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Old 09-18-2007, 02:43 PM   #511
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:59 PM   #512
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Old 09-18-2007, 03:06 PM   #513
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Old 09-18-2007, 03:09 PM   #514
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Old 09-18-2007, 05:47 PM   #515
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I don't know that Darth Maul really deserved more screen time. Dooku was a more fascinating character because of his former Jedi status, and how you weren't really sure what his motives were (look how he tells Obi-Wan EXACTLY what's happening when he captures him in Clones). Like Boba Fett, Maul looked cool but had, what, 3 lines of dialogue? The difference is that at least Maul had a glorious exit, getting sliced in half by Obi-Wan, instead of getting accidentally knocked into the Sarlacc pit by a blind and stumbling Han Solo.

Did I mention how totally awful Return of the Jedi is? The really bad Jar Jar moments in Phantom Menace are only Jar Jar moments. Jedi pains me to watch more because the GOOD characters are doing stupid shit. The high school-level love spat between Han & Leia on Endor? Are you fucking kidding me? You're telling me this was written or acted better than ANYTHING between Anakin & Padme? No. At least Portman and Christiansen were TRYING. Fisher and Ford wanted to be anywhere but on that set, and anyone other than a little kid (or an adult still seeing it through kid's eyes) can tell. Although Fisher was hopped up on meds so she may not have known exactly where she was.

And while the entire prequel trilogy has assorted cheesy lines and poor line readings, it's not like every single dialogue exchange is worthless. I know I'm in a small minority, but I don't even think the love scenes are THAT poorly written. There's just a line or two that is eye-rolling enough to cloud one's impression of the whole thing. You have two characters who have been sheltered since childhood by their respective professions, and I don't know that it's very far from the realism of what would be an abnormal and awkward courtship. If anything the chain of events is a bit rushed (the deleted scenes on the Clones DVD give it a bit more breathing room), and I'll admit the swelling music and the running through the grass on Naboo was a bit much.

And while Lucas bears the responsibility for the weakness of much of the dialogue, I find the prequels much more interesting in terms of plotting. While some found them convoluted and boring, if you're into the universe as a whole I don't know how you wouldn't be captivated by the labyrinthine web of deceit Palpatine weaves throughout the series. It's a pretty shrewd plan that slowly unfolds, and even if it's hard to fully buy into Anakin's seemingly abrupt turn to the darkside (which really isn't abrupt if you consider his slaughter of the Tusken Raiders in Clones, and his willingness to kill a defenseless Dooku at the beginning of Sith), you can appreciate how Palpatune lures him into his trap over the course of the films. His final line to Anakin in Phantom Menace "We will be watching your career with great interest!" is so much better when you've already seen the next two installments. I think Episodes 1 & 2 are made better by 3, and watching the thing as a whole makes a much better case for what Lucas was trying to do.

As a director Lucas to me excels the most at pure cinema--when the dialogue is stripped away and everything is told by the images and the music. Much of this is evident in THX-1138, but it's all over the prequels as well: Anakin's search for his captured mother and his return to the Lars homestead with her body, Anakin & Padme lost in thought in their apartments while Mace & Co. go to arrest Palpatine, much of the pod race, the Order 66 Jedi Massacre, and the extended finale of the characters' fates at the end of Sith. This stuff is all superbly done, as good as anything in Lord of the Rings. I understand why many who grew up with Star Wars have such a problem, but I'm confident in saying that future generations are going to find much to love in the prequels, without the bias that so many went into them with.
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Old 09-18-2007, 05:56 PM   #516
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All excellent points, Laz.

Palpatine's manipulation of everything is the best part of the prequel trilogy, imo. If you look at the prequel trilogy just from the perspect of the Anakin transformation story, there are definitely some major flaws, but when you look at it from the perspective of the bigger picture, of how Palpatine turned the entire 'Old Republic' into the 'Galactic Empire' that everybody is fighting against in the OT, and of how the Jedi ceased to exist and the reason why they had to 'Return' in the OT, they do a very good job, even great at parts.

Sometimes I think that younger kids watching the prequels don't realize that 'The Phantom Menace' is in fact referring to Palpatine/Sideous, and not, perhaps, to Maul or something.
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Old 09-18-2007, 06:11 PM   #517
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I was going to write another long rebuttal, but before I got started I realized how much I hate talking about Star Wars.
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Old 09-18-2007, 06:28 PM   #518
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Then I'll say something you won't want to write a rebuttal for

In response to the earlier T2 bashing....

Understand this: Terminator and T2(for the purposes of this post, let's pretend T3 doesn't exist) are not just films about Arnold Schwarzenegger running around blowing stuff up. There's plenty of violence in both films but they aren't about the violence.

They tell a story about the imperfections and flaws of mankind, and about how the same imperfections and flaws that machines lack are what make humanity neccessary. They are about the uniqueness of humanity, about the ability of humanity to adapt to life(and the absence of this ability in machines), and about how that life itself is based upon the imperfections and flaws of everybody. These films aren't about violence. They're about the nature of humanity. Which entails violence. There are few topics more profound.

Or maybe I'm just looking for meaning where there is none.
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Old 09-18-2007, 06:33 PM   #519
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Quote:
Originally posted by namkcuR
All excellent points, Laz.

Palpatine's manipulation of everything is the best part of the prequel trilogy, imo. If you look at the prequel trilogy just from the perspect of the Anakin transformation story, there are definitely some major flaws, but when you look at it from the perspective of the bigger picture, of how Palpatine turned the entire 'Old Republic' into the 'Galactic Empire' that everybody is fighting against in the OT, and of how the Jedi ceased to exist and the reason why they had to 'Return' in the OT, they do a very good job, even great at parts.

Sometimes I think that younger kids watching the prequels don't realize that 'The Phantom Menace' is in fact referring to Palpatine/Sideous, and not, perhaps, to Maul or something.
The thing is that Anakin is built up to be this iconic character by the OT, when ultimately he's a symbol of wasted potential. He's simply a tool of larger forces at work; from Episode 1 onward he's bounced back and forth between the forces of light and darkness, with little attention paid to the feelings of the small boy they're dealing with. Is it really surprising that he winds up being a little bratty and impulsive?

Yes, Anakin COULD have been the greatest, most powerful Jedi ever. But because he formed emotional attachments too early, he was already off on the wrong foot from the beginning. And though it appears that Obi-Wan has all of his shit together, it's clear that perhaps he wasn't ready to have a Padawan of his own. As he says at the end of Sith, "I have failed you." And it's difficult to say how much was pre-conceived, but you can see that regret and pain in Alec Guinness' eyes when he briefly (and deceptively) speaks to Luke about his father in A New Hope.

What Obi-Wan was blind to was something easily spotted and manipulated by Palpatine. The question is, did he fit Anakin into the plans he already had in motion at the beginning of Episode 1, or had he forseen the rise of this young power? Either way, it's still impressive what he manages to do. As Sidious, he convinces the Trade Federation to blockade Naboo, and promises them that they will have no problem taking over the planet. In the mean time, he uses this diplomatic impasse to rise to power in the govermnent, getting elected as Chancellor. The Federation is defeated, but how do we know this wasn't in line with his original plans? In Episode 2, as Chancellor, he enters into a war with the Federation he was supporting in the first film, and already has a hidden army (the clones) waiting to fight them. He is the leader of the Republic and the Separatists at the same time, as he is the puppet master holding Dooku's strings.

Lucas has said before that he was attempting to study how civilized, democratic societies can give over their freedom to totalitarianism or fascism, and while many probably don't go to Star Wars for a history lesson, I think it's really underrated what he illustrated here. It also works as a very, very subtle commentary on what has happened in the United States post-9/11. Padme has a great line in Sith when Palpatine basically proclaims himself Emperor, (which is delivered by Portman with a defiance worthy of Leia in A New Hope), "So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause." To me one moment like that makes up for so many bad ones.
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Old 09-18-2007, 06:56 PM   #520
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Quote:
Originally posted by namkcuR
Then I'll say something you won't want to write a rebuttal for

In response to the earlier T2 bashing....

Understand this: Terminator and T2(for the purposes of this post, let's pretend T3 doesn't exist) are not just films about Arnold Schwarzenegger running around blowing stuff up. There's plenty of violence in both films but they aren't about the violence.

They tell a story about the imperfections and flaws of mankind, and about how the same imperfections and flaws that machines lack are what make humanity neccessary. They are about the uniqueness of humanity, about the ability of humanity to adapt to life(and the absence of this ability in machines), and about how that life itself is based upon the imperfections and flaws of everybody. These films aren't about violence. They're about the nature of humanity. Which entails violence. There are few topics more profound.

Or maybe I'm just looking for meaning where there is none.

While I hate to use someone else's words in a discussion, David Foster Wallace, one of my favorite writers (and author of epic masterpiece Infinite Jest) published this essay about T2 nearly 10 years ago, and he makes a much better case than I ever could for its failings. Keep in mind this is written by someone who is a huge fan of the original Terminator and Cameron's Aliens. It's not too long of a read, and while I don't agree with everything he says, it's food for thought. And it's really funny.

Wallace is famous for his witty and often divergent footnotes, so be sure to read them as well. You can click on them as they appear, and click right back to continue with the main essay.

http://www.ptwi.com/~bobkat/waterstone.html

What I find ironic is that Cameron appears to be guilty of the catering to the lowest common denominator and pandering in the way that Lucas has been accused so often of doing. While Cameron's film doesn't come off as "embarrassing" on the surface as The Phantom Menace, the thing was doomed from the beginning because of a forced and contrived concept.
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Old 09-18-2007, 07:25 PM   #521
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Quote:
Originally posted by lazarus



While I hate to use someone else's words in a discussion, David Foster Wallace, one of my favorite writers (and author of epic masterpiece Infinite Jest) published this essay about T2 nearly 10 years ago, and he makes a much better case than I ever could for its failings. Keep in mind this is written by someone who is a huge fan of the original Terminator and Cameron's Aliens. It's not too long of a read, and while I don't agree with everything he says, it's food for thought. And it's really funny.

Wallace is famous for his witty and often divergent footnotes, so be sure to read them as well. You can click on them as they appear, and click right back to continue with the main essay.

http://www.ptwi.com/~bobkat/waterstone.html

What I find ironic is that Cameron appears to be guilty of the catering to the lowest common denominator and pandering in the way that Lucas has been accused so often of doing. While Cameron's film doesn't come off as "embarrassing" on the surface as The Phantom Menace, the thing was doomed from the beginning because of a forced and contrived concept.
Nothing I can really add to the Star Wars discussion (let's just say that I agree with Lazarus), but I can 2nd the work of Wallace. He has a collection of pieces he's written called "Consider the Lobster"....and the piece he wrote after attending the Porn awards in Vegas is fucking incredibly funny.

I remember watching Sith and seeing Kashiik, and thinking about how I could sit and watch a 2 hour film with strictly fake planets, if Lucas was behind it. Maybe that's not the recipe for a perfect film, creating lush or detailed worlds at the cost of coaxing strong performances from your actors, but it's still stimulating to me.

Anyone in here familiar with the films of David Gordon Green? If so, thoughts?
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Old 09-18-2007, 07:39 PM   #522
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If I had the energy or patience I'd go through his essay and pick it apart piece by piece (which I might just do...), because there was hardly a single statement in there that wasn't guided by blind neglect or selective reasoning or maybe he was just on a bit of an ego-trip, I can't say. I'm not familiar with the man's work.

I love how awfully wordy and sophisitcated most of the essay is, and how he slips up here and there falling into petty fanboy mode as I like to call it, though I'm not saying he's a fanboy of one thing or another. "Inverse Cost and Quality Law"? Sounds like someone likes the smell of their own poodoo a bit much.

Anyway, yeah, I know I'm ragging on the guy and not really saying anything substansive, but neither did he. I think it's fair. Not only does he fail to even try to infer the answers to some of the questions he raised about the plot (which makes no less sense than Terminator 1), but once he gets his F/X Porn rant out of the way (I admit, I lol'd at that initially), all he really has to talk about it how "cheesy" it is, and how biased this man is against digital effects. It's all a matter of taste, and this guy's got to step off the soapbox for a second and think about what he's saying. The first clue was how he praised T1 and Aliens, and proceded to bach T2 for issues that can easily be noted in both those films, often to greater degrees. Like I said, his critique doesn't make a whole lot of qualitative sense, especially since he comes across so obviously biased against digital effects. He's just pretty good at hiding it under mountains of text.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:14 PM   #523
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A couple things, I'm glad you seemed to read it with an open mind, Lance, and you have to imagine Wallace with tongue firmly planted in cheek. If you ever feel like reading a nearly 1,000 page novel about entertainment and addiction which takes place simultaneously at a alcoholic's halfway house and a tennis academy, pick up Infinite Jest. It's one of the best, and funniest things I've ever read. Check out the reviews on Amazon or the Wikipedia page. This thing has legions of followers.

Anyway, back to the films. I don't really concern myself much with the arguments against SFX, though I do agree that for the MOST part, the idea that returning the studio's investment by lowering the intelligence of your films, and thereby resulting in a poorer film, is not an erroneous one. Star Wars is obviously exempt from this, as they are funded by Lucas himself, and any weaknesses are because of his own tendencies, as opposed to commercial concerns.

I think what he has to say about the screenplay is much more apt criticism. The idea that Arnold dictated the use of his character is pretty pathetic, though I imagine Cameron didn't have much of a choice if he wanted to go ahead and make his film. And I don't think I need to say anything about the use of another whiny kid in an otherwise adult-themed film.

It's a trite screenplay, plain and simple. There are some great action scenes and breakthrough effects, and I feel that while those elements served the story in The Abyss, they overwhelmed them here.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:22 PM   #524
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Nothing I can really add to the Star Wars discussion (let's just say that I agree with Lazarus), but I can 2nd the work of Wallace. He has a collection of pieces he's written called "Consider the Lobster"....and the piece he wrote after attending the Porn awards in Vegas is fucking incredibly funny.

I remember watching Sith and seeing Kashiik, and thinking about how I could sit and watch a 2 hour film with strictly fake planets, if Lucas was behind it. Maybe that's not the recipe for a perfect film, creating lush or detailed worlds at the cost of coaxing strong performances from your actors, but it's still stimulating to me.

Anyone in here familiar with the films of David Gordon Green? If so, thoughts?
That's what I keep coming back to with the prequels. It's never really been about the dialogue or the acting, but about the imagination of Lucas and his collaborators, and it only seems to have grown more vivid with these films. Is it too much at times? Yes. The clutter bothers me, like the tendency to insert little squeaking robots doing inconsequential things in the coners all the time. But against the sheer breadth of wonders on display, why get hung up on the small stuff? These worlds haven't just been thought up and construction, they've been fleshed-out and realized to such a minute detail. Even Tattooine came alive in a way that the cantina only hinted at. There is nothing else that compares to this, as even superlative epics like Lord of the Rings stem from another writer's original imagination.

As for David Gordon Green, I'm a huge fan. I think All the Real Girls is one of the great recent love stories that's so real it's often painful to watch. I loved Undertow and how different it was from his previous work. He's got something called Snow Angels that should be out soon, and he just shot a film with the Knocked Up/Judd Apatow gang called The Pineapple Express about some stoners who get caught up in some drug dealing action hijinks. I can't wait.
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Old 09-18-2007, 08:32 PM   #525
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I watched All the Real Girls and was fucking mesmerized. Both due to the way it was shot, and due to how raw and open it was. I felt like a witness, not an audience member, if that makes sense. Lance would like All the Real Girls, if for Zooey's performance alone.

I wonder if Green cites Mallick as a source of inspiration?
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