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  Film Reviews: Actors, Set Designers Rendered Usless: Star Wars II  

Monday, May 20
Actors, Set Designers Rendered Usless: Star Wars II
Star Wars
As I write this after opening weekend, Episode II has already grossed 116.3 million dollars. This may seem impressive, but Spider-Man is still reigning supreme in the all-time take for a single opening weekend (30 million of the Episode II take doesn’t take because it happened on Thursday). There is little that I can say about this film that will be new or exciting, but we live in a redundant world.

George Lucas has directed a grand total of five feature films. Yup, that’s it – 3 of these have been Star Wars films (for those keeping count, Empire was directed by Irvin Kershner and “Ewok World” was directed by Richard Marquand). This is a man that truly understands the concept of picking the one thing that you’re good at and sticking to it like nobody’s business. For those of you that theorized that Lucas’ directing abilities veered off course when he directed the muppet movie known as “Return of the Jedi,” I must sadly point out that anyone that has been away from the directing game since 1977 is bound to think that Jar-Jar Binks is a good idea.

Episode II takes place ten years after Episode I. We learn that the lifespan of a Gungan extends beyond this time, as Jar-Jar is still an active member of Amedala’s entourage. The story is somewhat convoluted, but I will attempt to recount it anyway. Ever have one of those weekends where you arrive at the senate for a key vote, only to have your bodyguard/double killed by an assassin? And then you find out that the Jedi sent to protect you is that cute kid that grew up to be one of those hotties you prefer to speak as little as possible? Sure. Next thing you know, his Jedi buddies travel to the planet where supermodels go to die only to discover that a clone army is being built on your behalf. You’re not that interested because you’re busy trying to get hottie to stop talking to you about how much he loves you. You of course attempt to do this by wearing ever increasingly skimpy outfits to point out exactly what he’s not gonna be snuggling. You follow guy you’re not ever going to have sex with to his home planet so he can show some type of emotion – you’re not sure which one, but it is an emotion nonetheless. His Jedi buddy sends and emergency transmission, you turn the AC way up in your chrome spaceship so you can wear “party hats” to see if he’ll really follow you to the ends of the universe. When he does, you decide that you’ll let him kiss you (sans tongue!) because you think you’re going to die. Oh - there’s a wicked- cool fight, you realize Yoda actually has legs! Yeah, it’s pretty much like that.

I don’t want to imply that Lucas has completely lost it, but I think that his ego is getting the best of him. I challenge anyone to come up with one real set in the entire movie – I’m sure that we’re looking at proprietary software, but can’t the man afford more than a few ottomans when it comes to set design? Add to that an increasingly digital cast. I’ll be the first to admit most of them show more depth, chemistry and acting ability than Hayden Christiansen, but won’t this increase in digital actors put the stalking industry in jeopardy? If that weren’t enough, most character and planet names appear to be the result of Lucas spending his days high on shrooms with nothing but a boggle box and an unwitting assistant going, “dude, you seriously can’t come up with a name or species out of these letters!” Was no one ever named Bob long ago in a galaxy far, far away? (Husband thinks I should just let that last one go already.)

The Usual:

Recommendation: Full price admission, baby!

Annoying Theater Goer: Oh, this is a difficult one. Sure, we witnessed a few light saber battles and what was believed to be an action Darth Vader mask, along with assorted annoying dudes behind us…so many stories, so little time. Unfortunately, I can only share two with you. First, we have the seat stalkers. These are the people that show up 5 minutes prior to Episode II’s start (we were in line 45 minutes ahead of time), shocked that they might have to sit in the first two rows! What the seat stalkers do is wait for the ushers to make the handicapped (bona fide only!) seats available. We had a true test of wills with Sweater Dude and Kickaround Buddy both resorting to leaning techniques to assure that they would not be denied these seats. Lastly, we have not so much an annoying theater-goer tale, as one of “that’s exactly why, buddy.” As we were exiting the theater, Star Wars Uber-Geek (SWUG) is explaining the frustration of being the SWUG to his buddy – “everyone makes fun of us, but on opening weekend the theater is always packed!” As SWUG is making his attempt to point out is non SWUG status, he immediately stumbles over his own feet and nearly lands face-first on the popcorn-encrusted floor. To any of the SWUGs that wonder why we make fun – well, you make it easy.

Main Reason To See This Film: Do I really have to go there – let’s face it, Star Wars rocks! If you must really have a reason the Jedi fight sequence is one of the more memorable sci-fi action sequences in recent memory. That and Yoda kicks some serious butt, he does.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: There are two. First, the PCA that becomes the future Boba Fett. Yeah, nothing like waiting for your father’s head to plop from it’s helmet. Second, you will have to come to the realization that not only does Jar-Jar Binks appear in the Star Wars series, but that his existence is CRUCIAL to the entire Star Wars saga.

MPAA Rating: PG

Nudity: No. (Husband and Roomie point out that Ms. Portman’s white jumpsuit is the best all-over outfit for visibility and selective durability.)

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