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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
Well, that worked. 
19th-Jun-2001 11:01 pm
Trevor baby stare

After some debugging, I got my modifications to work (as you can see below). I still need to figure out how to delete my erroneous post from a dumb programming error.

As you might surmise, I'm not watching Juno Reactor and Medicine Drum. Wasn't really in the mood for a trip to Denver late on a weeknight.

But with posting capabilities, I can now write the journal entry I was going to write a few days ago before I realized I needed to be able to queue.

Saturday night, I watched Star Wars Episod 1 at the Boulder Almost Free Outdoor Cinema. Were it not at my favorite place to watch movies, I probably wouldn't have attended. However, it was my second viewing of the film, so I was able to give it a critical eye. Beware! The following observations are mostly critical. There wasn't, to my mind, anything stellar to note, although I give it a passing grade as a film.

  • A surprising number of aliens speak English. In the first three movies, most alien races spoke their own language, which was subtitled. Granted, many (Chewbacca, the bounty hunter after Han in A New Hope, etc.) could understand English pretty well, and the humans could understand the aliens. This setup created interactions that were perfectly understandable and added a lot of flavor. In The Phantom Menace, I noticed two prominent uses of alien language. The first was the language spoken between Anakin and his shopkeep owner. Both could speak English, but spoke unsubtitled alien between themselves. The meaning was generally understood, but I like subtitled films. Did Lucas think viewers would have a hard time reading? Granted, Chewie wasn't subtitled, but his meanings were very well conveyed, through acting and
  • Speaking of Jar Jar, many of his critics overstate his flaws. My assessment is, nonetheless, critical. Jar Jar's character, pre-dialog, works well in the script. He facilitates several plot transitions, and fills the archetype of slightly-goofy sidekick. His bungling nature, if it's sufficient to get him exiled from a Gungan city, should get the heroes into more trouble, rather than making him look stupid. But that's just a minor point. However, after adding dialog and small actions, Jar Jar serves mainly as slapstick comic releif, which is both unneeded and unfunny. If done well, fantastic grand adventures can use slapstick and not reduce the dramatic integrity. However, good slapstick is a lost art in Hollywood today.
    I have heard that "Jar Jar dies in Episode 2" has been upgraded from mass-wish to rumor. I certainly support a poetically just death for Jar Jar, but it must be done carefully. Jar Jar, as I said, has been placed in the "bungling sidekick" archetypes. Such characters are not killed lightly. In The Pink Panther, Cato doesn't die. In The Naked Gun, OJ Simpson gets k-beat up, but doesn't get arbitrarily killed. This is just a verbose way of saying that Jar Jar's death must be done carefully and without paying attention to the frothing hordes.
  • From the time I started noticing (Anakin and his mother's parting) until the end of the film, I don't think I saw a single closeup of a face that cropped a significant amount of the head. The closer the camera to a face, the more emotional the shot, the more we care about the character, while further shots are less personal. As Chaplin said, "long shot for comedy, close shot for drama." The point? We aren't drawn into the characters. I have no concern for Queen Amidala. I don't feel bad for Anakin because he's destined to convert to the Dark Side. Qui Gon Jinn (sp?) died, and I felt less than when the Ewok died and his friend got really sad. But then, good acting hasn't been the strongest point of Star Wars films.
  • Is it just me, or were the special effects less cool than in the original movies? ILM is a lot less restricted, so maybe their creativity isn't taxed as much. I think I'd rather watch the drag race in American Graffiti than the pod race. The former had more tension, both in the race itself and leading up to it.
  • If miticlorians (sp) are symbiotic organisms, why can't non-Jedi be injected with them? And how exactly are symbiotic organisms passed hereditarily?
  • Anakin had no father. He is The Phrophesied One. Jesus is Darth Vader?
  • The problem training Anakin is that he's too young. Why did they not start training Luke at age <= 1 rather than 20 or whatever?
  • Why did Luke end up back on Tatooine? Why would Anakin think that was a good place to start a family? Especially with someone who's queen on another planet. (Which is, interestingly, not Leia's home planet.) I doubt Obi-Wan would have brought him there, although his presence there doesn't make a lot of sense either.
  • For an extended period, Yoda dropped his grammar and spoke normal English. Then he picked it back up. Does this have some deep meaning, or was it just lazy script writing?
  • Obi-Wan didn't appear to think that he could train Anakin as well as Yoda. And he was sanctioned by the Jedi Council. I suspect there will be lots of these continuity errors by the time Episode 3 is done.
  • There was significantly less use of the Force than in the other movies. Or other intense displays of personal challenge. Anakin's pod race victory is probably the closest thing, and it wasn't as characteristically interesting as Luke getting in a Banta. That's sad.
  • Quoting from other movies is a time-honored tradition in all art media, and tends to enhance the value of the quoting piece. However, quoting from previous Star Wars films is just silly. (Hrm. Master gets killed by Sith lord. Space ship piloted by Skywalker destroys a large space craft by taking out a key piece while others have trouble. "There's too many of them." Seen there, heard that.)
  • I can't wait to get rid of these dumb droids and get the Stormtroopers back. Better acting, just as easy to handle. And they looked cooler, too.
  • For all that, it wasn't a bad movie. Despite the fact that it had as many "huh?" moments as a mediocre B sci-fi movie, the production was excellent, the plot was decent, the cinematography was cool, if often uninspired. </ol>

    So there you have it, slightly more verbose than I thought I was going to write, but there nonetheless. I'll write journal observation of Father's Day at a later date.

Comments 
20th-Jun-2001 02:16 pm (UTC) - Dork. But a thorough one. ;)
Uh huh. Well....I don't know if I would go so far as to say that Darth Vader was meant to be Jesus, per se. I got more of a sense that there was a parallel being drawn, that the 'chosen one' is not ALWAYS going to be a good person, as Jesus was. That bringing balance isn't necessarily going to mean that the person doing it is going to be the kind of guy you'd like to room with. Jesus was cool, that much is clear. But balance can be in the opposite direction, too. Maybe with Amidala, Luke and Leia on the way, the Force needed some nastiness going on to bring things back to neutral. Everyone was just too damned HAPPY! Interesting idea. I liked it. (because it's mine, so you can deal.) ;P
-MLE
20th-Jun-2001 02:29 pm (UTC) - Re: Dork. But a thorough one. ;)
Jesus has been used by the Dark Side. Crusades, purgings, forced conversion, Puritanism, censorship, savage beatings of homosexuals, et al.

And the one note I neglected to include... Darth Maul was far to flat of a character for my tastes. The Sith Lackey, martially trained or not, commanded no emotion. Vader, on the other hand, stirred lots.
28th-Jul-2001 02:11 am (UTC) - Tatooine
Uhh... duh... they gave a very good reason for Luke to be brought up on Tatooine... it's out of the reach of the federation in Episode 1, and probably out of reach of the early empire... Anakin didn't put him there, someone else, probably Obi-Wan himself did, to protect him from his father, who was getting pretty nasty. That's why his sister still grew up as a princess elsewhere. Luck just had it that the empire extended there, cause Anakin knew about it, since he grew up there. =P
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