Ok, I just got back from an 8:30 IMAX showing here in SoCal...
Here are my impressions.
Flame away if you must, but consider, I am a harsh critic of the movies I want to love...
*Major MAJOR Spoilers from here*
First things first, good popcorn movie, not real deep story, and a bit overrated/underrated depending on your point of view.
I went into this movie expecting absolutely nothing after being so disappointed with overhype in not only Ep 1 and 2, but also with the Matrix series and a few other high profile duds.
And now, the good.
- Some fine action sequences, lots of kickin hand to hand jedi battles, and a very likeable and toned down Yoda (I didnt really like him in ep 1 or 2)
Ewan McGregor's acting was superb for the scenes he played with Anakin and really rose to steal the movie in spots. That being said, there were plenty of missed opportunities that could have made his plight even more emotional, but more on that later. I thought Hayden was much more believeable once he finally became evil. Before, however, he still felt out of place.
- The cinematography was beautiful and the CGI was well done, a far cry better and more believeable than any other CGI laden movie. The new standard has been laid down I thought.
Corescant city was as beautiful as ever... the wookie world of kaassyykk (sp) was just like I remembered in KOTOR and even the CGI characters were much more toned in and believable. Very well done.
The Humor/entertaiment factor
- A very sore sticking point was remedied for me as well. The humor was well placed for a change and R2D2 was just really fun and the scenes he was in were much more enjoyable and did not detract from the overall action. The toned down C3PO was much more easy to take as was the lack of Jar Jar type of annoying actors.
As for the entertainment, well, most of the scenes are laden with pretty good action. There are tons of lightsaber battles, some real fun space dogfights and even some great shooting scenes. My favorite had to be the poor droid army getting blown to bits. I dont know why but machine suffering and dismemberment really amuses me
- The story itself was of course, predictable, only because it had to be. But, learning the reasons and how the corrupt republic came into power was infinately more interesting than some boring trade federation nonsense they shoved at us in Ep1. Overall, this story was an asset to the movie, not a detraction like previous incarnations.
However, as with all action and sci-fi movies, there was plenty bad to discuss. With this movie, it was much harder to really find flaws than Ep1 and 2 but there were some real sticking points that rubbed me wrong and took away from my enjoyment.
For whatever reason, it was a very jumbled mess at times and some scenes felt out of place, while others might have dragged on a bit long, others too short. The big battle at the beginning to rescue Palapatine started so kickass, I was really ectatic. However, it was far too short (just a few minutes) and for a battle of that scope, it really left you wanting FAR more than they offered. Although there were never any truly dull moments, sometimes you got the feeling that they could have really trimmed up a few things in spots and made it more tight.
The run-time of 2:30 hours was never really too long though so hey, at least they can sell more tickets!
Missed opportunities aplenty
Boy, I felt like they really missed capturing some easy dramatic moments. Example - the deaths of the jedi prodigy children and the reaction of Obiwan/Yoda.
For some reason, it didnt have the impact emotionally when Yoda and Obi-wan discovered them. It was almost made to feel sanatized or as a matter of fact like. Why didnt they show more devastation? These were the Jedi children of the future and they were all mutilated and killed, yet hardly a heart felt reaction. A real let down. But it gets worse in the same scene.
When Obi-wan discovered it was Anakin that killed the children and has turned to the dark side, they almost made it seem like an afterthough on screen. Dont get me wrong, you could feel that he was disturbed to learn that his prodigy had betrayed them, and maybe even feel shocked, but they really had been building the entire prequel to this VERY scene in my mind, only to have a passing glimpse of the pain he felt. Totally blown...
Padme's strange death. After hinting about the death of Padme for the better part of the movie, when it actually became clear why she died (A 5 second choke hold?) and the lame cop out (She has no will to live), I felt cheated. Her death did not move me, or the audience I sat with at all. It was just senseless and a real waste of a climactic end moment to her character. Just abysmal.
And I know it was cool seeing and hearing Vader for the first time late in the movie, but it felt forced (no pun intended) and a bit too melodramatic. From, half-melted man, to mechanical monster. No period of adjustment kinda dragged down what could have been a fun transformation.
And now, the just flat out bad
What is with the drab soundtrack? Subdued and uninspired for most of the movie, the music felt disjointed and dull instead of being a superior grade for the rise of the Sith and the Empire. A real, real downer considering the wealth of action on screen.
Wasted/out of place actors - Listen, I like Jimmy Smits and Christopher Lee as actors. But, the material they were given was just garbage IMO. Lee's character was a total waste and his lines were so few, I just couldnt believe it. They spent so little time building up a few characters too. And what the hell was the need to really tie in Chewbacca in there? I know, I know, for the sake of continuity, it was better to have a recognizable mug in place. But please... this was almost as silly as tying in Boba Fett as the model for all the clones. Fanboys flamewar start here....
Wooden acting once again takes center stage at bad moments. Palpatine was almost comically bad over the top with his evilness at times. It was almost embarrasing at times. And the voice and dialog of General Grievous, (an actor named Matthew Wood, how appropriate) was just bad and corny. I dont know why, but his character was just not quite what I was hoping for. Oh sure he was bad, had four arms and could really flex those multiple joints of his into many cool jumps and moves, but I found him to be mostly annoying and cartoonish...
...which leads me into the obvious LucasToytm
tie-in. You could just smell the product placement with the lizard/dinosaur Obi-wan rode and all the various cretures including entire Wookie family. (Didnt Lucas learn from the wookie christmas special
Hayden Christensen had a stone face, mostly emotionless or mad all the time. I dont care for his work in this series and this movie was no exception. Natalie Portman was reduced to a minor supporting actress for most of this movie and even then, it was not fantastic work. She really disappointed me at times. But to be fair, she did have excellent dialog and screen time with Obi-wan.
I like Sam Jackson as much as anyone but man, he just could not deliver the dialog in more than one tone for the entire movie. A real disappointment up to his death (which despite what Alec said) was pretty good.
Lastly, the almost unbelievable transformation of Anakin into Vader at times. Why did he just suddenly turn full-fledge into a murdering killing machine? Sure it was implied that he was seduced with promises by unattainable powers, and he was tricked into saving Palpatines life, but just to jump full in like he did? No questions asked after saving him? It just felt like a rough transition into pure evil.
Overall, a fun popcorn flick, better than the Ep1-2 blunders, but a far cry from being as hyped up as some critics will lead you to believe.
6/10 Pez stars
folks... Now, off to wash off the geek stink after waiting in line for 2 hours to see it... What did everyone else think so far?