(2005, SciFi, color)
Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy
I don’t know who is fighting who about what.
In a nutshell:
Darth Sidious manipulates Anakin Skywalker into helping him overthrow the Republic.
Let us assume, for the moment, that you are already intimately familiar with the Star Wars prequels. (Not a bad assumption, considering you’ve lasted this long. Episode II especially was not for the faint of heart.) Let us also assume, by extension, that you know what a midi-chlorian is, what the Jedi can do, and the name of Jar Jar’s alien race. Can we agree that this is frustrating, self-contradictory, and often irrelevant knowledge and move on?
Because, when you get down to it, this is actually a Rifftrax review, meaning that if I made an attempt to summarize this unholy mess, I might inadvertently distract you from the commentary by giving you the impression that there’s an engaging plot of some sort. There isn’t; trust me. It’s just the story of a guy, who’s a decent guy until suddenly he isn’t, at which point he starts murdering his friends and family for no readily explainable reason. Best just to sit back and let this hallucinogenic jumble of special effects and imaginary politics wash over you. Feel free to laugh along with Mike, Bill, and Kevin. (Especially when our hero disembowels all those preschoolers. That’s the funniest part.)
Going back to the assumption that you already know what I’m talking about—I don’t really care if you don’t, and really, you shouldn’t either—I will, in lieu of a summary, present you with the single, shining message I was able to divine from this cinematic morass:
The Jedi are all dense as rocks and approximately half as perceptive.
Exhibit A: Our hero has emotional problems and anger management issues, and they plan to teach him to do better with a series of deliberate insults? Yes, Anakin’s immature, but where do you think he learned that? This Jedi Council seems pettier than your average PTA.
Exhibit B: The Force may help the Jedi masters “sense great fear,” but when it comes to noticing the bigger issues, like, say, the fact that their entire army is primed to turn against them at a moment’s notice, they’re helpless as newborn kittens.
Exhibit C: I thought the tiny green super-Jedi Yoda had set the bar of stupid fortune cookie wisdom impossibly high back in Episode I when he famously equated fear with evil, but he outdoes himself in this installment. When our heartsick hero comes to him for comfort and advice about his visions of loss, the master has nothing better to say than, “Let go of what you fear to lose.” Or, in other words, “I don’t care, and you shouldn’t either.”
So there you have it folks; the greatest of Jedi virtues is officially apathy. No wonder the Sith managed to yank the Republic out from under them like a cheap rug.
Edit 7/29/09: Just watched this one again last night (my brother wanted to see a Star Wars Prequel Rifftrax for some reason), and another aspect of this film pissed me off so much that I felt compelled to add...
Exhibit D: Obi-Wan's disappointed declaration near the end, "Only a Sith speaks in absolutes." Really, Obi Wan? Are you trying to tell me that I didn't just watch two and a half hours worth of unbending Jedi dogmatism contrasted against a Sith Lord preaching moral relativity? Thank you sooooo much for clearing that up. Now please go to hell and die. In a fire.
When it came out, many people hailed this as the best of the prequels, an assessment with which I must concur. Consider:
Episode I: Has Jake Lloyd and Jar Jar.
Episode III: Has no Jake Lloyd and only a few seconds of Jar Jar.
Episode II: Has that horrible, grating romance.
Episode III: Has approximately fifty percent less horrible, grating romance.
If Episode III invents any hideous flaws of its own, they would have to be the mass infanticide, the spouse abuse, and the graphic immolation scene. But, since the “Tell, Don’t Show” script reduces everyone in the film to an at least partially digitized non-entity, there’s no reason to care at all when these events occur. The rest of it is, unfortunately, more or less the same as the previous two. The character development still consists of actors reciting plot details in hallways for hours at a time. The action still involves digital effects endlessly flying every which way with no rhyme or reason. Taking away the things that made me cringe in the first two prequels simply leaves us with endless, unbroken tedium.
So yes, it’s the best of the prequels. But, as Bill Corbett says on the Rifftrax just before the movie, “That’s like saying, of the three times it’s happened, that was the best time I ever got stung in the eye by a wasp.”
Being well warned of the nature of Star Wars prequels before taking on this particular film, I approached it with caution. The tedium may be intact, but, fortunately, the riffing is too, with many good comments at the movie’s expense. Mike starts it off by pointing out the subtitle, Revenge of the— “Hey, they misspelled sh--.” Later, as the film bogs down in exposition, Bill exclaims, “What, did this movie OD on Ambien? Snap it up!” Near the end, when Anakin has finally turned to the Dark Side, Kevin notes that he went from “noble Jedi to decapitating toddlers without even check kiting as a warm up.” Also amusing were the comparisons of wookiees to ZZ-Top, and the addition of Speedy Gonzales noises to Yoda’s fight scenes. It’s a funny enough film with the Rifftrax, provided you don’t watch too much of it at a time.
(2005, SciFi, color)