Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


This movie is the worst thing ever made by a human. Except for the bagpipes.
April 4, 2010 12:41 AM   Subscribe

You might have thought The Phantom Menace was the worst movie ever made, but no - it's Attack of the Clones. And RedLetterMedia is here to tell you exactly why. Parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine.
posted by flatluigi (310 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

 
Let's just agree that they both suck so we can move on to hating Avatar.
posted by item at 12:54 AM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


like this?
posted by leviathan3k at 1:02 AM on April 4, 2010


This guy has done a lot of reviews - he's done all of the TNG-era Star Trek movies as well. Most of them aren't as epically long as the Star Wars prequel reviews, though.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:06 AM on April 4, 2010


Just as insightful, just as irritating to listen to.
posted by fatbird at 1:12 AM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


leviathan3k: "like this?"

Or like this!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:14 AM on April 4, 2010


If you were one of the ones offended by the prisoner-in-the-basement gag in the Phantom Menace review, be warned that a similar gag shows up again early in the first part. However, if that offended you, then I don't know how you watch any TV or movies made since the 40s without crying.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:17 AM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


All three "prequels" were horrible. George Lucas should be ashamed of himself.
posted by Plug1 at 1:31 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


*assumes Grumpy Old Man With Mouth Full of Marbles voice*

Just like Lucas decided that Jar Jar Binks was good enough for two movies, this guy thinks the hooker torture gag is so good it should be his trademark. Now, don't get me wrong, I really like this guy's criticisms and I think they're even mostly valid, which makes for an entertaining review. And his visual juxtaposit-juxtapowhatsits are pretty clever. But he keeps breaking out of his old OCD nerd character and throwing this shit about being a serial killer into his reviews. I mean, for chrissakes, you're doing a 90 minute review about a 10 year old movie that even most ComicCon attendees think sucks, and you're worried about giving the viewer a break from the narrative with the serial killer shtick? I'm not offended by it, but it doesn't add anything to the review besides some casual misogyny and bad acting, especially when the clips of George Lucas pontificating like a bullfrog are way more scary.

Oh sorry, I gotta go take care of something downstairs. Just a sec.
posted by benzenedream at 1:32 AM on April 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


Dumb question: is he doing these reviews as Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs for some reason?
posted by Kirk Grim at 1:35 AM on April 4, 2010


Someone really needs to do his own shtick on the serial killer thing. It'll actually fit really well.
posted by effugas at 1:48 AM on April 4, 2010


Oh man, this has even more serial killer references than the last one. Someone needs to do a phantom edit of these (a new narration wouldn't hurt either).
posted by Gnatcho at 1:50 AM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is the serial killer schtick supposed to mirror George Lucas' situation in that no matter how much criticism and advice he gets to remove it, he just won't because he "thinks" it's brilliant. Or am I just deluding myself because I like his break-down of the films so much?
posted by Partario at 1:57 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I honestly think he keeps the whole killing women and annoying voice gag around to piss off people who would otherwise go crazy over how good his critiques are. Could he honestly be trying to keep people at a distance?

The whole portion in the second part about establishing the main friendship with utterly shit writing is so spot on it's just amazing. If these were written in a glossy magazine sans the annoying bits we'd be calling him the next Ebert.
posted by lattiboy at 2:03 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I should say the first part at around the 4:30 mark.
posted by lattiboy at 2:04 AM on April 4, 2010


Guy's voice makes me want to punch him in the face over and over. Kind of how it felt watching the prequels.
posted by bardic at 2:12 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I gotta say, though, the basement gags aren't funny in this one. It was funny the first time because it was completely unexpected - he goes into the basement to look for a Star Wars action figure, and as he's looking around you just barely notice the tied up woman at the edge of the frame. This time it's just kind of gratuitous, and it's the same joke each time.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:28 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The serial killer jokes are preemptive self-deprecation to defuse any responses along the lines of, "what kind of guy spends so long making YouTube videos about movies he doesn't like?" But they are too much.
posted by stammer at 2:28 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Maybe the whole serial killer schtick is like Punk Rock fashion. You do "crazy crazy shit" like dye your hair, tattoos and make your own leather jacket with metal studs so it'll never be accepted by the mainstream (heh). He just wants to stay underground, man.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:31 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's the short summary for Episode 3:

Anakin and Amidala's horrible, horrible, like, Lifetime-at-3-am-horrible-oh-my-god-I'm-gonna-vomit lines. The end.
posted by qvantamon at 2:49 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


maybe he just thinks the serial killer thing is funny??
posted by p3on at 3:06 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, it does get funnier later when he tells the woman he "needs her to see something", then produces a Attack of the Clones DVD and makes her watch it. Then later it shows her watching the infamous "sand is coarse and it gets everywhere" scene, and she looks up and kind of nonchalantly says "this is really awful". That was funny.

Personally, the weird voice, serial killer gags, random mentions of pizza rolls, etc. is precisely why I like these reviews. If it was just his comments and observations (which are very insightful and well done), it'd just be like any other movie review. He'd probably write for Ain't It Cool News or whatever and be dismissed as another nerdy Star Wars obsessive.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:18 AM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I really enjoy most of his commentary, and some parts were funny, but did he need to make 9 videos on Youtube to say all of that?
posted by JiffyQ at 4:10 AM on April 4, 2010


Once again it's the statements from Lucas himself that seem most damning. And having Empire-era Yoda shaking his head and looking sad during them was genius.
posted by fleacircus at 4:30 AM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I did not enjoy Phantom Menance, no. That's probably why I don't talk about it much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:47 AM on April 4, 2010


These reviews have spared me from watching the movies, thankfully. I was agog at the sheer stupidity of the kiddy light saber training. I would have left the theater at that point, if I made it that far, as easy as it is to look at Natalie Portman.

And, a rat tail? You've got to be kidding.
posted by maxwelton at 4:49 AM on April 4, 2010


I just opened all of these at the same time. I had nine versions of his voice burbling out of my speakers. It was a little scary.
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 5:10 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think he points out a lot of things that I hated subconsciously about the prequels but never really tried to articulate. Particularly the overuse of lightsabers and CGI in general, the gratuitous "video game shit" action sequences, and things like the training sequence with the kids that were pointless references to the original films. I'd also never thought about the obvious fact that they only horribly miscast Samuel L. Jackson as a dirty trick to make you think that he'd be in it as an ass-kicking Jedi. I mean, no one expected him to call Palpatine a "motherfucker" or anything, but yeah, that is what we all expected when we heard he was going to be in it, and it was a completely dirty trick.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:18 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Epic win for Star Wars Kid cameo in part 2.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:18 AM on April 4, 2010


I've made it a point to never watch episodes 1-3, so as to keep the memory of my youth and Episodes 4-6 intact.
posted by gen at 5:22 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's in poor taste to come into a thread and say you've seen it before, but I gotta represent: fuq showed this to me two months ago.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:24 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


tl;dr

But here's the thing. Phantom Menace is by far the worst and I'll tell you why. Casting Anakin as a four year old. I'll accept anything bad anyone says about any of the three prequels but nothing comes close to this decision. He's supposed to be a teenager. In the script, he IS a teenager. He tinkers with cars. He falls in love at first sight. He's too old to begin his training.

That baby boy doesn't fall in love with the princess -- he asks her for help with his pull ups.

Worst. Casting decision. Ever.
posted by Trochanter at 5:35 AM on April 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


Stickycarpet: fuq showed this to me two months ago.
The 9-part review linked in the FPP was unveiled at 2am GMT last night, so you definitely havent seen it before. You're thinking of the Episode 1 review?

Also, I think this is the first time that a review has ever had a trailer.
posted by memebake at 5:37 AM on April 4, 2010


You know, I don't analyze my various bouts of diarrhea to decide which is the worst, but as long as you're asking, it's Episode One that "wins" and I'm not going to watch an hour of "SERIAL KILLER LOL" shtick to try and be convinced otherwise.

Here are my arguments from an old blog post:

I feel I have to correct a fundamental untruth that is making the rounds these days.

I am used to people saying that The Empire Strikes Back is better than Star Wars (Or, A New Hope for you pedants.) That statement is wrong, of course, but I’m used to it being made, and content for people to be wrong by saying it.

But there’s a new one going around that must be corrected, and it is this: “Attack of the Clones is the worst movie in the Prequel Trilogy.”

Now, I realize that when discussing the Prequels, we’re looking at a pool of…oh, let’s say “vomit”…and trying to decide which chunk is better or worse. Nevertheless, this statement should at least be symbolically fought against.

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli is quoted as saying about some theory, “It’s not good enough to be wrong.” Meaning that it’s so bad, it can’t even be considered as part of the continuum of quality. Equating 2+2 to 5 is merely wrong. Equating it to “apple” defies categorization.

Attack of the Clones is a bad movie, to be sure. But The Phantom Menace qualifies as “not good enough to be wrong.” It is a complete misfire, an absolute aberration.

This is underlined by the fact that Attack of the Clones all but ignores The Phantom Menace. As does Revenge of the Sith. In fact, it’s such an outlier that you can watch the other five movies and never at all be aware that there was an Episode One, except for the title sequence. Obi-Wan himself, using the Force to see twenty years into the future, declines to mention “Qui-Gon Jinn” at all. Darth Vader and C-3PO, in Cloud City, pretend never to have met, since that would not only be awkward, but it would acknowledge the sad, stupid origins of both. For this reason, however you feel about Attack of the Clones, you are forced to concede that The Phantom Menace cannot be considered superior to it in any way.

I realize that this is a lost cause, that once geeks get some dumbass idea in their heads, such as The Empire Strikes Back being the best movie (because, of course, it’s “darker”) or Susan not being Doctor Who’s granddaughter or Stargate being worth watching at all, nothing can sway their collective hive-mind. But one has to at least make the effort.

So geeks, you are wrong. The Phantom Menace is a much, much worse movie than Attack of the Clones.

(Look at that, I didn’t even mention Jar-Jar Binks!)
posted by Legomancer at 5:38 AM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


once geeks get some dumbass idea in their heads, such as The Empire Strikes Back being the best movie

It's funny, though. It's not just the geeks. That seems to be the consensus of the critics, too. There are several articles about how it's "The Dark Jewel in the Star Wars Crown."

Bunk.
posted by Trochanter at 5:52 AM on April 4, 2010


such as The Empire Strikes Back being the best movie (because, of course, it’s “darker”)

No, it was more mature, had richer characterization and better action.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Trying to figure out which is better is like trying to figure out if I prefer stepping in dog shit or having a bird poop on me.
posted by empath at 5:53 AM on April 4, 2010


There's absolutely no question that Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. Anybody who says otherwise is an uncultured heathen.
posted by empath at 5:54 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


no u
posted by Trochanter at 5:56 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


your favorite movie sucks
posted by caddis at 6:01 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The serial killer jokes are preemptive self-deprecation to defuse any responses along the lines of, "what kind of guy spends so long making YouTube videos about movies he doesn't like?" But they are too much. -- stammer

...

Maybe the whole serial killer schtick is like Punk Rock fashion. You do "crazy crazy shit" like dye your hair, tattoos and make your own leather jacket with metal studs so it'll never be accepted by the mainstream (heh). He just wants to stay underground, man. -- amuseDetachment
I think that's about it. A ("You'd have to be a creepy loser dude to care this much about the star wars movies"). Plus, he might just find it kind of funny in a "This is making people uncomfortable, therefore it's funny" type of thing. Just look at Tom Green, for example. A lot of people find that kind of humor really funny.
posted by delmoi at 6:03 AM on April 4, 2010


I think this is the guy who is doing the reviews.

Looks like he started out doing indy horror movies, which explains the serial killer gags.
posted by empath at 6:05 AM on April 4, 2010


Btw, one of the things I like about these reviews has to do with the editing -- how he doesn't let jokes or digressions linger, he does quick cuts to the next section -- sometimes cutting himself off in the middle of a word... so you don't really have time to laugh or wonder what the fuck he's talking about. And then he makes the serial killer stuff go on far too long.

Kind of the opposite of typical comedy pacing. It adds a weird tension and uncomfortableness to the whole thing. I think this guy is kind of a genius to be honest.

Someone should give him a weekly film review show on HBO or something.
posted by empath at 6:09 AM on April 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


Also, btw, did you notice how he ended this talking about how both act 2's ended with a low point for the characters (doku escaping, han being kidnapped), and this ended with one of his victims escaping?
posted by empath at 6:13 AM on April 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


From the interview empath linked too:
JB: Das Foot had the potential to be a total disaster because there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen during the brainstorming session. For a 48 Hour Film Project, you have two days to write, shoot, and edit a project. You draw your genre out of a hat and we got horror. The other guidelines for the competition were so vague that it was difficult to narrow down what exactly we should do. My initial goal was to make something that would just irritate and confuse everyone in the theater. I didn't care about following the rules; I just wanted to fuck with people. The movie ended up being a hybrid of everyone's ideas, which could have been a mess, but somehow it seemed to work. It barely qualifies as a horror film, but the theater went nuts for it. I've never had something publicly screened get that great of a reaction. My intentions to just irritate the audience were undermined, but hearing all that laughter made it worth it.
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on April 4, 2010


Hey George! I'm never going to watch episodes 2 or 3!! Not even via BT!!

That'll show him.
posted by sneebler at 6:36 AM on April 4, 2010


Also, btw, did you notice how he ended this talking about how both act 2's ended with a low point for the characters (doku escaping, han being kidnapped), and this ended with one of his victims escaping?

Not until you pointed it out. That's so clever. Man, I think you guys who are writing this off as a dumb Tom Green trying-too-hard kind of thing are really missing the point here. Has anyone who has that opinion watched the entire review for either Star Wars movie? Or any of the other ones (he's done all the TNG Star Trek films, but he hadn't really developed the schtick as much in those)
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:01 AM on April 4, 2010


Also, I really like the actress playing the hooker. Especially towards the end when it cuts to her eating popcorn and saying she can't believe how shitty the movie was.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:03 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I didn't realize that Tony Clifton did reviews.
posted by horsemuth at 7:05 AM on April 4, 2010


I'm so excited I peed myself a little. I'm going to get some pizza rolls, then watch this.
posted by fuq at 7:09 AM on April 4, 2010


Questions of comedic effectiveness aside, I think the deranged serial killer stuff is a quite clever way to preempt the cavalcade of 'pathetic anal retentive geek psycho' epithets that would otherwise have arisen from anyone mental enough to not utterly despise these movies. Adding that little bit of humour, strained as it may seem to some, deprives the common webtard of his go-to weapon - the ad hominem attack.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 7:09 AM on April 4, 2010


Every single one of his movie reviews is negative. If I have to listen to the off-putting aspergery rantings of a fanboy (and luckily, I very much don't have to), I think I'd at least listen to the rantings of a jived up positive fanboy, like Quentin Tarantino, who articulates all the overlooked genius in otherwise denigrated genres.

Listening to unblemished praise of the original Star Wars is obvious and annoying, and listening to detailed eviscerations of FX-centric summer blockbusters is obvious and annoying.*

Comparisons to Roger Ebert -- a genuine movie critic, not just a soapboxing fanboy -- here are extremely misguided. A critic must be analytical, knowledgable, and an aesthete. If your critical frame of reference is "Worst Movie Ever", then you are most likely not an aesthete, and are not in a good position to make quality commentary on art.


*Related to this, I find it much more stimulating to read mostly negative reviews of movies I like, and positive reviews of movies I hate. A post-movie-watching Rotten Tomatoes tradition.
posted by dgaicun at 7:29 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, I think you guys who are writing this off as a dumb Tom Green trying-too-hard kind of thing are really missing the point here. Has anyone who has that opinion watched the entire review for either Star Wars movie?

Yes, in fact I watch the first review repeatedly. And every time I skip over the basement scene in part two. I'm in part four of this new one and I enjoy it, but also really enjoy that the recurring "lol kidnapped rape victim in my basement" stuff is now tacked to the last thirty seconds of each clip so I can just skip it.

I'm honestly amazed there is a lengthy debate here over why a percentage of people just might not think jokes about raping people are funny, as if there's something wrong with that.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:45 AM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am going to go out right now and rent every single movie in the Saw franchise just to piss off the people who are offended by the serial killer jokes.
posted by localroger at 7:57 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish he would cut out the serial killer schtick too, if only because I see discussions inevitably start with a discussion of that and not the merits and criticisms of the actual review.
posted by flatluigi at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2010


Comparisons to Roger Ebert -- a genuine movie critic, not just a soapboxing fanboy -- here are extremely misguided. A critic must be analytical, knowledgable, and an aesthete. If your critical frame of reference is "Worst Movie Ever", then you are most likely not an aesthete, and are not in a good position to make quality commentary on art.

Well uh, his frame of reference isn't Worst Movie Ever, he actually took 90+ min to explain why the main plot points in the movie and the character developments do not work. He makes very transparent why most modern blockbuster's fail as stories. How an audience is given very few elements with which to relate to the characters, draining all the tension out of the numerous action and fight sequences.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:09 AM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


The serial killer schtick is vile, yes, but what is truly upsetting is his inability to distinguish between Boba and Jango Fett.
posted by youarenothere at 8:10 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


...his inability to distinguish between Boba and Jango Fett.

I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose to piss people off.
posted by octothorpe at 8:14 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gah... ok, caveat, I haven't watched this particular review yet and I don't have time to right now.

But it has always been pretty obvious to me that the voice and the serial killer bit is a self-deprecating meta-joke along the lines of "seriously, who actually posts a thirty-forty-minute hateful review of an eight-year-old movie on Youtube? Some kind of serial killer who lives in a basement?" But the timing of the joke fell flat, in the Phantom Menace review anyway, so the joke didn't work and now it just leads to internet grrr.
posted by furiousthought at 8:20 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


XQUZYPHYR: " just might not think jokes about raping people are funny, as if there's something wrong with that."

Well, mainly because it looks more like it's jokes about him murdering people.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:35 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


the recurring "lol kidnapped rape victim in my basement" stuff is now tacked to the last thirty seconds of each clip so I can just skip it. i'm honestly amazed there is a lengthy debate here over why a percentage of people just might not think jokes about raping people are funny

I'd agree, but this joke is entirely predicated upon his not raping them. If you've been faithfully watching the codas to each review, you'd find that he tortures his victims by treating them to the Star Wars prequels as a captive audience.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:40 AM on April 4, 2010


kid,

And, you know. Tying them up and not giving them water. Beating too, apparently. Sometimes to death.
posted by effugas at 8:49 AM on April 4, 2010


but it ISNT about him raping or even murdering them - he just wants them to watch the movie.
posted by lemonfridge at 8:50 AM on April 4, 2010


Oh man...I got curious after watching and found this:

Poor guy.
posted by rbf1138 at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Guys, if the extent of the argument has receded to "it's funny because he doesn't rape them," I really don't know what else to say. Sorry.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:57 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]



I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose to piss people off.


Agreed. This guy isn't doing anything accidentally.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:08 AM on April 4, 2010


I'm pretty sure that the serial-killer plotline stems from the character having to watch these awful movies over and over again and slowly going insane. Sure, it's crass and tasteless. But in the grand scheme of things, it ain't all that bad and certainly not worth the grrr elicited here.

I like the bits. They're not all that funny, especially compared to the rest of the review materiel, but they are weird and disturbed enough to break up the rapid-fire nerdly critique that would otherwise become quickly overwhelming.

I love these. So much. After Easter dinner tonight, I'm going to heat up some pizza rolls and laugh my ass off. Thank you for this.
posted by willie11 at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2010


I am going to go out right now and rent every single movie in the Saw franchise just to piss off the people who are offended by the serial killer jokes.

Yeah! Jokes on them, now you get to watch all the saw movies oh shi

Whatever valid critiques this guy has is layered with a thick cruft of shit, and I'm not even talking about unfunny excursions into fucking pizza roles and murder and a mush-mouthed monotone. I'm talking about finding asinine nitpicks to complain just for the sake of complaining, like in his First Contact review sperging for 3 minutes about a goddamned window. Jesus Christ, maybe it has some 24th century purpose that's not obvious or it's where they put the sewer and water line when Picard goes to the Good Sams park. It's not explained because it would ruin the pacing and be needless fanboy exposition, and who really gives a shit? "An unexplained part of a starship that's from 300 years in the future? That ruins the movie for me!"

And I don't even like First Contact.

While making plenty of good points, these reviews mistake longwindedness and nitpickery for profundity.
posted by Snyder at 9:15 AM on April 4, 2010


OMG he's back! I've been waiting for this review for months. I loved his Episode 1 review so much more than the movie. yay!
posted by Theta States at 9:19 AM on April 4, 2010


So, I'll be watching this review later today, but I have to say this one word of praise for Attack Of The Clones, and that is... the IMAX version.

When they released his movie in IMAX format, they went back to the original digital source files and rerendered the entire movie into the larger format, and even reframed the movie into IMAX screen shape (rather than letterboxing the theatrical ratio format onto the large IMAX screen). And it was BEEEEEAUTIFUL!

Most other feature films converted into IMAX use a digital process which blows up the image from the smaller format, and this results in a very good image, but there is some artifacting from the process. But, like anyone who saw The Dark Knight in IMAX knows, the native format has a clarity and breathtaking depth of EVERYTHING which blows away the blown-up theatrical footage. And that's what the IMAX format Attack Of The Clones was like, all the way through.

(And when I'm say "IMAX format", I'm not talking that FauxMAX bullshit you see in shopping malls these days. I'm talking the 5-story-tall screen genuine IMAX format.)
posted by hippybear at 9:20 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


as a woman and a hater of the Saw and Hostel franchises, i found these fucking hilarious.

for whatever that's worth
posted by angrycat at 9:22 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well uh, his frame of reference isn't Worst Movie Ever,

Quite explicitly, in fact:

First line:
"'Star Wars: Episode II' is the worst thing ever made by a human."

First line:
"'Star Trek: Generations' is the stupidest movie ever made."

First line:
"'Star Trek: First Contact' is the 3,967 worst film ever made."

First line:
"'Star Trek: Insurrection' Sucks My Balls'."

Every one of his reviews is like that. His "frame of reference" meaning his approach towards film criticism; his "drive to analyze". The difference between a fanboy and a film critic, is that film critics are aesthetes. This guy just likes to complain about bad movies. That doesn't make him a film critic, even if his complaints have merit. Film "criticism" doesn't mean film complaining.

Unsurprisingly, his weakest review is of a movie he didn't entirely hate. (And his criticisms here about one-dimensionalism and Manichaeism conflicts with his fanboy devotion to the first Star Wars movies where he (rightly) saw these as functional scripting choices for a family sci-fi film.)
posted by dgaicun at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every one of his reviews is like that...

Yeah, but he reviews movies he hates. Rather the point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:29 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hence: Comparisons to Roger Ebert -- a genuine movie critic, not just a soapboxing fanboy -- here are extremely misguided.
posted by dgaicun at 9:30 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The thing is that I saw Attack Of The Clones at the cinema and thought favourably of it over Phantom (which I saw on video long after it came out due to the bad reviews it got on release) but thinking about it I'm pretty sure it was just the audio and visual noise of it kinda overwhelms on the big screen. I've never gone back to it, not even when it's turned up on television.

Weird thing I've just noticed in the review this time around is Lucas in the making of - is it just me or does he have a ton of product in his hair? In the behind the scenes footage of directors at work that I've seen, probably because they are so busy, about the most effort they take in sartorial elegance is cramming on a baseball cap. Thus just seems really odd and vain...

Oh and Jackson as a badass was such as shill... I remember him in interviews going on about having a purple light sabre and all that and he ended up hardly using it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:33 AM on April 4, 2010


Sometimes criticism of the Star Wars prequels is dismissed with the argument that they're all kids movies and people who watched the original movies dislike the prequels because they aren't kids anymore, and these reviews rebut that argument nicely.

As creepy serial killer guy points out, the storytelling, writing, and acting of the prequels is inferior to the original series, and it's not like the originals are packed with excellent actors. The comparison of Carrie Fisher's emotional scene when Han Solo is abducted with Natalie Portman's robotic affect in the same situation is a good example. He made a similar point in the Phantom Menace review about how all of the light saber battles in the original movies mean something to the character development and the plot, and they're meaningless in the prequels.

I'm not a fan of the voice and serial killer stuff either, but in the Phantom Menace review part of the point of the serial killer stuff was to introduce some drama and storytelling in the review that were more effective than the movie being reviewed.

Star Wars (Or, A New Hope for you pedants.)

Actually pedants would say Star Wars. It was renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope later.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:37 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


He he . . . this guy's reviews are great! Love his dry humor. And even before this review, Attack of the Clones - NOT on my bucket list.
posted by garnetgirl at 9:39 AM on April 4, 2010


While making plenty of good points, these reviews mistake longwindedness and nitpickery for profundity.

That's Metafilters job!
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hence: Comparisons to Roger Ebert -- a genuine movie critic, not just a soapboxing fanboy -- here are extremely misguided.

I know what you're saying, but disagree. He's not the same as Ebert, but he's on par with him (at least) in his critiques. And much funnier, due to his hewing to flicks he feels personally betrayed by. (I suspect him gushing over TWOK would be much less entertaining.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:43 AM on April 4, 2010


And, you know. Tying them up and not giving them water.

Well, yeah, the character is undeniably a serial killer, but I think the underlying idea is that Episode II is on par with any torture he could pull from the black bag of the Gein/Bundy psyche.

In fairness to Ep II, I do think there was (at least) one well-imagined moment lost in all the CGI snowfields. When Obi-Wan confronts Fett in his quarters, and they fall into the familiar game of question-and-parry (with noir's eternal storm crackling outside), and you catch just a glimpse of his iconic armor waiting offstage... well, I think this is as close as the prequels ever come to a successful bid at mounting tension. And it's basically unplugged - no CGI baddies, no lightsaber raves. (Link here).

And just before this scene, you get the reveal that Fett's payment for allowing a race of goose-stepping killers to be born from his image - kind of sowing the ultimate "dragon's teeth" - is just a single perfect, unspoiled clone to keep for himself. A son; a twin.

As Star Wars goes, I think this is nearly as good as it gets, and (perhaps) ever got. To ask much more is to severely overrate the original trilogy. And I love Empire.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


@dgaicun I don't know what you mean by his lack of aesthetic pov. It's pretty clear that he's arguing in favor of richer character development over baroque visuals.

These are joke-y reviews. It's obvious that by saying "Star Trek: First Contact' is the 3,967 worst film ever made" he's being sarcastic about it.

I like Ebert, but even in his review of Attack of the Clones he really doesn't make a very explicit why the plot of the movie is a failure. That doesn't make this guy better than Ebert, but I think that's why his critique useful. A lot of people aren't aware of the mechanics of modern blockbusters and It seems to me he does quite a reasonable job at unpacking poorly thought out plots.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:45 AM on April 4, 2010


I think the review is worth it, if only for the juxtaposition of the "Well these movies were made for kids" argument, with scenes of murder, hard to follow political intrigue, attempted rape, "limb removal", etc.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:49 AM on April 4, 2010


"...And then I find out my wife's been dead for six years. Who the hell did I hit?"
posted by Eideteker at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2010


The comparison of Carrie Fisher's emotional scene when Han Solo is abducted with Natalie Portman's robotic affect in the same situation is a good example.

It is interesting that the prequels in general had better actors (with a few obvious exceptions) than the first three movies but ended up with just awful performances. Lucas managed to take talent like Neeson, McGregor, Portman, Stamp, Lee and even Samuel Jackson and got them to deliver totally flat and robotic performances. It take rare talent to make Samuel Jackson boring.
posted by octothorpe at 9:53 AM on April 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


Guys, if the extent of the argument has receded to "it's funny because he doesn't rape them," I really don't know what else to say. Sorry.

Yeah, I mean, I can understand why someone wouldn't want to watch the interstitial crap that bookends each review. But it does sort of blossom into a parody of Episode II's clunky love subplot.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:54 AM on April 4, 2010


i guess to me it comes down to which is more pathetic--spending years bringing all kinds of talent together to make a bit of entertainment that is generally well received but disliked by a certain brand of geek; or spending inordinate amounts of time obsessing over how much you hate a saturday-afternoon movie. i wish these people would own up to the fact that they simply lack the capacity to just fucking sit back and enjoy something.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 10:16 AM on April 4, 2010


making a youtube review that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the star wars prequels suck is like building a homemade barometer to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's fucking pouring outside.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love the prequels. After I watched that guy's Phantom Menace review, I started working on a rebuttal, but man, who has the time. I'm curious about his arguments, but not enough to sit through the awful voice and bad jokes.

The basic question I always have when people complain about the Star Wars prequels is -- compared to what? Sure, Attack of the Clones is an odd movie, and I suppose it's "bad" if you expected, I don't know, self-serious action-fantasy like The Matrix or whatever. But as a campy, over the top pop culture artifact, it's extremely satisfying. Remember how critics went gaga over Far From Heaven because it was, like, an inspired homage to Douglas Sirk melodramas? Star Wars has always been an homage to 40s serials. Yes, Clones is campy as all hell, but that's not a criticism, that's just an observation. I love it for what it is.

And the writing? Star Wars has always blown me away because I'm fascinated by structure. Yes, the dialogue is often shabby, but the overall structuring of the story is amazingly well-crafted. A vast number of overlapping story arcs are tightly controlled, and I don't know of another series of six movies that tell the story of a single character. For all the guff Lucas has gotten, he's always stuck to his original plan -- to tell the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker -- even if parts of it where very, very unpopular. It would have been easier to milk the franchise with more of the same, but he modulated each installment according to his original outline.

I suspect that the reason the prequels are so different in tone and reception is the fact that they're tragedies. The original trilogy was comedy: everything resolved to a happy ending and a wedding. The prequels built up to Anakin's downfall, the darkest and best (I said it) of the Star Wars movies, Revenge of the Sith. Acts I and II of that tragedy -- Phantom Menace and Clones -- are thankless positions to be in, but Sith, in retrospect, makes even Phantom Menace a much better movie.

Well dammit, maybe I'll make that video after all.
posted by muckster at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it just me or does the new Youtube format have some flaws when it comes to pointing the viewer to the next installment in a series?
posted by redsparkler at 10:24 AM on April 4, 2010


redsparkler: “Is it just me or does the new Youtube format have some flaws when it comes to pointing the viewer to the next installment in a series?”

No, so far as I can tell it's the same algorithm. It sucked before too, at least with the RedLetterMedia videos. I can't understand why; maybe he's just not tagging them right or something. It usually works pretty well with other stuff.
posted by koeselitz at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2010


muckster, you watched the Phantom Menace review and you still think the movie had well-crafted structure?
posted by flatluigi at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2010


muckster, people don't hate the star wars prequels cause they're campy... they hate them because they're BORING AND WOODEN.

also, if you don't think that empire strikes back is clearly the best movie of the bunch you're crazy.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:28 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


flatluigi, not sure what his argument about the structure of Phantom Menace was -- I remember he tried to explain there was no one to root for (when clearly it's Anakin's story). Structurally, the episodes correspond to each other according to their place in their trilogies, so Phantom Menace mirrors A New Hope (see how the titles are opposites? It works down the line.) It's sort of like the two parts of Che, where you're invited to compare & contrast Anakin's story with Luke's. At the same time, Star Wars is really a cycle, so Phantom Menace is also a sequel to Jedi in a number of ways. Can't trace out all the connections, echoes, and story arcs etc here -- that's for the video ;)

nathancaswell, of course I love Empire. No doubt about it. But to me Sith is the crowning achievement of the series. The last 45 minutes are just payoff moment after payoff moment clicking into place. Absolutely adore it. Sorry if you think it's boring.
posted by muckster at 10:39 AM on April 4, 2010


Well, I thought the imagery of Phantom Menace was very appealing, at least when considered off-screen. There was a lot of interplay between overt and hidden faces: Padme and her lookalikes, and the whole flipped-princess and -maid motif, Palpatine and his Mister-X persona, even Naboo's surface world and its occult, watery "underworld" that rises up to save it. I mean, even in the prequels and in the expanded universe stuff, it seems like a lot of these guys have been reading their Joseph Cambell. But where they fail, I think the problems that ultimately tank them are the more prosaic, nuts-and-bolts questions of pacing, editing, characterization, and relentless merchandising. It makes it all the more disappointing, I guess, when you get big things right and yet your giant epic is Gulliver-strung by a thousand little failures and mediocrities. And it makes it easy for someone on Youtube with a copy of Write Your Screenplay in 21 Days to shoot them full of holes. It's like bad, bug-ridden code for a really good algorithm.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:43 AM on April 4, 2010


FWIW, here's a thing I wrote for a Star Wars blogathon about the first 90 seconds of Clones.
posted by muckster at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


the overall structuring of the story is amazingly well-crafted. A vast number of overlapping story arcs are tightly controlled

If this is your assessment of the 40 mins. at the start of Phantom Menace that deal with byzantine Trade Federation deliberations in the Senate, then none of those words means what you think it means. And if it's your assessment of the treatment of the Anakin-Padme love story in Clones, then this is an amazingly well-crafted sentence for someone suffering from such an acute case of Wernicke's aphasia.
posted by gompa at 10:47 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


A vast number of overlapping story arcs are tightly controlled, and I don't know of another series of six movies that tell the story of a single character.

The review spends a lot of time explaining exactly how not-tight those story arcs are.

It would have been easier to milk the franchise with more of the same, but he modulated each installment according to his original outline.

It also spends a lot of time explaining how Lucas went about milking the franchise.

For all the guff Lucas has gotten, he's always stuck to his original plan -- to tell the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker -- even if parts of it where very, very unpopular.

Perhaps you're not going into the detail it would take to defend Lucas — and if you've got a legitimate, interesting defense of the guy I am willing to spend 90 minutes watching whatever you come up with — but this is the defense that every high school poet uses to defend their mawkish "fuck y'all" poetry. The idea of "I'm doing what I want regardless of who likes it" doesn't make you an artist. In fact, a part of the art of writing and directing is to learn how to convey whatever deep, interesting ideas you have in ways that other people can relate to. That's at the core of every interesting debate about what constitutes art. And when your concept is "I will show how this good guy became a bad guy" and you make a bunch of unpopular movies showing this, then you've failed to be either deep or loved, and there's an argument to be made that you've failed to do every possible thing art's supposed to do.

(Hell, I know people who like Transformers who hate these prequels. That's how low Lucas sunk.)

i guess to me it comes down to which is more pathetic--spending years bringing all kinds of talent together to make a bit of entertainment that is generally well received but disliked by a certain brand of geek; or spending inordinate amounts of time obsessing over how much you hate a saturday-afternoon movie. i wish these people would own up to the fact that they simply lack the capacity to just fucking sit back and enjoy something.

Spending years of time on anything is not inherently pathetic. Anything worth doing is worth devoting time to. The question is why you're doing whatever you're doing. If you're spending all that time making something that people love, then it was all worth it.

I dunno Lucas's motive. Was it to make money? Because if so, his spending all that time and effort led to a pretty shallow result. Was it to make a good film? Because if so, he failed. Was it to bring closure to the Star Wars fans? Because almost all of them agree that he blew it big time.

Meanwhile, this guy writing the review is making something that a lot of people really loved. He's doing a great job of teaching viewers about cinema — a professor of mine actually showed the first two parts of the Phantom Menace review to my class — and he's funny all the while. You'll notice that in the discussion here people are talking about the rapist thing. That's because the question here exists: Why does he think that's necessary? Is it to tell a good story? Because it's overlong at parts. Is it because he wants to show that Youtube geeks are misogynist rapists? There are flaws with that intent too. And this is how discussions about art/craft/whatever go. There's a reason for doing anything, and if people think those reasons are good then it's good art; if not, it's flawed. This applies to overbudget movies as well as overlong Youtube reviews.

And, by the way, I can't fucking stand people who "sit back and enjoy something." I don't understand what joy you can get out of not thinking about things. I like movies that show me interesting things in interesting ways; when a movie's boring and drab and bad then I hate just sitting down and getting a kick out of something shallow and pedantic.

For me, sitting down and watching a movie should be a somewhat active process. The movie should be engaging you, not just pumping visuals into your system like a narcotic. It's a conscious thoughtful effort, not a drug, and assuming that you're supposed to sit and smoke it demeans cinema's potential. I care as strongly about these things as you seem to care about your dislike of obsessive people trying to do interesting things; and I judge you for what you like/dislike the same way you're judging me, and find you similarly lacking.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2010 [45 favorites]


Hey, gomap, if it takes neurological damage to enjoy these movies as much as I do, that's fine with me. After all these years, I'm still not sure why it is so hard to understand the political intrigue behind Phantom Menace -- or why it matters. Palpatine creates a situation that leads to war and makes him chancellor -- what's so difficult about that? The invasion of Naboo starts something like 10 minutes into the movie.

The love story, though, is more complicated than people give it credit for. I get a hoot out of the laughable fireplace scene, the Sound of Music roll in the hay, and the "sand" line every time -- but there's another thing going on here: Anakin has a selfish, twisted idea of what love is, and these romanticized notions are all based on grasping and attachments that will make him turn to the Dark Side. You're welcome to laugh at it (and I do) but I think you're also meant to understand that his love may not be the real thing.
posted by muckster at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2010


Yeah, but Muckster, that whole "he sees love wrong" is childish. Particularly because there's no depth to this "selfish, twisted idea". I had similar shallow thoughts about love with my first girlfriend, I said "love" a lot when it didn't mean anything, and I wrote stories about it then. I even wrote a novel about how flawed that view of love was. So Lucas is writing things that I'd stopped thinking were deep at sixteen.

I think the Phantom Menace review explained exactly why the "political intrigue" was bad. It was incoherent, it appeared in a movie marketed at children, and, rather than using that intrigue to tell the story, Lucas just used it as a front for a horned man wielding two red dicks. Indefensible.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:06 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was like a million keyboards were kneaded in anger, and then suddenly fell silent.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:06 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


hippybear: "When they released his movie in IMAX format, they went back to the original digital source files and rerendered the entire movie into the larger format, and even reframed the movie into IMAX screen shape (rather than letterboxing the theatrical ratio format onto the large IMAX screen). And it was BEEEEEAUTIFUL!
"

You can wrap a bag of manure in the most beautiful wrapping paper possible but it's still gonna smell like shit.
posted by Bonzai at 11:08 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So Rory, the love story is too childish but the politics are too adult? Compared to what?
posted by muckster at 11:10 AM on April 4, 2010


I tried to watch "Attack of the Clones" when it was released on DVD after suffering through "Phantom Menace" in the theatre. I shut it off after 10 minutes in disgust. This makes me so very, very glad I did so. It looks far worse even than I feared.

I'm about halfway through the review and enjoying it a lot (the woman playing the kidnap victim is quite good, I agree). I love the detail and the depth, and yes, the laughs.

The Samuel L. Jackson bit is interesting on its own, but then it leads into a great observation that the prequels were designed with characters designed to appeal to different markets, and that the extremity of the 'pitch' of each character is part of why the films so utterly fail.

I'd never really thought of that before and frankly, it makes the films seem far more interesting than they really are -- the Star Wars prequels represent a sort of master's class in craptacular cinema, and the brilliance of these YT reviews is that RLM is able to take his time and explore all the different ways that sucking is happening. It's wonderful.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:10 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love this guy.
posted by Kloryne at 11:13 AM on April 4, 2010


...his inability to distinguish between Boba and Jango Fett.

I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose to piss people off.


Well, except all he says is "Boba Fett is in both these movies," which is true. He doesn't say that the characters pictured are Boba Fett or anything.

Every single one of his movie reviews is negative. If I have to listen to the off-putting aspergery rantings of a fanboy (and luckily, I very much don't have to), I think I'd at least listen to the rantings of a jived up positive fanboy, like Quentin Tarantino, who articulates all the overlooked genius in otherwise denigrated genres.

What? What overlooked genius exists in the Star Wars prequels? If you watch his Star Trek reviews, they're infused with a bit more . . . I don't know, affection? Likewise, when he discusses the original Star Wars in these reviews. Actually, he's pretty positively effusive about what works in them. The idea that someone should be all posi and shit in a review of an absolutely terrible movie is ridiculous.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:16 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a 90 minute review of a Star Wars movie. If the fact that you are offended by some silly jokes stops you from watching it, enjoy those extra 90 minutes of your life and stop whining.
posted by howfar at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2010


Muckster: Just a heads-up, you're acting kind of obtuse. Because the Phantom Menace review covered this clearly, so that by arguing against it you're kind of covering your ears and going "la la la". I doubt that's how you're trying to come across, but it's a little frustrating. I'll take you in good faith though and respond.

Childishness is a problem because it's entirely unnecessary. When you spend years making a film, the idea is that you want to make it really, really good. If it's possible to make your film better without much effort, then you do so, unless you're so contemptuous of the people paying you/giving you their time that you don't care to give them something worthwhile. This review says that about fifteen times. It even contrasts the prequels to the sequels, to show how in the first movies, you get emotional tension and character development, and in this movie, you get a completely flat relationship. It's not even that the theme is childish, because the first movies weren't very sophisticated either. It's that it's just not written well.

I said the politics didn't befit a children's movies. I did not say the politics were adult, because they're not. The Phantom Menace covers this. We know Palpatine's evil, so we know that he's manipulating all this. He manipulates a trade federation into wanting to block trade, which makes no sense. It makes no sense that they're helping Palpatine for no reward, or that they have an army of robots. The talk about politics in the movie is pointless because all it turns into is "Palpatine becomes emperor". No complexity.

I said it didn't fit a kid's movie because kids don't give a fuck about politics, so wasting most of the movie on them was dumb. That doesn't mean the politics were mature, or well-written, or that they work well for adults. They don't.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


i guess to me it comes down to which is more pathetic--spending years bringing all kinds of talent together to make a bit of entertainment that is generally well received but disliked by a certain brand of geek

I assume your talking about something like Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties and not the Star Wars prequels which are pretty universally maligned by everyone.
posted by Telf at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yes, the dialogue is often shabby, but the overall structuring of the story is amazingly well-crafted.

Huh? First Leia was Luke's love interest, then she was his sister. Leia remembers their mother even though she died in childbirth. Anakin made C-3PO but doesn't recognize him. Sometimes R2-D2 can fly, sometimes not. The Force is a mystical energy, then it's something you can do a blood test for. Half of Return of the Jedi is recycled.

A vast number of overlapping story arcs are tightly controlled, and I don't know of another series of six movies that tell the story of a single character.

They don't, though. The original movies tell the story of Luke Skywalker becoming a Jedi, the prequels tell the story of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader.

One of the major problems with the prequels is that it's difficult to care about Anakin. He's a whiny kid in the first one and a whiny teenager in the other two. I agree the prequels are supposed to be tragedies, but in a tragedy you're supposed to be affected by a character's decline into horror and evil.

he modulated each installment according to his original outline

If there even was an original outline, it was so sketchy that it didn't provide any cohesive structure. Darth Vader being Luke's father was made up after the original movie came out.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:26 AM on April 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


And the writing? Star Wars has always blown me away because I'm fascinated by structure. Yes, the dialogue is often shabby, but the overall structuring of the story is amazingly well-crafted. A vast number of overlapping story arcs are tightly controlled, and I don't know of another series of six movies that tell the story of a single character. For all the guff Lucas has gotten, he's always stuck to his original plan -- to tell the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker -- even if parts of it where very, very unpopular. It would have been easier to milk the franchise with more of the same, but he modulated each installment according to his original outline.

I don't know, man. I love continuity. I love, say, being able to watch the character development of the same character from first season episodes of Doctor Who to the modern series. In books, as in movies and television, I love seeing the slow development of a character. And I love me a tragic ending. Give me the novella end of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in place of the movie any day.

But what Lucas mucked up is that there's no tragedy in Anakin's character arc. By the second movie, he's pretty well-solidified as being, at best, a petulant and immature child and at worst a creepy psychopath. What's tragic about someone's fall if they're consistently unlikeable and impossible to empathize with? And, ok, I'll buy that maybe he's an immature teenager. But Padme's not, and I lost any ability to empathize with her when Anakin tells her he murdered children and she responds that anger is a normal human emotion. So we have not just one character who acts totally unsympathetically and insensibly, but two--and these are the people we're supposed to be cheering for. By the third movie, I couldn't help but think: why should we care that Darth Vader was once Anakin? Because he was a cute, albeit extremely grating and woodenly-acted kid? That's the only real reason I can see. And it's not reason enough. There is no tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. There's just a creepy jerk, who consistently does creepily jerkish things.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:27 AM on April 4, 2010 [26 favorites]


You know, I really don't get the hate for the serial killer joke. I for one think it's hilarious (but then I would, wouldn't I?) No it's not politically correct, and it's very dark. Those are not intrinsically bad things.

This happens to be an extremely common fantasy even among people who neither want to be killed nor want to really kill anybody, which is why the Saw and Hostel franchises exist and made a metric bucket load of money. I suspect that if Our Reviewer were to put an ad on Craigslist advertising for someone willing to play the part of the kidnapped girl in his review of ep 3 he would have a line of girls stretching around the block in no time. It's a combination of side schtick and trademark (I'm a really, really bad person but you know what's worse? THIS MOVIE.) If you really find it so offensive that it ruins the review for you, then IMHO you have worse issues than the reviewer.

Yes, the fantasy persona of the reviewer is a really, really bad person. He doesn't just torture girls by making them watch really bad movies. "I've been through a divorce" (shot of wrecked car) "and had relationship issues" (shot of blood-spattered bathtub). Not too subtle and entirely fracking hilarious, because we can be pretty sure that what is implied never really happened, any more than any of the characters in Saw or Hostel actually met the fate depicted on-screen, which is an essential element of what makes them "entertainment" instead of "evidence of a really horrible crime."

And I think the implication that, for a (fictional fantasy) person capable of such acts, the really horrible torture waiting for you as his next victim is to be forced to watch the movie, kind of gets his point across.
posted by localroger at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"At Midnight I Will Kill George Lucas With A Shovel" - Patton Oswalt's classic bit on the Star Wars prequels and how, if given a time machine, the first thing he would do is go back to 1994 and take out George Lucas.
posted by willie11 at 11:32 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Clones is campy as all hell, but that's not a criticism, that's just an observation

If it were as campy as all hell, it'd be called Send in the Clones.

Actually, the title's another problem. Usually, whatever's attacking in an Attack of... movie is bad, whether it's crab monsters, puppet people, or killer tomatoes. Here the clones are fighting with the good guys.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


me: "When they released his movie in IMAX format, they went back to the original digital source files and rerendered the entire movie into the larger format, and even reframed the movie into IMAX screen shape (rather than letterboxing the theatrical ratio format onto the large IMAX screen). And it was BEEEEEAUTIFUL!
"

Bonzai: You can wrap a bag of manure in the most beautiful wrapping paper possible but it's still gonna smell like shit.
You will note, I didn't once say anything about the movie being quality. I only said that when they made the IMAX print, they actually did it right. Nobody else has done that, not that I've seen. Especially with the introduction of FauxMAX: now they're going to be lazier than ever with their IMAX conversions.
posted by hippybear at 11:40 AM on April 4, 2010


"And, by the way, I can't fucking stand people who "sit back and enjoy something." I don't understand what joy you can get out of not thinking about things."

Here here. I also hate when fanboy apologists mistake an aggregation of piled on detail for depth or plot/character development.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


While I don't think this review is as satisfying as the first one, he really hits the nail on the head re: Yoda's mystique being ruined by his fight with Dooku (Duku? Dookoo?). To me it might be the greatest sin of the prequels.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:43 AM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Worth it alone for the commentary on what men want from a relationship vs. what women want, and why Anakin Skywalker would make a creepy boyfriend.

Man, George Lucas is just so weird.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:44 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I said the politics didn't befit a children's movies. I did not say the politics were adult, because they're not.

I hate the fact that Lucas defends Phantom's crappiness by hiding behind the fact that "it's a children's movie," even though there is all this shit dialogue about the Galactic Senate.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:48 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, I really don't get the hate for the serial killer joke.

It's not that the joke is offensive. It's that it gets beaten to death. It's like an SNL sketch that goes on long past the punch line. The joke is that the guy is a serial killer (and secondarily, that a serial killer's review is actually quite deep and accurate), not how a serial killer reviews the prequels. It's a reveal joke, not a comedy of manners; it should have been minimized after the first couple episodes of the first review.
posted by fatbird at 11:49 AM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"And, by the way, I can't fucking stand people who "sit back and enjoy something." I don't understand what joy you can get out of not thinking about things."

This is a nice rant about that.
posted by flatluigi at 11:50 AM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yoda's mystique being ruined by his fight with Dooku (Duku? Dookoo?). To me it might be the greatest sin of the prequels.

Hmm. Some people would beg to differ. In fact, if I remember correctly, Yoda da Man.
posted by Telf at 11:55 AM on April 4, 2010


I can't fucking stand people who "sit back and enjoy something." I don't understand what joy you can get out of not thinking about things.

some things are made to just be enjoyed, and the constant whining about how a kids' sci-fi action movie doesn't perfectly recreate certain adults' childhood nostalgia seems to suck all joy out of the experience. they are not analyzing the movies based on what they are; they are analyzing them based on what they themselves would have done had they possessed the creativity, talent, or motivation.

but also, where this falls generally, the whole idea that cynicism and denigration are some kind of hallmark of tech-age sophistication and wisdom has gotten so fucking tedious.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 11:58 AM on April 4, 2010


Beard, one of my favorite parts about the Phantom Menace review was how it went over in detail about how 'it's a kid's movie' was a complete excuse that didn't hold up at all. I'd recommend going back and watching it instead of arguing about it based on what you assume it covers.
posted by flatluigi at 12:01 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


fatbird: It's not that the joke is offensive. It's that it gets beaten to death.

Well duh, what do you think a serial killer would do to a joke anyway?
posted by localroger at 12:11 PM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


The guy who made these reviews and a lot of the people in this thread are clearly getting a lot of enjoyment out of Star Wars without ever acknowledging it, and I don't get some of the condescension . You're all investing a lot of thought into something you say you hate. I'd always rather figure out a way to like something than to poke holes in it.

Now Rory, I don't follow a lot of your arguments because all you do is refer me to the video review as if it's some kind of Bible. If the points he's making are so incisive, could you restate them instead? You judge the love scene according to some realist standard when clearly, Lucas is working in a different register. This is Star Wars, not Chekov (even though Tom Stoppard worked on the script for Sith.) The storylines and the world are complex, but at least on the surface, the characters are simple. The politics are complicated, but you don't have to understand them to follow the story. It's not about adult or childish, it's about genre. This is how space opera works.

Kirkaracha, there are reasonable explanations for all of those plot holes you list, and even if there weren't, they're besides the point. For example, I never understood the midi-chlorian beef. Yes, the Force is spiritual -- and there is a biological connection. It's both physical and spiritual, an idea that's firmly established -- just ask Deepak Chopra. The prequels add a layer of meaning, rather than change anything.

About the arcs: the original trilogy tells the story of Luke. The prequels tell the fall of Anakin. Two parallel arcs, one rising one falling, also a cycle & moebius strip. But you can also watch all six movies as the story of Darth Vader, his fall and redemption through his son. It's all his story, one larger arc that contains two versions of the same hero's journey. You can watch the movies as the story of R2D2, who is usually introduced first and is one of the few characters who knows the entire story. R2 always comes through, so there's a case to be made that he's the real hero. It's also the story of C3P0's fear of flying -- he overcomes it just to have his memory erased. It's the story of the Fett family. Hell, even the starship designs have character arcs, reveals, and variations. There are a million echoes and cross-connections that reward rewatching.

Again, what confuses me is that a lot of people seem to pay very close attention to details they decide they don't like -- but fail to see how much they must love Star Wars overall to care this much. Why not figure out a way to like it, instead?
posted by muckster at 12:15 PM on April 4, 2010


Regardless of how Phantom Menace may or may not hold up as a kid's movie, the fact that there have been so many films made over the years that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike makes that whole excuse a lame cop out to begin with. The idea that movies marketed toward kids must by nature be juvenilia is no more convincing than the argument that movies with a lot of CGI eye candy would somehow be denigrated by the inclusion of well rounded characters and a believable plot.
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:16 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Okay, I want to leave my computer and go read, but I want to elaborate a little bit on this whole "good movie" versus "bad movie" thing. It's not intuitive. Discussing writing requires a lot of thought and knowledge that isn't readily apparent, and I think that sometimes in these arguments we jaded assholes forget to say things that make sense unless you already get all this shit.

Art:

The only argument in art that's not full of shit is this one: Is this thing we're talking about good? Or is it bad? Once you add anything else to the discussion, you're working on various subjective opinions and not addressing the main concern.

The problem is that we all look at good and bad differently. I like convoluted art pieces; somebody else might like satirical cop films. (I actually like those too.) So how the fuck do we reach common ground? The answer that I think works best is: You look at what something is trying to do, and you look at what it accomplishes, and then you ask if it could accomplish those things in a better way. Some things will always be subjective; but there are objective things we can discuss about art that make certain things dreadful and other things awesome.

The charges laid against Star Wars in these reviews are all ones that we can peer review. It's argued that the film lacks a protagonist; that the story elements belittle what made the original movie so good; that the romance is handled poorly; that the politics of the film are unnecessary.

Each of these criticisms can be discussed head-on.

Protagonist:

The reason films need a protagonist are that we need somebody we can relate to. Muckster, you say that Anakin is the story's protagonist. But how do you relate to him? When he's a child, he doesn't do that much. He gets taken away from his mother, but we don't really care about her, because she's not that sympathetic. He flies a Naboo fighter, but why do we care? Is it because we care about the Republic?

But we don't care about the Republic. We don't see it helping people, or being good. People say it's good, but we don't see proof. So Anakin's saving it in The Phantom Menace, that doesn't help.

Then, in Attack of the Clones, he's petulant. Obi-Wan lost his mentor, and swore to raise this kid to honor him, but Anakin doesn't care. We don't get a scene showing Obi-Wan breaking down and being hurt at Anakin's rejection. There's no emotion between them. Anakin just does badass things and acts like a jackass. I'd be fine if he died. Then he gets burnt up, after he fucking kills his wife and contributes to a genocide, and I can't feel sympathy for him.

So is Obi-Wan the protagonist? He's sympathetic in the original films. But here? He doesn't really do much. He's a jackass toward Anakin, he has no emotional connections to anybody, and besides his name he doesn't have much of a personality.

We need a protagonist or else we don't care about this world. Like in the original Star Wars, if it weren't for Leah and C3PO and R2D2 and Luke, who cares that Darth Vader is killing people? But we see Luke and his connection with his aunt and uncle, and the Empire kills them. And we like the robots. And Leah's brave and fiery and Darth Vader's torturing her. And she gets all upset when he blows up her home planet. So we want her to live. And at the end of Star Wars, there's tension because we're scared Leah might die. We don't care about the rest of the Rebellion. We care about her.

Some filmmakers can get away with skipping out on protagonists, because they've got such a command of writing and film that they can interest us without characters. But, as the reviewer says, most of those films aren't kid films. I love Eraserhead despite kind of hating every character in it, because the real character is the alienating world Eraserhead takes place in. But kids don't like Eraserhead. So Star Wars, which is a kid's movie, needs these sympathetic characters, and it doesn't have them.

Belittling:

My favorite parts of these reviews are the comparisons between the original films, which did a good job of being a cheesy film, and these newer films. The comparison between Luke and Anakin, for instance. With Luke we feel this need to escape, to see the world. We want to explore this universe like he does. And when his uncle and aunt dies, there's a feeling of worry because the Empire's after Luke, who we like.

Contrast that with Anakin. Nobody's after him. He's a superhero according to Qui-Gon. He flies a space ship intuitively and saves the day. He has a senator in love with him. There's no tension.

Here we get the scene with Leia and Han, where Leah's trying to save the man she's only just realized she loves, and she fails. That hurts, you know? And it hurts because we've seen Leah and Han build up. We see Han acting like a jackass towards her, but more than that we see him tender and caring when he doesn't think people are watching. He likes her, and he breaks this tough guy routine to show it. She hates his original act, she kisses Luke in front of him just to piss him off, but it deepens their connection. And when she tries to save him, she fails, and that's the climax of the movie. We're tense because we want what she wants. We're hurt because she fails and so we do.

Meanwhile, Padme shoots at Dooku, but... so? If Dooku escapes it doesn't affect her. Anakin isn't in danger. And we don't care about Anakin and Padme anyway. So there's none of that tension, just the pretense, or the feeling that we should care. But we don't.

So this contrast is used to show two things. First, it shows what the first movie did well. Then, it shows Lucas trying to emulate his old films, but without any of the heart.

Romance

I am a nineteen-year-old guy dealing with nineteen-year-old girls at the moment, and so I feel like I have particular current wisdom regarding what makes romance powerful. The tension in romance doesn't come from the characters' strengths. It comes from their weaknesses. See, for a number of reasons (youth, background, social pressure), people who want things tend to come into conflict with forces that don't want them to have these things. That builds drama and, in the right hands, adds depth to characters.

There are no good people and bad people, right? Everybody wants to do the right thing. The problem is that what I want may not be what somebody else wants. So I'm in opposition to this somebody else, even though we both want to be good. Romance gets used a lot for this because almost every human being understands it. It's a morally ambiguous thing without a clear answer. And that's good for writers, because it lets them play characters off each other.

Han and Leia again. Han's a dangerous, cocksure, manlyman sort of guy. Leia is more coolheaded and stable. So when they meet there's this contrast between attitudes. It doesn't mean they hate each other, right? But it's not easy for them to consolidate. Han tends to tease and spit out sarcasm, which offends Leia; in turn, she acts out in ways to spite Han. There's this back-and-forth between the relationship that holds our interest, because we like both people and so don't have a clear preference.

This is at the core of all good romance. The tensions in Romeo & Juliet come not from the lovey-dovey monologues. In fact, those lovey-dovey bits exist not to be romantic but to throw the real conflict into sharp relief. Both characters are worried about their families. They can't be together in society. And Romeo, following society's rules, kills Juliet's fucking cousin. Juliet can't have him. And we care because we like Juliet, and we like Romeo. So we understand when Juliet fakes her death to bring him back. It's understood that he loves her enough to be devastated when she dies, enough to violate social order to return to her. But things go wrong and he kills himself, and this so wounds Juliet that she kills herself too. This isn't a "good guy bad guy" thing. We like them both and so understand this tension between them.

Anakin and Padme? Don't have this. Anakin acts like a prick. If I were her I'd be totally turned off, and probably hit on Obi-Wan or something instead. So when she acts in love with him, I'm actually turned off her character, because I can't understand why she likes him. I mean, I don't. And Lucas doesn't create tension between them. Why can't she fuck him? Because she's a senator? So what? It's artificial and unbelievable.

This angle that you're discussing, muckster, where Anakin doesn't understand love... It doesn't work, because we-the-audience know he doesn't. Like, we know this isn't healthy. And so we want to smack him and go "Grow up, dude!" Like I did to myself when I was sixteen. Because we know he's in the wrong, no ambiguity, when he fucks shit up we don't feel bad, we feel like he deserved it. No tension.

So this review, you know, deconstructs the entirety of Anakin's character, not just to be obsessive but to illustrate just why this doesn't work. It's informative. We don't believe in this social Jedi taboo because it makes no sense that Jedi can't fall in love. If they really were banned from having emotions, then, okay, there's tension. But they're not. Or if politically Amidala can't have a lover, then there's tension. But there's not. Or if Anakin behaves in a way that he really thinks is right, and there's enough ambiguity that we can't see another way out for him, then there's tension, because honestly he has no choice. But here he does have choices; he just makes all the wrong ones. So he doesn't feel trapped. He feels stupid. And when Padme has feelings for him, she therefore feels stupid too.

Politics:

Politics work in exactly the opposite ways as romance. It's all intellectual stuff. And when politics are done right in writing, they work because we are given a nuanced view of how difficult politics can be.

Take the modern-day Democrats in America. They believe that bipartisanship is good, as is reasoned discourse. The problem is that these things are less sensationalist than partisanship and yelling. So when they take the high ground, they lose fights that they might win if they lowered themselves. It's an ethical dilemma. And there's no good answer. Is it better to be shitty and win, or to be clean and lose? There's no one solution that makes everybody happy.

Good political writing exposes such nuances, and there are lots of them, and they're fascinating to behold. But we don't get that here. We get a lot of arbitrary writing that, like the relationship stuff, doesn't hold up. Why do we care about the trade federation? Why are they being asshats? We don't know; if we did know there'd be tension, but here they're unambiguously evil. Why are they following Palpatine? What's the complexity? We don't know. We aren't shown.

So we don't have an adult political situation here. We just have garbage. It's long-winded but it's not clever. And one great thing about this review is that it doesn't just expose these things, it actively rewrites certain scenes to demonstrate how this could have been handled better. It's educational.

The fact that the politics were in a kid's movie isn't what makes the politics bad. That's what makes them inexplicable. Kids don't care about deep politics. But even if Star Wars was written for adults, the political scenes would have been awful.

Art, redux:

So these are the arguments brought forward. Now, if you want to defend the movies, you have to go about it by debating on the same objective terms being brought forward here. What in these movies creates tension? What scenes between Anakin and Padme create ambiguity and depth of character? What political writing in these movies show an intellectual complexity that gives us no clear answer, and therefore facilitates necessary tragedy?

Or you can introduce points that don't exist here, and therefore force me to formulate a counterargument. But here I'd argue that you probably shouldn't, because if I've spent this time illustrating the movie's flaws, for you to ignore all of my effort shows me a disrespect. I've gone to time trying to make you change your mind; if you ignore that time then you're showing contempt for the process.

You'll notice that these are all somewhat objective concerns. I'm not just saying "lol relationships suck", I'm saying what would make the relationships better and illustrating how these things weren't done. The rest of an artistic argument is this: Can you take these things I've put forth and imagine redoing the movie better? If so, then Lucas failed to some degree as a writer and a director. That doesn't necessarily make him instantly bad, but it does make his works somehow flawed.

Of course, in this case I'd argue that so many things were bad that it shows a laziness and a contempt for the audience, and so the prequels were indeed terrible. And if you want to say otherwise, then you have to come up with an explanation for why the movies were so provably bad. If the only argument you can come up with is "Hey stop being a nerd and sit back and enjoy the films", then you're being anti-intellectual in the sense that you're dismissing the possibility of a piece of film becoming better than it is, which offhandedly dismisses the hard work people put into making films as unnecessary.

The prosecution rests.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:21 PM on April 4, 2010 [51 favorites]


Okay, having watched the review, I have to agree with Bookhouse. The Phantom Menace review actually provided me with some kind of closure about that film, like it was an emotionally cathartic analysis of why that movie felt like such a betrayal, putting into words exactly what my subconscious always felt but never fully let me realize. This review, while a really excellent analysis of what goes wrong with ATOC, felt a bit flatter and less satisfying.

It's probably because the TPM review was something that had long been brewing in the reviewer's mind, and once he sat down to make it, he was truly purging himself of long-held observations. This one feels more like, well, a sequel. The serial killer schtick (which I don't find offensive) feels forced, the observations feel more rambling, and while there are some very clever moments, it doesn't have the overall panache which his TPM review seemed to contain.

Still, I'm really pleased that these movies are being dissected in this way. Even this, the lesser of the reviews, has helped me understand exactly what has bugged me about the prequel trilogy all these years.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to put in my Original Theatrical Release DVD of Star Wars and see Han shoot first. It's the only way to fly.
posted by hippybear at 12:22 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


And, by the way, I can't fucking stand people who "sit back and enjoy something."

I'm bewildered why you care how other people view movies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:29 PM on April 4, 2010


Rory, go outside and get some fresh air.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on April 4, 2010


This review, while a really excellent analysis of what goes wrong with ATOC, felt a bit flatter and less satisfying.

I think a big part of that is the biggest things that are wrong in AotC spring from the same causes that made Phantom Menace so bad, and therefore there wasn't really even a need for this review in a lot of ways. Lucas without aid is still terrible (terrible) at structure, still terrible at dialog, still seems to have misplaced his copy of The Hero With a Thousand Faces, still unable to control his marketing impulses even when they damage his dramatic ones, still unable to differinciant between telling us about things that happen as opposed to telling a story, still unable to conquer the chilliness of total CGI production design. Everything else is just detail.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


differinciant


I think I was trying to spell "differentiate" just now, but even I'm not sure.
posted by Bookhouse at 12:37 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Again, what confuses me is that a lot of people seem to pay very close attention to details they decide they don't like -- but fail to see how much they must love Star Wars overall to care this much. Why not figure out a way to like it, instead?

Oh, that's just silly.

I love the Star Wars universe pretty unabashedly (see: my username). Like, it was the first of many series I liked enough to write fanfiction about. Luke's story resonated with me in a profoundly meaningful way as a kid. I loved the scope of the space opera, and I loved the cheese space operatic romance between Leia and Han. It was an essentially human story, about the yearning for adventure and for love and badassery (and light sabers). So you can bet that I was excited about the prequels (though I always thought that Lucas should have developed the sequel trilogy first/instead, while the actors were all, you know, alive. But what can you do?)

The problem is that all those elements of repetition you mention are essentially emotionally meaningless and hollow. They're more like shadows; though they remind us, in some ways of the original trilogy, they don't move or feel like it--and they certainly don't have the same impact. And emotional impact is what matters in story telling. Again, as a lover of continuity, I'm all for call-backs and call-forwards, references of deep histories and foreshadowing of events yet to come. I love when a franchise can sustain a character's story arc through protracted growth and let us see how this growth is a meaningful, interesting thing. The problem is that Lucas attempted the first (creating a sustained character arc) but failed the second (making us care). The brief arc we're shown of Darth Vader's history in the original trilogy--you know, his redemption via saving his son--is far more emotionally resonant. And we know almost nothing about him! But we understand that he's essentially good and noble--his actions show us that. If the prequel trilogy does anything, it convinces us that Anakin isn't essentially good or noble; instead he's pretty much a big jerk face, a snot-nosed brat.

Anyway, it's not a fanbase's job to convince themselves that a work of art is good. That is, in fact, the job of the film maker's. Contrast the (nearly universally) negative reaction of people who genuinely love the Star Wars franchise with the mixed-to-positive reaction of Star Trek fans to the reboot. Star Trek fans--and I'm one of those, so I know--are a difficult group to please. For example, Enterprise just didn't cut it for most of us, for good reason (namely, it sucked). Fans want to love things. But don't ask us to force ourselves to love crap, especially when it's profuse knock-off crap that lacks the original heart and soul of a work.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm bewildered why you care how other people view movies.

I care more than I should, I know. I care less than I did two years ago, and two years from now I hope to care even less.

But as a sophomore in college it's really hard to find people who look at movies/books/music/video games the way I do. People watch movies in this mindless happygolucky way, or they develop certain biases that influence what they favor and what they avoid. Very few people, even at an art school with deeply pretentious film majors, attempt any kind of objective view of how art is constructed.

Which I know sounds pretentious in and of itself. But this is my fucking passion. Ever since I was a younger lad and tried to read Finnegans Wake, I've been obsessed with art in all its forms. I can't get enough of it! Sitting down and discussing the finer details of a movie or a symphony is my turn-on. It's how I aim to spend the rest of my life.

We all have these passions. There are rabidly political people who like people who like rabid politics. (I kind of sympathize with those sorts of people; it's why last year I found a temporary home among my old college's Young Democrats.) There're people who're obsessed with sports or with Wall Street or with biology or with Monty Python, and who feel a kind of alienation when they're talking to somebody for whom sports/WS/bio/Monty isn't an allowable topic. But for most any passion there's an easy-to-find social circle that has all these traits, or else it's a common enough passion that you can find people like that anywhere.

If there's a similar circle of passionate art-objective-concept-whatevers, I've yet to find it. Before I was fifteen-ish I had literally nobody around me who looked at art the same way. Right now, at a school that again is devoted to the arts in all its forms, I've got a social circle of maybe five people who look at things the same way, and we'll stay up till five in the morning excitedly talking about a screenplay or a song.

The "can't fucking stand" comes from spending years and years totally unable to relate to people who have this flippant view of movies. It comes from going on a date to see a movie and finding that the person I'm with wants to say "I liked that" and then go on to do something else rather than having a conversation that extends around the movie and through it. It took me a while to realize that the reason people don't recommend movies for first dates is because most people don't form conversations around what they've seen. And here I still run into that situation where I meet somebody, start to like them, but quickly realize that I can't really coexist with their social circle because nobody cares about what I care about and vice versa.

I know it's stupid to resent people who watch movies differently. I try not to. And, the further along I go and the more people I meet who have the same passions, the more I get to enjoy myself and not be bitter. But I'm not there yet, and I care about this passionately, and what's more I care passionately about the fact that other people aren't passionate about this. I've probably said too much.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Re: Act 8, I find it hilarious to hear the term "video game" used again and again as code for "visual junkfood." It reads at best as sibling jealousy for a newer and ascendant artform, at worst as a kind of willful illiteracy in the last two or three decades of computer art, games, and storytelling.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:46 PM on April 4, 2010


Rory, nothing's ever "provably bad," and it's useless to measure the films by some imaginary perfect Star Wars of your mind. Art is what it is, and all criticism can ever aspire to is an ongoing conversation. (See A.O. Scott's great recent essay.) To my eye, your yardsticks largely don't apply. You offer observations as judgment: yes, the love scenes are not "realistic." But these are movies with space creatures and magical powers, so what did you expect? I posit that the love scenes are perfectly realistic -- for the Star Wars universe. I find the films sufficiently sui generis to look for ways to enjoy them on their own terms. And I don't do this in a "sit back and enjoy" kind of way, either. I work on it, and it gives me pleasure. What do you get?
posted by muckster at 12:47 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you know you could use some fresh air when you spell Leia as Leah like five times.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:47 PM on April 4, 2010


Why not figure out a way to like it, instead?

If you truly believe that the default should be to like a movie even to the point of making a concerted effort to overlook it's shortcomings, then it's no wonder you're having a hard time getting anyone to take your opinions seriously. To belabor the obvious, I think most of us understand that the majority of movies are going to be mediocre, in that they neither stand as particularly good or particularly bad, but instead evoke various shades of "meh" on their way to being forgotten altogether. That's inherent in the very concept of "mediocre" altogether. You seem to be wanting to lump the mediocre in with the good since it doesn't quite qualify as out-and-out bad either, but far from implying any kind of additional depth of perception on your part it just comes off as completely dispassionate, like you can't understand why someone would get worked up enough about something (ie. the original trilogy) that they feel vociferously betrayed by later turns of development (the prequels).

Worse still, I think you're falling into that trap I mentioned earlier of mistaking an aggregate of detail as a substitute for organic plot and character development. You even talk like rising above mere tropes would have in and of itself been a betrayal of Lucas' genre of choice, "space opera". In other words, basically every word of your serial justification has centered around how eps 1-3 were never intended to be anything other than a rote genre exercise and that we're all missing the point by expecting more out of them, but you never once address how the original trilogy managed to rise above its genre trappings while the prequels did not, even though both were aiming for the same audience, the same low brow art conventions, etc. In fact, I'm having a hard time imagining how Lucas could have possibly screwed up his prequels for you, since apparently all that you require of him is additional "layers" to the kernel story, no matter how perfunctory or clumsily rendered. Your argument is entirely in the service of all things mechanical and obligatory, so short of Lucas actually going out on a limb and taking a chance you were already predisposed to like these films before they were ever made.
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:49 PM on April 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


If the only argument you can come up with is "Hey stop being a nerd and sit back and enjoy the films", then you're being anti-intellectual in the sense that you're dismissing the possibility of a piece of film becoming better than it is,

or recognizing that Lucas only intended to create a pulp like series.

Rory, it seems like you're just piling on the movie 'cause you didn't like it and then arguing your points to fit that dislike. For instance:

you say that Anakin is the story's protagonist. But how do you relate to him? When he's a child, he doesn't do that much. He gets taken away from his mother, but we don't really care about her, because she's not that sympathetic. He flies a Naboo fighter, but why do we care? Is it because we care about the Republic?

But we don't care about the Republic.


As a child of a slave and thereby a slave himself who manages to win freedom for himself, but not his mother, only to be pawn in galactic struggle just by the "luck" of birth, there's plenty to relate to, IMO. For all his power and skill, Anakin never really manages to be anything but someone else's pawn.

And of COURSE people like the Republic, it's the group that eventually begets Luke and Leia and the rest of the gang.

Mind you, I think the prequels sucked, except for the opening sequence of the third one, but I don't think the points you're making hold up to any objective standard, which is what I think you're trying to do. If I'm mistaken, forgive me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very few people, even at an art school with deeply pretentious film majors, attempt any kind of objective view of how art is constructed.

Been there, done that, you have my sympathies. But maybe it isn't so much that don't that, but that they're in a different placed than you. Their examination of that may come later.

But yeah, try not put art school on a pedestal, where you think everyone will be as deeply into art the same was you are. It's still has asshole and bullshit, but on the whole more diamonds than regular college.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2010


recognizing that Lucas only intended to create a pulp like series.

Genre is never an excuse for bad art. It's just not. Somehow the original Star Wars movies managed to mine some human emotions out of these tropes, why is it so bad to expect the prequels to do the same?
posted by Bookhouse at 1:05 PM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can we start up another metafilter subpage that has duplicates of every thread for people who want to take a big steamy dump?
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2010


Interesting, squeaky. Sure, I guess at some point love for something transcends all rationalization. FWIW, I didn't care for Phantom Menace when it came out -- saw it once, was disappointed, and forgot about it -- but Clones suddenly got me interested again because I could see the larger structure at work. I've come to like a good deal, although it's probably the weakest of the series.

I'm not sure I understand your point about character development. Isn't it always "an aggregate of detail?" I think I see what you say about the original trilogy transcending genre (or at least polishing it to a shine, like The Godfather did for crime or Raiders for adventure.) But I like to think the prequels create their own genre -- which, sure, may be my way of making them exempt from normal modes of criticism. To me, it's like complaining about plot holes in Cremaster. There are moments of pure abstraction in Sith, there are shots that look like Rothko. So when people poke holes at this or that, it's like we're speaking a different language. I see the things that are odd and clunky and peculiar about Star Wars, but I've decided they're part of its fabric and it wouldn't be Star Wars without it. What can I tell you. I love Star Wars.
posted by muckster at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2010


A brief explanation of the serial killer schtick:
Each video features the voiceover of Mr. Plinkett. Sounding like a weird sexist nerd serial killer, Plinkett’s crazed mumblings are mixed with creepy asides and visual gags that give you something to laugh at while the video makes a larger point. I ought to stress now that this is not politically correct humor. RedLetterMedia explains in an e-mail, “When I did the first review, the Star Trek: Generations one, I started to record it in my normal voice and it was just horrible and dull. So I decided to do it in character to make it more palatable, especially since my goal wasn’t to just give a cursory review, but rather to get really detailed. It is a massive amount of pointless nerd deconstruction so there has to be a ‘wink wink’ element to it. If you didn’t have some kind of humor with the material you’d come off as either someone with no life at all (which is true in my case) or someone who’s a big armchair critic that thinks he knows everything. The character adds a certain level of irony and fun to it . . . it goes back again to short films I used to make with my friend Rich, who has only ever portrayed Mr. Plinkett in the films. He does the voice as well, but I do it in the reviews.”*
posted by hippybear at 1:11 PM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Genre is never an excuse for bad art.

I would agree, but having talked to some people who liked the prequels, they just didn't see what I saw as bad. If I seriously pushed it and got them to admit X plot point was bad, they tended to sulk or get pissy with me.

The moral of the story: Telling another person that their art is junk doesn't win you friends. Far more interesting, IMO, is to figure out how and why people regard what I consider junk, as art.

I want to make it clear that I did not enjoy the prequels and didn't care for Return of the Jedi much either, but clearly some people did and the how and why of that is fascinating.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:15 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Your art is junk.
posted by localroger at 1:21 PM on April 4, 2010


I want to make it clear that I did not enjoy the prequels and didn't care for Return of the Jedi much either, but clearly some people did and the how and why of that is fascinating.

Sure, if they are able to articulate legitimate rebuttals that demonstrate appreciation from some angle you hadn't previously thought of, as opposed to coming off like apologists who would rather rationalize away the problematic parts than have to live with the cognitive dissonance of having memories of a prized franchise sullied, or maybe they dance around the fact that they're really only in it for the eye candy/sfx by attempting to shift the defensiveness back on to you, they yes, otherwise it's fascinating ... which is really just a way of saying that while it could be interesting in theory it rarely is in practice.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


My junk is art.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm having a hard time imagining how Lucas could have possibly screwed up his prequels for you, since apparently all that you require of him is additional "layers" to the kernel story, no matter how perfunctory or clumsily rendered. Your argument is entirely in the service of all things mechanical and obligatory, so short of Lucas actually going out on a limb and taking a chance you were already predisposed to like these films before they were ever made.

personally, i'm easy with suspension of disbelief and likely enjoy more stuff than the pros and analysts because of that. i tend to be willing to accept the experience offered to me, and in the spirit in which is it presented, on its own terms, rather than impose my own vision of what it should be. i'm more analytical of something from, say, lars von trier, because his are adult films, and i think he wants the viewer to reflect in a certain way. the star wars films are primarily kids' films; there's politics and deeper interpersonal stuff that adds a layer of complexity and relative realism. i'm a fan of the idea that a filmmaker or novelist will add a degree of complexity even beyond that which the viewer/reader comprehends because it makes the mystery engaging and realistic in that it mimics our incomplete understanding of reality. for adults, i think david foster wallace does this well; i think LOST does it well. but yeah, cute robots and spaceships and muppets--plus the broad and even clumsy strokes with which the story arcs are painted--these seem more to appeal to kids' minds and imaginations. and when lucas says he's referencing old kids' sci-fi b-movies, i accept that as the context in which to view his stuff.

so yeah, i was predisposed to like the star wars movies because i offered myself as a willing participant in their enjoyment. it doesn't mean i'm not a critical viewer, just that i think certain types of criticism are more appropriate for certain contexts. i think overanalysis beyond that can often be fun and playful; my thing is that in a lot of cases it's just becoming a real downer, and i've come to more often dread seeing fantasy kind of stuff with people who, as much as i'm predisposed to enjoy something, are at the ready to disparage it and go on to insult my capacity for enjoying it such that they try to offer their slights as objective analysis. i more and more get the sense that they think this is endearing or smart, but really, it's a drag, and it forces major suckage onto a fun afternoon.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm not sure I understand your point about character development. Isn't it always "an aggregate of detail?"

Character development requires a certain accumulation of detail, yes, but accumulation of detail does not automatically add up to successful character (or plot) development. I think that's a fairly rudimentary distinction.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2010


Sure, if they are able to articulate legitimate rebuttals that demonstrate appreciation from some angle you hadn't previously thought of...

No, that's condescending to them. They don't have to rebut anything, it's their taste and they can chose to like whatever they want.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would agree, but having talked to some people who liked the prequels, they just didn't see what I saw as bad. If I seriously pushed it and got them to admit X plot point was bad, they tended to sulk or get pissy with me.

I run into this reviewing YA novels on goodreads sometimes. Young fans of books that I thought were terrible get upset, no matter how well-justified my opinion is. "You don't have to ruin it for everyone else," they said. To which I like to respond that I'm glad they disagree--it underscores the subjectivity of reviews and opinions for outside readers. And nothing is more subjective than how emotionally resonant something is, of course.

But I can't help but feel like a lot of the defenses here of the prequels--that Star Wars is pulp and therefore Lucas didn't have to try so hard, that it's a kid's movie, that Anakin is a teenager and therefore it doesn't matter that he's creepy--sound more like apologies than well-reasoned (or even emotionally-motived) rationales for liking the prequels. If someone was like, well, when I was 19, I said and did a lot of things that seemed creepy in my romantic relationships, but I was able to grow through the good love of a woman like Padme, I could say, hey, okay, it's difficult for me to see that, but I can accept that as a reason for finding him to be an empathetic antihero. But that's not what they're saying: they're saying that this is just genre crud and so it doesn't matter if the romance is schlocky and unrealistic and our heroes are unlikeable, because, haha, space operas always suck.

But space operas don't always suck (which, I think, is part of what Bookhouse meant by "Genre is never an excuse for bad art"). I'm a big, big fan of genre, of space opera and aliens and unicorns and all sorts of other things that illicit giggles from other people. But that doesn't mean that I go around open to any movie maker forcing any sort of crap down my throat. Those who say that Lucas didn't have to try because his space opera is just campy kitsch and therefore a good, clear, interesting plot and sympathetic heroes don't matter do both fans of genre and previous moviemakers who have successfully produced (well-plotted) genre work (with sympathetic characters) a massive disservice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


No, that's condescending to them. They don't have to rebut anything, it's their taste and they can chose to like whatever they want.

Sure, but can they articulate why?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2010


i tend to be willing to accept the experience offered to me, and in the spirit in which is it presented, on its own terms, rather than impose my own vision of what it should be.

Arg! Again with this assumption that anyone who doesn't like a film must just not get what the filmmaker was going for and is attempting to pigeonhole it into some idealized fantasy version they presupposed based on, I don't know, some brief description?. Is it really that hard to fathom that any given detractor may know exactly what Lucas was going for and nonetheless feel like he did a completely half assed job of it? Especially considering there have been thousands of words written - independent of the feature length video itself - on that very subject?
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but the little probe at the end of part 6 renders all your arguments null. bupbupbupbupbupbupbup
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2010


my thing is that in a lot of cases it's just becoming a real downer, and i've come to more often dread seeing fantasy kind of stuff with people who, as much as i'm predisposed to enjoy something, are at the ready to disparage it and go on to insult my capacity for enjoying it such that they try to offer their slights as objective analysis. i more and more get the sense that they think this is endearing or smart, but really, it's a drag, and it forces major suckage onto a fun afternoon.

I hate to say it, but then, you probably shouldn't read/watch reviews or peruse metafilter responses to reviews. "Negativity" of reviewing is nothing new or particular to this venue--I promise people who enjoy reviewing critically aren't under any illusion that they're the first to do so. For me, it's something that genuinely propels me to examine artwork in a deeper and more meaningful way. And I suspect that it's just as much of a downer for people like me--who enjoy what we see as well-parsed analysis--to be told that we're pathetic and need to just "sit back and relax" as it is for you to read our "disparagement" of stuff you like.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2010


(Also, why is it that people who don't like reviews are always all like, don't mess up my enjoyment with your opinion? Because I'm fine with negative reviews of stuff I like; I recognize that someone's opinion is wholly subjective even if well-reasoned and it doesn't impact my opinion or enjoyment of something at all.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am a nineteen-year-old guy dealing with nineteen-year-old girls at the moment, and so I feel like I have particular current wisdom regarding what makes romance powerful.

This is the most hilarious bit of wisdom to spring forth from any review or commentary about that review that I have read here recently. Yes, being nineteen tends to lend that special perspective that eludes those younger or older, and that is why nineteen is widely known as the classical age of romance.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Sure, but can they articulate why?

In my experience, yes, and it's usually along the lines of them enjoying other aspects of the story or just wanting to be entertained.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2010


Also, why is it that people who don't like reviews are always all like, don't mess up my enjoyment with your opinion

Learning hurts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


They don't have to rebut anything, it's their taste and they can chose to like whatever they want.

Thanks, Brandon -- exactly what I was about to say. I'm not trying to "convince" anyone, I'm just explaining why I like it.

PhoB, I'm not saying Star Wars is "genre crud." I think it's great, but you have to approach it as a unique thing rather than judge it by some preconceived notion or expectation what it should be. And no, I don't mind hearing other opinions, but I find that I think most criticisms miss the point. Think of it as as Jeff Koons sculpture or something.
posted by muckster at 2:02 PM on April 4, 2010


i tend to be willing to accept the experience offered to me, and in the spirit in which is it presented, on its own terms, rather than impose my own vision of what it should be.

You know, anyone who actually watches any number of films in their lifetime can see through this. This is what made MST3K so powerful for a decade. After a basic amount of exposure to anything, you can easily tell the people who are executing a given form of expression with skill, and those who are not.

Accepting everything "in the spirit in which it is presented" doesn't actually excuse poor execution. I can accept a kindergartner's crayon drawings as wonderful and joyous, but that doesn't make them art. I can accept a 3rd Grader's "book project" as a good piece of work, but that doesn't mean I'm going to want to publish it and distribute it nationwide as a novel. Not everyone executes all art forms equally well, and intended spirit rarely overcomes those shortfalls. If that were true, then there would be a lot more offerings which are widely acclaimed because "they have the right spirit". As it stands, I rarely see that offered as justification for liking something by people who actually know what they're talking about.
posted by hippybear at 2:03 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


In my experience, yes, and it's usually along the lines of them enjoying other aspects of the story or just wanting to be entertained.

Which is fine, but too often I find that they don't want to admit that, say, the plot makes no sense. And, worse, that you're attacking them by pointing out flaws in something they like.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:07 PM on April 4, 2010


Again with this assumption that anyone who doesn't like a film must just not get what the filmmaker was going for and is attempting to pigeonhole it into some idealized fantasy version they presupposed based on...

i don't make this assumption about anyone who does not like a film. but in the case of star wars prequels, my thing is that much of the criticism, taken to incredibly silly levels, is made by adults who saw the originals when they were kids and can't understand why, as adults, they can't engage with the prequels in the same way, although they are now adults and the films are still being targeted toward children. their 'objective' criticisms tend to be no more or less valid or original than those my parents made about the original star wars series.

Accepting everything "in the spirit in which it is presented" doesn't actually excuse poor execution.

i didn't imply this at all; in the case of the star wars films, i don't think the execution was poor. i simply think that the critical standards and volume are unrealistic and disproportionate to the artistic weight of these films.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2010


PhoB, I'm not saying Star Wars is "genre crud." I think it's great, but you have to approach it as a unique thing rather than judge it by some preconceived notion or expectation what it should be. And no, I don't mind hearing other opinions, but I find that I think most criticisms miss the point. Think of it as as Jeff Koons sculpture or something.

Well, I think it's a natural reaction to compare later entries in a franchise with earlier entries, and it seems odd to me to say those are unfairly heightened expectations. Because--and here, I'm talking about only comparing the prequels to the original trilogy, which should be as close to comparing apples to apples as you can get--I expect Star Wars to be able to invoke feelings of wonder and adventure in me; I expect it to have some cool, but emotionally resonant fight sequences; I expect it to have actors who can overcome the schlocky dialog and make me care about the characters; I expect the characters to have chemistry with one another, particularly the characters who are emotionally paired; I expect there to be some nifty aliens who are interesting to watch despite being puppets or made out of computers; I expect that I'll start ignoring the sets, no matter how technically well-rendered they were, because I'm swept away by the story-telling and the characters.

And I really, really don't think that's too much to ask. Because, hell, we already have three Star Wars films that do exactly that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


(whoops, romantically paired, not emotionally paired. But you get the drift.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:15 PM on April 4, 2010


(Also, why is it that people who don't like reviews are always all like, don't mess up my enjoyment with your opinion? Because I'm fine with negative reviews of stuff I like; I recognize that someone's opinion is wholly subjective even if well-reasoned and it doesn't impact my opinion or enjoyment of something at all.)

That's one of the things I always appreciated about Roger Ebert. I disagreed with him as often as not, and typically felt that he was kind of a stick in the mud when it came to anything abrasive or challenging, but he was always detailed enough about what he did or didn't like that I could usually glean from that what my own feelings were likely to be. Also, he always made a point to review movies based on what the filmmaker was going for, which is what many in this thread have been arguing for, but at the same time he recognized that it does no good to reward a film with four stars if all it was going after was a quick, formulaic cash grab.

Look, I can understand that there are plenty of nitpickers representing themselves as aesthetes who only like art films and are going to find some reason to despise anything that doesn't aspire to transcendence, but on the other side of the coin are plenty of people who see x number of movies on a weekly basis and are so completely mindless about it that they can't ever recall the names of these movies a few weeks or months down the line, let alone whether they've seen them or not, and as such they tend to fetishize new releases because a recent release date is the only reliable way they have of ascertaining whether they've already seen it or not. If the latter group were not sufficiently large - possibly the majority of filmgoers and/or renters - then Hollywood would not be financially successful mining the same formulas over and over again with new actors and updated special effects. So to a large extent negative, vocal word of mouth is the only weapon the aesthete has at his disposal to attempt to influence the quality of future productions in his own favor, since there are already plenty of dollars flowing through the system to justify the current status quo. Attempting to quash that criticism as harshing your mellow is thus pretty intolerant and self serving, I think.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you know you could use some fresh air when you spell Leia as Leah like five times.

Man, Adam, you have a gift for just being consistently the least pleasant person on this site. My hat tips to you.

This is the most hilarious bit of wisdom to spring forth from any review or commentary about that review that I have read here recently. Yes, being nineteen tends to lend that special perspective that eludes those younger or older, and that is why nineteen is widely known as the classical age of romance.

"Wisdom" might have been the wrong word on my part. What I meant was, nineteen puts me in that special age bracket where nobody has a clue about anything, particularly regarding boys and girls. That means I get to witness and play a part in the utter painful idiocy of young ignorant people trying to make sense to other young idiot people. Once people start acting rational, then a part of that painful talking-past disappears.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:21 PM on April 4, 2010


PhoB, I'm not saying Star Wars is "genre crud." I think it's great, but you have to approach it as a unique thing rather than judge it by some preconceived notion or expectation what it should be. And no, I don't mind hearing other opinions, but I find that I think most criticisms miss the point.

Just out of curiosity, what was your experience watching Star Wars? What order did you watch the movies in and how old were you when you saw them?
posted by empath at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2010


And, worse, that you're attacking them by pointing out flaws in something they like.

But that's the interesting part, they take it personally, even when they can't articulate exactly why they like it!

I can accept a kindergartner's crayon drawings as wonderful and joyous, but that doesn't make them art.

Never mind if they're art, are they enjoyable on some level? Ultimately it's up to the individual to decide that question and what that level of enjoyment is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2010


My stomach hurts from laughing. This guy is very very funny.
posted by dabitch at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2010


Fair enough, PhoB -- and I'd say that all of those things are on ample display in the prequels. The tone of the films is different though -- they're melodrama instead of easy-going comedy -- and of course the technology behind them is different, which leads to a very different look. Lots of people object to this, and effectively can't get past it to let them enjoy the creatures, the adventures, the fighting sequences, the races, the space battles, and yes, the characters. But it's all there, if you're willing to give it a chance. Again, I like comparing it to the two halves of Soderbergh's Che -- the first is a technicolor battle flick with a happy ending, the second is basically a handheld horror movie -- two parts of a whole that inform each other.

I understand that the prequels are very different from the originals, and that this turns people off -- but I think it's interesting to look at the differences and see what they mean instead of using them to dismiss the movies.

empath, I was around when the first Star Wars was released. My parents wouldn't let me go, but it loomed large in my imagination. I saw Empire first, then a rerelease of Episode 4, skipped school to see Jedi on opening day.
posted by muckster at 2:31 PM on April 4, 2010


Another good video along the lines of this is 'Star Wars Episode I: What Went Wrong.' It has some contexts for some of the clips of Lucas on the set that RLM peppers throughout the prequel reviews.
posted by flatluigi at 2:32 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The love story, though, is more complicated than people give it credit for. I get a hoot out of the laughable fireplace scene, the Sound of Music roll in the hay, and the "sand" line every time -- but there's another thing going on here: Anakin has a selfish, twisted idea of what love is, and these romanticized notions are all based on grasping and attachments that will make him turn to the Dark Side. You're welcome to laugh at it (and I do) but I think you're also meant to understand that his love may not be the real thing.
But what's in it for Padme? Why would this accomplished, adult woman be interested in all that teenage Emo bullshit? It was totally inexplicable. I think because Lucas clearly doesn't understand woman's desires at all. I mean some women go for that, I guess. Maybe she was insecure somehow and wanted the security of someone obsessed with her? Or perhaps she could have been sick of the constrains that she's under and sees Anaken as an escape.

But we never see anything like that. Instead she's a flat board with zero character development, and her reciprocity is just completely inexplicable.
So Rory, the love story is too childish but the politics are too adult? Compared to what?
The problem isn't that they were too complicated, it was that they were too boring for kids to follow. As a bonus, they were also boring to adults.
I am a nineteen-year-old guy dealing with nineteen-year-old girls at the moment, and so I feel like I have particular current wisdom regarding what makes romance powerful.--Rory
This is the most hilarious bit of wisdom to spring forth from any review or commentary about that review that I have read here recently. Yes, being nineteen tends to lend that special perspective that eludes those younger or older, and that is why nineteen is widely known as the classical age of romance. -- solipsophistocracy
Heh.
my thing is that much of the criticism, taken to incredibly silly levels, is made by adults who saw the originals when they were kids and can't understand why, as adults, they can't engage with the prequels in the same way, although they are now adults and the films are still being targeted toward children.
Eh, frankly I think that's just bunch of Post-hoc rationalization on Lucas' behalf. No one ever said anything about Star Wars being "Kids Films" before the prequels came out and everyone hated them. I mean, maybe they were but it wasn't something they ever explicitized. Plus, if you look at Pixar movies, adults love them, "engage" with them fully. Adults love Harry Potter. It's obviously possible to make kids books that adults obviously enjoy. Kids love Avatar, and so do grownups.

I think there are a lot of Post hoc rationalizations spewing out of Lucas' mouth, frankly. He seems totally unable to deal with his failure.
Man, Adam, you have a gift for just being consistently the least pleasant person on this site. My hat tips to you. -- Rory Marinich
You have a gift for being one of the least self-reflective people on the site.
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, I think it's a natural reaction to compare later entries in a franchise with earlier entries, and it seems odd to me to say those are unfairly heightened expectations...And I really, really don't think that's too much to ask. Because, hell, we already have three Star Wars films that do exactly that.

were you a kid when you saw the original star wars movies? even going back and watching them as an adult, i would think you would still be influenced by childhood impressions of them that help you overlook things you would not as an adult. i've had friends who first viewed those movies as adults and don't get the big deal at all. not that all criticism of the prequels is invalid, but i wonder if much of the fault viewers find with them has to do with lucas's inability to regress them into a childish perspective.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2010


Rory, I have a bit of potentially disturbing news for you, from my vantage point at age 46: People don't ever stop acting like idiots. The pain of youth just becomes the pain of adulthood and we pass it off as "a midlife crisis." But it's just the same old shit. People mostly don't improve or learn, they just polish their schticks.

And of course where most of us have a problem with George Lucas is that nobody has given us a hundred brazillion dollars for being a money grubbing dick. Life is so unfair.
posted by localroger at 2:38 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


But it's all there, if you're willing to give it a chance.

I think this is a bit of a mischaracterization of people who don't like the prequels--that we weren't willing to give it a chance. I'd actually only gotten into the series two years before TPM's release, when the special editions came out when I was in middle school. So I was both in the same demographic when Episode 1 came out and very pumped. I don't think you can call that kind of unabashed adolescent optimism not giving a movie a chance, you know?

(What I remember of my first impression was thinking that the Gungans were nifty, with the exception of Jar Jar--but that everyone else was so wooden and boring! Why did the jedi suck so much?! Why did the movie seem so long?! So it missed the mark for me emotionally even then, when I was willing to embrace it with open, fourteen-year-old arms.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:38 PM on April 4, 2010


Well, I think it's a natural reaction to compare later entries in a franchise with earlier entries, and it seems odd to me to say those are unfairly heightened expectations.

Especially considering the prequel trilogy basically has no reason to exist except to literalize the back story for the original trilogy. Seriously, I defy anyone who actually did enjoy the prequels to admit that the ending of "Revenge of the Sith" would have been just as satisfying as a stand alone event, assuming the original trilogy and all knowledge of it's plot points had never existed. I don't think you can do it, I think there's no way to address Ep 1-3 at all without talking about the original trilogy, and I just don't see how the later films hold up to the originals in any regard save special effects. You can write that off to childhood nostalgia if you must, but there have already been volumes written making a case for the originals without relying on nostalgia to get the point across so it's hard to take such glib dismissals seriously.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:39 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


were you a kid when you saw the original star wars movies? even going back and watching them as an adult, i would think you would still be influenced by childhood impressions of them that help you overlook things you would not as an adult. i've had friends who first viewed those movies as adults and don't get the big deal at all. not that all criticism of the prequels is invalid, but i wonder if much of the fault viewers find with them has to do with lucas's inability to regress them into a childish perspective.

I didn't see the original series until the special edition was released in the theaters in 1997, when I was thirteen. The Phantom Menace was the fourth SW flick I saw in the theater in a very small handful of years, between thirteen and fifteen, so I don't think this defense really holds up, at least not for me. And I was still a big dork watching Star Trek reruns on the black and white TV in my room, rapt, at fifteen, so it wasn't as if I was too cool for it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the prequels are objectively worse than the original movies, but I think the degree to which one actually loathes the prequels (rather than merely thinks them inferior) is probably related to the amount of time one had obsessed on the Star Wars movies in the interim between the two cycles being released.

I was 3 years old when Star Wars came out, I remember waiting in line for Empire Strikes back with my dad, and the audible gasp in the theater when Vader said he was looks father, I remember standing up and cheering at the end of Return of the Jedi. I remember playing with the toys with my best friend in elementary school, and being upset because he got the AT-AT walker and I didn't. I spent countless quarters on playing the wireframe video game. When I was in high school, I played the RPG with my friends. I had X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, and Dark Forces, and the Bioware games on the PC. I watched the series countless times on TV, I bought all 3 movies on VHS and DVD, multiple times. I saw all the re-releases on the big Uptown Theater screen downtown. I read the Timothy Zahn novels. Once I got a little bit older, I read Joseph Campbell, and got into reading about story telling so I could understand what Lucas did in those movies. I went to the Uptown to see Meet Joe Black, just so I could see the trailer for the Phantom Menace. The theater was packed full of Star Wars nerds and the atmosphere was electric.

I invested a tremendous amount of imaginative energy in my formative years in this mythology and universe. And the prequels were just a long exercise of George Lucas destroying everything that was magical about my childhood. I think that's probably the origin of a lot of the hatred. There are lots of bad movies. There aren't a lot of bad movies that so retro-actively make people reconsider something that they had thought was the best thing they had growing up.

My anticipation for Phantom Menace actually got me through it one time without realizing how bad it was. I even saw it twice in the theater. Then things like the 'midichlorian count' and jar-jar started to gnaw at me.

By the time I got through Attack of the Clones, I realized that these movies were just going to be bad. Return of the Sith didn't save them. I went through the whole 'George Lucas raped my childhood' phase of total bitterness about them. Now I just like to pretend they didn't happen. The original movies are still there. They're still fantastic.

I mean, I think probably the closest thing to it, would be if the Jesus came back for the second coming and just decided to do a prime time variety show or something. My Star Wars fandom occupied about as much of brain as Christianity did growing up and survived me losing faith in God. It didn't survive these prequels, and that's why these reviews resonate with me (and probably with a lot of other guys my age).
posted by empath at 2:45 PM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


(did i really spell 'luke's' as 'looks'? I did. i'm going to pretend the iphone spellchecker did that.)
posted by empath at 2:46 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think because Lucas clearly doesn't understand woman's desires at all.

I kinda agree with this and think the biggest problem with the prequels is that Lucas wrote AND directed them. A more skilled director would have brought out more nuasance performances, even with the crappy dialogue, because the underlying plot was pretty strong, IMO.

But George was a little too interested in technology as opposed to people and let the characters fall flat. Props to Ewan McGregor, for pulling off a good Obi Wan.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:46 PM on April 4, 2010


Beard, the question isn't whether you were a kid when you saw Star Wars for the first time, it's whether you had ever seen the mountain of crap that it inspired first. I know bona fide adults (at the time) who were transfixed by the original Star Wars. I myself was in my teens, and knew about 5 minutes into the show I was seeing something transformative that was unlike anything that anybody had ever seen before. Star Wars didn't just exploit cliches, it invented a whole mountain of new ones. Lucas is generally credited with inventing a whole technology with which to create the SW movies, including such things as the cams that record their movements so that later CGI can be spliced in because, as GL famously said, keyboards aren't a very natural user interface for filmmaking.

With the prequels? Well some invention and lots of snazzy graphics but the whole cool movie thing, not so much.
posted by localroger at 2:47 PM on April 4, 2010


If Lucas had worked intergalactic health care into the prequels it would have broken the internet.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:48 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Phantom Menace was the fourth SW flick I saw in the theater in a very small handful of years, between thirteen and fifteen, so I don't think this defense really holds up

I was born in '74, slightly too young to see the original in theaters but old enough to see "Empire" in the theaters and eventually "Star Wars" on the big screen when it was re-released prior to coming on network tv for the first time. So yeah, Star Wars was a big deal for me as a kid, no doubt about that, but as such I think I can speak for almost my entire generation when I say that NO ONE was rooting for the prequels to fail. On the contrary, I don't know that any filmmaker had ever had a more stacked deck in their favor than Lucas did going into "Phantom Menace". So any backlash against it would seem to reflect more on Lucas' abject failure than any predisposed intolerance on the audience's part. The movie "Fanboys" sums up the pre-release enthusiasm and the almost last second realization that there was no guarantee this would be any good quite nicely.
posted by squeakyfromme at 2:50 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, Adam, you have a gift for just being consistently the least pleasant person on this site.

You think so? You should have seen me when I first came here. I assumed it was a phone spellchecker thing, but I took the opportunity to rib you a bit and get that Donnie Iris video out there (woo, Pittsburgh!), as it's kind of hilarious. Sorry if I offended you in the iPad thread, but I tend to get a bit acerbic around Apple fanboys. It's a character flaw.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:01 PM on April 4, 2010


So any backlash against it would seem to reflect more on Lucas' abject failure than any predisposed intolerance on the audience's part.

The Phantom Menace was 1999's most successful film, earning more than $431 million in North America and $493 million elsewhere. The worldwide total of $924 million makes it the eleventh highest grossing film of all time, as well as the most financially successful Star Wars film in the saga when not adjusted for inflation of ticket prices.

I'm not sure the backlash matters or even if it was very large. Clearly a lot of people went to see the film.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:33 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm not sure the backlash matters or even if it was very large. Clearly a lot of people went to see the film.

That's a pretty crass way of looking at it, and essentially what a lot of people are accusing George Lucas of doing: exploiting the built in market to make a bundle without putting any more effort into the end product than absolutely necessary. At any rate, defending something on the basis of the money it raked in fails on so many levels it's not even worth breaking down.
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Beard, I saw the original films when I was 13 or so, then the prequels at 21. I've seen the re-release versions with all the new do-das / Greedo shoots first carp, and you know what, even with the changes I like them. I can nitpick them to death, especially the first one with it's clunky editing and all-over-the-place acting. But I can forgive/ignore those bits because of the cohesive whole (even the new weird Jabba scenes on the first one). The characters have well defined personalities and motivations, that isn't invalidated by the odd bits.

It's the old Hitchcock formula of the bomb on the train. If we see an anonymous train explode, it's just an anonymous train exploding. If however we see a character we care about enter the train, sit down, and we know the bad guys have put a bomb in the train, and we hear the tic-toc of the bomb, and the guy is somebody congenial like Cary Grant, then this generates suspense. We care about the character's ultimate fate. The prequels to me felt like an anonymous train exploding. A lot of mass entertainment (Transformers, The Matrix Sequels) feels like that today. A few genere films rise above that (Zombieland, for example).

A big problem with the prequels I feel (and this is very subjective) is the actors they chose. Obi Wan might have bad dialogue and poor development, but Ewan Mcgregor has enough charisma to help gloss over that fact. I didn't really enjoy Revenge of the Sith, but I wasn't bored, in large part because of Ian McDiarmid's performance. Hayden Christensen however looks overwhelmed in every schene (and it's largely his story). His acting descends into a number of ticks and mechanical mannerisms (such as the odd smirk in the ROTJ re-release) which read as wooden. I think the best screenplay in the world wouldn't have been able to save the Christensen+Portman "love affair", they just don't have any chemistry together.
posted by Omon Ra at 3:50 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rory, I have a bit of potentially disturbing news for you, from my vantage point at age 46: People don't ever stop acting like idiots.

Fuck.

You have a gift for being one of the least self-reflective people on the site.

Coming from you, delmoi, that's a compliment.

I'm not sure the backlash matters or even if it was very large. Clearly a lot of people went to see the film.

Of course. It was an enormous franchise whose titles specifically promised three earlier titles; it's one of the largest self-contained universes in sci-fi; it has a rabid fanbase; and most importantly an extraordinary amount of money went into promoting it as a Big Event. When you combine nostalgia with fanaticism with money, you're going to make lots of money in return.

But look at its lasting reputation; look at how people who saw it reacted. I mean, critics, yeah, but if you look at crowd-driven sites these movies all have pretty poor responses. 6/10 on IMDb, three-and-a-half stars on Amazon with all the top reviews giving it 3 stars or lower. There wasn't a sales backlash, but certainly there was a critical backlash.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:55 PM on April 4, 2010


I think the best screenplay in the world wouldn't have been able to save the Christensen+Portman "love affair", they just don't have any chemistry together.

If you think THAT chemistry is bad, you owe it to yourself to check out Christensen-as-Dylan wooing Sienna Miller-as-Edie Sedgwick in "Factory Girl"
posted by squeakyfromme at 3:56 PM on April 4, 2010


empath, I was just as obsessed with the original trilogy as you were -- playing Hoth in the snow, coveting my friend's Millennium Falcon, etc -- but by 1999, I'd lost interest in Star Wars; it was pretty much just a fond childhood memory. I was in grad school and sneered at Hollywood product, and I didn't expect anything from Phantom Menace. Happened to live around the corner from the Prytania theater in New Orleans though and somehow got a midnight screening ticket the day of, so I went. Didn't think much of it, forgot about it. But Clones got me interested again because I was beginning to see what Lucas was up to: the way Anakin's fall was being set up, the origin of the storm troopers, the unbelievable camp, and so forth. And yeah, I loved the eye candy. I saw Sith twice the same afternoon at an advance press screening at the Ziegfeld and wrote a rave review.

I'm not sure how people can simultaneously accuse Lucas of a) not giving them what they want and b) cashing in. I don't know the guy and I don't feel like defending him personally, but if he just wanted to cash in, he could've done what most other franchises do and serve up more of the same -- the way every James Bond and every Star Trek are essentially not sequels but remakes of the same movie: it's the same formula over and over again. Say about him what you will, Lucas had the guts to try something different: a six movie arc where every installment is distinctly different, and then call it quits.
posted by muckster at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2010


this critique was made for me.

i fell asleep during episode one. it is not as though i crossed my arms, gritted my teeth and willed myself to sleep. i didn't even realize it had happened until i snapped awake in the middle of a pod race or whatever. i think i drifted off again at some point, snapped to attention during a big big spacebattle where it was a forgone conclusion that anakin would win, then it was time to leave. i asked my girlfriend what i missed and she had no idea.

for episode two i vowed not to make the same mistake... and i failed. again i fought to stay awake only to jolt with disappointment during a noisy setpiece that had all the predictability of a videogame on rails where the player never falls in lava or gets smashed and wins on the first try.

the critique for episode one (which applies for #2 as well) is spot on -- describe the characters without describing what they look like, what they're wearing, or their job. fuck if i can. the plot is a big dissonant jumble of unclear motivations and plot contrivances and the battle/chase/race sequences lack tension. there is an annoying consistency to the use of wide shots that fill the screen with junk. et-fucking-cetera

i loved this commentary for the use of editing alone... no words necessary. it also intellectually articulates the misgivings i had, consciously and semiconsciously, during the wild swings between tedium and excess i experienced and have ultimately dismissed.

as for the serial killer shtick it's trivial but not unlike mystery science theater -- if it wasn't robot puppets making wisecracks it would be schlubs ranking on a bad movie and i'd be thinking "what's with these jerks" whenever a joke falls flat. which they do quite a bit.

but thanks to this guy's hard work -- and here's the weird part -- i might actually come to ENJOY the prequels for their sheer lack of purpose. i would not have EVER expected to reach that point by myself. let the healing begin.
posted by Hammond Rye at 4:03 PM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Rory, I went through a pretty bad period of killing/overanalizing/being snarky/being snobby about film. To the point where I stopped watching movies altogether for about 2-3 years. Then something happened (I matured or whatever) and started seing everything with an open mind, from a lot of different perspectives. Ageing does not equal growing cynical, but being uncritical does not equal being wise. Having an opinion based on reasoned/informed arguments has value in itself.
posted by Omon Ra at 4:03 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Saying that the prequels were "campy" implies there was some level of fun and adventure in them. Of course this is subjective, but the original films were campy -- fun, melodramatic while not taking themselves too seriously, etc. The prequels were cold and heartless, like someone imitating campy fun.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:06 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


squeakyfromme Oh I saw it. I also saw Life as a House and Shattered Glass. I don't hate the guy, by any means, but he's not very good as a lead. I've been on tv and it's pretty difficult to act naturally with a cold black lens looking at you. Half the time I needed to remind myself to blink and breathe. Good actors can overcome this. Bad ones resort to repeating the same 5 expressions to denote every mood.
posted by Omon Ra at 4:10 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


my thing is that much of the criticism, taken to incredibly silly levels, is made by adults who saw the originals when they were kids and can't understand why, as adults, they can't engage with the prequels in the same way, although they are now adults and the films are still being targeted toward children.

I'd really like to see the end of this quite bizarre line of reasoning when it comes to discussing Star Wars on this site.

Listen, there are 1,001 things that I remember fondly from a nostalgic point of view, but that fail to recapture the charm or magic or thrill that they did when I first viewed them many years previous. Star Wars isn't one of them.

For a film series produced in the late 70's/early 80's, it's stood the test of time very well.

The prequels fail to match up to the originals for all the reasons outlined in the videos above. They're remarkably good examples of how to make a terrible film: poor characters, bad plotting and generally a failure to engage.

The "kids film" argument also falls apart as detailed above by my 'dellow fellegates', unless kids can understand the complexities of space politics, trade federations and donut blockades (and if you find one who does, send them my way because I haven't got a clue).
posted by panboi at 4:11 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Say about him what you will, Lucas had the guts to try something different: a six movie arc where every installment is distinctly different, and then call it quits.

Your arguments are becoming less and less convincing the longer this thread tapers on. "A six movie arc where every installment is different..."? Different how? You keep throwing out these provocative declarations without making any case for them. "...and then called it quits"? What about the cartoons? The endless merchandising? No, whatever you may think of the prequels it's impossible to make a credible argument that Lucas said what he wants to say and now he's moved on from "Star Wars". That's just flat out bullshit and you know it.

Similarly, your incredulity re: how someone can feel Lucas both failed to give them what they wanted and cashed in is equally meaningless. There is no contradiction at all in the concept that Lucas very likely knew he was going to sell the same number of tickets regardless of what he put up on the screen and channeled his efforts - or lack thereof - accordingly. Again, as I stated up thread, I think he was relying on people like you who just wanted some additional details to flesh out their back story trivia and underestimated the rest of us who expected a compelling storyline, credible character interaction, etc.

Having now read your review of "Sith" I have to say that it compliments and parallels the emptiness of your arguments here on the blue, in that it a) offers gushing praise to feats that have been accomplished much better elsewhere in cinema, including the original Star Wars films, and b) tacitly ignores the fact that the general outline of the entire prequel trilogy was already woven into the original three films. You want to give the prequel trilogy credit for creating a brilliant back story but you completely ignore the fact that all of the compelling aspects of that plot were already predisposed by the time "Return of the Jedi" wrapped. So yeah, it's no wonder you're not on the same page as those of us who feel like the prequels just seemed like a quick, obligatory run through of preexisting plot elements while the few new details (Jar Jar Binks, the clone army, Darth Sidious) came off as needless - if not outright unwelcome - window dressing.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:25 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, and Dark Forces, and the Bioware games on the PC.

Oh man, KOTOR. I feel like the (murderous) HK-47 Protocol Droid could have been spliced whole into any of the Star Wars prequels and the film would have ended better for it.

HK-47 - Recitation: The memory of my last owner specifies that he was human, a low-ranking commercial officer for Systech Corporation. […] The human was terminated by this HK-47 unit prior to system shut-down.

Master - You killed your own master?

HK-47 - Affirmative, master, though I have not been programmed to do so. The human’s termination was accidental.

Explanation: My former master had owned me for a duration of two standard months before discovering my assassination protocol. He was pleased by the discovery. The human informed me that a competitor corporation was preparing to market a product that would ruin him personally. […] My former master was unaware of this, but the competitor was in fact an arm of Systech Corporation, my master's own employer. It did not take long for my master to realize his mistake. By then, I had already terminated 104 corporate officers.

Master - You killed 104 people?

HK-47 - Statement: It was nothing, really, master. The majority of them were not even expecting it, and I move very quickly. I do not know why my master was so upset, really. […] I would assume that being the sole officer remaining, he would surely be promoted. Instead, however, the human chose to go insane with rage and attack me.

Master - And that’s when you killed him?

HK-47 - Objection: Naturally not, master! As I said, I am incapable of purposefully terminating my owner. That would not be allowed. My master was not a smart man, however. While he was screaming and stabbing me with a writing utensil, he managed to pierce one of my actuators. The resulting shock terminated him and, sadly, destroyed my assassination protocol. Pure luck on his part, I suspect. […]

Master - So that’s two out of two masters killed...

HK-47 - Observation: Only so far, master. There are still more memories not recovered, remember?


Bring the kids!
posted by kid ichorous at 4:32 PM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


At any rate, defending something on the basis of the money it raked in fails on so many levels it's not even worth breaking down.

I was responding to this specific point of yours:
"So any backlash against it would seem to reflect more on Lucas' abject failure than any predisposed intolerance on the audience's part."

The movie made a lot money, meaning a lot of people went to see it, so what I'm saying is that there wasn't backlash outside the nerd circles, so I don't think argument that a backlash signals Lucas failed holds any water, especially when you quantify it by saying 'any' backlash. Does that mean if 4 people didn't like it, it's a signal that it sucks?

There wasn't a sales backlash, but certainly there was a critical backlash.

Sure, but to what effect? Lucas rolled on ahead and kept doing crap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on April 4, 2010


On a slight derail, I'll say that Return of the Jedi in many ways could have been the best of the OT, if not for the Ewoks (whom I have grown to tolerate, despite it being ridiculous to think that teddy bears with wooden sticks could defeat a well-trained intergalactic space army).

You've got the emotional reunion of Leia and Han, which is both sweet and tragic. Then Luke, now grown confident and acting like a bad-ass form as he goes to confront Jabba. This IS the Jedi we've been waiting for. But then in the battle with the Rancor, we see the facade slip a little, we can see that, while he's successful in defeating this hulking monstrosity, he's not quite totally confident. The action-packed destruction of Jabba's pleasure-barge, which even sees Han and Lando making amends of a sort. The death of Yoda, which leaves Luke at a crossroads, not quite a Jedi but almost there, about to face his greatest test but now without a mentor -- for the first time, he's really on his own. His fear and trepidation as he goes to confront Vader, in conflict with his desire to redeem his long-lost father. The tension of the final battle between the Rebels and the Empire -- both in space and on Endor. Palpatine finally in action -- we get to see what true evil really looks like in this universe. The redemption of Vader. The redemption of Lando. Han and Leia finally getting together for good. Really, in retrospect, the only thing that brings it down is the Ewoks, and I can look past them.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:41 PM on April 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


The movie made a lot money, meaning a lot of people went to see it, so what I'm saying is that there wasn't backlash outside the nerd circles

Huh? What do you think this entire thread is? Others have already pointed to the mediocre reviews on fan rated sites like Amazon and IMDB... where exactly are you gathering that the detractors are a minority and most people who have seen these movies are pretty much on board?

The fact that it made a lot of money is absolutely meaningless, for the quite obvious reason that one must pay their money for a ticket in order to see the movie in the first place, so the box office by nature is no referendum on the quality of a film. Back to the drawing board with thee...
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:43 PM on April 4, 2010


the critique for episode one (which applies for #2 as well) is spot on -- describe the characters without describing what they look like, what they're wearing, or their job. fuck if i can.

Yes, yes, a zillion times yes. This was the key point of the entire Episode 1 review for me (well except for the part where there's the clip of Lucas circa 197something making a point to say that special effects without a story is useless. Okay, and the Rick McCallum/Rick Berman franchise-ruining comparisons were kinda cute.)

We can relate to characters in a story if they've got personality, and we'll side with and root for the characters with the personalities that we like. All the people interviewed in the Episode 1 review were able to describe Han Solo's personality: He's cocky, he rushes headlong into danger, he plays the tough type but has a soft side that eventually comes out. But Qui-Gon Jinn? Um, he's ... serious? Queen Amidala is, er, noble? Kind? (I'm reasonably sure people were able to come up with sufficient adjectives for some of the prequel characters, so leaving most of them out of the final cut was a little deck-stacking.)

The characters in the prequel are almost completely without personality and no, silly quirks like language tics and strange appearances don't count. They've got to be someone we as an audience can relate to, otherwise we have no emotional investment in the story. So frankly even while Han's mercenary-with-heart-of-gold character is admittedly nothing original, I'd rather have old, traditional character archetypes than none at all. Darth Maul? Yeah, he's pretty evil and bad-ass. But why? He just is, ok? And if he heard you asking that he'd totally slice your head off!

Oh, and thanks to this guy, I'll never again be able to read "protagonist" and not hear it as "pro-ta-GONE-ist" in my head. Mumbled with a mouthful of marbles. Well done.
posted by Spatch at 4:45 PM on April 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh, and of course, the great, emotional brawl between Vader and Luke, which sees Luke going totally apeshit in one of Hamill's best moments in the series. As RLM's Phantom Menace review points out, this was much more engaging than any of the duels in the prequels.

BTW: I totally get what the RLM reviewer says about seeing Yoda fight and how it ruins the character in certain ways, but I will also admit that those are among my favorite scenes in the prequels, some of the few that I can actually enjoy without being totally sarcastic.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


On a slight derail, I'll say that Return of the Jedi in many ways could have been the best of the OT, if not for the Ewoks

Fuck the derail, it's at least a point, which is a rare nugget the further along this thread carries. I would have to agree: I think the early sequences at Jabba's palace and the Sarlaac pit are some of the most visionary in the original trilogy, with some of the most iconic characters. Even when they got to Endor I think most would have to admit the speeder bike chases were just as thrilling as any of the space battles up to then. But the Ewok sequences did take up a significant chunk of the movie's last hour, so you can't completely write them off. Even then, it was intercut with the final showdown between Luke and Vader, so even if "Jedi" presaged some of the ruinous choices of "Phantom Menace" it's still a better film as a whole than any of the prequels.
posted by squeakyfromme at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really, in retrospect, the only thing that brings it down is the Ewoks, and I can look past them.

They're too prevalent for me to look past.

Besides, what evil empire worth its salt allows a moon to remain forested and full of hiding places (and indigenous intelligent life forms) when it's using that moon as a base for the shield generator for the reconstruction of said empire's ultimate weapon? Agent Orange the place on a planetary (moonetary?) scale, kill everything and everyone who may work against your project, and THEN start building the Death Star Mark II.
posted by hippybear at 4:52 PM on April 4, 2010


Opening crawl for Star Wars:
It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy...
Opening crawl for The Phantom Menace:
Hey kids! Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute.

Hoping to resolve the matter with a blockade of deadly battleships, the greedy Trade Federation has stopped all shipping to the small planet of Naboo.

While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict....
So in Star Wars, it's all pretty clear: there's a civil war, the rebels have just stolen the plans to the Death Star, and the empire's chasing them. In The Phantom Menace, I'm bored by the beginning of the first paragraph. A dispute about taxation doesn't sound like it'd really cause turmoil. A kerfuffle, maybe some kvetching, but turmoil? Kids love policy disputes, though, so I'm sure they're happy.

Let's see if the second paragraph clears things up. Nope, now I'm confused about why a Trade Federation is blockading trade, and how come they have battleships? The kids have got to be enthralled, though.

The third paragraph doesn't help much. The Jedis are doing a heckuva job being "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy" if they've let this alarming battleship-ridded conflict to come up. Kids do love endless congressional debates though (just check out the ratings for CSPAN Kids!) so I'll bet they're eating this up with a spoon.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:52 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


despite it being ridiculous to think that teddy bears with wooden sticks could defeat a well-trained intergalactic space army

It works thematically, the primitive people, full of life and culture, living in the green forests, defeating the cold, grey, robot like Empire. And they're so cute to boot! You can pick'em and take'em home! Please, take them home.

Return of the Jedi in many ways could have been the best of the OT...

Right? After the awful defeats in Empire, RotJ could and should have been a giant struggle by the good guys to get back on their feet. Instead, it felt more like a paint by numbers, the good guys are going to win story, with little character development.

The fact that it made a lot of money is absolutely meaningless, for the quite obvious reason that one must pay their money for a ticket in order to see the movie in the first place, so the box office by nature is no referendum on the quality of a film

Clearly a lot of people went to see it, over several weeks or months, so any sort of backlash was negligible, if it occurred at all. Had there been a backlash, the movie probably would have only down about a quarter or half a billion world wide I think (totally guessing here). That fact that a lot of people went to see it, both domestically and internationally indicates that whatever bad reviews or poor word of mouth it got didn't matter of those people would have stayed home, you know?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 PM on April 4, 2010


As a child of a slave and thereby a slave himself who manages to win freedom for himself, but not his mother

I think this is what bothered me most about Episode I (yes, even including Jar Jar). We get to the end celebration scene and everyone completely forgets about Anakin's mom. Here we are hanging out with royalty and Jedi with no plot based time constraints, let's have a party! It would take almost no time and money at all to just pop over to Tatooine and buy her. Why does no one bother?
posted by ODiV at 5:01 PM on April 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I saw it TWICE in the theater and I definitely consider myself part of the backlash. I wonder what the DVD sales are like now? I bet the old school trilogy sales top the prequels by a long way.

On the ewoks, I got the impression that the empire just thought of them as pests, not a society of natives. More wildlife than people.
posted by empath at 5:02 PM on April 4, 2010


That fact that a lot of people went to see it, both domestically and internationally indicates that whatever bad reviews or poor word of mouth it got didn't matter of those people would have stayed home, you know?

I think you're overrating just how many people are willing to overlook bad reviews or word of mouth, especially when they have preexisting emotional ties to a series. Also, we're talking 1999, which was well before personal websites - let alone blogs - became common (I want to say even our roly poly buddy Harry Knowles was still trawling atl.movie newsgroups at the time) so there was little other than academic film criticism to go by, and we all know how seriously genre film lovers take that stuff.

Besides, even to this very day I know plenty of fans of the originals that hate the prequels yet own them on DVD and will probably upgrade to Blu Ray, and why? Completist purposes. That's not unique to film lovers, there are plenty of old school Metallica fans that hate "Load" for all they're worth but still own a copy just to maintain the full catalog. I could go on, which is why I say your arguments based on sales are horrifically misguided at best and troll bait at worst. Are you even trying to make a point or just derail everyone else's?
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:04 PM on April 4, 2010


We get to the end celebration scene and everyone completely forgets about Anakin's mom.

Again, I think it works thematically, in showcasing just how cold and uncaring the Jedi could be, including Obi. Nobody gave it two thoughts, the Jedi were preoccupied with their own affairs and only with Anakin the chosen one, not Anakin the human being. No wonder he was pissed off later, the Jedi used him, while this nice Sith Lord was offering to help actually save a loved from dying. Oh wait.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:07 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, after the second one there was no way I was sitting through a third, so I have no idea what happens in the end (aside from the Darth Vader thing, natch).
posted by ODiV at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2010


Are you even trying to make a point or just derail everyone else's?

Sure. You said any backlash indicates Lucas failed in whatever he was trying to do with movie. My point is that, according to the box office, a lot of people went to see the movie, so there doesn't seem to have been much of a backlash.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:15 PM on April 4, 2010


My point is that, according to the box office, a lot of people went to see the movie, so there doesn't seem to have been much of a backlash.

And I've already illustrated twice now how that point is not only woefully misguided, but it precludes the insight needed to make a point by so large a margin that it really doesn't even qualify as bunk, so where does that leave us?
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:19 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I've already illustrated twice now

I don't think you have, so we'll just have to agree to disagree or take it to Thunderdome.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2010


even our roly poly buddy Harry Knowles was still trawling atl.movie newsgroups at the time

I had just finished up the last of my college requirements when TPM was about to come out. Some friends of mine were organizing a camp-out at one of the nicer movie theaters in Austin to get tickets. We had about 10 or 12 people in our group, so for the week or so beforehand we stayed there in shifts of about 4-6 hours, a few members of the group were more dedicated, staying overnight a few times, which I only did once. We spent our time drinking, playing cards or Risk, chatting with the groups around us, etc. Our group was, I think, #4 or 5 in line. #1 was Harry Knowles & and his dad. BEFORE he was big. Well, I mean, he was still big-big, but not internet-big... you know what I mean...
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was bothered by some of the reasons the prequels suck when I saw them in Return of the Jedi, which I saw as a kid. The made-for-marketing cute-and-cuddly Ewoks, the kumbayah ending, they guy with the penis for a head, and the recycled Death Star all bugged me at the time, even though about half of the movie is great. I wasn't surprised to learn much later that the Ewoks were originally supposed to be Wookiees but Wookiees weren't cute enough. (Apparently "Ewok" is from "Wookiee" spelled backwards.) Crap, even the title. It was supposed to be Revenge of the Jedi but Lucas punked out.

Also (and the Enterprise series had the same problem), Lucas couldn't resist the lure of modern technology when depicting an older world. What socioeconomic cataclysm caused weaponry and spaceship design to decline so much in the 19 years between Revenge of the Sith (everything's crisp and shiny) and Star Wars (everything's gross and grimy)?

I have no idea what happens in the end (aside from the Darth Vader thing, natch).

That's all you need to kNOOooOOOoooOOOooow.

I wonder what the DVD sales are like now? I bet the old school trilogy sales top the prequels by a long way.

I believe you can only get the original movies on DVD as bonus discs on the Special Edition trilogy.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:24 PM on April 4, 2010


I don't think you have, so we'll just have to agree to disagree or take it to Thunderdome

Ah yes, there's nothing more rewarding about MeFi than offering a number of details refuting another's blanket statement, followed by that person reiterating their initial (completely unelaborated and ill guided) premise while studiously ignoring any specifics you might have brought up yourself, and then chalking it up to the "agree to disagree" trope. Well played, sir.
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:26 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


#1 was Harry Knowles & and his dad. BEFORE he was big. Well, I mean, he was still big-big, but not internet-big... you know what I mean...

I'm guessing his bathing preferences were at the very most no more utilitarian than they seem to be these days?
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2010


so where does that leave us?

Nerd heaven? But I kid, I kid. *puts on Gerald Ford mask*
posted by nola at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2010


Has anyone been watching the Clone Wars cartoon that's on Cartoon Network? Is it any good?
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on April 4, 2010


Has anyone been watching the Clone Wars cartoon that's on Cartoon Network? Is it any good?

I watched the first couple episodes when it first came out years ago but it struck me as equally superficial and action-oriented as "Attack of the Clones" so to be honest I tuned out pretty early on.
posted by squeakyfromme at 5:41 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm pretty sure I was following aicn religiously well before tpm came out. That site goes back to the mid 90s.
posted by empath at 5:52 PM on April 4, 2010


squeaky, you sound awfully angry, like you're somehow personally offended anyone could like these movies. nobody's arguing the box office numbers have aesthetic implications, but I think it's fair to say that they show that a lot of people liked the prequels. I think there is a distorted sense of the backlash online since disappointed geeks tend to be pretty vocal about it. From what I understand, there's a whole generation growing up that likes the prequels but thinks Episode 4 is kind of slow and dull.

homunculus, it might not come as a surprise, but I dig the Clone Wars cartoons -- Star Wars translates very well into animation. Some episodes are better than others, but it's definitely worth checking out -- great Sunday matinee stuff. StarWars.com has a bunch of episodes in full length.
posted by muckster at 5:53 PM on April 4, 2010


...there's nothing more rewarding about MeFi than offering a number of details refuting another's blanket statement

Your points are that the movie is currently underrated on Amazon (on which you are mistaken, unless 4 out of 5 stars is bad) and IMDB (6.4 out of 10, which calls into question which your premise that this sites matter, since the results are pretty different), it was released in 1999, before websites and blogs were common, people have a tendency to ignore bad reviews (which negates your previous point), some people are just completists and oh, you know you some people.

Again, your point is that ANY backlash (emphasis mine) indicates Lucas failed. That really doesn't make much sense, as there's always people who dislike a film and you still have yet to deal with the fact that a lot of people both in the States and worldwide, actually went to see the film, after the course of several months, indicating there was little backlash while the movie was in theaters. If your point is that there's a huge backlash now, it's up to you to prove it.

Sure, here in this thread, there's plenty of backlash, but I don't think it really matters, since majority of people enjoyed the film.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 PM on April 4, 2010


Well we need more serial killer jokes. So I like totally dragged this girl through a swamp behind one of those four-wheeled motorcycles (Okay I can't be arsed to google what the damn things are called, Y'all know what I mean) and I propped her dead body up and made her watch the next Star Wars Prequel and it was SO FUCKING COOL.

Ditching the body was a total killjoy though. Next time I will totally bring a machine that can do the shovel stuff.
posted by localroger at 6:08 PM on April 4, 2010


majority of people enjoyed the film.

Wow. I've got nothing to go on but my gut and anecdotal evidence here, but this seems completely contrary to my experience. Almost everyone I personally know that I've discussed the prequels with was disappointed.

Though maybe it's a question of framing. I imagine there are some who were disappointed, but still enjoyed them overall.
posted by ODiV at 6:08 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link, muckster.
posted by homunculus at 6:12 PM on April 4, 2010


nobody's arguing the box office numbers have aesthetic implications, but I think it's fair to say that they show that a lot of people liked the prequels.

Well, if they imply that a lot of people liked the films then doesn't that also imply that for those people it has positive aesthetic implications? Never mind, it's irrelevant anyway because those figures do not imply that ~$500 million worth of customers liked the films in the first place. Sorry to come off as glib or whatever, but to me it shouldn't take a degree in marketing to understand that product x raking in y number of dollars doesn't mean anything other than that the advertisers found z number of suckers. That doesn't mean that everything that rakes in money is by nature garbage, no, but it does mean that you can't really ascertain anything one way or the other about the quality of a product based on it's gross receipts. There are any number of examples of people who paid good money for something who were later left with buyer's remorse, so yes, if I come off a bit bitchy about the whole line of reasoning it's only because it's cheap and pedantic to begin with.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't other, non-box office related means to show that the prequels are generally better regarded than I'm letting on, but for that matter what do you have to offer aside from conjecture that the bashers are more prone to voicing their opinions than others? I don't think user-generated review sites like Amazon or IMDB really support that argument. There are plenty of gushing reviews for any given film on either of those sites, and in fact there have been a number of independent exposes over the years that have raised the question of whether one is more likely to get a spotlight review and/or reviewer boost on Amazon by posting positive reviews rather than negative ones, so I don't see your characterization of the detractors presiding over a lopsided forum holding much water. Similarly, fanboy sites like Ain't It Cool News tend to offer far more positive reviews than negative ones, primarily because they focus on genres they're already predisposed to like in the first place. At any rate they sure don't paint the picture of "disappointed geeks tending to be more vocal" as you imply.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:14 PM on April 4, 2010


Your points are that the movie is currently underrated on Amazon (on which you are mistaken, unless 4 out of 5 stars is bad) and IMDB (6.4 out of 10, which calls into question which your premise that this sites matter, since the results are pretty different),

No, it's you who are mistaken. Episode one - per your own link - has an aggregate rating of 3.5 stars, not 4, which would put it at 7 stars on a 10 pt scale, and considering there's not an option on Amazon to rate it at 3.25 stars - which would put it about as close to the 6.4 avg on IMDB as you can get on a 5 pt scale - I don't think you can conclude any significant different between the two ratings.

Coincidentally, "Titanic" - the highest grossing film currently available on DVD - also have a 3.5 overall rating on Amazon. Now, if box office receipts were indicative of the public perception of a film, wouldn't you expect pretty much anything in the top 10 if not the top 20 to have a perfect 5 star review?

I'm not ruling out the possibility that an argument could be made in favor of the original prequel's quality, but using box office receipts has gotta be one of the more ignorant ways of going about it.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:26 PM on April 4, 2010


Again, your point is that ANY backlash (emphasis mine) indicates Lucas failed

Oh yeah, about this: No, I did not state that any backlash proved that Lucas failed, but I can refer you to several dozen posts in this thread (not to mention the video links in the FPP) which will explain to you exactly why he did. If you can refer me to any links which illustrate why he was successful I'll be glad to take a look at them, because you and muckster have done nothing to articulate it.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:29 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm honestly amazed there is a lengthy debate here over why a percentage of people just might not think jokes about raping people are funny

Oh for the love of God. For one thing, he never says anything about raping anyone. He says he's murdered women in his bathtub and caused his ex-wife's death in a car accident, but the word "rape" is never mentioned in any of his reviews. So is killing people really any better than raping them? Well, we're a lot more desensitized to killing people, and we make jokes about killing people all the time. However, rape jokes still make us uncomfortable. So by saying this guy is making rape jokes when he's not and saying that we're laughing at rape jokes when there are none there, you're making shit up in order to make your point about how horribly offensive it is. If it was really that horribly offensive, you wouldn't need to MAKE SHIT UP.
posted by DecemberBoy at 6:30 PM on April 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


i came back to add that the only facet of the prequels i can think of that didn't get attention in the YT critiques is the blandness of the score and lack of novelty in the sound design. i think we can all agree that the sound FX in the original were like nothing we'd ever heard before. john williams' bombastic themes and interstitial cues convey emotional weight.

30+ years advancement and competition in sound design and wave generation/synthesis have left little unexplored territory in making sound FX but honestly -- are there any sounds in the prequels that are unexpected? robotic things beepboop. door go shhhhish. bubbly things bubble. explodey things explodes. all the familiar library chewie/R2/fett rockets/lightsaber hum but i can't recall a single event or bit of machinery that made me go "ow what was that?"

as for the williams prequel score... what stands out for me? try the Darth NOOOOOOO scene. did george really think a fucking OPERATIC CHORALE would make it dramatic?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by Hammond Rye at 6:37 PM on April 4, 2010


So by saying this guy is making rape jokes when he's not and saying that we're laughing at rape jokes when there are none there, you're making shit up in order to make your point about how horribly offensive it is.

Racist.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:40 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, it's you who are mistaken.

Huh, could have sworn it was 4 outta 5 stars when I posted the link. Oh well.

Now, if box office receipts were indicative of the public perception of a film, wouldn't you expect pretty much anything in the top 10 if not the top 20 to have a perfect 5 star review?

That wasn't my argument.

Again, you said any backlash indicates Lucas failed. Ok, then where's the backlash? The box office numbers indicate a lot of people.

I'm not ruling out the possibility that an argument could be made in favor of the original prequel's quality, but using box office receipts has gotta be one of the more ignorant ways of going about it.

Not what I said, see above.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:45 PM on April 4, 2010


are there any sounds in the prequels that are unexpected?

I think the guns of the Queen's corps of people screaming like Howard Dean during the storming of the palace is unexpected.

Pew! Pew!

Yaargh! Yaargh!

Pew! Pew!

it's really out of place and disconcerting within the context of Star Wars sound effects.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on April 4, 2010


That wasn't my argument.


Yes it was. It certainly wasn't ME that brought up box office receipts.

Again, you said any backlash indicates Lucas failed.

No I didn't. I've always maintained that the quality of a film can be demonstrated without falling back on fallacious arguments based on sheer statistics.

Even so...

Ok, then where's the backlash? The box office numbers indicate a lot of people.

Voila! Proved my point, thank you. You clearly feel there is a correlation between how much money a movie raked in and the long term perception of it's quality, even though you deny that very thing a couple sentences prior.

I'm done with Brandon Blatcher. If he comes up with any legitimate arguments later I look forward to someone else paraphrasing them for me after the fact.
posted by squeakyfromme at 6:51 PM on April 4, 2010


if i could suggest the next movie for the serial killer schtick i nominate spielberg's HOOK cuz rape jokes aren't really rape jokes unless they involve precious ragamuffin orphans.
posted by Hammond Rye at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm done with Brandon Blatcher.

This is why "agree to disagree" came up. We could have moved on and been bitching about Attack of the Clones, but nooooo, somebody wanted to take the scenic route.

Me: Again, you said any backlash indicates Lucas failed.

You: No I didn't.


Uh huh: "On the contrary, I don't know that any filmmaker had ever had a more stacked deck in their favor than Lucas did going into "Phantom Menace". So any backlash against it would seem to reflect more on Lucas' abject failure than any predisposed intolerance on the audience's part."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 PM on April 4, 2010


My junk is art.

Pics or GTFO, Brandon.

Whoops. wrong web site.
posted by rodgerd at 7:13 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm not sure the backlash matters or even if it was very large. Clearly a lot of people went to see the film.
You can't hate something without seeing it. I mean, I saw the film. I had actually tried to avoid absolutely any spoilers whatsoever. I saw it on one of the first few days it opened. I was totally excited. And totally disappointed.
I saw it TWICE in the theater and I definitely consider myself part of the backlash. I wonder what the DVD sales are like now? I bet the old school trilogy sales top the prequels by a long way.
How often do you see people dressed as storm troupers?

How often do you see people dressed as storm clone warriors?
Sure. You said any backlash indicates Lucas failed in whatever he was trying to do with movie. My point is that, according to the box office, a lot of people went to see the movie, so there doesn't seem to have been much of a backlash.
The problem with that statement is that it makes no sense. The fact that people paid to see it doesn't mean they liked it. I paid to see it, and I didn't like it. So did lots of other people in this thread. I mean, how could their even possibly be a huge backlash without a huge box office?
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Did The Matrix: Reloaded make money because of The Matrix: Reloaded, or was it because of The Matrix?

People went to see the prequels even though they knew every review said they weren't very good because they remembered the originals and they wanted some of that magic.

They were bad, bad movies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:22 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uh huh: "On the contrary, I don't know that any filmmaker had ever had a more stacked deck in their favor than Lucas did going into "Phantom Menace". So any backlash against it would seem to reflect more on Lucas' abject failure than any predisposed intolerance on the audience's part."

Selectively quoted, nice work. I mean, shit, if you want to get semantic "any backlash" could mean one single person that hated the movie, but clearly what I intended by that statement was that to whatever extent there was a backlash against "Phantom Menace" it was far more likely to have stemmed from the resulting quality of the film than any preexisting prejudice against it. I have elsewhere implied that there are more fans that greatly prefer the originals to the prequels, yes, but that's not at all what the statement you quoted was addressing.

So yeah, pardon me for insinuating that you might be trying to win points off non sequiturs and mischaracterizations, I was way off base there.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:24 PM on April 4, 2010


You can't hate something without seeing it.

Sure, my point is that if your friend/buddy/lover/spouse/whatever says the movie sucks and you should avoid, do you still go see it? Probably not. That doesn't seem to have occurred with PM.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:25 PM on April 4, 2010


There are at least two rape jokes in part 5 of this review, just for reference.

"What in the hell is she wearing. I mean really. She's kinda just asking this guy to just, um, use the force, isn't she?"

"The ladies like it when you roll around with them in the grass. But only if they're awake. And not drugged."
posted by ODiV at 7:27 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know it's bad form to make placeholder comments in a thread just so they'll show up in Recent Activity, but I'd really like to remember to read through all this thread again when I'm not drunk on Greek Easter Retsina; so for now, I will say: TPM sucks, the reviews are marvellously intelligent when talking about the movie, markedly less intelligent when doing the serial killer schtick (which is like some fucking Mango-level SNL crap), and I'm delighted to see PhoB talking about canon!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:28 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]



Sure, my point is that if your friend/buddy/lover/spouse/whatever says the movie sucks and you should avoid, do you still go see it? Probably not.

The movie could have been a documentary on dolphin sex, if it was called "STAR WARS" people were gonna see it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:32 PM on April 4, 2010


but clearly what I intended by that statement was that to whatever extent there was a backlash against "Phantom Menace" it was far more likely to have stemmed from the resulting quality of the film than any preexisting prejudice against it

To which I was questioning whether the backlash even mattered, because (wait for it) a lot of people went to see the film.

So yeah, pardon me for insinuating that you might be trying to win points off non sequiturs and mischaracterizations, I was way off base there.

No problem, may you live long and prosper, always!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:34 PM on April 4, 2010


Sure, my point is that if your friend/buddy/lover/spouse/whatever says the movie sucks and you should avoid, do you still go see it? Probably not. That doesn't seem to have occurred with PM.

The problem with that rationale is that it may hold true for a blank slate kind of movie that no one knows anything about (ie. "From Paris With Love") but it doesn't necessarily hold true for franchise films that people are already predisposed to want to see based on previous installments. Hell, look at Transformers 2, one of the few "popcorn movies" that critics and fans alike seemed to agree was a piece of shit, even though it went on to rake in more than $400 million US box office, only 1/4 of that in the opening weekend. These are distinctions that simply must be made if any useful data is going to be culled from the box office figures.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:36 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure, my point is that if your friend/buddy/lover/spouse/whatever says the movie sucks and you should avoid, do you still go see it? Probably not. That doesn't seem to have occurred with PM.

If I hear (some random movie) sucks, yeah, I'm not going to see it. If I hear, say, Matrix Reloaded sucks, I'm going to go because I saw the first two (yes, two) and despite some CGI overreaching, they were pretty damn good.

Doesn't make it suck any less.

There are at least two rape jokes in part 5 of this review, just for reference.

In-character comments about someone in a movie. A slight distinction, perhaps.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:36 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In-character comments about someone in a movie. A slight distinction, perhaps.

I think the second one had a definite "in my experience as a kidnapper of women" vibe to it, but who knows.

I just heard them while I was in this thread so I thought I'd point them out.
posted by ODiV at 7:41 PM on April 4, 2010


The reviewer seemed to put most of the serial killer stuff at the end of each episode, if you are offended just skip to the next when they start.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:41 PM on April 4, 2010


i can't recall a single event or bit of machinery that made me go "ow what was that?"


The rumble of Padme's spaceship in the beginning if Attack of the Clones kind of sounded like a WWII bomber to me. It had a neat sound.
posted by Snyder at 7:44 PM on April 4, 2010


Also (and the Enterprise series had the same problem), Lucas couldn't resist the lure of modern technology when depicting an older world. What socioeconomic cataclysm caused weaponry and spaceship design to decline so much in the 19 years between Revenge of the Sith (everything's crisp and shiny) and Star Wars (everything's gross and grimy)?

That, at least, was in there from the beginning or near it.

Back when I was a wee tot at Ramstein AB near sunny Kaiserslautern, waiting patiently to finally see Star Wars*, one of the things I had to tide me over was the Star Wars Sketchbook. In it, they say that a big part of the design of Rebel stuff like X-Wings and Y-Wings was that nothing worked any more. Y-Wings used to have a smooth, shiny aerodynamic shell all over them, but they didn't really need it and it made maintenance harder and it's one more part to store, so the Rebels just stripped off almost all of it and threw it away.

*I don't know if it ever showed up at any of the base theaters nearby; I finally saw it on a pirated videotape sometime in 78 or 79.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:48 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


To which I was questioning whether the backlash even mattered, because (wait for it) a lot of people went to see the film.

Which I addressed as an argument for crass profiteering, not the quality of a film. I'm not making excuses for people who felt burned by "Phantom Menace" but still dutifully paid their hard earned bucks to watch the other two installments... on the contrary, I was really conflicted about waiting for "Attack of the Clones" to come out on video since I'd seen every other installment in the theater at that point (including each installment of the original trilogy in both the Special Edition and pre-edited originals) but that's kind of the point: there are all kinds of dubious reasons to go see something - even to purchase it after you've already been disappointed by it in the theater - so you can't by any means extrapolate how the average person feels about a movie by their financial interaction with it.

You CAN, however, argue the finer points (or lack thereof) via rigorous analysis, and in that regard even if the marble-mouthed chap who posted this epic video series was the sole detractor vs millions of other fans who liked the film but couldn't say why, you know what? Marble mouthed chap would still be right and everyone else would be wrong. Populism is great in politics but it's absolutely worthless when it comes to aesthetics.
posted by squeakyfromme at 7:52 PM on April 4, 2010


I think the second one had a definite "in my experience as a kidnapper of women" vibe to it, but who knows.

Hrm. You're probably right. But it's about (directly) someone onscreen and/or (indirectly) about someone we know nothing about, including her actual existence.

As I said, subtle distinction, but I kind of get the line this guy is hewing to. It makes sense to me, but I can see the opposite viewpoint.

I do think the 'victim' segments are too long, but this guy is so good at so much else that I have to assume that it is a comment in itself (I think someone above compared it to Lucas' tortured love subplot, which would make sense.)

OTOH, it just may be a blind spot in RLM's comedy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:53 PM on April 4, 2010


These RLM reviews are pretty good.

For Star Wars, Lucas had a bunch of pretty pictures in his head; he slotted them into the structures of pulp serials and other sources; added pioneering special effects; and created a film that was spectacular. The first film moves so quickly that amid its timing, spectacle, humor, tight plot, and sui generis universe, Lucas' weaknesses as a writer aren't obvious.

For Empire Strikes Back, he at least hired Kasdan to direct. However, the same universe that appeared without explanation in the first film now had some time for development. And here Lucas' dreadful writing instincts began to reveal themselves-- first in terms of the clumsiness surrounding The Force, such that emotion-- which makes for overwhelming lightsaber attacks, and dramatic tension-- is bad. And with that, the already whiny and annoying Luke begins to develop into the flat and boring monk of the third film.

With Return of the Jedi comes the advent of the Ewoks, and all the worst parts of the series come to full flower: the kiddie pandering, Luke the Enlightened Beatific Zombie, lazy lazy lazy dialogue, deus ex plot turns, and the clear decision that the movie, as well as the universe as a whole, should be specifically targeted at nine year olds. And with the revelation that three of the major characters are secretly related, the thing becomes gauzy and internal, an exercise in sand play therapy, rather than a story about a war between external forces. What's really odd is that whereas the first film had an adolescent tone not that far removed from American Graffiti, the third film, with characters that have grown (noticeably) older, has the emotional tone of a Disney film; emotionally, the trilogy regresses.

With those pieces in place, it was pretty much inevitable that Lucas, unchallenged, would turn out utter crap for the prequels. Why? Because he thought that the crappy elements-- the childlike-logic, the broad strokes of dialogue and plot, the cutesiness-- were the good ones.

At any rate, the prequels just follow the miserable track laid out by ROTJ; their quality shouldn't have come as a surprise.
posted by darth_tedious at 7:58 PM on April 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


darth_tedious Just to be accurate, Irvin Kershner directed Empire, Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire and ROTJ (also Raiders).
posted by Omon Ra at 8:04 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


> darth_tedious Just to be accurate, Irvin Kershner directed Empire, Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire and ROTJ (also Raiders).

Ah. Interesting. It's still crap.
posted by darth_tedious at 8:07 PM on April 4, 2010


Sure, my point is that if your friend/buddy/lover/spouse/whatever says the movie sucks and you should avoid, do you still go see it? Probably not. That doesn't seem to have occurred with PM.

No, but the subsequent movie was much less profitable, and the third did less business than the first. Which pretty much mirrored my anecdata of lots of people seeing TPM, in the face of negative reviews, because they hoped it would be awesome (and, let's face it, there are plenty of reviewers who will tell you something is shit because it's popular, not because it's shit[1]); the second film was skipped by a bunch of people (like me) going, "Well, that was crap", and the third movie had a bunch of people saying, "Hey, it's much better than the first two"[2].

[1] I was used to the reviewers for The Listener and Salon, but of which were firmly in the camp of "if it's popular and accessible, it must be crap".
[2] In the way losing one testicle to cancer would be better than losing both of them, I guess.
posted by rodgerd at 8:40 PM on April 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


One of the major problems with the prequels is that it's difficult to care about Anakin. He's a whiny kid in the first one and a whiny teenager in the other two. I agree the prequels are supposed to be tragedies, but in a tragedy you're supposed to be affected by a character's decline into horror and evil.

Episodes I-III are meta-tragedies.
posted by mazola at 8:58 PM on April 4, 2010


I'm shocked I listened to all nine parts, but they were brilliant.
posted by painquale at 9:05 PM on April 4, 2010


re: AOTC in IMAX:

hippybear: When they released his movie in IMAX format, they went back to the original digital source files and rerendered the entire movie into the larger format, and even reframed the movie into IMAX screen shape (rather than letterboxing the theatrical ratio format onto the large IMAX screen). And it was BEEEEEAUTIFUL!

This doesn't completely match my memory of seeing AOTC in IMAX. I had already seen it in a regular theater, at college in a smallish city in Ohio. A decent, if fairly normal multiplex from the early 1990s. I had been pretty disappointed with PM; and didn't completely hate AOTC, although I wasn't in love with it.

When AOTC IMAX came out, I was back in the DC area and went to see it with a friend at the National Museum of Natural History on the Mall, for a 7:30ish showing. We parked, walked through the more or less empty Museum in the dark--which is a great experience by the way (I've gotten to do it for other events as well). We waited in line for our tickets and then sat down in the IMAX theater (which seemed comparable to the other real IMAX theaters I've been to).

Here's the things I noticed, those many years ago: There were a lot of artifacts from the conversion to IMAX. I was expecting a pure digital to 70mm IMAX film, but everything I had read (and could find in some searching tonight) told me they did some mixture of scanning 35mm film and reusing the digital assets. (I've read a few links tonight, but if you have any that describe the exact process they used for AOTC vs Apollo 13, that'd be great.) So, the the picture itself varied from very good to eh. Scenes where there was a lot of fairly stationary objects suffered from oversmoothing out the film grain, where there would be large chunks of the screen that literally have the identically smoothed film grain for seconds at a time. It appeared there were some MPEG-2 style compression artifacts as well. But, yeah, overall it was very impressive. But that's not the good part about ATOC in IMAX.

The good part? That's the fact at the time IMAX was limited to about 2 hours. The original theatrical cut was 142. So what was missing? Most of the courtship scenes from Naboo. They never added anything to the movie, so it was a pleasant omission. (Or so is my memory. IMDb as a fullish list of cuts.) So, ATOC is a movie that was better 22 minutes shorter than originally released.

Uhm, so yeah. ATOC in IMAX was better than the original, but not super specular. My best technical experiences for seeing Star Wars movies: ESB at a top-class multiplex during its release in the late 1990s and seeing RtS digitally projected with a top-notch calibrated sound system. My other experience with seeing a "normal" movie converted to IMAX was Fantasia /2000, which was decent but low enough resolution you could see the anti-aliasing pixels in the Rhapsody in Blue segment.
posted by skynxnex at 9:13 PM on April 4, 2010


I mean, even in the prequels and in the expanded universe stuff, it seems like a lot of these guys have been reading their Joseph Cambell.
posted by kid ichorous at 1:43 PM on April 4 [+] [!]


george lucas and joseph campbell were actually friends. from "the power of myth:"

Lucas and Campbell had become good friends after the filmmaker, acknowledging a debt to Campbell's work, invited the scholar to view the Star Wars trilogy.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 10:11 PM on April 4, 2010


Why all the Rory Marinich hate? Awesome fucking post.

"ewwww, he spelt Leah wrong!"

"lulz, he's only nineteen and talking about relations between nineteen year olds as if he, like, knows stuff about being nineteen and how, like, nineteen year olds are kinda full of shit and stuff."

Also, I've tried really hard to read every one of the brazillion comments... but might have hit Page Down a bit too often…

I note all the Metafilter boilerplate responses to tying up women. Haven't seen many comments about females laughing at the guy's penis size, or lack of staying power in bed.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:13 PM on April 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Darth Vader being Luke's father was made up after the original movie came out.

Godammit! Even as a wee lad I got that vibe. Never seen it admitted "in print" before. I rule.

/I am also dealing with nineteen year old girls – they suck, FYI
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:28 PM on April 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, now I've seen all 9 parts, and that was far more enjoyable than the film itself. Thanks, flatluigi.
posted by homunculus at 11:57 PM on April 4, 2010


if you have any that describe the exact process they used for AOTC vs Apollo 13, that'd be great.

I remember reading an extensive article about the ATOC conversion at the time of release, but my Google-fu is failing me tonight. It does seem that ATOC, having been shot entirely HD digital, was not delivered for the conversion process on film, but rather as digital files which were then processed. Indications are the same upscale / denoise technology was used for this as for movies delivered on film (i.e. Apollo 13).

"With 'Episode II,' we were working with all the data of the original print," said Brian Bonnick, senior vice president of technology for Imax. "It helped that we weren't working with an image that had already degraded."

and...
Kallay- Did Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) supervise the digital re-processing into IMAX?

Ward- Well, we had the initial tests. Then we had scheduled check-ins with them as they proceeded along, and then we took a look at the final film. Yes, Industrial Light & Magic worked very closely with them.

...

Kallay- Did the magicians at ILM do any tinkering to the original footage to make it look good in the larger format?

Ward- No. We handed over the files to the IMAX guys, and they worked together on the DMR process to make it look as great as it does.
posted by hippybear at 11:58 PM on April 4, 2010


The only Star Wars film I have ever seen is The Phantom Menace. Because I was made to.

I'm about twenty years too old and thirty years too late to start now.
posted by mippy at 6:19 AM on April 5, 2010


Nothing much to add to this thread other than to say that every defense of the prequel movies reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with a friend who insisted that Keanu Reeves was a great actor, and that if I didn't see that it was my fault because Reeves was creating his own new style of acting.
posted by papercake at 6:35 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every Star Wars movie is a huge boring piece of shit that literally only children and the mentally stunted could give half a fuck about. It's not even "Manos" bad. It's just fucking boring. The only thing more boring would be an unfunny aspie making a seventy minute "review" chock full of serial killer jokes.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:47 AM on April 5, 2010


Also, I've tried really hard to read every one of the brazillion comments... but might have hit Page Down a bit too often…

No "might have" about it.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:00 AM on April 5, 2010


Every Star Wars movie is a huge boring piece of shit that literally only children and the mentally stunted could give half a fuck about. It's not even "Manos" bad. It's just fucking boring. The only thing more boring would be an unfunny aspie making a seventy minute "review" chock full of serial killer jokes.

4.5/10
posted by adamdschneider at 7:01 AM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Every Star Wars movie is a huge boring piece of shit that literally only children and the mentally stunted could give half a fuck about.

First, there's no such thing as half a fuck. You can't give someone half a fuck; you can only have intercourse with them or not. We can quibble about exactly what counts as intercourse and what does not, but however it is defined, it is a Bernoulli event that either takes place or does not.

Second, even if there were such a thing as half a fuck, by and large children would be legally prevented from actually donating such a service. Likewise, the mentally stunted have significant protections surrounding their sex lives.

Third, the causal mechanism by which children and the mentally stunted would be moved or persuaded to literally give half a fuck by watching any of the Star Wars films is very unclear. Before we can take your claim at all seriously, you need to reconsider the mechanism of action of your theory.

Fourth, your theory is knife-edged. All I need to disprove it is find one person who is neither a child nor mentally stunted who reports having given at least 50% of a fuck, which I would operationalize very conservatively as penile/vaginal intromission*, in response to any of these films. Do you really want to stake such a strong claim?

*Further studies could research the performance of sex acts between same-sex partners or sex acts other than penile-vaginal intromission among heterosexuals. I am sure these acts are very enjoyable for all involved, but there's just no reason to research more than is necessary at this stage.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:43 AM on April 5, 2010 [17 favorites]


I am sure these acts are very enjoyable for all involved, but there's just no reason to research more than is necessary at this stage.

More data is always better.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:45 AM on April 5, 2010


Every Star Wars movie is a huge boring piece of shit that literally only children and the mentally stunted could give half a fuck about.

Yes, mentally stunted. Completely. This is why I have no meaningful relationships (including a good marriage or best friends), no intellectually-challenging career, I pursue no interests that require thinking or critical inteligence skills of any kind (like playing musical instruments), I have developed no talents of any kind, nor have ever been able to learn how to read or write. All because I like Star Wars.

You certainly have my number, sir!
posted by grubi at 8:52 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I do think the 'victim' segments are too long

Wasn't kidnapping* and torture** one of the core conceits of MST3K?

* "conked on the noggin" / "shot him into space"
** Electrodes in Joel/Mike's jumpsuits were used to 'prod' them into the theatre.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2010


More data is always better.

More data is always better, but any study that has been published is better than every study that hasn't been published because people are waiting for the perfect data.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2010


This is why I have no meaningful relationships (including a good marriage or best friends), no intellectually-challenging career, I pursue no interests that require thinking or critical inteligence skills of any kind (like playing musical instruments), I have developed no talents of any kind, nor have ever been able to learn how to read or write.

You want to video games with me?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


You want to video games with me?

Hooray! I like apples!
posted by grubi at 10:03 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


a huge boring piece of shit that literally only children and the mentally stunted could give half a fuck about. It's not even "Manos" bad.

Is it Ghostbusters II?
posted by kid ichorous at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


First, there's no such thing as half a fuck.

Anyone who says that has never been to bed pissed.
posted by mippy at 11:34 AM on April 5, 2010


First, there's no such thing as half a fuck.

No, it's on the value menu.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:36 AM on April 5, 2010


Wasn't kidnapping* and torture** one of the core conceits of MST3K?

Dunno. Never got into MST3K. (Bad movies are only fun for me if there's a live person to share it with.) If it was, it wasn't as off the rails as this is.

I'm actually fascinated by those sequences precisely because they're a bit off, and I'm trying to figure out what he's doing. This one (AotC) makes much more sense to me, and I suspect, but am by no means sure, that he was flailing for a point in the first one (PM).
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:53 PM on April 5, 2010


Lucas Says Yes To Star Wars Sitcom From Robot Chicken Team
posted by homunculus at 2:44 PM on April 5, 2010


You know all those people that are puzzled, confused and offended by the serial killer jokes in the reviews? Some of us are also puzzled, confused and offended by the Star Wars prequels. It's almost like the reviewer is doing it on purpose!
posted by panboi at 3:00 PM on April 5, 2010


oh man is this the thread where i get to act all offended
posted by tehloki at 3:05 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


damnit i missed it
posted by tehloki at 3:05 PM on April 5, 2010


Oh, Chyme with his charm.
posted by josher71 at 3:12 PM on April 5, 2010


MetaFilter: is this the thread where i get to act all offended?
posted by mazola at 6:19 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know all those people that are puzzled, confused and offended by the serial killer jokes in the reviews? Some of us are also puzzled, confused and offended by the Star Wars prequels. It's almost like the reviewer is doing it on purpose!

Meh. As bad as the prequels were, they didn't have the equivalent of "LUKE, I AM YOUR FATHER" being repeated ad nauseum every few minutes.

It's almost like this guy wants to have one thing, just one thing, that's truly dumber than anything George Lucas has ever attempted.
posted by effugas at 9:26 PM on April 5, 2010


Another story from when I saw Phantom Menace on opening night in Austin, TX. Sitting behind me, directly behind me, was Alex Jones. Yes, THE Alex Jones, of infowars. I'm not sure how he got tickets, because he wasn't waiting in line beforehand, and I'm pretty sure only the campers got tickets to the midnight showing. Anyway, he was with a date. Remember how they had that "THX" logo before the movie, and it would "break down," and a little red droid would come out and fix it, so the sound would start again? Well, when the red robot came out, Alex shouted out, "FIX IT YOU COMMIE!"

Good times.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:40 PM on April 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Part 1 has been pulled by The Cartoon Network.
posted by painquale at 10:21 PM on April 5, 2010


painquale: "Part 1 has been pulled by The Cartoon Network."

"The Cartoon Network," in this case, refers to an asshole named John Skipable who did it and rehosted all the videos to pull views to his account instead.

His account is now suspended and RLM should be able to contact YouTube and get the video reinstated.
posted by flatluigi at 10:46 PM on April 5, 2010


Here's a mirror of part 1 until that happens.
posted by flatluigi at 10:56 PM on April 5, 2010


Oh, Chyme with his charm.
Not having a go at Optimus Chyme or anything, but did y'all know that chyme [pronounced kime, rhymes with time] is the medical term for puke? I’ve always thought it was an interesting handle [not counting the absurdly wordy ones that are popping up lately].

Yes I know there will be tens of dozens of MeFites who know this, but if I have enlightened just one person...
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:44 PM on April 5, 2010


Well, when the red robot came out, Alex shouted out, "FIX IT YOU COMMIE!"

I have a feeling that Alex Jones is probably a fun guy to hang out with, despite the fact that his website is a bucketful of crazy.
posted by empath at 12:01 AM on April 6, 2010


Mirror seems to have been removed too?
posted by harriet vane at 2:21 AM on April 6, 2010


The serial killer jokes are preemptive self-deprecation

fwiw, after recently rewatching crumb, artistic expression of casual misogyny could also be interpreted as a particular manifestation of the male id :P that is all!
posted by kliuless at 5:58 AM on April 6, 2010


Uncanny Hengeman, I had no idea. Sleep well, you have indeed enlightened.
posted by josher71 at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2010


Another story from when I saw Phantom Menace on opening night in Austin, TX. Sitting behind me, directly behind me, was Alex Jones.

I've always found Alex Jones's ravings to be much more palatable when he's wearing a Darth Vader mask.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:49 AM on April 6, 2010


Another mirror for Part 1.
posted by homunculus at 11:12 AM on April 6, 2010


MTV on the takedown (apparently reversed now). Includes interview with Mike Stoklasa (RLM.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:04 PM on April 6, 2010


"If you're a fan, it's time to 'get a bad feeling about this,' because if the matter is not resolved Stoklasa says he not only doesn't plan on reposting part one, but admits he won't work on a promised review of 'Revenge of the Sith' either."

They reversed the takedown, so hopefully he's going to go ahead. ROTS was an improvement over the previous two films (which isn't saying much), but I'd still like to see him have at it.
posted by homunculus at 8:18 PM on April 6, 2010


The one part of Attack of the Clones that I always remember most vividly is the fight between Jango Fett and Obi-Wan (on the platform, not in the spaceships). So I thought it was weird that Stoklasa not only did not mention it, but also did not show a single clip of the scene throughout the whole 90-minute review. I wonder if that means he liked that part? Although the scene was one the only ones I liked, the sudden prominence of Boba Fett in the Skywalker storyline always felt like fanwankery. I'm surprised that Stoklasa didn't have a go at it.

Maybe it was too obvious. He didn't really attack Jar-Jar in his Phantom review.
posted by painquale at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2010


I like the fight with Count Dookie.
posted by Artw at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe it was too obvious. He didn't really attack Jar-Jar in his Phantom review.

Yup. The point that I really settled in with his TPM review was when he dismissed Jar-Jar out of hand.

The brilliance here is that he's bored down to all the stuff that was wrong with these films, which you and I missed because we were fixated on the obvious stuff.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:31 PM on April 7, 2010


Artw: "I like the fight with Count Dookie."

I thought it was rather crap, myself.
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:06 PM on April 11, 2010


Star Wars Uncut Is Finished And Headed To Theaters
posted by homunculus at 8:06 PM on April 12, 2010


Onion's AV Club and Mike Stoklasa.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:36 PM on April 13, 2010


« Older The New York Times has published an informative gr...  |  Ever wonder how the classic B... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments