May 29, 2007

Your Afternoon Coffee-Break Snarf

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, Mark Steyn reposts his jump-the-Alderanian-shark reviews of the three prequels.

Here he is on Episode I - The Phantom Menace:

The mistake was to release the movie. The build-up, the hype, the thrill of anticipation was going so well, you'd have to be crazy to risk all that by opening the actual film. But after the Star Wars nerds had been camped out on the sidewalks of America for a couple of months - or was it years? - George Lucas decided to show 'em the picture.

And, as even they must realise at three-in-the-morning moments of self-doubt, they were stiffed. I've never met one of these alleged legions of Star Wars fans, I didn't run across them in the Seventies or Eighties or Nineties - but, on the assumption that they exist, what I'm wondering is: how bad does a Star Wars movie have to be before the nerds start to gripe?

Here's a portion of Steyn's take on Episode II - Attack of the Clones:

This time round, a decade after The Phantom Menace, the Republic is under threat from 'separatists' who are threatening to separate because, er, well, um. . .I'm a Quebecer, so in theory this theme should have had a certain homely appeal. Instead, I began to realise what a Canadian political discussion must be like for non-Canadians. In this instance, it's a Canadian political discussion with a budget, so it's punctuated every 15 minutes by flying-car chases through a soaring futuristic cityscape or light-sabre duels on the rain-lashed launch pad of a distant planet, which ought to be an improvement, but, in fact, makes little difference: if you were told that, say, the fellows in the spaceships firing on each other during the asteroid storm were the Finance Minister of Quebec and the Deputy Trade Minister of Manitoba, it doesn't make it any more exciting, does it? This is the genius of Lucas: to have spent so much money making something so dull. Even the big love scenes between Anakin Skywalker and Senator Amidala couldn't be Amiduller: they trade policy-paper positions on the functioning of democracy, and then roll in the grass as if it's a contractual obligation.

And in a passage that is sure to get Mark's eyes damned by GroovyVic:

Lucas is now a director without peer when it comes to getting bad performances out of great actors. Does anyone remember when Ewan McGregor was one of the sexiest actors on the planet? As Obi-Wan Kenobi, he's turned into Obi-Wan Kenbranagh, a dull stick who, like his souvenir action-figure, has no private parts. He renders his ton of 'Meanwhile, back at the ranch. . .' dialogue in flat shipping-forecast tones.

Going for the hat-trick, Steyn writes of Episode III - Revenge of the Sith:

Vengeance is mine, saith the Sith, whith thoundth like Violet Elizabeth Bott. No such luck. Instead, it’s George Lucas, with what he insists is the final film in the Star Wars sextet. My guess is the first film in the new Star Wars septet will be opening circa 2008. Anyway, Revenge of the Sith is, so Lucas assures us, a ‘tragedy’. It might have been wise to have stationed an announcer at every movie house to announce this fact over the PA system since it eluded the audience I saw it with last weekend. When the Sith hits the fan, the fan bursts out laughing. Oh, to be sure, they were diverted by the opening dogfight and Obi-Wan Kenobi riding a wild four-legged space beast to hunt down General Grievous. But they were howling with laughter through all the so-called ‘tragic’ elements.

Go read the rest. You know that Steyn is absolutely right, of course.

Posted by Robert at May 29, 2007 02:23 PM | TrackBack

So how long are we going to have to wait for the remakes of these three?

Posted by: rbj at May 29, 2007 02:49 PM

Ha ha's true, though. These movies aren't examples of Ewan McGregor's best acting.

He isn't naked!

Posted by: GroovyVic at May 29, 2007 05:19 PM

I don't get it.... the first film was interesting because it had special effects. The 2nd film (The Empire Strikes Back was the 2nd film guys) was the only one that was any good - Lucas did not direct it of course. The 3rd I don't remember. I wish I could forget the 4th (and I was only forced to watch the DVD....)

Why do otherwise sane people spend money on this *stuff*?

Posted by: Zendo Deb at May 30, 2007 11:42 AM

I hadn't seen those Steyn reviews before, so thanks! Truer words were never written.

Posted by: Ith at May 30, 2007 11:19 PM

"Why do otherwise sane people spend money on this *stuff*?"

Because those of us who were between 5 and 12 in 1977 hold on to it as a magical piece of our childhood. Which Lucas has repeatedly managed to piss on, starting with the friggin' Ewoks. That's when the franchise jumped the shark, only at the time we didn't realize how deep is the water on the other side of the shark...

Posted by: John at May 31, 2007 01:47 PM