Those of you who follow my banal existence with any more than a passing disdain may recall something I wrote last year about the other Damian Christie. Briefly, he’s past-President of the Australian Doctor Who fan club, contributor to any number of science fiction magazines and so forth. While I have no evidence to prove this, I also suspect he spends his weekends painting little lead figurines and practicing his Klingon dialect.
And even though he doesn’t know I exist, he’s my nemesis.
So I noticed the other day that he’s set to review Star Wars: Episode III this Thursday, after seeing it on Wednesday night. Having attended the charity premiere on Monday night (I didn’t pay for my $50 ticket – go tell the kids there’ll be no hospital), I have to get in there before Other Damian, and beat him at his own geeky game…
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. A review by Damian Christie. Of New Zealand.
I was very cynical heading into Episode III. Secure in the knowledge that Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader) couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag, it was bound to be a stinker. As Yoda might say, “Suck, I knew it would.”
But it didn’t. Okay, there were some pretty stinky patches. George Lucas’s dialogue is lifted straight from Days of Our Lives. I laughed when he actually used a line straight from my team’s 2004 48hours soap opera piss-take Flights of Destiny. My lawyers are still getting back to me, but don’t be surprised if I end up with a share of the Star Wars profits.
SPOILERS AHEAD… YOU’VE BEEN WARNED
But that’s how cheesy it was. It turns out Anakin flits to the Dark Side because of a girl. And not because he’s hoping the girl might Give It Up for him, but because he’s worried she might die during childbirth. So. Gay.
CGI is the winner on the day. I think Anthony Daniels (C3PO) sums it best in this quote regarding his last day on the job after nearly three decades wearing a tin suit:
For the final shot I walked along a blue corridor with a blue background behind me talking to someone who wasn't there."
What’s interesting to watch, is that the closer the prequel gets to the beginning of the movie we just called “Star Wars”, the more Lucas is limited by what he was able to achieve in 1977. Darth Vader looks the same as he did 30 years ago, right down to those big light-switches superglued on his "space-age" control panel.
As the technology I remember from my youth returns, X-wing fighters, TIE fighters etc, so the nostalgia level increases. This feels like a proper Star Wars movie.
Lucas still flips old school fans the finger by a cameo inclusion from Jar Jar Binks, but at least there are no Ewoks. Similarly, when the action moves to the Wookie’s home planet, I was afraid Lucas would use the opportunity to include some unbearably cute Wookie babies, but mercifully there are none. The main creature annoyance is Yoda, whose every sentence is put through an identical grammar mincer. Bored of it, I am.
Episode III is no Empire Strikes Back, but it is the most similar in many regards. Notably, it’s dark – when the Empire turns on the Jedi, it ain’t pretty. And even though this is the third of three prequels, Lucas isn’t afraid to leave the movie hanging where it should, just like Empire, rather than wrap it up in a neat little bundle.
Episode III isn’t going to silence critics of the prequels, but it will go some way to placating them. Yes the acting is dodgy, the dialogue is cheesy and some of the creatures are too cute. But have you seen the original Star Wars lately? It’s no To Kill a Mockingbird.