Further Sith Reviews And Commentaries

There has been a huge number of blogospheric reviews of Revenge of the Sith written since the film’s release, many of which were straight-forward reviews. Some, however, have stood out from the pack:
Citizen Smash reports that RotS made him laugh, and not in a good way; Orson Scott Card called it as good as Lord of the Rings, except for the writing; Amygdalagf has posted extensive analysis of the portions of the RotS script that ended up on the cutting room floor (looks like there was the makings of a good movie in those cut bits!); Pejman Yousefzadeh makes the case for an Aristotilian reading of the Star Wars saga; Douglas Kern contemplates the place of Mercy in the Star Wars universe (and, as a bonus, in the realm of Middle Earth as well!); Jeff Harrell calls it really, really good; Cap’n Ed liked it and makes the claim that it almost makes going back and watching Episodes I and II again worth it.
I’ve only one thing to add: if Lucas is indeed planning on going through with a live-action Star Wars TV show, he could do far worse than bringing Orson Scott Card on as a script adviser.

Episode Drei

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
As previously mentioned, I acquired a ticket to attend a screening of Episode III yesterday morning. I had to hoof it out to King of Prussia in order to see it, but my efforts were rewarded with a continental breakfast, coffee, complimentary popcorn and soda, a brief and boring product rundown by the vendor responsible for the whole affair, a blue “Jedi Knight light saber” flashlight/glow stick and lastly, the movie itself.
On to the impressions of said movie! To paraphrase James Lileks’ review of Episode II: It didn’t suck.
First off, the high points. The print that I saw was absolutely flawless, with vibrant colors and a crispness that I don’t believe I’ve ever seen on a non-IMAX presentation before (Lucas’ choice of the newest in digital moviemaking technology probably has a lot to do with it). The visual effects department at Lucasfilms is obviously at the top of their game – the sweeping vistas, busy Coruscant skies, intense battles on Kashyyk and flawless lightsaber duels all serve admirably to transport you, the viewers, into the Star Wars universe. Yoda was done right this time, by which I mean he actually looked like a puppet. Except for the fluidity with which he moved, he very well could have been a Henson’s Creature Shop creation. I was quite impressed. Frank Oz’s voicework as Yoda was, as always, excellent and he and Ian MacDiarmid (as Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine) put in wonderfully campy performances.
It also became apparent to me why Lucas picked Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman to play Anakin and Padme Skywalker. Several times I found myself thinking “Boy, Christiansen actually does look like a young Mark Hamill. I could see him being Luke’s father.” and “In the right light, Portman does have a Fisher-esque air about her. She pulls of the whole ‘Leia’s mom’ thing.” Heaven knows it wasn’t because he could motivate them to act.
Lastly, Lucas apparently decided to constrain Jar Jar Binks to a single three second non-speaking appearance, and the movie is better off for it.
Next, the low points. The dialog is atrocious; it’s every bit as bad as you’ve heard. The performances were all (Oz and MacDiarmid excepted) wooden, stilted and thoroughly unengaging. During close-up dialog scenes, relentlessly busy backgrounds distract from what the characters are actually saying (David Edelstein calls this compunction of Lucas’ “digititis” – “the compulsion to sprinkle every frame, every pixel with cyber-MSG, so that the simplest conversation is upstaged by a backdrop of shuttle-crafts darting up and down, side to side, and diagonally. It’s like competing for attention with hundreds of goldfish on speed.”), which, come to think of it, could actually be considered a blessing when you realize just how lousy the actual dialog is.
There are also several large continuity problems, at least when you attempt to reconcile the events and timelines of this prequel trilogy with those in the original three. I’ll lay out a few more of my nit-picky issues in the spoilers section below.
In total, though, Episode III was eminently worth seeing. I’d place it after Episode IV/”Star Wars”/”A New Hope” on my Star Wars Enjoyment Scale (it’s V,IV,III,VI,II,I, in case you were wondering). Like a joke whose punchline one already knows, it’s all about the delivery. Fortunately, Lucas’ delivery of Ep. III exceeds his mediocre efforts in the first two prequels. This is one movie he shouldn’t be ashamed of.

Now, to the nits:

  • In Return of the Jedi, Leia clearly tells Luke that she remembers her mother, which is an impossibility seeing as Padme dies in childbirth.
  • Jimmy Smits: super legislator. I didn’t buy it on The West Wing, I ain’t buyin’ it here. Clearly he’s the Billy Dee Williams of the prequels.
  • “If you’re not with me… you’re my enemy!”? Egah.
  • For a bunch of mystical martial artists with supposed “Spidey Sense”-esque precognition abilities, Jedi sure are easy to shoot in the back.
  • Samuel L. Jackson is a bad, bad mamma jamma. Why’d he have to go down screaming? Dooku didn’t.
  • Speaking of Jackson, did you know the characters he plays die in over 90% of his film rolls he takes? Dig the top 10 according to Entertainment Weekly.
  • The CGI’d babies were among some of the worst digital effects I’ve seen in ages. Did they just run out of SFX money towards the end?
  • I’m not buying the fact that a healthy and hale Macgregor turns into Alec Guiness after only twenty years. Unless those twin suns really did a number on him…
  • I remain unconvinced at the reason Anakin becomes Vader and the ease with which Palpatine-Sidious “lures” him in. “Become evil!” “No!” “It’s the only thing that can save your wife! You have to believe me, because, errrm, I’m like totally powerful in addition to being evil.” “Okay.” “Kill children!” “Yes, my master, as long as she doesn’t die.”
  • Dying of a broken heart? Give me a break, Lucas. Looked more like a broken trachea, thanks to Darth Soon-To-Be-Limbless.
  • Is there any reason any of the Jedi Council ever needed to actually wear the hoods on their cloaks? I mean, with their heads so far up their posteriors, I’d figure they’d have ample protection for their craniums.
  • Mary Shelley’s estate has a pretty good copyright infringment case against Lucas for that cringe-worthy Frankenstein’s Monster-esque “Noooooooooooo!”. I don’t think I was supposed to laugh, but I joined my fellow theatergoers in doing so.

Other reviews:
Glenn Reynolds collects reviews, both good and bad. Will Collier reviews it (make sure to read the insightful comments that follow his review too). Vin-Dawg loved it as did Photo Matt. Tyler Cowen offers a Straussian reading of the entire Star Wars universe, to humorous effect. Arthur Chrenkoff takes Lucas to task for being stuck in a Vietnam-era mindset, while PunditGuy offers a striking comparison for the Catholic faithful. Ed Driscoll didn’t see the supposed anti-Bush message but didn’t enjoy the movie any more for the lack of it. Seth over at Say Anything dug it, although his placing of Return of the Jedi as his former favorite SW movie (supplanted by Episode III, no less!) does cast suspicion on his opinion. John Podhoretz excoriated it.
But don’t let me or any of these reviews stunt your interest. Go see it at least once and come to your own conclusions. Just don’t say it’s better than Empire, or we’ll have to have speaks, one-on-one, you and I.

Sweet Jumpin’ Jim Jeffords On A Rocket-Powered Pogo Stick!

Looks like I’m going to need to start searching for people to buy my internal organs, as the PS3 has officially been revealed. The purported performance specs are impressive, as are the inclusion of Bluetooth controllers, Gigabit Ethernet, built-in 802.11 b/g support, 6 USB ports, Memory Stick/SD/Compact Flash ports, support for every stinkin’ optical media format out there and backwards compatibility with all PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games. Go check out some of the screenshots and shots of the hardware itself (particularly the Killzone 2 shots) then head over to Gamespot and watch the Killzone trailer. That’s all in-game footage, folks.
Ho. Lee. Crap.

DC Comics Changes Logo; Unclear Whether TN Titans Will Sue

Let’s say you’re an established company with an established reputation and a distinctive logo. Would you really want to throw away a quarter century’s worth of branding by switching to a new logo that looks like it might have been rejected by the World League of American Football?

Left: Good, simple, classic. Right: Bad, ugly, hideous.

I just don’t get people sometimes.

Engineering Humo[u]r

Understanding Engineers – Take One
Two engineering students crossing the campus when one said, “Where did you get such a great bike?”
The second engineer replied, “Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, “Take what you want.”
The first engineer nodded approvingly, “Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn’t have fit.”
Understanding Engineers – Take Two
To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
Understanding Engineers – Take Three
A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.
The engineer fumed, “What’s with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!”
The doctor chimed in, “I don’t know, but I’ve never seen such ineptitude!”
The pastor said, “Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let’s have a word with him.”
“Hi George! Say, what’s with that group ahead of us? They’re rather slow, aren’t they?”
The greens keeper replied, “Oh, yes, that’s a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.”
The group was silent for a moment.
The pastor said, “That’s so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.”
The doctor said, “Good idea. And I’m going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there’s anything he can do for them.”
The engineer said, “Why can’t these guys play at night?”
Understanding Engineers – Take Four
Q. What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?
A. Mechanical Engineers build weapons and Civil Engineers build targets.
Understanding Engineers – Take Five
The graduate with a Science degree asks, “Why does it work?”
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, “How does it work?”
The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, “How much will it cost?”
The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, “Do you want fries with that?”
Understanding Engineers – Take Six
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body.
One said, “It was a mechanical engineer.” Just look at all the joints.”
Another said, “No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections.”
The last one said, “Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?”
Understanding Engineers – Take Seven
“Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.”
Understanding Engineers – Take Eight
An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress.
The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship.
The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because the passion and mystery he found there.
The engineer said, “I like both.”
“Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the lab and get some work done.”
Understanding Engineers – Take Nine
An engineer was crossing a road one-day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me, I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.”
He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week.”
The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.
The frog then cried out, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I’ll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want.”
Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, and that I’ll stay with you for a week and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”
The engineer said, “Look, I’m an engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that’s cool”.
Credit: The Daily Brief.