Right now... I’m at a loss of words. But I will try to voice some for you.
Some spoilers may slip out over the course of this review, and I want to give you fair warning because quite frankly, I’m not able to be responsible for what I may type below because.... I currently have so much more to say than I can type in a night or two about this film. Consider yourself warned.
You’ve been reading about my experiences leading up to this night for the last three and a half years. The anticipation, the hopes, the dreams, the terror... Could it live up to the mythology that I created in my mind around the films I grew up with?
What am I going to write about this film now that I’ve seen it?
Today and tonight while I waited in that monstrosity of a line, I had a fear.... A gigantic fear named JAR JAR BINKS. I’ve been terrified of this character since that night in Claridges in London back in August of last year when I read the script. I felt that he was very much an Alien Jerry Lewis clone, and that scared me to death.
After all, what the hell is Jerry Lewis doing as the third main character in a Star Wars movie, right?
When I read Moriarty’s review of THE PHANTOM MENACE, it scared me. You see, among all the people I knew that had read that script, only Moriarty and I agreed on Jar Jar. We liked him.
But when Moriarty ‘had problems’ with him.... Well... ya know, I got scared. I began hedging my bets on whether or not I’d love this movie.
Jar Jar was more evil and scary to me than Jaws, Linda Blair, that evil clown doll from Poltergeist, the carpet from THE SHINING and all of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Jar Jar began representing the Otis (from Superman) of this new Star Wars film.
But.... Guess what?
Mesa Luved Him!
When I first read Jar Jar’s scenes I was terrified because.... well whenever Jar Jar did something, I imagined the solitary focus being upon Jar Jar.
That is not the case. There are other people, creatures, things going on at the same time. Not only that... But, I saw something in Jar Jar today that... well, I didn’t expect to see.
The Gungans are a warrior based community, but ya know what? Jar Jar is a hippie. He doesn’t want to go to war. He doesn’t want to fight. He’s an awkward fella that probably wanted to be an artist or an actor, but was raised to believe he was a warrior. When he realized that... he started subconciously screwing up, trying to call attention to himself... or to be banned from his people so he could... Live the life of an independent soul.
But lo and behold, he ends up being drafted into service by his customs and traditions to be dragged all over the galaxy by a pair of Jedi. This isn’t what he wants to do in life, but it is the path he is set upon. What’s bizarre though is that I saw a parallel between Jar Jar and Much, The Miller’s Son from THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. Herbert Mundin, like Jar Jar, was saved then owed a life debt to Robin Hood. Then he is extremely goofy, not exactly funny, but he’s a goof. At the big fight at the end of the film.... Well, he’s clumsy and a bit stupid, but... he helps save the day, also like Planchet from THE THREE MUSKETEERS. In a way, I was a bit reminded of Jackie Chan’s battlefield antics, but as if it were Buster Keaton trapped out there, who’s dumb luck just manages to save him and make him a hero. Kinda like Chaplin in THE GREAT DICTATOR.
I can’t believe I liked Jar Jar, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe he’s the Best thing in the film.... far from it, but for some ghastly reason... I like the guy.
But ya know... That’s just part of the film, a very small part.
In a lot of ways, my brain is frazzled. I sat in that theater with a goofy smile on my face and my eyes and brain trying as hard as I could not to miss anything.
When I read the script, I told people I know that the movie could go either way. This is the way I wanted that script to go. There was a lot of interesting tidbits cut out like Bail Organa’s supporting of Queen Amidala’s vote of no-confidence, and the moments where General Zod discusses the betrayl with Palpatine. There was the naming of C3PO scene gone. The point where Anakin tells Padme that he will marry her. (a scene that sent chills through me in the script, but that I could see being awful if it wasn’t performed just right.) Originally Jar Jar was to pilot the Bongo, Jar Jar had a scene where his butt caught on fire, and... his hi-jinks were much much more in the 3rd draft.
By the way, I really dug Anakin too. For me, he was just a normal enthusiastic kid, which.... for me is terrifying because... Quite frankly it means any of us could become Darth Vader. This isn’t PECK’S BAD BOY, this is Andy Hardy going to the Dark Side! This kid represents Hitler as a child. Did Hitler run around stomping bugs, kicking dogs, soaking cats in gasoline and setting them ablaze.... Or did he draw and play? Well.... Anakin builds things, races and has a group of friends. He’s.... ultra-normal in a human sense. And I like that.
And... There was always just a taste of Darth Maul. Something that I’m willing to bet disappoints a lot of Star Wars fans. But for me, there is a reason for Darth Maul’s brief time in the Star Wars universe. You see. He’s been training and training and training forever. Being conditioned to kill Jedi, but... he’s never once done it. He’s like a gun that has never been fired, never really having been tested.
When he’s been given the mission to kill these two Jedi, it’s kinda like the first search and kill mission that a Green Beret goes on. He might be so eager for first blood that when he gets it.... He gets a bit too cocky.
Everybody has always invested too much with Darth Maul, for me, he’s there to make Darth Vader look WAY cooler. Maul was a single minded pit bull, Darth Vader was the dark lord of the Sith.... If you build Maul to be waaaay too cool, then you take away from Vader. Maul served his purpose, he’s here to tell us.... “Dude, the clone wars are gonna be cool!” but not much else.
Also, he’s there to make Obi Wan look like an utter badass, eh? I mean, come on... Ewan is like sooooo cool in this movie. I loved him. He is definately my favorite character of the film.
Palpatine was fantastic. Sure, he’s there just a tidbit, but like Vincent Price’s Cardinal Richelieu in the old Gene Kelly THE THREE MUSKETEERS... wow.... He’s played with a thick foam of slyness, the fox, and man.... When he pats ol Anakin on the shoulder and says he’ll be following his career with much interest. Chills man. Total chills.
As for characters like Ric Ollie and Captain Panaka... They are just set dressing. They don’t necessarily add or take away for me. They just exist here. I can’t wait to see this movie with a gaggle of kids some morning.
This film does alot of utterly fantastic things, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Lucas’ characters need a bit more depth, but you know what... I feel a bit like Emperor Joseph II telling Mozart, to take out a few notes and it’ll be perfect. I am so sated by this first viewing that.... I’m pleased as punch. Relieved as can be. I’m a happy camper.
After the film, it was 2:30am. Everyone and their brother filed out into the lobby and everyone began talking about the film. Some people, notably the guys wearing Darth Maul make up seemed let down. While others wore smiles etched into their faces. Others left, working their ways home where they could gather their thoughts and process exactly whatever it was that they had just seen.
Me.... and my friends. We talked about the film till 6a.m. alongside the theater. I was quiet mainly. Listening to what people loved and hated about the film.
People seem split on Anakin, some feel the Gungans are worse than Ewoks, others love them. Everyone wanted Darth Maul to kill 70 people (except for me) and people wanted less goofy stuff.
Most everyone in the group that stuck around had a blast with the film, but had nitpicks here and there.
Some in the group had no idea what they thought. They had steered clear of spoilers, had utterly no idea what to expect, and.... they had sooooo much to process that they were left with statements like, “I loved it when the light saber was stabbed in that door!” and “Ya know... Jar Jar wasn’t as bad as I thought, but he still sucked!”
Where does this film stand against the earlier films. I’ll really be able to answer that in a year. After I’ve seen the film 20 times. And even though I knew just about everything that was going to happen.... I didn’t once the film started. I just let the movie take me. And it did.
Now.... Now I’m left with the thoughts that about the next films. I’m not real sure of the importance of Naboo, but I’m willing to be that we’ll see a lot of damage here. Jar Jar and his people may not be around too long. His life debt has been payed, and he’s no longer tied to anyone. Will Darth Sidious take another apprentice before Vader.... Is Sidious the Emperor? Sure the next film will be romantic, but there is also a war waging.
My god, I’m trapped in this. I’m so utterly love smitten. I was afraid tonight. Instead, I saw a really wonderful adventure. A fairy tale that told of a galaxy far far away. I guess I’m still a kid, because when I came home this morning... I didn’t update, I didn’t even go online. I just played with my toys. Holding them, and trying to figure out what their place in things were.
I don’t know about you, but the whole Jedi Council pan at the end of the film.... Had a lot of forboding attached to it.
And right now, I want to apoligize to the folks that hate this movie. I don’t. I genuinely loved it. Yes, I’m a STAR WARS fan. Yes, I overlooked the hilarity, which while I enjoyed it, I hope that it gets toned down to almost nothing in the coming films.
I could feel the people in the room disliking elements of this movie. Afterwards I heard some people talking about a movie that was just a big fight between Darth Maul and Boba Fett and... I realized how that is what a lot of us have become.
Why waste time with characters like C3PO, JAR JAR, WATTO, etc... Let’s just get to the meat. No veggies please. I want dramatics with the characters that interest ME! I don’t want all this silly stuff, I want three dimensional characters!
That’s why you’re gonna love THE LORD OF THE RINGS that Peter Jackson is working on. Every complaint that STAR WARS fans have with this film, is not in Peter’s film. Peter is a fan, like us, that wants to take things to the next level, and ultimately... George is still at the same level he was at before.
He’s still making popcorn confection like nothing you’ve ever eaten. It’s like the best bowl of Frosted Flakes that you have ever eaten. When you put in the bananas, added some sugar and.... you know what... You ate the whole box while watching your favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons (Scooby Doo, Space Ghost, Dungeons & Dragons, Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, Blue Falcon, etc).
Sure he tells us that he’ll bring us a fine wine with an excellent banquet, but this time he just skipped to dessert. Will we get our meat and potatoes? Will we open up a fine Merlot? Will the story deepen? I’m willing to bet it will. I enjoyed this serving of Flintstones Vitamins.
I’m going to see this film alot. But now, more than ever, I’m dying to see LORD OF THE RINGS. And... I’m dying to see this one.... again.
It’s Star Wars. And I love it. No excuses, that’s just the way it is. Go.... Have fun.... be a kid again....