Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Edited Episode II: Jedi have terrible tactics

So, they mentioned that they removed most of the battle droid back and forth in the phantom edits…I thought that would have missed it, but if I hadn’t known it was gone, I wouldn’t have noticed.

But on to the second (edited) episode…

For my part, I enjoyed it. I remember, the first time I saw it, the ‘adolescents who are essentialy bundles of broken glass inside’ got a little much, but with the edits removing most of that, the parts that remained seemed to be well acted and genuine. Anakin is pretty creepy, but most 18 year olds who’ve been celibate for the past 10 years would be, too. (And the creepiness is well acted, too.)

S said she had issues with the CG, especially R2D2 (who is really easy to do as a robot, or with an actor). The factory scene (what remained of it) was also superfluous. (And they edited out C-3PO’s ‘getting grafted onto a droid’ moment, which considering I didn’t really notice it was gone, was apparently a good thing.)

But all of these were really minor things for me. What really bothered me were two things: Appalling Jedi tactics and CG of mammals.

Maybe the writer was trying to make a point about the decay of Jedi society, or their self-perceived invincibility, but seriously? Taking all of the Jedi you have and leading them into a trap where two thirds of them could die? You’d think they would have found a way to have delayed the ‘execution’ for a few minutes while they waited for Yoda to get there with his *army*.

Mace Windu, you’re kind of an arrogant SOB who just gets people killed. Like how you think someone would have gone and checked on Shmi at some point during the 10 years. Maybe if Jedi are really that uncaring and not noticing the small things, perhaps it was time for someone to bring some ‘balance’.

Also, if Yoda has the power to lift a *huge* stone column, to save Anakin and Obi-Wan, you’d think that he could also just push it in the opposite direction, into Dooku’s ship. Also, even if he couldn’t have done that, you’d think he could do *something*, if only with the *army* that they had on the planet to at least try to stop a lord of the Sith from escaping.

Which brings me to the CG of mammals. Interestingly, for me, the CG in the film was reasonable, most of the time. The robots acted robotically, the parts of the factory looked like a movie impression of factory parts, even R2’s flying scene wasn’t reprehensible.

But all of the little critters, both of the mammalian monsters in the arena were horrid. That’s no castigation of the CG experts…They were doing the best they could. But there’s something about gravity, or anatomy (I’m not sure what) that just still seems unreachable with CG. Interestingly, the crab/alien-like creature was totally believable. Maybe because it only had hinges and no visible musculature, so the limitations of CG were not limitations…

It reminds me of the Lord of the Rings, where they had a bunch of CG, but they used (as I remember) in places where you wouldn’t notice it (as much) when it become dated later.

But overall, I enjoyed the film, plot holes aside. As edited, 3 stars.

The Princess Bride: Truly Timeless

This movie just has so much heart. So much. The Wikipedia page describes it as placing (top 100) in multiple categories, for love story, fantasy, etc…

But it’s difficult to pin down exactly why it’s such a cult classic. Maybe it’s a good director. There certainly aren’t any bad actors in the film. Cary Elwys is amazing, the bromance between Inigo and Fezzig is touching, and the villains are sublime.

One thing which might not be mentioned as much is how good the physical acting is in the film. Cary Elwys when he’s recovering from ‘only mostly dead’ is classic, never dropping out of character for even a second.

It’s just that you can see how much fun the actors had making the film. Their joy comes out of the screen.

The swordfight between Elwys and Patinkin was awesome, in how it portrayed their sheer joy at participating.

There are so many other things about the movie. Possibly the one unnecessary part was the ‘deadly fire swamp’, which dragged on too long, and hasn’t aged quite as well as the rest of the movie.

But there were also so many turns of phrase, little things like “get used to disappointment”,and ‘eel-infested waters’ which don’t even make the top 20 quotes from the movie, but ended up in the vernacular.

Fundamentally, I think its because the movie was just eminently quotable.

Overall, 4.5-5 stars, a true classic, 28 years later.

“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

Jake Lloyd was pretty good in The Phantom Edit

So, we decided to re-watch the star wars movies (for me, a lot because I had most recently watched to the end of Episode III, and I wanted to watch Episode IV to get a happier taste in my mouth)…

So, we started with Episode IV, and the movie has aged surprisingly well. We saw the version with the updated special effects, but overall, they were understated, and didn’t interfere with the plot. Much of the acting was pretty bad, but Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker held things together*.

The sword fight was almost slow and stately (especially after Yoda in episode II/III), but it made sense, and befit an old master confronting his old student. But anyways, the sword fights in IV/V/VI were all about the conversation and trying to convince each other of things than anything else.

The other interesting thing was how many of the phrases in the movie have entered the common lexicon: “I have a bad feeling about this”, “…a wretched hive of scum and villany…We must be cautious.” (Honestly, Alec Guinness may have been the only person who could carry those lines off, but I enjoyed them all.)

Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamil were were pretty bad. They did some good stuff over the competition over Leia, but most of their acting was execrable.

But anyways, we still cared about them as people, we cared about Obi-Wan, and he sacrificed himself for them (and Mark Hamil’s anger and sadness there was good). So, during the Death Star trench scene, there was actually tension while we waited for the result.

Overall, it’s difficult to give this movie one rating. For cultural influence, could easily be a 5, as an aged classic, probably 3.5 or 4, overall as a movie, maybe 3 or 3.5. But overall, good to watch, and I wanted to see rest of the film, which cannot be said for the next review.

*And Peter Cushing, for the Death Star scenes.

Which brings us to Episode I: The Phantom Edit

Having seen it in the theatres at midnight on opening night, and having been so thoroughly disappointed, I wanted to see what a new (better) editor could do with the footage provided.

It’s a really bad film. It’s racist (Gungans and Trade Federation), nonsensical (why didn’t they just go to a different junk dealer, why didn’t they go back for his mom immediately), and Jar-Jar, even mostly edited out, is a cringe-worthy character. S explained it that we don’t care enough about any of the characters, so there’s no tension, and therefore no real need for comic relief.

There were some bright spots. Jake Lloyd at 8 or 9 was a pretty good actor. The C-3PO meeting R2D2 for the first time scene was touching. This is actually a good time to delve more into Jake Lloyd. Apparently, he was so teased for being involved in such a bad and well-known film that he left acting. But, watching the movie, he’s fine in it. He’s pretty good for an actor of that age. If he doesn’t have the acting depth of Alec Guinness or Liam Neeson, well, he’s certainly better than Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, or Harrison Ford in Episode IV.

Also, the Phantom Edit removes the dialogue which makes him out to be a blundering fool (the ‘oops’), which makes his character pretty bad-ass. (It was pretty gratifying to see a starfighter take out droids and save the day, similar to how R2 did it with C’baoth in the Zahn novel.)

The pod race was still far too long, and somehow totally devoid of dramatic tension. Maybe because we’re never shown why we should care about Naboo or the characters. Also, looking at it 15 years later, Darth Maul was not really scary at all. If their ship had been a fighter on Tattooine, his involvement in the story would have ended right there.

But, in general, the actors in The Phantom Edit could easily have carried the day, given a better story and direction.

Overall, Two stars, which is miles ahead of the original edit.