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Friday, May 06, 2005

This might be the movie we're looking for.

Background: I grew up on Star Wars. When the first one, now called Episode IV: A New Hope but simply called Star Wars then, came out in Summer 1977, I saw it the first day at the Chinese. The only thing I knew about it was seeing a teaser trailer for it. They were passing out "May The Force Be With You" buttons, and even though I hadn't the foggiest idea what that meant (and hadn't the foresight to know that I should hang onto mine because they are now collector's items fetching insane prices) I knew that this was a sign someone at Fox thought this movie was going to be big stuff. I came away from that movie totally blown away. I laughed, I cried, I was 100% geeked.

When I was at San Diego Comic-Con last year, I was shocked by just how much popularity the Star Wars franchise still had. I saw Episode I: The Phantom Menace and was so heartsick afterward I gave Episode II: Attack Of The Clones a miss. The only bright spot in the avalanche of drek that has been the Prequel Trilogy so far has been the Genndy Tartakovsky Clone Wars shorts for Cartoon Network.

And yet...there is another, as Obi-Wan reminded us in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

I have read what apparently is the authentic script for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and I'm blown away. I have had an inkling for a while that Lucas redeems himself for Episodes 1 and 2 with this one, and if this is authentic basically what he should have done was made only this movie, and made it a teeny bit longer and added the important plot points of the first two prequels into it in flashback. Hell, we geeks have plenty of sitzfleisch at this point: the Lord Of The Rings movies helped on that score. We could have easily handled a three-hour Episode III. The running time listed at IMDB says it's only 2:20. 40 minutes would have been more than enough time to condense the meat of the two previous prequels into flashback sequences.

I have yet to see The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which some have said sucks and some have said rules and even more have said is uneven but the scale tips in the "cool" direction. And I certainly was not one of the lucky ones to see a screening of Episode III at Skywalker Ranch. (Curse you Sam Rubin!) But I think I actually will break my MPAA boycott and see them both before they leave the theatres.

Yes, fucking Jar Jar is in this one. The script has him speaking briefly, and he doesn't say "Meesa scared, point dat lightsabre at meesa!" From the reports I've heard, his dialogue ended up on the cutting room floor, and all you see is a brief glimpse of The Hated Gungan. I would have rather they had left his appearance entirely on the cutting room floor, but oh well, gotta flog those toys for Kenner.

I like the fact that this movie is dark and depressing and tragic, just like Episode V. I like the fact that it's not for the kiddies. Darth Vader is not sweetness and light. He raped his own daughter in Episode IV. Remember the bit where Vader meets with Leia to try to get her to tell him where R2D2 went? The door closes menacingly, and the implication is obvious what happens next. He's enough of a monster to where when The Big Revelation comes in Episode V you are crushed by its weight just like Luke is. How could a monster like Vader be Luke's father? Of course in Episode VI it is confirmed, and Vader redeems himself by giving Palpatine the big shove. (Yes, I know these are spoilers, but you ought to know by now this is how the story goes.)

Will there be another three episodes, set after Episode VI? Lucas says no, but he's said no to things he later said yes to before. I'd like to see some fresh blood involved with them, including a new director and new writers, if they do happen. There's talk of turning Clone Wars into a series, although I would rather see it classically animated like the shorts rather than the 3D animation Lucas says he's going to use for that. Just let Genndy keep it going the way he has. Please? And then there's the possibility of a live-action Star Wars series, set in the gap between Episode III and Episode IV. Again, please get some new blood in there for that!

If this is the last Star Wars, please, Lucas...RETIRE. All indications are this is a return to the form of the first two episodes. Good. Just go out on this one and let a new generation of geeks do the next Star Wars projects. RETIRE, Lucas. Please.