Monday, June 06, 2005

Your Star Wars is Crap

Just so you know, don't click on the link in the heading today. I warned you.

People (as in, more than one person) have asked me why I didn't post my thoughts about Episode III. Well, screw you, hippy. Just because a movie comes out doesn't mean that I have to start ranting about it. It's fashionable to be uppity about Star Wars lately, and well, if I wanted to be fashionable, I wouldn't wear the same pair of rubber ducky slippers every day. I was just busy being proud that I didn't have a strong opinion one way or another about the film, as if I had somehow passed the test and could advance to the next stage of Geek Awareness.

But there has been a common thread in most Star Wars criticism I've heard, and that is that no one knows what the hell they are talking about. People say, "George Lucas can't write!" but these people don't have their own cultural phenomena feeding their bank account with merchandising royalties. People say, "WTF is up with Jar-Jar?" without considering how dumb Yoda probably looked in the day, or that alien that flicks the little stick comingout of its chin to talk. We're talking about a film series with characters named things like Lando and Greezlepump Slapdeback, the majority of which never had names until someone wanted to make action figures. It's a saga that says, "It's the Force!" with the same confidence that most pulp stories say, "This must be some kind of SCIENCE!"

Granted, the films did employ more midgets than the blockbuster Willy Wonka vs. The Time Bandits, but let's not sugarcoat it.

Star Wars is crap.

Episode III, Episode VI, Episode MCMXCXLVII. This is a bright-eyed film-school-hack's vision of A Film That Would Be Cool. It has such memorable lines as "She gonna blow!", "Stay on target!", and "Coohhhh hsssssh, coohhhh hsssssh." It didn't even have Star Trek's "Future's so bright... shades" outlook. It had grown men running around in dresses and whacking each other with glowing sticks.

Let's look at Episode IV:
Tousle-haired, whiny farmboy. Princess with here-today-gone-tomorrow accent. Walking carpet who speaks in growls, but everyone understands him. A smuggler who's actually pretty cool, but who looks one bad haircut away from turning into the evil blonde jock from The Karate Kid. A clumsy, effete robot who understands 6 million forms of communication. A small wee trashcan with a spinny head that speaks only in beeps, but everyone understands him. Since everyone shopped at the GI Joe Laser Emporium, the good guys shoot green lasers, and the bad guys shoot red. And what the fuck is a moff?

Now, people ascribe all this Joseph Campbell stuff to the films, and yeah, it's all there. But that's because Lucas cribbed the story straight from the Campbell outlines. Meanwhile, people are basing their lives on this shit. Dude, the film had rubber aliens, and not even that many of them. You like the films because you saw them when you were ten, and you saw the films because you had all the toys, not because they're life-changing films in their own right.

So when people say "Episodes I-III are crap compared to the original series," I say, "Screw you asshole, the original series was crap, too."

Unlike many people out there, I can tell the differences among the reasons why I enjoy something. Below are the reasons why something might appeal to people:

  • Because it's good ("The thing that sucks about The Big Lebowski is that nothing sucks about it")

  • Nostalgia ("That cartoon is awesome because I saw it when I was 12! Who the hell went back and cut out the frames of animation and made the voice acting suck?")

  • Irony ("This show is awesome because it makes my stomach reject my lunch... but in a good way!")

  • Sex ("Man oh man, that Disney-sponsored actress is very attractive! I bet she'll be hot when she reaches the legal age of consent!")

  • Mindless Fun ("Jerry Bruckheimer presents A Michael Bay Film Michael Bay Blows Shit Up A Film By Michael Bay is awesome! Did you see the leaning tower of Pisa get eaten by giant dragonflies?")

  • Because you're stupid ("Mortal Kombat for Genesis is the best game ever.")

You like Star Wars because of Nostalgia and, possibly, Irony. Admit it. The films are crap. And yes, I'm looking at you, Empire. Saying "I'm the best Star Wars film!" is like saying, "I'm the most pleasant-smelling of all the turds!"

It's cool to like the films. I like 'em myself. I even liked some parts of Episode II. And yes, Episode III was an improvement. But you must admit, if anyone other than George Lucas made that film, with the logical speedbumps present in that script, that director's name would be Uwe Boll. Let's examine:

  • Padme's Amazing Size-Changing Belly: She goes from being relatively skinny to massive to skinny again to lumpy to massive to smallish again. Then, after the babies are born, she's huge again. Not only that, but she tells Anakin they're pregnant, and then three days later she has twins. Her uterus wasn't big enough at the time to be holding a Luke Skywalker action figure, much less two babies the size of her entire torso.

  • Mace Windu is the Stupidest Jedi Ever: Every other word from Made Windu is, "I don't trust Anakin." But he somehow trusts Anakin enough to leave him alone with the corrupt-at-best Chancellor. Maybe he hoped that their man-boy love would keep them in line. Then when Anakin comes by and says, "The Chancellor is the Sith Lord, we should rush in there now!", Mace goes, "Hrm. Good work, I totally believe you." THEN Mace goes in, confronts the Chancellor, has him beat, and is stopped by Anakin going, "No, you shouldn't! Killing him would be bad, just like when I killed Dooku and all the sand people!" And Mace is like, "He has a point, I guess, maybe I should hesitate--OH MY FUCKING GOD THE SEARING PAIN. BITCH."

  • Anakin's Dream: Anakin has a dream, and his mother dies. He has another that shows that Padme will die in childbirth. This sparks him to turn evil. Well, this and the suggestion that a Sith lord once knew how to raise the dead. Meanwhile, they have bacta tanks and robot doctors and mechanical limbs and space flight and sentient droids and parsecs defined as units of time measurement. Anakin takes this dream, decides that Padme's death is imminent and that the only way to stop it is through necromancy that may or may not be a lie, and turns evil and kills children. I would have prefered the dream be replaced with a dumb robot going, "We don't know why, but she will die in childbirth unless there's necromancy." Which brings us to the next bit:

  • Lost the Will to Live: A character in the movie actually says, "She's perfectly healthy, but for some reason, she's dying. We don't know why, but she has lost the will to live." That character is a robot droid doctor in the high-tech society of Star Wars. This is the same world in which, a couple decades later, a robot doctor revives Luke after getting beat up by his dad, losing his hand, and going head-surfing through giant mechanical Fallopian tubes, and all that doctor had to do was go, "Boot boot boot" and float Luke in Gatorade.

  • Hiding Babies in Plain Sight: "Okay, we have two babies whom the Empire might be looking for. Let's hide one with the only Senator to escape Coruscant and hide the other with people who knew Anakin on Anakin's home planet. This is brilliant! After that, we'll go ahead and help that Nigerian prince move those funds."

  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!: Darth Vader, upon rising from the evil Frankenstein table, asks about his beloved Padme. When the Emperor tells him she is dead, he goes, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" and arches his back as we zoom out from the scene. My only thought is that Palpatine was testing the Manchurian Candidate triggers he programmed in. I imagine that the next few days were made up of Palpatine going, "Lord Vader, there are dead kitties on deck 6," or, "Lord Vader, they cancelled Freaks & Geeks," just to make sure the Dark Lord of the Sith's Overacting Protocols were ship shape.

These are not fine cinema, people. It's frustrating to see the continuation of a childhood favorite not live up to expectations, but jeebus. Get on with life. You spend so much time hating the new stuff that you forget why and how you enjoyed the old stuff: because you saw it with fresh eyes and no expectations, and because you didn't have this perverse sense of ownership over the films. You could enjoy them when you were 12 and not have to worry about losing your geek cred, which probably has a street value of a smack in the face.