Sunday, 8 March 2009

Star Wars Marathon

Over the last couple of days I've sat down and watched (as opposed to standing up and watching) the Star Wars prequels again and a couple of episodes of the Clone Wars CGI cartoon.

I've noticed that I've started to wince a little less at some of the dialogue in the prequels. I think repeated viewings have helped me build up a tolerance to it. Or perhaps it was because I was also rewriting part of my novel at the same time (don't worry, I've made sure there's no bleed over) and I wasn't paying any attention.

There were a couple of things I thought (or perhaps re-thought) while I was watching:

Not all of the dialogue is bad. If you squint at the screen, plug up one ear and hum along with the Imperial March, it doesn't all sound that bad. Actually, there was even one romantic scene (or part of a scene) where I almost believed the dialogue between the two characters. Which was then spoiled by the bit that followed immediately after. It's like that all the way through - there are little gems of dialogue struggling to get through, but they're swamped by all the crap.

It still looks absolutely fantastic. As a visual director I think Lucas is superb - he's just very bad at directing actors, decent characterisation and writing dialogue. All the character stuff basically. The action scenes when no one is talking are superb. And he's continued to create (with a lot of visual designers helping) a fascinating universe. Naboo and Coruscant (which I know was created before the prequels, but it was the first time on film that it was properly explored) easily hold their own with the likes of Bespin and Tatooine.

The music easily holds its own with the first trilogy. The Otog Gunga themes are perfect old-school science fiction and the main themes Williams has invented for the three films (Duel of the Fates being the only one I can name off the top of my head) are brilliant. This is the John Williams who should be composing for the movies - not the guy who scored War of the Worlds.

Half the problems I have with the films would be solved if Anakin had been half a decade older in The Phantom Menace. It would certainly make the love story in Attack of the Clones more believable - not to mention allowing for the final battle to be more than 'oops'. There are a whole bunch of other things that I think could be changed in the films that would still leave the story intact, but would present it in a much better way. That's the thing that makes the prequel trilogy so frustrating to me - a few relatively easy fixes and it could have been so much better.

Still, it's easy to backseat drive - and even easier to fix the problems with someone else's story than it is to write one of your own.

Clone Wars cartoon on the other hand I have no complaints about - except that I would have liked to hear a few more of the actors from the films providing voices. Anakin (despite sounding quite a bit different) and Padme are fine as they are - but Ian McDiarmid had such a distinctive voice as Palpatine that it's a shame he wasn't used. Oh and I'm still not sure about the end theme - I like the way it starts, but I'd have preferred they went with a different tune rather than the disco version of Williams' theme that's been used.

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