My wife and I went to see Revenge of the Sith on Saturday night. I'd heard that it was much better than Episodes One & Two and this worried me because I've been dealing with the awfulness of the recent Star Wars movies by pretending that they don't exist. I've pushed them down the memory hole, Winston Smith style. Star Wars is a trilogy that ended over 20 years ago. At one point Lucas talked about making some prequels, but the plans fell through. We have always been at war with Eurasia ... .
Episode Three had the potential to wreck this careful exercise in willful amnesia. What if it was actually good? Then I'd be forced to accept the existence of One & Two as fact. All of that awfulness would come rushing in: Jar Jar Binks. Midichlorians. Pod Racing. The Trade Federation. The taint of One & Two would become permanent, seeping into the original trilogy through Three and slowly destroying it from within.
Fortunately, Three stinks. Worse than One & Two actually. Or maybe it only seems that way since I've worked so hard to blot the previous prequels from my mind. In any case, I can revert to my convenient fiction of pretending that the latest movies were never made.
The amazing thing to me about Revenge of the Sith was how badly it flubbed the basics. I expected that the dialog would be wooden, but was surprised me was how bad the editing was. The film jumps from scene to scene with no sense of how the different narrative threads will play off each other. Quiet dramatic interludes are inserted in the middle of action sequences, totally destroying their momentum. Time jumps backwards and forwards in the cuts. The most egregious example was a scene where Obi Wan falls into a pool of water and the film cuts away to other action for several minutes before cutting back to show him surface! I mean, isn't this the sort of thing that you're supposed to learn not to do in film school?
Or take the action sequences themselves. The battle sequences in the original Star Wars are beautifully set up and pay off wonderfully. Here are the good guys. Here are the bad guys. Here's what the good guys are trying to do. Watch them do it. But the battle sequences in Sith are chaotic messes. There's so much stuff going on it's impossible to tell which side is which or what the overall stakes are. Spaceships zip around and things blow up but it all seems kind of random and pointless. Nice CG. Why do I care?
At one point I actually leaned over to my wife and whispered, "This ... is ... killing ... me ... ."