Wednesday, June 08, 2005

(slight spoilers, though I doubt no one's not seen this already)

So, Episode 3. Long story short: I think it's the best of the prequels, but it's still nowhere near great. Even "good" is stretching it. I'll just say "Thank God it wasn't worse." The dialogue was still atrocious (they all speak the same, do you notice?). A coterie of good actors in the film and only Ewan performs up to par. Portman particularly looked like she had nothing to do but pout. I thought the Wookies would be the Ewoks this time around but I guess not (not entirely a bad thing). Grievous wasn't menacing at all. I was unimpressed by the saberfighting until the showdown of Anakin & Obi-Wan. I think that worst of all, the handling of Anakin's "turning" was fumbled so much. It was bad enough that Dooku was killed so casually in the beginning (which kind of undermines how much of a threat he was in Clones). But later on, the impetus for the turning is introduced as Anakin's fear of losing Padme. Lucas could've played that up a bit, related it with his mother, but the balance between that and his thirst for power (the selfish reasons, basically) weren't handled well. So that scene where he turns just came across as so flat and uninteresting (and Mace Windu, who Lucas promised a cool death, doesn't get one. Actually, couldn't he do that soft landing he did in Clones?). There's no sense of TRAGEDY. I mean, we all know what's going to happen but we should be wishing it didn't HAVE to. But here we're mostly just nonchalant. And then one of the things I was looking forward to didn't happen: they didn't explain how he got the name Darth Vader. The Sith generally have cool names: Sidious, Tyranus, Maul, etc. But during the naming it's like Palpatine's eyes were scanning the room for something to use, and he just blurts out "Uh... Darth... Vader." Ditto the naming of the Twins! It was so funny: "It's a boy." "Luke." "It's a girl." "Leia." WOW! What poignance! And her cause of death! "She's lost the will to live." That's scientific progress for you. It's a little disheartening though that Padme's character couldn't even muster enough will to live, if only FOR HER NEWBORN TWINS! Ah well. There were some things I really liked, though. That silent scene where Anakin and Padme are enjoying vistas of the city while apart, each in deep contemplation, that was the closest to subtle Lucas got, but it felt like something from a Ridley Scott movie. The fight between Palpatine and Yoda was fun. I mostly enjoyed the final duel of Anakin and Obi-Wan, particulary Ewan. His voice, on the verge of cracking, mixing anger and despair, was very effective. He was so angry and felt like he failed at the same time. And the last shot gave me a little tingle, staring into the twin sunsets.

And here's a little thing for y'all, but particularly Quark: our favorite moment from Episode 3. I thought these scenes had already expired into parody. See Team America for a better rendition.

I saw Episode 3 at Cinema 2 in Gateway, which I think may be the best new theater we've got. It's a huge theater with a huge screen. We want to watch the summer blockbusters we're looking forward to there. Unfortunately, not all theaters in Gateway are that big. I saw the next film in Cinema 5, which was also big but not as big as 2's, with a screen comparable to Greenbelt 3.

So: Sin City. Good but not great. It's a literal translation, not an adaptation. The first story, The Hard Goodbye, suffered from being rushed. They kept talking so quickly, not letting any lines sink in. And I didn't like how Mickey Rourke moved as Marv, all animated and flailing arms. It was like he was some kind of neurotic, which I never associated with Marv. They also didn't do one of my favorite scenes from the book, where Marv flings himself at the steel doors before trying the bars. I thought the acting was terribly below average for such a cast. Clive Owen was the highlight, but his accent slipped every now and then. Nice to see cameos from people like Nicky Katt & Rutger Hauer. The Big Fat Kill, the middle story, made the best transition, though Brittany Murphy was particularly bad as Shelley. That Yellow Bastard had some pacing issues too, but was mostly just marred by bad acting by Jessica Alba. Nicely shot chase sequence, though. And I didn't like the score. I loved that they got the flying/jumping cars right, but other things didn't translate so well, like the almost cartoonish strength/invulnerability of Marv. And how did Hartigan know where Nancy lived? He went straight there after getting out of prison but I thought she never gave any clues in her letters as to her identity and location?

And yes, the cuts were terribly jarring. But I figured there'd be no other chance to see this on the big screen.

I loved The Life Aquatic with Team Zissou. I was a little worried because reviews were varied, but I loved it just the same. People had said that it's the least emotional of the Wes Anderson films but for me it only seemed that way because the characters were less expressive. As in the feelings were all under the surface instead of brought up in hilarious circumstances/dialogue. But towards the end the emotions rise to the surface. The closest thing to a negative I can say about it is that it reminds you a bit of The Royal Tenenbaums, but only in that there's a patriarch and the ensemble cast revolves around him, etc. The soundtrack as ever was fantastic; I'm biased but I especially loved the use of Sigur Ros for the reveal of the Jaguar Shark. And The Zombies' "What I Feel Inside," which almost made me cry. Now I really love that song.

Team America is hilarious. They hit all those Jerry Bruckheimer notes (credits explode toward the audience) and the cinematography was pretty spiffy! It helps that they got the cinematographer of Spider-Man 2 and The Matrix Trilogy. If I have a gripe, it's that the final setpiece was a little similar to the South Park movie, but it's no biggie. I'm going to try and find that song about Michael Bay movies and download it. MATT DHAYMN!

The French Film Festival is ongoing at Greenbelts 1 & 3 until June 15. The write-ups of the films are here, but their schedule is inaccurate. Use Sureseats to find out what’s playing. I haven’t seen most of these films, but I do recognize most of the names, so I’m hoping it’s good.

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