Star Wars III
FrankenVader begins to rise into hilarious view.

Golden Mug

NOMINEE: Sound, Visual Effects

Theatrical Release Date: 05/19/2005
Director: George Lucas
Cast: Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid

It probably can’t be a good thing that my thoughts about “Star Wars Episode III” were, ‘I can’t wait for this movie to come out so it can suck and I can have closure’. Episodes I and II were huge disappointments, making a mockery of the earlier films that captured the imagination of sci-fi fans and regular folks alike. With these last three, all of the spirit had been sapped away, as if Lucas couldn’t make up his mind whether he was making a film for kids or adults, toeing the line by developing a darker storyline but also bringing Jar Jar Binks to fruition.

Am I the only one who would rather have seen Howard the Duck in that role. Stupid Jar Jar (Mee-sah so annoyed). In any case, with no expectations going into the last of the new series, I actually was pleasantly surprised … mostly. For the first hour and a half, I was enjoying the film. Then Franken-Vader came on screen, clumsily busting loose of his restraints and crying out like his dog had just died. In that moment, Darth Vader became about as menacing as Pauly Shore.

Hayden Christensen should have been replaced for this last film. In Episode II, his character is supposed to be a whiny, petulant teenager. Christensen is great at that. But by this film, Anakin Skywalker is supposed to be headed to manhood, not acting like Mommy wouldn’t buy him a new bike. At this point of the story arc, Anakin needed an actor who could both show his unconditional love for Padme and carry off rage. Sorry, Hayden, that’s not you.

Speaking of Padme, poor Natalie Portman was left adrift in a sea of insipid dialogue and ridiculous fashion sense. Forced to utter such ninth-grade drivel as “Hold me like you did on Naboo” and “You’re breaking my heart”, she becomes not much more than a very attractive set piece. I hope she got paid mucho dinero for these three, because her performances broke my heart and now I need someone to hold me.

Ian McDiarmid was the lone bright spot, portraying a classic bad guy, bent on universal domination. Also, Ewan McGregor was fairly solid, though his character didn’t have much to do but follow Anakin around and eventually beat the snot out of him.

Oops, did I spoil the ending? Good.

The rest of the supporting cast ranged from pretty good (Jimmy Smits) to just plain stupid (Samuel L. Jackson), with none of the blame falling on them in my opinion. Even the best Formula 1 driver needs tires to win a race.

And don’t even get me started on digital Yoda. It was like watching one of those commercials where they have Fred Astaire vacuuming on the ceiling. I felt like someone had robbed a grave or something. Yoda had no soul in these films. Just because Lucas wanted him to have the fighting style of a Rheesus monkey on PCP doesn’t mean he couldn’t have used a puppet once in a while. (Sadly, the puppet was also more believable.)

Yoda’s flaws bring about a key problem with the film – the severe overuse of CGI (as with the last 2 films as well). What made the opening scene in the original “Star Wars” so great was that the ships had a tangible mass to them. They felt at least a little real, whereas even the best computer graphics are still not much more than very good moving paintings, devoid of weight, floating on the screen.

The story to this film was ok, but as mentioned in regards to Portman, the dialogue is tremendously bad. Any Junior High School English teacher would give Lucas an F and bring in his parents for a meeting. It’s too bad no one was able to convince Lucas to hand over his story ideas to a real screenwriter and let someone else sit in the director’s chair. If he had, there was the potential to make three very exciting films. But his need to keep control over all things in a galaxy far, far away left fans feeling gipped all over Earth.

I only wanted three things with this film – closure, Natalie Portman and Jar Jar’s head on a pike. 2 out of 3 will have to do. And a 2 is what this film rates from me. Thank goodness I was able to Jedi mind-trick the theater manager into letting me take in this keg of Foster’s. I needed it.