So last weekend the whole family went to see the new Star Wars, and we had a rousing good time. To my surprise, the theater wasn’t particularly crowded (a rainy Saturday matinee show, just 2 days after the movie opened). We got good seats without knocking ourselves out. Trusty light sabers in hand (younger daughter had been busy custom-manufacturing props), we settled in for the show.
Definitely a major improvement over the last two, and a mostly satisfying completion of this part of the circle. (Satisfying enough that we sat down that evening with a tape of the original and picked up where the new story left off.)
Quarrels and observations:
(It’s not like anything I’m about to say will surprise anyone, because we all know the ending; but still…if you’d like to see it before I talk about the crucial bits, you should stop reading now.)
Aside from the stilted dialogue and predominantly wooden acting (even from the good actors), the only two things that really bothered me…
(I thought you were going to stop reading now. Oh, never mind.)
…were Anakin’s easy conversion by the other Darth, and Obiwan’s leaving him alive in agony on the hot lava (not just stupid, since Obi was trying to make sure the galaxy was rid of the danger, but unJedi-like: he should have finished him off as an act of mercy.)
As for Anakin’s turning, I thought they did a good job of laying the groundwork: fear that he would lose Padme the way he lost his mother, guilt over Windu’s death, distrust of the Jedi, etc. But the final, actual conversion, where he went from “What have I done?” to “Yes, master,” was much too facile. They missed a chance for a really powerful scene, I thought.
Having said all that, you don’t go to see Star Wars for the sensitive acting (not since Alec Guinness, anyway), you go to see it for the larger-than-life story and the visual imagination and the music. And there it delivered.
The political undercurrent was interesting, if unsubtle. The Boston Globe reviewer thought Lucas was making an anti-Bush statement, and that’s definitely one possible reading. The gradual accumulation of power through preying on people’s fear for the safety of the Republic…the fake humility while engaging in deceit…Padme’s comment that this is how democracy is lost, through wild applause (Patriot Act, anyone?)… the war based on pretext…. It could also be seen as a retelling of Hitler’s rise to power (and that real-life similarity is probably the most chilling thing).
One satisfying side note: in the end, Lucas did answer one of the most nagging questions of the series: Why did C3PO not remember Anakin in the original trilogy?