Monday, May 16, 2005

Burn him!

Ok, I do not always agree with A.O. Scott, but I often respect what he has to say. However, this time he has gone too far. I don't care how good this movie is, not even if Sir Alec Guinness came back from the dead to play Obi Wan himself would it be as good at A New Hope. What really aggravates me though is the de-mythologizing of the old movies.
Scott writes:
This is by far the best film in the more recent trilogy, and also the best of the four episodes Mr. Lucas has directed. That's right (and my inner 11-year-old shudders as I type this): it's better than "Star Wars."

"Revenge of the Sith," which had its premiere here yesterday at the Cannes International Film Festival, ranks with "The Empire Strikes Back" (directed by Irvin Kershner in 1980) as the richest and most challenging movie in the cycle. It comes closer than any of the other episodes to realizing Mr. Lucas's frequently reiterated dream of bringing the combination of vigorous spectacle and mythic resonance he found in the films of Akira Kurosawa into American commercial cinema.

To be sure, some of the shortcomings of "Phantom Menace" ... are still in evidence, and Mr. Lucas's indifference to two fairly important aspects of moviemaking - acting and writing - is remarkable. ..

Anyway, nobody ever went to a "Star Wars" picture for the acting.
That is just not true. Leaving aside for the moment that A New Hope was, in fact, the best of the trilogy--acting and writing were important to the first set of movies. Alec Guinness is an acting legend and Harrison Ford launched his impressive acting career through the movies. Not the mention James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, an awesome villain only since dreamt of by six year olds, who is an accomplished Academy Award winning, classically trained actor. No, Hamill was not of that caliber, but he did his job (particularly in episode IV). The screenplay for A New Hope has also produced many wonderful quotes, which the new movies have so poorly attempted to mimic. This nonsense that the first Star Wars were merely impressive light shows is patently false, and it really irks me that Scott so easily wipes away the first movie as such. Well, I will see this new movie (which I am glad to hear is better than the preceding two) on May 28 (when my probation ends) and will judge for myself. I have no fear, however, that eating crow will be even a remote possibility.

Roger Ebert (bless him) has more sane things to remark about the new movie. He too liked it, but had more substance than it was just good. He does lament the diolog admitting, "[t]o say that George Lucas cannot write a love scene is an understatement; greeting cards have expressed more passion." I found Ebert's comments on the role of special effects the most interesting part of his critique though. "[S]pecial effects should be judged not by their complexity but by the degree that they stimulate the imagination, and "Episode III" is distinguished not by how well the effects are done, but by how amazingly they are imagined." And here he claims ILM and Lucas do a fine job of creating a new reality for us. I guess I will be seeing this movie multiple times.

Regarding the Omer, Rav Yuter told me that one might be chayav to watch this movie as it is a tragedy, and would actually intensify the mourning of sfirah. How 'bout that for a heter?


Yehuda said...

I have not yet seen this movie, since it has still not, near as I can tell, come out in Israel. Nonetheless, while I might be convinced that "A New Hope" loses in comparison to it, I continue to have faith that the Best Star Wars movie (Episode II) will continue to be worthy of its adjective.

Zev said...

After "Episode II" got so bogged down in politics that it played like the Republic covered by C-Span
- Roger Ebert

I thought of you, Yehuda.