My history with this one is pretty simple. Nerdling GJ eagerly awaited its release and my oldest sister managed to get tickets opening weekend and we rushed off to the theaters. My eyes ate up every frame, especially the ones with dreamy Hayden Christensen on it (Don’t you judge me!) and poured over how this build onto the Star Wars mythos. Over the years, my feelings have soured toward it for many reasons, mostly because this was the first movie where I thought “Wow, the Jedi are kinda jerks.”. It’s probably my 2nd least favorite of the franchise.
I feel like The Last Jedi has made the prequels better because TLJ argued for letting the obsolete and ineffective ways of the Jedi die.The argument makes more sense now as we have 3 movies seeing the Jedi at their A-game and they flubbed it badly.
That being said, this movie brought its pulpy a game! From literally the first scene, it had the 30s/40s serial vibe. The guard with the eyepatch, Padme’s bulky helmet, the “Oh, we’ve made it. Thank go-OH GOD, WHAT’S HAPPENED?!” twist. Periodically, I’d just giggle and saying “This is so stupid, I love it.” Another peak moment is when the baddies are having the boardroom meeting on Geonosis and there’s just this nonsensical steampunk villain. *Chef’s kiss* This is what was missing from Phantom Menace.
Even the dreaded CGI now feels like the old painted backgrounds and models, which gives the movie more camp. The plot is also much simpler this time around. I was actually able to keep it with it rather just there for the ride whenever it popped up as I did during The Phantom Menace. Even the fanservice served the plot this time.
During the scene with Anakin and Obi-Wan chasing the assassin, I realized that this works a lot better as a western rather than a space opera. Many of the shoots and angles are very reminiscent of westerns, such as the fight between Obi-Wan and Jango, Anakin leaving Padme with the Lars family and the aforementioned chase scene with the assassin. When Obi-Wan meets Jango, it feels like it should be in a smoky saloon or rundown house than the sleek, space-aged quarters. Seriously, rewatch it as the Jedi as sheriffs and it gets better.
The third act is the grand gladiator/war movie sequences, throwing in even more genres to this smorgasbord.This is a mixed bag for me because the ugly CGI returned but the character interactions are leagues better and I can’t find it in my heart to not love the final lightsaber fights.
As for the acting, the main problem I have is that there’s no chemistry. While the acting in A New Hope certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, the trio had great chemistry and charisma between them. Even with the small scenes we get of them in the current trilogy, they still had the magic.
Unfortunately, Christensen, McGregor and Portman have no chemistry together. Obi-Wan does has more of a personality this movie during the scenes him bickering with Anakin, we’re supposed to feel the years of training and comradery they have but Obi-Wan feels Anakin’s unpaid babysitter. As for the romance, the tonal dissonance of between Obi-Wan’s western Who Dunnit mystery and the regency-era courtship and angst scenes is what confused me, not the awkward acting.
Romance was never Lucas’ strong suit (To me, the Han/Leia romance in Empire feels like the writers decided moments before working on the script and was told to make it feel like an inevitability) but when you think of it all as the “Forbidden romance between the knight and the Princess” or the 40s movies where the couple is thrown together and have adventures as they impossibly fall in love trope, it could have worked if the two weren’t so awkward together.
With that said, Christensen’s stilted acting has changed my thoughts on Anakin. While he’s framed as this hotshot kid who’s impulsive and arrogant, his constant puppy-eyed stares and hunched shoulders feel more like a victim? He was a slave child who was ripped from his mom and then thrusted into a life where he wasn’t allowed to have attachments. Yes, he was technically freed but was he? And now, Obi-Wan’s now Unpaid Babysitter vibes, their scenes feel like he’s talking down to him.
Throughout the movie, Anakin says things like “Obi-Wan wouldn’t want me doing this” or “If he saw that, he’d cross and without the arrogance, uber-certain attitude behind it, most of it becomes something different. Let’s not forget Palpatine in the corner is pulling some Grooming 101 stuff on him. It’s yet another example of things that worked on paper one way, and another way onscreen.
All things considering, I have a new fondness for this movie now. Attack of the Clones, you’re now my 4th favorite episode. Have a cookie.
- Jango Fett is played but Temuera Morrison which means that Aquaman, Moana and Boba are half-siblings. I don’t make the rules.
- My inner 11 year old came out and I was mooning over Christensen again. Sorry, not sorry.
- Christopher Lee, Wizard, Sith lord, IRL nazi hunter. YOu served us well, sir.
- The Western thing would also explain why in the 5 movies I’ve watched thus far, there’s been 3 bar/seedy location scene. They’re saloons!
- Oh, stupid space diner scene, you’re in the wrong movie. Go home, you’re drunk.
- WHY, GEORGE, WHY?!Image: VLC snapshot
- Jar Jar, I don’t blame you for what happened. “Smarter” people were also fooled by him.
- Oh, George Lucas, you are the walking example of why you need an editor.
- Sam Jackson reminds the coolest person in these movies
- Oh, Jedi counsel. You are the actual worst. Seriously, the clones were the equivalent of finding out that someone broke into your house and converting it into a smart house and they just went with it!
- Everyone who hates the Canto Bight sequence should rewatch the Droid factory sequence cuz, um it’s a doozy
- C-3PO’s puns and Jango Fett’s little sharpshooter gun twirl thing. Lucas, you self-indulgent man.
Alright, that’s one more in the can! Next week, we finished the prequels with Revenge of the Sith. Untill then, keep calm and Carrie on. r