“I’d rather watch Barney than Star Wars.” – Some kid who (obviously) saw Episode 2
I used to be a Star Wars fan. Used to be is the operative term since I now consider myself a Doctor Who/Stargate SG-1/Andromeda/Battlestar Galactica/CSI/anything other than Star Wars fan. It wasn’t even all at once either. It was worn away by Star Wars Episodes 1 and 2. I went to a Midnight showing of Episode 1. After sitting through that, I decided I wasn’t going to pay full price for another Star Wars movie. So I hit the matinée of Episode 2. Halfway through it, I thought to myself, “If I left now, I wouldn’t care less.” Never have I ever wanted to walk out of a movie before. And I sat through Tank Girl. Tank Girl! Not even Naomi Watts admits she saw that movie, and she was in it.
Anyhow, reading a posting on another site by the author of Field Guide to the Apocalypse (love the book, by the way) about what she thought about Star Wars made me think about what killed my love of Star Wars. Granted, if I had seen Episode 3, I probably would come up with a slew of new reasons. But for now, I have to work with what I’ve seen.
1) No one told me there would be a test
Prior to Episode 1, the force was an omnipresent metaphysical energy, surrounding and passing through everyone and everything. And only a special few could manipulate it. Some for good, some for bad, the path of the force could lead to either good or evil.
In Episode 1, we learn that a certain level of midi-chlorians enabled people to use the force… and there was a test for it. In one stroke, we see the force change from a faith allegory to a chemical balance that could probably be treated by Ritalin.
Which brings up a nice little point. If I were the Emperor and aware of the danger the Jedi could present, I would be hell-bent to make sure that the “force test” was applied to everyone in the galaxy. No exclusions, just flat-out testing, often. Use it to find the potential allies, and to kill off the potential enemies. But that’s just me.
2) “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids”
Is it just me, or did the end of Episode 1 seem like the end of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. The day wasn’t won because the just were better, or had faith in their victory, but because they were lucky. Not even the fun lucky that we enjoy, either. They won because Aniken bungled into destroying the main enemy ship. That’s right, bungled. He hit a wrong button to launch himself into space. He somehow managed to get himself trapped in the hanger of said enemy ship. And then escaped (and blew up the ship) only because he hit every button in his ship. Throw in a Great Dane (oops, forgot about Jar Jar), and you have the mystery all wrapped up.
3) Character development, we don’t need no stinkin’ character development!
Episode 1 revolved around a group of flat and uninteresting characters. All of them had the potential of becoming more, but didn’t. We had the maverick (at least according to Yoda… I never saw it in the movie) Qui-Gon, the young (and boring) Obi-Wan, the whiny Aniken, the (let’s face it) bratty Padme, and the rather disappointing poser bad-ass Darth Maul. The one character that could have redeemed himself failed to do that.
Yes, that’s right, Jar Jar could have redeemed his annoying, antic-based nature. How? I know, it does seem tough. But, think about the first movie (Episode 4). Han Solo starts off as a scoundrel, willing to do anything to save his butt, even kill in cold blood. By the end of the movie, we see Han actually grow. He starts to care about Luke and the others, even to the extent of forgoing his escape to save Luke when he needed the help. Granted, Lucas screwed that over when he made Solo shoot first, but we still see it in the special editions… sort of.
Now, Jar Jar (shudder) begins as an inept coward. An idiotic sidekick who goes from one antic to another. Yet, when given the chance, he because a leader in the Gungan army. Does he redeem himself? Does he straighten up, lose his cowardly ways and grow into a real leader? No, of course not. If he had, we wouldn’t curse the name Binks. We get “blessed” with what Lucas thought we wanted in a character, a schmuck who takes out his own troops, screws up the simplest of attacks, and somehow manages to get himself stuck to an enemy robot. Ugh!
4) Geez, I’d turn evil, too
The key to Aniken’s transformation into Darth Vader isn’t the perils he faces. It isn’t the horrific death of his mother. It’s Padme, the only character to show no form of growth between Episodes 1 and 2 (is you can call Obi-Wan’s beard growth). Well, that’s not exactly true, it seems her libido grows quite a bit, making her the biggest tease in the galaxy. When she sees Aniken for the first time in episode 2, she is practically drooling on him (remember, in spite of the seeming lack of aging for Padme, she is something like 10 years older than him… so, way to go girl, going after a younger guy!). “Why, Aniken, you’ve grown so big and strong.” The only thing was her grabbing Aniken’s ass. Almost immediately, she recoils, “but we can’t, you’re a Jedi and you’re not allowed.” (One statement that made many Star Wars fans become Mr. Spock fans… at least he gets it every 7 years). All fine and dandy, except that she does this at least three more times in the movie, almost jumping his bones, then pulling back, throwing the whole Jedi thing back in his face.
5) Umm, I said that?
Episodes 1 and 2 are loaded with contradictions, some of which have been mentioned in other rants. But, for some degree of completion, I’m repeating them here.
Obi-Wan says he was trained by Yoda in Empire Strike Back. But, in Episode 1, he is the padawan of Qui-Gon, who Yoda says is training him (which is the reason why Qui-Gon can’t train Aniken as well). Either padawan is another word for intern, or Obi-Wan was senile when he said Yoda trained him, totally forgetting Qui-Gon.
Obi-Wan also says that when he met Aniken, he was already an accomplished pilot. Funny, I wouldn’t equate that goofy sled thing as a pilotable ship. Furthermore, Aniken never won before. They make a big point about that. I suppose Obi-Wan was just trying to make Aniken look better for Luke. “When I met your father, luke, he was a lot like you, a snot-nosed kid who never won a race before.” Yeah, that’s probably it.
One point that was brought up was that Ben never remembered owning droids, Granted, I don’t know what happened in Episode 3, but Ben never did own R2 and C3PO. Technically, it was true. But, unless he was senile and addled by Tatooine’s suns, he should have remembered them, even if he didn’t own them.
6) And the Oscar goes to… the Muppet!
One of the atrocities of Episode 2 is watching great actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman (she was great in The Professional) and the great Christopher Lee be outacted by a computer generated muppet. But, sadly, Yoda is the best actor in episode 2, which isn’t saying much. There are still great inconsistencies in how he’s portrayed. I particularly love how Yoda can barely walk without a cane, yet is able to leap around like a frog on speed and fight Darth Tyrannus. A friend of mine compared it to an old samurai film where the old nearly crippled master bursts into a frenetic dance of fighting prowess, without a thought to the fact that half his leg is missing. If anyone’s seen this movie, let me know. It sounds pretty cool, a lot better than Episode 2.
7) The one good thing about Episode 1
Kiera Knightley. Yes, Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Caribbean. She played the queen’s decoy. If nothing else, Episode 1 brought her to Hollywood’s attention. Yay!
8) The one good thing about Episode 2
Umm… There the… no… how about…. no… oh, there’s… no, that sucked, too. Well, at least it wasn’t Batman and Robin(shudder).