Baaah, okay, let's do this... gotta celebrate the end of the exam week somehow!
(This post has turned out WAY longer than I had expected, and my language gets repetitive and childish at times - but hey, this is the first time I've written a lengthy post about a bunch of random silly stuff that I like about the Star Wars prequels, so, you know... screw it, and screw it hard. :P)
Each alien in the arena drips of awesomeness. While the "kitty" looks kinda CG-ish and the "bison"'s movements don't come off as completely credibly, the designs are completely awesome. My favorite part must be when the termites successively nudge all the monsters with their rude electro-sticks and they're all just kind of annoyed by that, and then the kitty's like "I'm not taking this shit" and straight up eats the guy. Hilarious.
The "Cooba Fish" or whatever it's called, was pretty funny, and it was a joy seeing it getting ripped apart by the dinosaur. That fellow offered a pretty hearty, hilarious grin when preparing to swallow the "bongo" (which is btw, contrary to popular belief, a common percussion instrument and not a "transport"). Absolutely on par with the asteroidosaur from ESB.
-Jabba: Didn't do much, but the way he treated his mini saurs during the pod race - HATS OFF, that was awesome.
-Sebulba. AWESOME design, INCREDIBLY fun to watch and listen to. Also with a really nice satisfying arc (for a stereotypical "bully rival", at least).
-The monster vendor Jar Jar tries to steal from. The attitude, the design - hilarious.
-Watto may be an obvious Jewish caricature, and he certainly looks silly with those slow-moving insect wings of his, but extremely fun to watch and listen to, as well. Gotta love Jorge for going all the way and providing him with a hat and a beard for EpII.
I don't care much for his characterization in the context of the rose-tinted "slavery" he's introduced into, but to heck with that - as a famous man once said, I'm not watching this stinker for the plot, you know.
-Each single alien to partake in the podrace. With the possible exception of that fat one who looks like SpongeBob Squarepants' granny (you know, the one whose pod flies apart). LOVE that angry blue guy with his silly saluting repair droids. Can't get enough of those silly growls the other competitors make when they're backstabbed by Sebulba. "GWRRRRRR!!!!!" Priceless.
-The termite guys on Geonosis. AWESOME, and just asking to get squished on the ground. Their fat leader and the silly, extremely fun sound of his "language" when talking to Dooku. Nice idea.
-Kit Fisto, the Jedi Who is Not Into Chicks IYKWIM. He's pretty lame throughout the film, but I love that one bit where he grins after pushing away C3. So silly, so random. But it made me laugh. Nice design overall, shitty lame execution.
-Bruce Spence. Never gets developed, has one minute screentime - but hey, it's Bruce Fucking Spence, and he's playing a benevolent calm monk leader who looks like a monster! And you believe that. Awesome one scene wonder. And Bruce Spence.
-The Banking Clan guy. How SILLY. How DUMB. And yet so awesome. I especially love his exaggeratedly smarmy, cartoony line delivery in the German dub. See, I like me some "awkward, silly alien designs" in Star Wars, like the "jizz" players from the cantina or that guy from Buttchinnia. This one falls into the line.
-Not sure if the "Techno Union" guy is a robot or an alien, but I'll just mention him here as well. Campy as hell. Incredibly silly mechanical noises he makes during speech (or maybe it's their techno-uniological anthem?). Just pure awesomeness.
No, I don't like the Separatist leaders consisting exclusively of comical cartoons, but, you know, screw that and all ;)
-Many dislike Dexter Jettster. He's way too fat, and his, um, "panorama shots" look too CG-ish (esp. that shot where he sits down at the table), but I absolutely love the personality and facial design. He looks like a Walrus who looks like a purse, and that's quite something isn't it?
Could've done without him, though. But hey, for what it's worth... OH MY GOOOOOD!! ..
While we're on the subject:
-The "what's wrong with your face"... thing. Okay, you know what... that figure would've looked awesome in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. Get the FUCK out of Star Wars, you... what is this anyway, did you just smoke too much?!
-General Grievous. Silly, campy, cowardly, venomous, creepy and intimidating at the same time. Don't care for the lame lightsaber battle, but the rest of him is completely awesome. The thick Russian accent, the awkwardly placed coughing, the body language... everything.
I love his arrival at Utapau - the awesome music and build-up, and then he just storms out of the shuttle... it just drips of awesome, all I can say. Though I've always wondered whether that scene was some kind of gag, because having an epic introduction scene for a character after he had already been on the screen for 10 minutes, feels very weird. I've always had a sort of "now the real plot begins" feeling during that scene, and considering the structure of the plot, it even kinda makes sense.
His stupid villain laughter (succeeded by an even sillier cough) and body language when escaping on the shuttle - TIME TO ABANDON SHIP!!
The "scorpion" bit. When Obi-Wan rips apart his chest and Grievous gets REALLY scared and pissed and throws him to the side. Awesome. Intense and believable reaction. And awesome.
His silly over-the-top death matches the character perfectly. THE perfect cartoon villain for a silly space adventure movie.
-The battle droids. Again, childish and silly, but in that sense, completely awesome - I especially love the "you're welcome" one. Why it's funny? Well, it doesn't really make sense for these mass-produced robots to have any personality. It also doesn't make sense for this personality to include cowardly behavior and campy effeminate speaking manner. It ESPECIALLY doesn't make sense for them to act this way after having been established as pretty monotone machines in the previous two movies.
And all that nonsense compounding on the film, along with the actually hilarious voice delivery (come on, try watching that part where Obi slices that one ant guy in pieces and he's like "awawawawa" and not to laugh), makes them extremely funny, to me.
Before getting completely cartoonified in EpIII, they were pretty boring, but I admit I did laugh at the "does not compute" line despite its cheap silliness, and it's always an enjoyment seeing them effectively sliced to pieces by lightsabers, even if that takes away any dramatic tension.
There's also that little gem shot in TPM where we get to see the shadows of a group of battle droids emerging on the ground from beneath a column, before they appear on screen. Never understood the purpose of that shot, aside from the obvious "these robots are made for comedy slapstick" message it was conveying, but, dunno, the catchy music, the panorama shots of the city in combination with the subsequent shoot-out kinda sell it for me.
-Also the "super battle droids". After being introduced as these new, super intimidating zombie-like killer robots in II (they even gave them the "gangsta style" gun aim, and that without guns! how freakin' cool is that??), they again get silly, effeminate voices and slapstick humor which completely takes away any threat from them, but boy did I LAUGH.
Then, EpIII introduces these creepy looking, white glowstick robots with capes that kinda look like hangmen or something, and they FIGHT THE JEDI WITH ELECTRIC GLOWSTICKS! Then, as if that wasn't enough, they TOO get the cartoon treatment by getting to act out slapstick routines. Can't you guys just have ONE really intimidating type of droid henchmen in your movie??
Anyway, first that one guy continues fighting after losing his head, which is hilarious (and EXECUTED hilariously, as well)... then it comes to the part where Obi-Wan just drops a rock on four of them, and... that guy's like all afraid and screaming for his life, and has almost grabbed his glowstick, when BAM, Obi-Wan nonchalantly cuts off his head without even looking. Hey, isn't he supposed to still be functioning after that?? At any rate, I couldn't stop laughing during that moment - simply genius.
-The Droidekas. Those fellows roll around like Sonic Bionicles or shit like that, and they look like Aliens. And they have SHIELD GENERATORS! And they're completely awesome. And they almost avoid slapstick, which is quite a feat in a PT movie!
All I can say is, they're vastly under-used, and don't like how the Jedi are seemingly powerless against them even if they could push them away with the Force at any moment. They're just a stupid gimmick and plot device like everyone else, but hey, they're cool.
-The saluting toy robots that get sucked into Pod engines. Can't praise that little scene enough.
-The buzz droids - they make NO SENSE AT ALL, but they're HILARIOUS (or maybe because they look like products of Insane Troll Logic?). I love how these annoying spiders just kinda start crawling around the ship and start busily taking it apart while making those HYSTERICAL robotic noises all the time. The "oroboroboro" one kills me everytime, especially the way he just kinda crawls over the window and is heard for about a half of a second. Brilliant comedic timing.
Then they rip off the R4's head and he makes that sad lonely noise while flying away, and Obi-Wan says "oh dear" in that half pitiful, half sarcastic tone... hits my phrenic everytime, as well.
-The search droids from EpI. Just about sufficiently menacing and evil looking (and sounding) to pass as a threat, but still neutral and boring enough to pass off as simple search droids without any personality. Just a foot note, though.
-R2: Can't really say I cared much for his rocket-flying gig in clones, as I think that whole sequence annoyed the shit out of me not in the least due to the score frantically jumping between the main themes all the time.
But the way it was utilized at the beginning of ROTS, I found pretty damn awesome. It's the nonchalance with which he just kinda ignites those stupid droid things and quietly drives away as if nothing happened, that drives it home to me. Everything he does during that opening sequence and the rest of the movie, I guess.
-C-3P0: Now as far as I can recall, they got the character pretty much right in EpIII, but he didn't really do much apart from shining everyone's eyes out, so I dunno.
In EpII, he was transformed into an overly cartoony pun distributor which kinda sucked, but you know what? The puns were pretty damn funny, and I cracked up at EACH LAST of them. That part also fit well with C-3's established character of not really understanding what's going on around him, lacking emotional attachment, lack of loyalty and allegiance, and constant self-pity and complaining in midsts of chaos and tragedy. Sure, more comical and over-the-top than, say, in ESB, but it worked for me.
-C3R2: For all the shit they did to this iconic droid duo in EpI, you gotta admit they managed to rectify it for at least one brief moment in EpII, namely when Padmanakin leave the ship and R2 insists on following them outside.
From that moment until R2 pushes C3 into the factory, their interaction is pure comedic gold, and actually lives up to the magic of the OT equivalent for a short time. Not cartoony or slapsticky in any way, just the good ol' smartass R2 and the arrogant grumpy C3.
Supporting human characters:
-Jimmy Smits acts alive and quirky, and while there is no reason for his character to be this way, nor a characterization to begin with, he's quite refreshing to watch. Glad they chose him over Paul Blart Mall Cop, as well.
-WARWICK FUCKING DAVIS in the pod race audience!!!!111!!1 One or two frame he's in, and he fills them up with awesome.
-Ki-Adi-Mundi, the conehead guy, was a boring cartoon charater-wise, but I loved his intelligent looks and calm delivery, and he a had great potential. Great death scene, too, even if stretching suspension of disbelief a bit in terms of how quickly he's subdued by a few noob clones. But hey, usual action movie logic, screw that.
-CLIEGG FUCKING LARS. He was awesome.
-Didn't much care for Captain Typho (Panaka was horrendous), as he hardly did anything, but I loved his subtle annoyed reactions to Anakin's awkwardness and douchebaggery (from which one couldn't really tell whether it was the character or the actor disapproving of what he was witnessing, LOL). He generally felt alive and genuine, I guess, and when a character's reactions to something match the audience's, it always adds a subtle layer of realism. In this case, I'm not sure how good of a thing that is, though. ;)
-Sio Bibb- nah, I'm overdoing it. Fuck you, you old babbling fossil. You're getting on my nerves, go away.
-Boba Fett - not approving of his presence in the movie, either, nor the WAY he was present in it. But hey, a dark, and kinda sadistic srs business kid, and a good counter-argument to Lloyd (in the debate about castrating humanity, that is).
-Jango Fett is way cool, and again, one can't stress enough just how refreshing it is to see a character act in this casual, down-to-earth, all business manner instead of pronouncing lines in that posh, boring "prequel style".
His, um, "ambiguous" repartee with Obi-Wan is silly and makes no sense (Obi-Wan shouldn't have lept to conclusions just because it was a "bounty hounter", and, um, well, that plot line was bordering on Insane Troll Logic territory in terms of sheer stupidity), but it's a delicious cliché storm between two tough guys, and the acting sells it, to me.
His Batman persona kicks ass, too.
-Mace Windu during the repartee with Dooku (again, an example of clichéd cheesefest done right - "this party's over" "you're hopefully outnumbered" "we'll see"... made of win), as well as the duel with Palpatine (up until the defeat, that is), where he actually comes off as a badass. You find that angry bull look he gives Palpy during the duel silly? Well screw you, I think it's awesome.
The rest of the time, he's either boring or horrendous.
-Dooku was either tolerable, or pretty good in a few frames. He really nailed the shock and terror during his death scene, and I loved that sadistic smile on his face shortly before cutting Obi - the rest of the time, he kinda believably plays this pseudo-friendly, pseudo-regretful dignified corrupt count, but, well, meh.
-Not gonna say much about Darth Maul. He was THE perfect "silent henchman" type, and that's all he was. His arrival at Tattoine - perfect scene. Just awesome. Everything about him is awesome. Period.
-Zam Wesell = cool tough assassin chick. And a fit one! Would've been awesome if they'd made her into a sidekick or something, she looked like one you could drink a beer with. Shouldn't have made her a shapeshifter, that was stupid. ... You know what - meh, fuck 'er.
Cool main character moments
The characters in the PT were complete bores. Each last of them. But they had their little moments, or personality aspects, where they actually were fun to watch, or even gave off dramatically compelling performances.
To name some:
-Qui-Gon Jinn - a largely stoic and boring character who gets inhaled with life every now and then.
When he's hosing Watto in front of Anakin, he's pretty fun to watch due to his prankish, mischievous demeanor in those scenes - you can clearly see he enjoys the game. The contemptuous look he throws after Watto after the latter flies off after their second "deal", is priceless.
Sometimes gives off a very subtle sign of disapproval towards Jar Jar, or Obi-Wan (like, after Obi-Wan's "bad joke" in the Trade Federation hangar bay; or when Obi-Wan's making up shit about "symbiont circles", where you can clearly see he's like "wait, what's he on about NOW?! Oh well, let him talk...).
Toys around with Padmé on two occasions by teasing her about keeping information from the trusting queen. Omg, does he know?!!! Wow, you're one fun, mischievous prankster, Qui-Gon! Nice touch, I guess.
He does convey enough openness and warmth as a father figure to Anakin in a few scenes, and when he's trapped in the cage losing against Darth Maul, you can feel his sudden insecurity and tiredness, which contributes a lot to the intense tension during that scene.
Does convey the naive, eager "pissed off protégé" at the end pretty well, so that you feel satisfied at the end when he wins against Maul. Unlike many others, I do feel boiling anger underneath the surface of the highly choreographed duel, in a "gotta kick that guy's ass, but I'm screwed if I lose control over my moves" kinda way, but I'm not sure how much that's due to McGregor.
As an occasional deadpan snarker, he's very entertaining to watch, though. He's got that refreshing, sarcastic smirk to him, so that when he says "why do I have the feeling we've picked up another pathetic life form", I can't help but chuckle.
My favorite scene must be when the two Jedi goad Jar Jar into showing them the city. It's just... priceless. Jinn's holding up his pointer and is like "did you hear that?", and then McGregor has this piece of cheesy dialog to recite "grind us into pieces and BLAST us into oblivion!", and he completely DEVOURS this stupid line. You can clearly feel the two are enjoying themselves team-shitting the naive cartoon rabbit, and you gotta respect such amount of mischievous energy!
In EpII, well, he morphs into somewhat of a Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon hybrid, retaining both the bearded maturity complete with friendly warmth, annoyed faces and reprimanding looks, as well as the deadpan snarker quality, and it makes for a fairly entertaining personality to maybe not relate to, but certainly to watch at times.
(My personal favorite must be when he's trying to keep up with the sleep-inducing Kamino aliens while obviously having no idea what's going on, or what to say. No comedic gold, but more than enough for a good chuckle.)
I say "at times" because during some scenes, like the Temple scenes, or the one with Dooku, you can see the actor's just given up.
Boring parts also crop up in EpIII, but it's more of the same from EpII. Apart from that, I really love his silly, sudden transformation into a flamboyant fencing swashbuckler type during the "Grievous chapter" - he's just burning with youth and desire for heroic deeds there, isn't he - and on the dramatic side, he pretty much nails it in the Mustafar scenes. ESPECIALLY the final speech at the end.
Is it the best dramatic acting ever? Sure not, but he does make you believe the the horrible dialog in that entire sequence, and that's a bit of a feat, isn't it? What you hear are incredibly clumsy lines about "absolutes", what you experience is a master who's slowly realizing his former friend is lost. What you hear is "high ground", what you see is a benevolent mentor making one last appeal to his former friend to shrug off this stupid bullshit and come back. What you hear is "you have done that yourself", what you experience is, even though restrained, shock and disapproval.
Then he's basically standing there running his stupid mouth while Anakin's burning up, and then he LEAVES him there to die or survive, but the acting and music collaborate in making you feel the righteous pain and tragedy he's going through.
Inconsistent as heck, sure, but hey this thread is "optimistic" right?
-Anakin: Almost consistently unbearable throughout EpII, save maybe kind of in the Coruscant chase. But not really. When he looks at Padme during the "love scenes", you can't tell whether he wants to caress her or strangle her. His Tusken rant is bloody awful.
I'm wondering whether his "sex looks" would've been good in some kind of teenage romantic comedy while playing a Stifler kind of guy, but I haven't really watched any of his other roles.
In EpIII, the worst he gets is wooden and boring, but mostly really, really restrained (in case you're wondering, I'm officially discontinuing that dialog with Padme at the window from canon and general existence).
I can't say I didn't enjoy watching him ham it up on Mustafar, though. His character was basically mad and self-deluded at that point (which is a stupid plot point), and he screamed and played it like a madman. When he says "I've brought peace and justice to...", he's basically lying to himself, and that's how it comes off. When he says "you underestimate my power", he's way up there in megalomania, and the line is delivered in a correspondingly woolly manner. Does he sound like a spoiled child who gets torn away from WoW when he screams "I hate you"? Well... maybe, but he also sounds like a completely depraved madman. Not a dignified villain, a violent psychotic madman - but that's what he essentially is.
Basically, Christensen goes out with a bang.
Also, ironically, his generally wooden delivery works to his advantage during the opening scene, where, due to the nature of most dialogue during that sequence (except of course the serious part where he kills Dooku), "wooden" transforms into "deadpan", and, well, to me it bloody works.
-Natalie Portman was good in but one scene, and it was the one where she got something to do by packing her luggage in EpII. Her disapproving, incredulous looks at Anakin's whining channel the audience's reaction PERFECTLY, and she generally comes off as alive and believable in that scene.
Every single bit she's done in the whole PT sucks big time.
-Palpatine: the dude's so awesome, he's even awesome when he's boring. Absolutely marvelous, the guy.
Yes, the dialogue in the PT - 'nuff said.
But it had some pretty slick one liners here and there. Some really lame ones like "there's always a bigger fish" and "another happy landing" as well, but hey, it's the prequels after all.
There's also a very lame attempt at "ironic echoing" by making Padmé say "aggressive negotiations", but we fucking hate these characters by that point so it doesn't work.
Can't really think of any in TPM right now, but EpII is where hilarity ensued.
The "death stick" dealer at the bar - period. The delivery by "Mouse" from the Matrix is so goofy and awesome, you stop giving a shit about how random and out-of-place this scene is.
Speaking of which, I really loved the general cinematography and editing in that scene - it's artificially induced tension, plotwise (the Assassin should've fled the scene), but the way it's filmed, well yea - it's like from another movie.
I've already talked about the "cliché storm repartees" between good guy and villain at various occasions - those moments are solely good because they're so cheesy. My personal favorite must be the Obi-Wan - Grievous exchange shortly before the lightsaber battle. I mean, it's Obi-Wan Flynn exchanging clichéd lines with an evil lizard robot with a bad Russian accent! Cheese dripping is to be expected. And eaten up.
Then, when Ham Sidious comes into play, this quality is taken to whole new level. The whole exchange at the windu is so bad, it's delicious. By the time Yoda comes in to "challenge" the Emperor, it's a pure cartoon fest and the characters have been flanderized into self-parodies, but you know what? Fuck it, it's just this awesome. Had tremendous fun watching it, that I can say!
Then, there's "Good job!" and "She seems to be on top of things." from Obi-Wan, as well as several from the ROTS opening sequence.
"Always on the move" ain't this funny in the English version, but it becomes hilarious in the German dub where it's "always with the head through the wall", the German, catchier equivalent of "running his head against a wall" (I think) which basically means acting over-eagerly and spontaneously without properly thinking things through.
Then there's the "you're smaller than I expected", "I think we've lost something", "hands up, Jedi", "did you press the stop button", "time to abandon ship" and some more. Do those crack you up? They certainly do me!
Generally, the whole interaction between the two Jedi in that sequence is kinda wooden and awkward, but that's what makes it so fun to watch because, regardless of whether it's the case, it emanates that kind of impression that the two are phoning it in and aren't taking themselves or the movie too seriously during those exchanges, and I can't help but smirk at that each time.
I think that's it, basically. Do I like anything else? I like some random stuff - like that part where Sidious completes his transformation into the Emperor by putting on his hood. He speaks a few lines in this deep, raunchy, dignified monster mash voice, and there's even a hint of warmth and benevolence towards Anakin. He also looks completely different from what the Emperor looks like, but then BAM, he puts on his hood, its shadow lays down at the upper half of his face, and BAM it's the Emperor! And, of course, once he's got his hood on, there goes his old cackling Emperor voice.
So random, but I fuckin' love that and probably have rewinded that transition several times. This and the "declaration of the Empire" scene are the last bits where you get to experience him as the old Emperor from ROTJ - decrepit, venomous, dangerous. EVIL. After that, hilarity ensues.
For some reason, I love the pants shot when Yoda pushes him at that table. So silly. So random. There's even a "man behind the curtain" vibe going on there. But it manages to crack me up each time I see it, but mostly because it's so horrendous.
Yoda? What can I say about Yoda? Sure, you can recognize him as a CGI character, but he does look pretty good as such. His acting? It's expressive and believable, and you can see the effort put in - at the same time, though, it's very over-emphasized and disney-like.
Gone is the reserved, woolly dignity of the ESB Yoda - this Yoda's face is constantly on the move, he furrows his eyebrows, make a confused face, a concerned face, a sad face, a contemplative face, a regretful face, a defiant face, a despaired face, and you can see it all perfectly, but at the same time, it's all kinda cheesy and over-emphasized, and as I said, you feel like watching some disney animated movie. But since Yoda's by this point a cartoon character basically, I guess that makes it alright.
Action sequences, sound and general pacing
Too fucking tired and not gonna waste many words on that.
Basically yea, I enjoy most (not all) of the fights and action sequences when taken for themselves (i.e. without regard for character or story context), the visuals, rhythm, sound effects and variation in scenery and pacing, as well as the general "ideas" behind them, and I do find that if you forget about characterization and story, and just look at the overall structure and pacing, parts of the PT, especially the first half of TPM, have a nice catchy "flow" to them.
One scene leads to the next, then you cut to the villains with the slick Sidious hologram, then next setting, then BAM you're in Theed and flying on the ship etc. - it's fast-paced, it flows, one scene takes you to the next and it keeps you kinda entertained for a while.
The opening shots, and most transitions, are all pretty slick.
Why does that matter? Well, just shows that the movies were done with some considerable know-how about catchy entertainment cinema, and could've turned out pretty good if it weren't for the other gigantic flaws. Certainly ain't your "The Room" with the endless reiterating dialog and football tossing scenes, although almost all lengthy conversations in the PT are painful. I think I could sit through the diner with Shmi if the acting and dialog weren't so horrible, basically.
But I'm not sure how matters to me as I basically can't stand watching these movies whole, and haven't done this for years.
I also enjoy most of the scenery and alien settings (Kamino with its fantasy-like stormy exterior [just how RANDOM was that flying dragon?? the trailer made me think it was gonna be some kind of dark fortress of evil, but no... fucking transport dragon it was], and alien-abduction like acid-trip interior, but completely real-looking landing platform with real artificial rain? LOL, caught.) like the termite towers on Geonosis, the Bubble City (until it ruins Brian Blessed - no, I didn't like his voice performance there :D; and again, its "mysterious" vibe doesn't fit in well with its function in the story and the characterization of its inhabitants) or Kashyyk (where James Cameron stole his ideas from for Avatar),
all the neat ship designs and robot weaponry in the Clone Battle, nice little touches like the smoke during the Coruscant space battle due to the "atmosphere" and basically all the stuff that was put in there to appeal to teenage fanboys.
But yea, I'm just kinda rambling by this point. You get the general idea :)