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2002, Dir. George Lucas
143 min. Rated PG.
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Ewan MacGregor, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee.

Review by Bobby Jones and Chad Shonk



The more I think about this movie, the more I hate it. Now, I saw it Wednesday night, midnight like many people. Afterwards I was one of few people defending it. I said "Sure the acting and the dialogue sucked, but there was plenty of good stuff too." Then I saw it again the next day. That's when I really started to think about it. I've finally come to terms with the whole "it's awesome because it's Star Wars" thing. The simple fact of the matter is that this movie, just like Episode I, does not live up to what it should be.

I'm gonna break it down into good ol' fashion list form starting with the stuff that sucks.

1. George Lucas should come up with the ideas. Someone else should write the scripts and direct the movies.

The dialogue in this movie is some of the worst ever written. There was nothing in the first three Star Wars movies that can even compare to Anakin talking about how sand gets everywhere and is irritating and how soft it is here. Jesus. And there are so many lines just as bad. And not only are the lines bad but the execution of the lines is just as miserable. And the thing is, I don't think that it's the actors faults. Even Sam Jackson is stiff and robotic, like he's not even trying. The only person in the whole movie that seems to care or put any emphasis into his role is Obi-Wan. There is absolutely no chemistry between Anakin and Padme, nor do they have any charisma at all. Now, Mark Hamill wasn't a great actor, but at least it seemed like he cared. At least we believed that he was Luke Skywalker and that he was genuinely affected by the events taking place around him.

2. The Love Story.

I know that the love story is necessary but I came to see Star Wars, not Dawson's Creek.

3. Computer Animation is not what it used to be.

Computers have done awesome things for movies. Just watch The Matrix. But I think that computers are one of the main downfalls of the Star Wars prequals. When it comes down to it...the special effects in the first three movies were better. Those movies looked that stuff was really happening. You know why? Because it was real. The whole idea of this is that after all of the movies are made you should be able to sit down and watch all size movies as one story. But when we make that jump from Episode III to, it's gonna be nasty. And it all started with the Special Editions. Remember that Jabba scene in A New Hope? It looked like ass. All of the aliens in the new movies? They look like a computer created them. They just don't look good, no matter how awesome the technology is. There wasn't a single shot in Episode II that was manipulated in a computer. Now, I'! m not saying that they shouldn't be used at all, just that they shouldn't BE the movie. Lucas should have stuck with miniatures and rubber suits in my opinion.

4. Yoda.

Apparently, this was the best part of the movie for most people. The grand finale. I thought that it was the worst. Terrible it was. And it's not just that the computer-generated Yoda looked like a computer-generated Yoda and not a real thing, that is just a small part of it. There is a well known rule understood by all movie directors that sometimes not showing the audience something is often more powerful than actually showing them. We all know that Yoda could kick everyone's ass and it has always made it cooler that he doesn't. And then to have him in a Bruce Lee like kung-fu pose before jumping around like a frog that watched too many Jet Li movies is bordering on being offensive.

And these are just some of the main points. I won't even talk about all of the stupid line they gave 3PO or stupid CGI beasties that the heroes had to fight on Geonosis. Now, there was some really good stuff in the movie. Such as:

1. Obi-Wan.

Not only was Ewan awesome in this role, but the parts in the movie with him where awesome. Obi-wan's investigation from the library to the planet of Kimino was super cool. And his battle with Jango Fett was one of the best parts of the movie. It was especially cool when he jumped out the window and grabbed that droid.

2. The story.

The story actually made sense and really seems to advance the whole Star Wars saga into the right direction.

3. Anakin killin' all of the Sandpeople.

4. Christopher Lee

5. Anakin/Obi-Wan vs. Count Dooku. What a cool lightsaber battle. Probably the only time in the movie when Anakin looked "cool" was when he was fighting Dooku.

6. Jango and Boba Fett.

I could go on and on with this but I think that I will stop here. I'm a huge Star Wars fan. I always have been. I've basically waited my whole life for these movies. And now...after the first two prequals, I'm just as huge a Star Wars fan. Just one who is a little disappointed. These movies should have and, I think, could have, been much better.


Okay. The Shonk's turn.

First off, Bob-o, I'm sorry you didn't like it. You're actually one of the few people I know that didn't. I, on the other hand, loved it more than either one of you. Here's a run down of my thoughts.

Instead of going off on what I think of the movie (that could take forever) I'll just address the major criticisms. Just so happens that Bobby's problems with the movies are the same as most critics'. (think about that, mr. jones, you agree with roger ebert):

1) The acting and the dialogue. Well, Lucas DID get help from a man named Jonathan Hales. And, yes, the acting and dialogue could have been better. But they are bad in all five movies with the exception of EMPIRE, and even that has its terrible moments. The only good performance in the originals (besides Alec Guiness) is Harrison Ford. You want to see bad performances? See Hamill pretending to be moaning in his sleep as Han stuffs him into a Tauntaun. Or the scene between Luke and Leia at the Endor Village. Or pretty much any of Threepio's dialogue. I mean, honestly, is he really less annoying than Jar-Jar? Okay, Jar-Jar is worse, but what I'm saying is that when we were kids, we didn't notice this stuff. And it became special to us. The orignal Star Wars got panned by critics for the same thing. Wooden acting and bad dialogue. The only reason it did so well when it opened was because of the special effects. Same as Kubrick's 2001, honestly. It only became a classic in retrospect.

Dialogue? Heh. Acting? Heh. A Lucas craves not these things. I think Lucas will go down as one of the most mis-understood film minds of our time. And I don't say that as a Star Wars fan, but as a film theorist and scholar. Lucas's approach to film making, what he calls a "symphonic" approach, rivals that of Sergei Eisenstein, whose "montage" style was labeled too obscure for most people. Lucas thinks like a silent filmmaker. The dialogue is simply to advance the plot. And, like Eisenstein, Lucas casts actors by their type. He cast Hayden because of his look and his similarites to both Jake Lloyd and Mark Hamill. Natalie Portman looks like Carrie Fisher. The only time he has bothered to cast real actors (not that Portman isn't, but that's not why she's in these movies) is in the role of Obi-Wan. In both, he cast incredible actors who deliver great performances. But, let's not forget, even the mighty Sir Alec is terrible in Return of the Jedi.

Lucas's approach may not work for everyone and that's fine. But don't ever think that's he's lost it or that he's old or that he's just in it for the money. I don't think that's true at all. If he has a fault (which he has plenty, don't get me wrong, TPM sucked donkey balls for the most part) it's being too intellectual and not visceral enough.

2) The romance. I know this is a big piont of contention with people. Personally, it worked for me. Bad dialogue aside, the dynamic of it worked. You gotta remember that these are young people falling in love for the first time. Or, what they THINK is love. They meet. He's had a crush on her for ten years. So his motivations aren't in dispute. But what if she just found him HOT? He is. Hayden's a great loooking kid. All the girls I know creamed themself about 30 seconds into his role in LIFE IS A HOUSE. So Padme sees the little boy she once knew as the hot piece of ass he has become. Plus, he's a Jedi. That's probably the Star Wars equivilant of fireman or rock star or solider, i.e. PUSSY MAGNET. So she think's he's hot. But she can't act on it. It would be improper. She knows he's not allowed to date (I mean, that's what they're saying, right? That Jedi are celebate? Which means they're more akin to the old medievil fighting monks than actual knights) and so she refuses. Plus, Anakin comes off with a real creepy-stalker vibe. It freaks her out. So she starts putting him down in public. "Oh, Anakin's not really a Jedi." Emasculating him. Then, they get to Naboo and he lets loose a little bit. I will admit the scene where he's riding the tick-cow thing was bad, but you also have to read between the lines. They show us some scenes of them together on Naboo, but there are more. They spend who knows how long together. Then, when he's finally let loose and become a normal guy, she's finds herself falling for him. But she still can't. But she is now in love with him. So, later, when they're about to die, she says what she feels. Just like Leia, despite how much she loves Han, can't say it to him until it may be the last time she sees him. Chicks are like that. They suck.

3) "Computer animation is not what it used to be.? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING? Yes, these movies look different from the original trilogy. But, if they didn't that would be a real shame. Because you can do so much more now for a Sci-Fi movie than you could back then. Yes, the old movies look great. And they still do. But I think 98% of the tools he employed in this were very effective. He has created an entire world and it looks great. Does it look "real"? No. It's not supposed to. But go back and look at the Rancor scene and tell me the GOD AWFUL blue screen in that scene looks better than stuff now. Or the speeder bike. Or, the worst matte work of all time, Han and Lando standing in front of the Falcon. Terrible. CG may still look fake, but it looks cooler. I'd rather see a CG creature than another Greedo, who, as much as we love him, looks like shit. I just think in the medium of sci-fi/fantasy , CG is a godsend. Ask Peter Jackson.

And to get even more nitpicky, the things you love in the Matrix are not CGI. Bullet time and all that jazz are PHOTOGRAPHIC tricks. The cameras are controlled by the computer (as they were back during STAR WARS motion control days) but they are actual photographs. And the virtual background they created are made from photographs. The big CG in that movie, I think, looks like shit. The bug thing that goes into Neo's navel. The bullets that they CG in look fake to me. And the sentinal creatures look okay, but obviously computer. I like that movie, but the Wacharski Brother's didn't invent the wheel, they just painted it pretty colors.

4) As far as Yoda goes, you're on your own on that one. Best thing I've seen since I saw my first real tit up close.

In summation, I fucking loved it. I loved the first half, then it only got better when Mace Windu said "This party's over." The last 45 minutes were what I've always wanted to see. Jedi doing Jedi shit hard core. There were problems with it, sure. But compared to Phantom Menace this is a godsend. In my opinion, a far better and more fun film than 'Jedi."

I am not blind to the problems these films have. And I want to be critical. But I sat there for 2 hour twenty just coming all over myself. TPM was a bad movie, but a decent Star Wars movie. AOTC is a good movie, but a fucking badass Star Wars movie.

This party's over,

end transmission.


I do not agree. I don't agree with the criticism that the first three movies have equally as bad dialouge and acting. I understand Lucas's "silent film" approach but this only means so much when your making a movie with sound. So what if you caould watch the movie on mute and still understand it. That doesn't mean that you can slack off on the dialouge and just make a two hour piece of eye candy (I hate that term). That's like saying that the lyrics of a song don't matter, only the music matters. And dood, the CGI IS important. I think that is is useful and necessary to make certain movies. Sure the Rancor looked like ass. My point is that if Lucas was a bit more subtle and blended it in with other techniques (like in The matrix or Fellowship) the movies would look a whole lot better. Your mostly right about The Matrix though, most of the really cool stuff was camera techniques and super cool wire work. I didn't really think aboot it. But come on, the Yoda fight? Oh my god. Anyway, I already know quite a few Star Wars fans who hated this movie. I don't know, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I would definately agree that there is plenty of cool shit in the movie, I just think that shitty stuff outweighs the good stuff. The bottom line to me is that it disapointed me. Jedi didn't, dood I like Jedi. Ewoks are so way cooler than Gungans. I tried to like it, I really did. But after seeing it the second time, it just annoyed the hell out of me that these two movies didn't live up to what they should have in my mind. I don't feel like any less of a Star Wars fan, just less of a Star Wars prequals fan. It's weird that we haven't tlaked in so long but now Star Wars has brought us back in communication. Of course we are arguing about it, but at least we are talking. Later.


the main thing i would disagree with you about is this:

If you turn the sound off of a movie and can still follow the plot, then it is a well made movie. most filmmakers can't do that. it's actually an excercise we did in film class. watch most modern films and it doesn't work. dialogue is not cinematic. lucas is a filmmaker not a director. the term director comes from the theater, which is about talking. film is about images. that's why i like these movies. they are eye candy. that's what cinema is. what it should be. now, i love dialogue and talking movies and movies that are about character and story. all i'm saying is that there are different schools of thought. and differnt types of movies. dialogue does not make a good movie. ask kevin smith. hell, ask david mamet, whose last two films have blown despite his mastery of the spoken tongue. i will never use the phrase eye candy in a negative light. cinema is eye candy. the dialogue (a.k.a. the lyrics) is just a bonus. i love watching a great performance. wanna see some great performances? go watch diane lane and richard gere in 'unfaithful.' Monster's Ball hits video soon. Halle deserves every bit of Oscar gold she got, despite her annoying as fuck acceptance speech. i just didn't go into star wars wanting good acting. i wanted cool visuals, badass music, chase scenes, lightsabers, and, yes, yoda kicking some ass.

and we're not arguing, we're debating.

and we haven't talked but i haven't talked to anyone. haven't had much to say. until this came out. that's all.


Well, you make some very good points, especially concerning the theory of film. Unfortuately, I don't think that anything can make me like this movie more. The damage has been done. But man, that Jango Fett sure is cool.

He then wrote me back with something like “yea, that Jango Fett sure was cool” but I deleted the message. I’m sure you can make this part up and he won’t mind.

Final Thoughts

This movie is not all bad. I don’t want anyone reading this to get that impression. But there is some bad stuff going on here, no matter your school of thought on the theory of filmmaking. I know that I am not the only one who is put off by Lucas’s dependency upon digital effects. Some will disagree, but still, it can be all good (or all bad) if there are plenty of people debating it. Here is an excerpt from a recent review by Geoff Carr in Flagpole:

“Lucas fails in trying to digitize the childlike dreams of the original generation of Star Wars fans, over-embellishing in gimmickry, that, true, sells a lot of movie tickets, but cheapens his franchise altogether.”

My other main problem with this movie is the dual between Yoda and Count Dooku. Now, as of yet, I have only found one person who agrees with me on this matter. Remember Jaws. Jaws was scarier and more powerful because we hardly ever saw the shark. The same should apply to Yoda. Yoda is arguably the most powerful Jedi out there. And it is that much cooler for him to not fight. Especially in the over the top way that it is presented in this film.

May the force be with you. Always.


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