, is that one of the worst things about this movie is that so much of the story doesn't make sense. It uses the cheap-trick of convoluted plotting to get the audience to think it's smart. When you break it all down, none of it is logical. This revelation came in full-force when I first saw the fantastic PLINKETT REVIEW which gave me closure on my frustration with The Ruination of Star Wars to this day. The review hilariously shed light on everything I didn't even consciously realize was wrong with this movie. There were so many instances when I thought to myself, "That's why that scene felt so weird!"

In the end it is my fault that I put so much faith in Star Wars. It became an important life lesson to not idolize my heroes. Everyone and everything is fallible. Some more than others. 
George Lucas is completely responsible for the failure that took place here. The success of his beautiful space saga from years ago made him the unquestioned maestro he wanted to be. Lucas stands for everything that is true and right in the world of film and it's need for a voice and no interference from a meddling studio system. He also makes the worst case for such a cause. If some studio executives had the ability to interfere with Lucas's vision on this movie, it would have only been improved. The legacy of George Lucas will be that of a visionary man who changed movies forever with his entertaining innovative techniques and collaborators, became a powerful businessman as a result, gained the full artistic control he had always wanted, and had nothing interesting left in his soul to do with all that power.

It hurts to lose a hero.  

No comments:

Post a Comment