Skip to comments.Zero Stars For Star Wars VI (Spoiler Alert)
Posted on 05/16/2005 1:18:49 PM PDT by Destro
Zero Stars For Star Wars VI
May 16, 2005
This column was written by John Podhoretz.
The final Star Wars is, as writer-director George Lucas promised, a tragedy -- but it's not the tragedy Lucas thinks it is.
Ever since he began making his second set of Star Wars movies a decade ago, Lucas said that Episode III: Revenge of the Sith would be the unvarnished story of the young knight Anakin Skywalker's degeneration and conversion into the black-helmeted, black-outfitted Darth Vader, the villain of the first three films. The tale of woe it really tells is that of George Lucas himself, the final chapter in the sad degeneration of a vital, vivid, and highly amusing moviemaker into a dull, solipsistic, and humorless incompetent.
Lucas had more than a quarter of a century to figure out why Anakin Skywalker went bad. And here's what he came up with: Anakin is afraid of losing his wife Padmé in childbirth. Padmé tries to reassure him: "I promise you I won't die in childbirth," she says, offering a touching expression of her faith in the range of health-care services that were available a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. That over-deliberate line of dialogue is typical of Revenge of the Sith, which joins its immediate predecessor Attack of the Clones on a very short list of films that deserve to compete for the Worst Script Ever Written.
"Hold me, Anakin!" Padmé tells her husband. "Hold me like you did by the lake on Naboo!"
No performer living or dead could pronounce the word "Naboo" without sounding like a moron, and Lucas matches that authorial infelicity with dozens of others. One of the movie's villains is named "Dooku," and it's a pity that Lucas didn't arrange for Dooku to visit Naboo, because that could have generated a truly memorable piece of dialogue, like "You should never have come to Naboo, Dooku!"
Later in the film, Vader's mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Padmé that her hubby has murdered some children: "He killed younglings at the Jedi temple!" She storms off and confronts him: "Obi-Wan says you killed younglings!"
Padmé's anger and shock seem a mite surprising, since in Attack of the Clones her then-boyfriend Anakin had told her about another occasion on which he had killed some kids. This is spoken in a soliloquy that suggests what Macbeth might have been like if it had been written by George Lucas: "I killed them! I killed them all! They're dead, every single one of them! And not just the men, but the women and the children, too!! I slaughtered them like animals! I HATE THEM!"
But I digress, because that speech isn't in the film under review -- and there are plenty of other hilarious examples of bad writing on display in Revenge of the Sith.
For example: Obi-Wan uncovers the killing of the younglings by checking out some hidden video at the Jedi Temple. The wise old creature Yoda, who may be the most intelligent person in the universe, but seems to have learned English by reading old Time magazines, warns him: "Obi-Wan, watch the surveillance tapes you should not!"
Yoda has just returned from a diplomatic mission to a planet inhabited by bipedal gorillas because, as he explains in the rounded tones of an opponent of the John Bolton nomination, "Good relations with the Wookiees I have." Later, a defeated Yoda sighs: "Into exile I must go." You half-expect him to be followed by six other dwarves chanting, "Hi ho, hi ho / Into exile we will go . . . "
Anakin is invited to attend the theater as a guest of the president of the republic (a scene that allows Lucas to let us know that the favored form of entertainment in the highly advanced Star Wars galaxy is a Cirque du Soleil show performed inside a blob of translucent Jell-O). The president tells him about the Dark Side of the Force, and how it can be used to bring people back from the dead. Anakin decides he wants in. To which the only possible response is: That's it? The entire universe is thrown out of balance and evil defeats good all because one petulant and whiny guy doesn't want Natalie Portman to buy the farm?
"Dialogue is not my thing," Lucas has said. "I don't like writing, and I don't like scripts." But there is a whole lot more to a script than just the dialogue. There are also small matters such as plot, motivation, and character development. How is it possible that Lucas could have satisfied himself with the notion that the destruction of the galactic democracy and the triumph of evil over good could all have sprung from a single lousy pregnancy? Granted, Mrs. Darth Vader wears some very fetching beaded outfits -- plus, she's a senator just like Hillary Clinton, only decades younger and way better looking. Even so, this is astoundingly thin gruel on which to hang six movies made over a period of 28 years.
Back in 1977, we were told in the original Star Wars that Darth Vader "was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force" -- that Vader had become a villain because he had been consumed by a lust for power, so that he could boss people around, blow up planets, and, generally speaking, control the universe. Like all great villains, the Darth Vader we saw in the first Star Wars actually loved being a bad guy. He enjoyed being able to choke annoying underlings by pinching his thumb and forefinger together. He relished his swordfight with his old mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi. He didn't even mind slicing his own son's hand off (in the second film) just to prove a point.
But the Darth Vader we see at the end of Revenge of the Sith hasn't been seduced. He's been tricked. He's not a villain. He's a schmuck.
And what of George Lucas? He is, by leagues, the most commercially successful moviemaker in history. Forget the billion-plus dollars he has earned from the Star Wars movies. Industrial Light & Magic, the special-effects firm he began with his Star Wars profits, grosses $1 billion per year.
But what happened to the director who made the thrilling mood piece American Graffiti, that deceptively casual account of a bunch of teenagers in a California town in 1962 hanging out on the last summer night before the school year begins? What happened to the guy who revolutionized science fiction by making an outer-space adventure that managed to be cheerful, exciting, and lighthearted?
The tragedy of George Lucas is that he made billions of dollars, and all it did was turn him into a drag.
John Podhoretz is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.
I have a bad feeling about this...
Why the surprise about bad writing? Lucas has no ear for dialogue and never has. He makes James Cameron look like David Mamet.
Sounds like a line out of a porno. Buh-baw-baw-chicka-baw-baw...
I haven't seen it so I can't say. But I get the feeling that by and large, fantasy flicks are not his bag.
That's all right. I still like his writing.
And I had such hopes....
Bad review. Pain me it does.
For the DVD I must wait.
By the lake at Nauvoo? http://www.nauvoo.net/
"He's been tricked. He's not a villain. He's a schmuck."
Kinda says it all.
Not surprised, am I. Full of brown remnants of male cows, it is.
alas poor Yoric....
Still go see it I must.
Also a bad feeling about this I have.
It started with that whiney annoying kid in the first one. It's all downhill from there.
Spielberg is no slouch either. In fact, I think they're pretty close in terms of wealth +/- a billion or two.
"You should never have come to Naboo, Dooku!"
Podhoretz is right about Lucas's own dark transition. The new "Star Wars" flicks are almost devoid of the sense of fun that Lucas brought to "American Graffiti" and "Star Wars." It's as if the prequels exist in another, much more humorless, universe entirely.
Lucas should have let Paul Verhoeven ("Starship Troopers") write & direct "Sith". Now, THAT would have been something to look forward to.
The problem is that Vader never was a superior villain. He never tried to vanquish The Emperor (or this President guy John talks about) so he could be the undisputed heavyweight bad guy champion of the world, so to speak. That's what makes a great villain. He has to be fearless-- just like a great hero. It's all about sides of the mirror-- the same, but opposite.
Like the movie Podhertz did not...
CBS news strikes again, rottentomatoes has it getting a quite nice rating.
Makes look bad it does.
A fool and his money, soon parted they are
The transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader is supposed to be truly dark and probably far deeper and violent. I'll go see it, buy the video or DVD and watch it a few times along with the other 5. I'll be disappointed, but oh well it's the missing piece to the ultimate epic film.
Just damn. I had hoped
the Jedi's constant mistakes
were a subtle plan
to mis-lead the Sith
and set up the victory
of Vader's son . . . But
I guess Jedi just
are incompetent losers
and the Sith should rule!
Naaah... Half of the reviews at rotten tomatoes were publixhed before anyone had seen the movie... and all but one of those were raves. Since then, only nine out of eighteen have been "fresh," and they don't seem so fresh. Among the "positive" reviews:
"Oh my, it's not nearly as good as you may have heard," -- John Venable
"Without a doubt the best of the three most recent films. That's not exactly high praise." -- Boston Herald
""The more casual fan may be left feeling like Revenge of the Sith scores a technical knockout rather than the real thing." -- Brent Simon
"John Williams' music is what sets this apart from other mundane films that survive on special effects." -- Tony Medley
"Its still a tossup with Ewok Adventure," -- Fred Topel
"For every thrilling space battle or lightsaber dual you get, you get two scenes with embarrassingly bad dialogue and line delivery." -- Stefan Halley
"Revenge of the Sith was the film that should have salvaged the prequels. It doesnt." -- Devin Faraci
And yes, those are the POSITIVE reviews.
have you notice how much of a schmuck vader is in all the commercial endorsements? fast food, mini marts,
Vader has gone from evil incarnate to Joe Izusu with asma.
Makes me look bad it does.
Makes me look bad it does.
Ping you, I must.
A review of star wars critiquing poor dialogue by lucas? Shocked. Shocked and awed I am </sarcasm>. Everybody knows Lucas can't write his way out of a paper sack. Judging this movie by this review alone is a bad move, I think.
2 days and 7 hours till it opens, for me, anyway. I picked up tickets to my local theatres midnight showing.
Lucas hires million dollar CG experts - why can't he hire a decent ghostwriter?
Return of the Jedi had some serious plot problems, but was enjoyable and one could watch it without projectile vomiting.
I still haven't recovered from the whole "The Force" is a bacterial infection that leads to virgin births thing.
As I recall, Lucas was sued by his ex for claims that she was the real creative force behind Star Wars. I think she needs to reopen that lawsuit...
That's part of it, but like I posted above, Vader never really was the superior villain he had the potential to be. Satan tried to overthrow God, because he was fearless (stupidly fearless, but fearless nonetheless). A great villain always wants to be the baddest bad guy on the block. Vader was always content to be second banana. He was redeemed (and redeemable) in Return of the Jedi because he never really committed himself to being the best villain he could be. He could have been a contender, but he was just a chump.
Over/under on number of Yoda-speak posts is 18.
Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/star_wars_3/ says 83% approval rating.
Take the over, so says I.
Too me, even if bites movie.
Well I agree with Podhoretz the reason Darth went to the dark side seems really lame, but the rest of the review seems more about grammatical critique more than a review.
Good idea. Go while it's dark to avoid being seen.
I find his lack of faith disturbing.
Bad I feel.
LOL! I love this scathing review. I'll still see the movie, but this review is priceless. :o)
If you watch the recent Lucas interview on AOL, you'll hear him say that Vader was never intended to be a plain-ole one dimensional bad guy. The entire story of Star Wars was always originally about a fall from grace and then redemption. There is no watering down of Vader. It's just that all we saw with the old movies was Vader as villain.