Eleya and I went to see Star Wars Episode III Friday night. I can’t give a review without first mentioning that the sound was terrible in our local THX theater. So bad, in fact, that I actually contacted the THX company and lodged a complaint. I hate to be that much of a geek, but for goodness’ sake, this is Star Wars we’re talking about! There’s a specific part where a gigantic spaceship crash-lands on a runway, and it sounded like someone rolling a tin can across our kitchen floor — no bass at all.
In any case, the movie itself was mediocre at best. The special effects, of course, were phenomenal, and the action sequences far surpassed anything from Episodes I and II. The actors performed a thankless task admirably, but they were stuck with a script that was almost too bad to be believed. Hayden Christensen, poor lad, had to spend most of the film glowering, but at least it wasn’t whining. Natalie Portman, slumming after her star turn in Mike Nichols’ fabulous Closer, desperately tried to bring some romantic pathos to the proceedings, without much luck. Only Ewan McGregor managed to rise above the carnage with an earnest turn that really did evoke the spirit of Sir Alec Guinness.
And let me just ask this: What type of advanced civilization can fill the universe with spaceships, humanoid robots, and artificial limbs for frequent amputees, but can’t figure out that women in labor shouldn’t lie flat on their backs? I could maybe forgive the design crew, which might be — for all I know — populated by aging nerds who haven’t any experience with that sort of thing, but George Lucas, at least, has kids. No wonder Padme dies in childbirth. Whoops, did I spoil it?
I can’t fault the story per se, which is not bad if you go in for that myth sort of thing, but the screenplay was just plain awful. So if Episodes IV, V and VI were a A-, an A, and a C+, the new films are basically a D, a C, and a B-. If you look at it as a 6-film series, then, it gets steadily better through Episode V — which by anyone’s account is the best of the whole series — and ends in a sort of peremptory, lackluster fashion with stupid teddy bears and a rehashed plot.
I would say, “not recommended,” but you know you’re going to see it anyway. So just set your expectations low, and hope that your theater at least has good sound. Hey, you could always think of it as exorcising the last remnants of the age of disco.