November 22, 2005

Revenge of the Prequels

These past two weeks, I saw two movies that I never got to watch at the cinema - Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith and Batman Begins. What can I say? Both are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of likability.

First of all, let's start off with SW3: RotS.

The film is basically a live-action cartoon depicting the events leading up to Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader. That's the entire plot in that sentence alone.

The story is convoluted and disjointed leaving so many issues unresolved. Why, for example, doesn't the Emperor find out where Yoda is hiding - he has 20 years to despatch billions of imperial probe droids (taking into account it only takes about 2 years to find out about the Rebel's base on Hoth)? How does Leia know about her mother being beautiful but sad (as she explains in Return of the Jedi) if her mother died in childbirth? Why doesn't R2 remember Obi-Wan or tell Luke about his father if only C3-PO's memory was wiped?

The film also has a problem with its special effects. Each scene has more special effects than normal acting, rendering the effects useless. Rather than highlighting the story, it paints over them instead. Also the use of cutscenes is rather bad - in A New Hope, it was used to indicate movement of the story. Here its use destroys that movement.

I also find it unlikely that a huge religion that spanned a civilisation could become in 20 years "ancient and hokey" as Solo describes the Jedi in A New Hope. As a 32 year old, I can easily remember 20 years ago! And why is it all the space craft that were shiny and sleek 20 years ago are all battered and dusty now? I just don't understand it - have they stopped making space ships?

These are just some of the most basic problems I had with the storyline. Don't get me started on how stupid Anakin seems to be when he gets "seduced" by the Dark Side (he wasn't seduced, he made a direct choice) or how it seems very unlikely that Obi-Wan, his friend and mentor, would cut his right arm and legs off and then leave him to die on a lava planet after he's discovered to be in league with the Sith. Somehow, I think not. And knowing that Anakin possibly died on the lava planet, why then the reason to split his children up? Neither Palpatine nor Anakin knew of the twins and it would have been just as likely that the children died in child birth.

On the other side of the spectrum is Batman Begins - a re-write of the Batman saga, this time explaining just how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. The story starts off Bruce Wayne trying to discover what it is to be a criminal and what makes them tick and ending up meeting Liam Neeson as the mentor that teaches him how to be a ninja. When given a choice to be judge, jury and executioner, Bruce jumps ship and returns to Gotham to become Batman and to instill fear into the hearts of criminals.

The plot is well done and leaves you gasping for more, the fight sequences are believable. In fact the whole thing is really well done but how does it compare to Tim Burton's Batman? Well, Batman was iconic, it was dark and moody but its aged. Batman Begins is much the modern take but somehow it's not as iconic. Still I look forward to the sequel.

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