Plinkett reviews Revenge Of The Sith
December 31, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Just in time, perhaps one of the most anticipated online video releases of 2010 has arrived. RedLetterMedia presents the Plinkett Review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith. (3 parts, 110 minutes)

Previously: Plinkett reviews of The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones.
posted by hippybear (147 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love this guy and his insights, and I really hope he's ditched the really weird misogyny that keeps popping up for no clear reason. Very excited to watch this.
posted by ORthey at 8:53 AM on December 31, 2010


Oh THANKS, like I didn't have anything ELSE to do today! Sadly, will have to wait until tomorrow morning.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2010


"Revenge of the Sith" was on Space or Spike last weekend. The movie would have been much better if they had just ditched the Galactic Senate bullshit. Also, the Jedi come across as paranoid, power-hungry conspirators, and I'm not sure if that was intentional.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2010


His review of Baby's Day Out is up, too. It seems to be a link between Episode II and Episode III. (It's the movie the "victim" puts in before she escapes.)
posted by gern at 9:03 AM on December 31, 2010


This is so goddamn exciting. I woke up early Christmas hoping it would be out then. Looks like I just got myself New Year's plans.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:04 AM on December 31, 2010


The laff track at about 7:00 in part I is pretty funny.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2010


Oh yes. Thanks!
posted by digitalprimate at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2010


I secretly suspect I had something to do with this.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on December 31, 2010


By coincidence, reading Darths and Droids earlier I leatned that the underwater ballet thing in Sith is cannonically called 'Squid Lake'. Squid fucking Lake. George, you really disappoint me at times.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2010


I really, really, really wish these didn't have the "plot". They're good takedowns of the movies. The serial killer whatever is unfunny, obtrusive, and tedious.
posted by Legomancer at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2010


There goes my morning.
posted by maledictory at 9:17 AM on December 31, 2010


The fact it gets so many people in an uproar, who go on to watch it anyway, makes it even funnier.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know finding formalist analysis of bad movies shouldn't be so hard, but there you go.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yessss.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


As with his other reviews, I got in about a minute, contemplated the total running length, tried to figure the odds on whether or not it would be worth the time (factoring in the weird serial-killer thing that everyone keeps talking about), and decided to leave it be.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:55 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did he like it?
posted by mazola at 10:12 AM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


The background music is part of the joke, right? I skipped around and it's there all the way through. Hurts to listen.
posted by free hugs at 10:14 AM on December 31, 2010


I'm almost through the first one and the misogyny is much reduced, for those who might be wondering.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:18 AM on December 31, 2010


As with his other reviews, I got in about a minute, contemplated the total running length, tried to figure the odds on whether or not it would be worth the time (factoring in the weird serial-killer thing that everyone keeps talking about), and decided to leave it be.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:19 AM on December 31, 2010


The use of a Character Narrator is interesting - it cuts the "Well who WOULD spend an hour picking apart why such obviously bad movies are so bad" and keeps it form getting too dry, which is such a plague to film analysis (I really want to listen to more technical commentaries but dear god worse than when scientists have to talk to congress on C-Span) but yah, I think he got the message that it was turning a lot of people off. It's toned down considerably.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 AM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Over an hour in with virtually no misogyny, thankfully. The humor is still pretty twisted, but the critique is superb.
posted by Ndwright at 10:31 AM on December 31, 2010


God the last video is so dead on. Lucas should never be allowed near a director's chair again.

I'm sure he's crying about it all the way to the bank, though.
posted by empath at 10:42 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the serial killer bits are intended to be ironic, self-effacing digs at his own nerdiness at making these. I think they're most annoying, not just for giving us visceral, look-away moments (although that is certainly a troublesome thing to add), but because they're wholly irrelevant.

People watch these things for their insights and digs at the movies. If Syd Fields' Screenplay had a subplot about a plucky young kid trying to make his way across the country to find his parents with the help of a trucker and his pet marmoset, a lot of people wouldn't have read it regardless of what it said.

One of the rules of essay-writing is to leave out extraneous content. It's not the place to put in your goofy/disturbing/self-effacing/ironic/wince-inducing subplot. Stick to the damn point and quit wasting my time.
posted by JHarris at 10:47 AM on December 31, 2010


One of the rules of essay-writing is to leave out extraneous content. It's not the place to put in your goofy/disturbing/self-effacing/ironic/wince-inducing subplot. Stick to the damn point and quit wasting my time.
posted by zippy at 10:53 AM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Managed to plough my way through most of it, with some difficulty- took away the overwhelming impression of someone complaining that he wasn't smart enough to understand anything complex.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 10:55 AM on December 31, 2010


The background music is part of the joke, right? I skipped around and it's there all the way through. Hurts to listen.

And worse, they went back and shoehorned it in to all the previous reviews.
posted by clarknova at 10:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, his analysis Lucas' dialogue scenes is devastating.

Watch part three, starting at 12:30.
posted by Ndwright at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


This one had a really slow opening, I felt, but it warmed up, and the third part was terrific.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:05 AM on December 31, 2010


Oh man a cliffhanger.

i was kind of hoping he'd get killed at the end of it.
posted by empath at 11:06 AM on December 31, 2010


One of the rules of essay-writing is to leave out extraneous content. It's not the place to put in your goofy/disturbing/self-effacing/ironic/wince-inducing subplot. Stick to the damn point and quit wasting my time.

Perhaps you should create a devastating, several-hour long series of youtube videos critiquing his youtube videos in detail.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Loved it. Serial killer stuff and all.

The explanations of why the blue screen scenes felt so fake was dead on. I mean, these scenes felt fake to me but I haven't got enough of a film background or time to actually analyse why it felt fake.

Good stuff.
posted by schwa at 11:22 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plinkett drinks New Glarus Spotted Cow beer. Good taste in beer and media criticism.
posted by Think_Long at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha, he gave a giant FU to those complaining about the serial killer bits

And those who don't know what I'm talking about, give your kitty a hug


I protest against the protestations of misogny. Or at least I don't understand them. Is that no one, ever, can joke about the worst crimes imaginable? To the extent that I find them viscerally jarring, I suppose no. But in the serial killer bits I was not viscerally disturbed, because I found them going so quickly from creepy to goofy. This is not like I understand Hostel to be, which (I haven't seen it) seems to rely on visceral reactions.

Anyhows, I love his reviews, for the guffaws and also interesting points about screenwriting (a subject I know little about) like the tone stuff in the first clip.
posted by angrycat at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


On consideration, maybe he wasn't telling those complaining about the serial killer bits to fuck off. Maybe he decided to make it goofier so that it wouldn't mess with audience reactions as much. I don't know.
posted by angrycat at 11:43 AM on December 31, 2010


The new product placement spots were good. And the critique brilliant as usual. From part 3:
Most of the dialogue scenes are done one of two ways - either characters walking somewhere, or people sitting down, usually on a couch ... When we have a scene that starts with characters walking, they'll usually slow down and then stop. Then we'll go to whats called shot/reverse shot - basic over the shoulder camera angles of two people talking to each other. This is the most basic and simplistic way to shoot dialogue scenes ...
Also the start of part 1 when he describes how people got their hopes up before each prequel is very accurate.
posted by memebake at 11:53 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't find the serial killer stuff disturbing, offensive, or outrageous. I just didn't find them funny, and didn't like walking away from the topic at hand to pursue yet more pointless shit to amuse the "Oh my god that's so wrong" crowd.

But if it increases your enjoyment of those parts, I'll pretend to be morally put off by them.
posted by Legomancer at 11:54 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


As with his other reviews, I got in about a minute, contemplated the total running length, tried to figure the odds on whether or not it would be worth the time (factoring in the weird serial-killer thing that everyone keeps talking about), and decided to leave it be.

Yeah, so, it's great to critique things, but when your critique of something starts and concludes in ignorance, why bother telling everyone how much you didn't enjoy something you didn't watch? Even Ebert tripped over this with video games, but at least he apologized.

We're all used to people telling us things we like aren't that good. That's modern discourse. But should we get used to people telling us the things we like are so unworthy of their time that they won't even stoop to watching before criticizing it?

Personally, I can say that Plinkett's previous reviews made me want to watch the prequels more than I had before--so I could see it in context. Ironically, I think I enjoy the movies more now because I'm watching them from the context of their impact on the real-world Star Wars universe (as opposed to the fiction itself.) I was never a huge Star Wars fan until I watched his first critique--which translated the movies from a fragmented fictional universe into a very real series of statements about the director, the fans, modern fiction, and moviemaking. I'm curious why so many can't get past the silly skits (some, granted, in poorish taste) to see the very solid and cohesive criticism there.

...And by "get past", I mean--this is digital video, there's such a thing as skipping. You don't have to sit through anything, you can scrub at will!
posted by Phyltre at 12:02 PM on December 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


I think part of the reason for adding a story around the review is that the reviewer is a movie director (a horror movie director, at that) and he wants to show that even in a few brief scenes, its not too hard to sketch out characters that convey emotion and that people care about, etc. Just part of the reason, though.
posted by memebake at 12:11 PM on December 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, always fun to watch these.

Help me out, though, does anyone recognize the 'opening scenes' he shows at about 18 minutes in? One is Saving Private Ryan of course, but the others? Gettysburg? And two more? I got nothing, but the shot of the intersection intrigues me.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:16 PM on December 31, 2010


I will waste no time watching this.
posted by mgrichmond at 12:17 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


...and he wants to show that even in a few brief scenes, its not too hard to sketch out characters that convey emotion and that people care about...

Yeah, absolutely. That I care a hundred times more about Harry and Nadine than I did about Anakin or Padme is more of a critical kidney punch than any of the overt analysis.
posted by clarknova at 12:25 PM on December 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


This should be required watching for not only every film student, but also every director and writer in Hollywood.
posted by incessant at 12:26 PM on December 31, 2010


for me the really fascinating thing is why Lucas seemingly can't write a character arc in these three films -- while he could in the others.

I mean, the idea of the story of a fallen angel is a pretty good one, and I think Red Letter's analysis demonstrates how it could work in the right hands.

But what happened to Lucas who could do the character arc of Luke? Who could do the romance of Leia and Han? It's a really weird thing -- it's like a different version of writers like Faulkner who went to complete pot.
posted by angrycat at 12:30 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But what happened to Lucas who could do the character arc of Luke"

Yeah, I was wondering the same thing. Lucas made three movies I deeply care about. He also made three movies that I absolutely hate (oh and Howard the Duck) and hope never to see again.

What happened?

Did he just get lazy? Or enticed by special effects over story? Were the first three movies great _despite_ Lucas?
posted by schwa at 12:35 PM on December 31, 2010


"I think we all went to see this movie just to get it over with."

Priceless.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 12:37 PM on December 31, 2010


...Who could do the romance of Leia and Han?

posted by angrycat at 12:30 PM on December 31 [1 favorite +] [!]


Empire of Dreams, the documentary about the making of the Star Wars Trilogy, quite explicitly shows us that he did not, in fact, write the romance of Leia and Han. He wrote a slow, boring, dull love scene that ended with them kissing that they actually shot and we see some of it in the documentary. It's really, really awful, so awful that the director (not Lucas!) scrapped the whole scene and rewrote it from the ground up, turning it into the "I don't trust Lando" "I don't trust him either" scene.
posted by Ndwright at 12:38 PM on December 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


Ooh he's got a review of ST-Nemesis ... can't wait to see that one :)
posted by nielm at 12:40 PM on December 31, 2010


BlackLeotardFront, the Civil War scene is from Glory. The intersection is from the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. In between there is a scene from Jurassic Park (or possibly The Lost World).
posted by aldurtregi at 12:49 PM on December 31, 2010


But what happened to Lucas who could do the character arc of Luke? Who could do the romance of Leia and Han? It's a really weird thing -- it's like a different version of writers like Faulkner who went to complete pot.

What happened to the Frank Herbert who wrote Dune?
posted by Ryvar at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


For some reason he switched from Youtube to BlipTV for hosting.

If you want to watch this on your couch rather than at your desk, you can download this as a podcast in iTunes then stream to whatever.
posted by sourwookie at 1:00 PM on December 31, 2010


Did he just get lazy? Or enticed by special effects over story? Were the first three movies great _despite_ Lucas?

He didn't write or direct Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on December 31, 2010


Also, imagine the original trilogy without Harrison Ford. He's literally the only thing that makes it worth watching.
posted by empath at 1:05 PM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


"But what happened to Lucas who could do the character arc of Luke"

I think that the problems is the direction of the arc. Luke's was all up, a straightforward sort of rise from the anonymous farmhand to great warrior, someone so clean that he'd rather fall to his death than cross over to the "dark side". It's more of a biblical or saint's story and isn't all that complex to dramatize.

Anakin's story was (or should have been) a lot more complicated and shaded, something more of a classic tragedy where a great man is destroyed by his flaws. But Lucas didn't have the chops to tell that story and that story would have been way too adult for the audience that he thought he was marketing to. It should have never wasted the first movie on his childhood, we should have jumped in when he was Luke's age and followed his rise in the Jedi ranks and see all the great works that he accomplishes and then maybe he hits the limits of his powers and gets tricked into using the dark side after many years maybe twenty or thirty of being a great Jedi. In the prequels, he never really rises to any power that he can fall from, by the end he's still only the equivalent of a journeyman Jedi. He's just a promising young Jedi who goes nuts and kills a bunch of people and then loses in a fight with his mentor. There's no real arc there at all.
posted by octothorpe at 1:09 PM on December 31, 2010 [22 favorites]


What the frak is this? He didn't wrap up the Nadine arc?!

You don't suppose he's going to do the original trilogy?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:01 PM on December 31, 2010


Pretty good dissection, I was not aware of this fellow previously. Kinda had my finger on the fast forward to skip over some of the cut away bits, and the long review could have used some editing itself, but basically I think he nails a lot of good points: I'd like to add a few cents worth of thought about why the prequels sucked as well, yes to almost everything Plinkett says.. in addition... The Prequils try and get too complex, too much politics and too much exposition. The original 3 was fairly precise... 1. Introduction and blow up deathstar
2. training, capture Han, cut off hand, basic big truth revealed. 3. rescue Han, fall into trap/s, survive, Vader redemption... PARTY!!! Those three films are basic - 1 -attack, 2 -defend, 3 -attack... win it all. Add in Plinkett's bits about better character/script writing and I think that is it in a nut shell (yeah too much masturbatory self referential BS as well). I, II, & III are just massive overreaches.
posted by edgeways at 2:14 PM on December 31, 2010


I think one thing he didn't mention is that I think Lucas in the 2nd and 3rd movies tried to get a little bit politically relevant and draw parallels to Bush and Iraq, and didn't really do a great job.
posted by empath at 2:36 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think Lucas in the 2nd and 3rd movies tried to get a little bit politically relevant and draw parallels to Bush and Iraq, and didn't really do a great job.

As Iraq analogies go in space operas, you really can't get better than the first few episodes of BSG Season 3
posted by angrycat at 2:56 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever i get the stupid idea in my head to actually watch one of the prequals i now just watch a plinkett review. i laugh instead of moan and my understanding of cinematic theory and storytelling improves with each watching.
posted by Glibpaxman at 2:57 PM on December 31, 2010


What the frak is this? He didn't wrap up the Nadine arc?!

You don't suppose he's going to do the original trilogy?


Well, there's obviously going to be at least one more review, and probably that review was being hinted at during this one. I suspect either the Titanic popcorn cup, or some anagram of "Mr. Plinkett Ego Celebration Festival V", is the key here.
posted by kafziel at 3:05 PM on December 31, 2010


What happened? Did he just get lazy? Or enticed by special effects over story?

My completely wild-ass guess:

In many ways, he's too smart for his own good.

If you just break down the plot of episodes 1, 2 and 3, you find a truckload of things all going on at the same time. There are way, way too many moving parts. Trade Federation plots, Separatist movements, pod-racing, Senate skullduggery, Count Dooku, General Grievous, a secret army of clones, assassination plots, Jango Fett...

DUDE. Slow down. It's about good guys and bad guys.

OK, so what are the big plot points of Episodes 3, 4 and 5?

* Rescue the princess. Destroy the Death Star.
* Escape the Empire. Find Yoda. Save your friends.
* Rescue Han Solo. Destroy the other Death Star. Luke faces his father.

Simple. Exciting. Memorable.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2010


OK, so what are the big plot points of Episodes 3, 4 and 5

Whoops ... meant 4, 5 and 6, of course.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:18 PM on December 31, 2010


God, how can anyone listen to that awful voice? It's not funny, it's just incredibly grating and impossible to listen to! I wish the review was done in a normal voice.
posted by rubber duck at 3:26 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wish the review was done in a normal voice.

I couldn't disagree more. The character of Plinkett, voice and all, is what keeps it from just being a film nerd rant. I'd probably watch that anyway, but this is more entertaining.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:53 PM on December 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


If you just break down the plot of episodes 4, 5 and 6, you find a truckload of things all going on at the same time.

I believe he perceives it as a truckload of merchandising/book/tv series/game/comic/toy expanded universe hooks. The movie is just stuffed with product placements, but the products are LucasFilm licensing deals with writers, artists, game developers, and manufacturers.
posted by breath at 3:55 PM on December 31, 2010


The character is why most of my friends don't like these reviews, but I think they're nuts. As insightful and damning as always. Man his use of clips from that behind the scenes stuff is just devastating.
posted by graventy at 3:56 PM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh great, now I'm going to be on the lookout for scenes where characters should be running but they are walking slowly / standing so they don't run out of green screen. I want to call it 'hitting the holodeck walls'.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:46 PM on December 31, 2010 [11 favorites]


This guy can be super insightful. The stuff about how the shots were set up, how plot was exposited were really good and go a long way to explain why the movies were so lethargic. I just skip the peripheral stuff, which I find to be, in varying proportions, dumb, creepy, and boring.

I'm grateful to him for doing these, and I hope he does many more.

(It's funny. I was about to say that he will probably have trouble finding as easy a target as Lucas, but then I remember the Avatar one, and realize he'll have fat, juicy, stupid films to go at for as long as he wants to keep going at them. Excelsior!)
posted by Trochanter at 5:57 PM on December 31, 2010


I couldn't disagree more. The character of Plinkett, voice and all, is what keeps it from just being a film nerd rant.

I couldn't disagree with your disagreement more. I find it almost painful to try to make out what he's saying in that voice, it makes everything sound like he's a nerd who just doesn't like films, and that they should only be made the way He thinks they should be made.

I did give him a chance. I skipped ahead to 12:30 and watched it for 5 minutes. He says the movie is unsuitable for kiddies, then he denies it's a "dark" movie with a flat "No." He says the opening scene of spaceships having a grand fleet battle is pointless and you're an idiot if you enjoy them because there's nothing impressive about visual effects if they don't take weeks of painstaking model work. He says there were no actors in "The Incredibles" or "Toy Story" (I'm sure Tom Hanks and Holly Hunter would disagree). He says there's no rhyme or reason to having a battle, even though this is clearly explained in the opening crawl of the movie. He says the Clone Troopers must be treated by the characters as completely expendable and Anakin shouldn't do anything to save them, even though storywise he has been fighting side-by-side with them, comrades in arms, for the past couple of years. And then I closed the window.

I'm not going to watch the whole thing, but what I have seen makes it look like nothing but a nerd rant with a stupidly voiced character as the hook. And I do actually like a good nerd rant. I watch the Nostalgia Critic and Zero Punctuation every week. But they are capable of understanding why bad creative decisions are made and not just witlessly hacking the whole thing to bits.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 6:34 PM on December 31, 2010


He says the opening scene of spaceships having a grand fleet battle is pointless and you're an idiot if you enjoy them because there's nothing impressive about visual effects if they don't take weeks of painstaking model work.

If you thought that was what he said, you weren't listening.
posted by empath at 6:41 PM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ah, excellent. Thanks for posting this.
posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on December 31, 2010


He says there were no actors in "The Incredibles" or "Toy Story"

Wow, you weren't paying attention.

He says there's no rhyme or reason to having a battle, even though this is clearly explained in the opening crawl of the movie.

No, he was saying there was no rhyme or reason to having this battle at this time with these kinds of effects when there was no reason to care about any of the characters. This is supposed to be the big battle against General Grievous, right? This is a character that -- had you not been a fanboy -- you would have been introduced to in text about 10 seconds prior to the start of the scene.

I did give him a chance.

I don't think that word means what you think it means.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:49 PM on December 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


I liked the serial killer bit, and for me it shows that even an armature can film a suspense sequence that puts the direction in the prequels to shame.
posted by the noob at 7:11 PM on December 31, 2010


Oh, man. I was hoping I would have watched the movie before this was finished. I still haven't seen Episode III, and I had planned to after watching his Episode II review purely so I can watch an hour-long review destroying it. Maybe George Lucas can be proud of that in some twisted way.
posted by palidor at 7:22 PM on December 31, 2010


If you don't feel like watching the whole thing, watch part three. That's where all the nitty-gritty technical reasons why the prequel productions seem lame compared to the original series are discussed.
posted by AndrewStephens at 7:34 PM on December 31, 2010


If you thought that was what he said, you weren't listening.

If there was a transcript, I would argue this point, but I'm not going to watch the video again to quote him.

No, he was saying there was no rhyme or reason to having this battle at this time with these kinds of effects when there was no reason to care about any of the characters.

It's a pretty standard adventure trope to start in the middle of an exciting, desperate battle, and then meet the Big Bad for the first time. Does the audience need to know General Grevious is a lightsaber-wielding lizard-cyborg prototype of what Vader will become? No, they just need to know he's the bad guy who has the Chancellor, and the good guys are going to rescue him.

I gave him a chance when I watched the first 15mins of The Phantom Menace review, and I was put off by the exact same problems of terrible, unlistenable voice and nerdy nitpicking. Unless someone comes out with a version dubbed into regular english, I won't be watching the whole thing.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 7:36 PM on December 31, 2010


I found the first two parts of this a bit dull; most of the critique of the characters and the general lack of emotional impact was just retreading the same ground as the reviews of episodes 1 and 2. But the third part is great. Citizen Kane vs Revenge of the Sith was never going to be a fair fight but Plinkett's eye for revealing cinematic cliche with a split screen is dead on. Cheers to George Lucas and his A camera and B camera for giving us these.

Also, the sense for comic timing that whoever edits these videos has is perfectly adapted to my particular type of ADD and I love them for that alone.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:46 PM on December 31, 2010


Loved Plinkett pointing out how things could've been worse by inserting a child Han Solo into various scenes.
posted by brookedel at 7:57 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


WhackyparseThis, I can totally see where the shtick wouldn't work for you. If you care enough to see that this fellow is quite smart and really puts his finger on some of the many ineptitudes Lucas inflicted on us, follow AndrewStephens advice and watch part three. Especially, starting at 9:00, the segment called "The Language of Cinema." It's smart criticism and its a nice bit of film making in its own way. (Plus he tones down the voice a bit.)

The "shot/reverse shot" part was really enlightening to me. Again, and again, and again he does it.

I also loved the sitting in a chair drinking coffee bit. So true. So freaking lazy.
posted by Trochanter at 8:02 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I found the first two parts of this a bit dull; most of the critique of the characters and the general lack of emotional impact was just retreading the same ground as the reviews of episodes 1 and 2.

Yeah, but that's sort of the point, isn't it?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:12 PM on December 31, 2010


I haven't watched this episode yet, but I do enjoy Plinkett's stuff generally. As others have said above, the prequels always felt wrong and flat, but I didn't have the vocabulary to explain exactly how or why that was. And I think the voice, at least (the rest of it gets a bit squicky to me), helps in making his point -- the dumb hillbilly accent coupled with his really good deconstruction of the technique adds an extra punch, I'd say.
posted by wandering steve at 8:16 PM on December 31, 2010


Jesus, didn't you 'oh God, his voice' and 'oh God, the misogyny' whiners get it out of your systems the first two times? We get that you don't get it, and never will get it. You can all go grab a soy decaf latte and sit down on a couch and talk about the thing you didn't watch with somebody else we don't care about in serious voices using words like 'discourse'.

Back. And forth. And back. And forth.

On the couch.

With coffee.

Neckbeards.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:14 PM on December 31, 2010 [26 favorites]


Let me say it now and clearly - th whole and entire purpose of The Revenge of the Sith is to settle this question once and for all:


If Obi-Won didn't punk out and become a force-ghost, and decided to fight Vader instead, who would win?

This question has devoured months of my life as a geek in the aggregate, and I had a significant portion of my intellect and its reputation on the line as to its answer.

In RotS, the answer was clear... Old Ben completely pwns Vader in no time flat as a thirty-something indie-cred Scottsman. As a stage-trained thespian fencing-master in his 60's, Obi-Won would have sliced, diced, chopped and pureéd the clunking, lumbering Darth Hugey-McBighuge.

Sorted.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:30 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another thing that struck me (not for the first time) is what a will-o-the-wisp George was in the day.

Somehow that's illustrative too.
posted by Trochanter at 9:40 PM on December 31, 2010


I hadn't really thought about the greenscreen "hit the holodeck walls" thing, but it's absolutely true and absolutely kills the energy in a film.

Watching Lucas trying to build characters reminds me of those collections of the worst erotic scenes from books, where it's unclear if the authors have even seen a health-class film--let alone actually had sex.

And, yes, laziness. This is clearly a job for Lucas, and a boring one at that. There is no passion, and if the filmmaker doesn't have passion, how can anyone else on the set have any?
posted by maxwelton at 10:08 PM on December 31, 2010


you can download this as a podcast in iTunes

You can, but it took me ages to find out how to do so from the link in the FPP.

direct link for iTunes users:
itpc://RedLetterMedia.blip.tv/rss/itunes/

http version:
http://RedLetterMedia.blip.tv/rss/itunes/
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:41 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Y'all are so terribly, terribly wrong. Sith is the best of the Star Wars movies. And I mean that.

Also, Happy New Year!
posted by muckster at 12:16 AM on January 1, 2011


Part 2 at 27:10 "we would have never expected one man could eat so much corn."
posted by zippy at 1:11 AM on January 1, 2011


For those wondering what happened between the two trilogies that caused the suck to seep in, I have two names for you: Marcia Lucas and Gary Kurtz. (Actually, Kurtz left after Empire, and then we got Ewoks, so...) as I understand it, Lucas lost the two people who would (and did) say "no" to him. He ended up surrounded by sycophantic yes men like Rick McCallum.

M. Lucas was one of Hollywood's great editors, and Kurtz was no slouch either. The Wikipedia page on his split with Lucas has some interesting (if hard to prove) information, such as:

Kurtz has claimed that he and George Lucas clashed over how to progress the Star Wars series. Kurtz recalled after Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Lucas became convinced that audiences no longer cared about the story; they were simply there for thrills and entertainment, and he began to deviate from the original nine-episode bible starting with Return of the Jedi, at which point Kurtz quit the series. Kurtz has also claimed that Lucas changed the emphasis from storytelling to one that prioritized toy merchandising.

I think these two people's contributions were highly undervalued and underappreciated and critical to the artistic integrity of the first trilogy. Their absence is probably the key to the failure of the second trilogy -- and probably to the failures of other Lucas productions (Howard the Duck, Crystal Skull, etc.).
posted by gern at 1:20 AM on January 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


...other Lucas productions (Howard the Duck, Crystal Skull, etc.)

I'd pay good money to watch redlettermedia's analysis of Howard the Duck.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:01 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


LOL cat-fucking.

That said, I think this nails Lucas' general laziness. He won't film anything unless he can do it with a blue screen and shot-reverse shot.

And this is so fucking dull.
posted by bardic at 2:32 AM on January 1, 2011


The number of views that his earlier reviews have got on YouTube are interesting:

Views of Phantom Menace Review:
Part 1: 2,764,039
Part 2: 1,230,458
Part 3: 1,030,956
Part 4: 980,256
Part 5: 921,760
Part 6: 908,166
Part 7: 925,948

Views of Attack of the Clones Review:
Part 1: 1,381,216
Part 2: 728,399
Part 3: 628,402
Part 4: 591,323
Parts 5 through 9: approx 550,000

These are phenomenal figures - there is a big drop off after part 1 of each review - so some clearly are put off by the voice and the sillyness. But his Phantom Menace review has been watched in full about 900,000 times. Also, if you google 'Phantom Menace Review' or 'Attack of the Clones Review' his videos are the top result.

So he must be doing something right. I'd wager if the reviews were done in a normal voice without the extraneous elements, it never would have captured this amount of attention.

I'd love to know if Lucas has seen these. Or even if he started watching and gave up.
posted by memebake at 6:35 AM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


He should do one in a Jar-Jar voice. People will be begging for the return of Plinkett.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:30 AM on January 1, 2011


I agree with those saying this one doesn't really start to swing until part three, but Jesus Christ is part three devastating. I have no idea if this guy is any good as a filmmaker, but his criticism is truly top-notch. He does a better job of defending the thesis "this film sucks" than any other critic I'm aware of. Sure, Roger Ebert gets in some cutting lines and can often see to the rotten heart of a film, but Plinkett just about eats Lucas's soul in these things.

I'm curious as to what he's going to do next. The prequels were fairly unique in terms of audience interest vs. audience disappointment. Maybe Batman & Robin?
posted by Bookhouse at 8:49 AM on January 1, 2011


there is a big drop off after part 1 of each review

Most series of youtube videos have a substantial drop-off after the first one (and subsequently)... but that's perhaps larger than most indicating he's not to everyone's taste

He totally nails it with lazy-arsed Lucas and his establishing shot, two-shots editing of all those dialogue couch scenes. One thing I realised is how flatly lit they all are... to make it easier to drop the CGI background in presumably. I watched the commentary for District 9 earlier and it was interesting to contrast this where in D9 the SFX are dropped into real environments that, the director said, were lit to make them (and the SFX) look as interesting and realistic as possible.

I remember watching the DVD of Sith and the only thing I can actually remember Lucas saying on the commentary was that he was 'a big R2' fan - hence all the non-funny slapstick bits that don't fit in with the overall tone of that sequence at all.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:59 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, just watched part III and he really nails it with the visual dullness of Lucas's exposition shots. Seeing those in isolation, all that walking and talking looks so much like something out of Law and Order that Anakin should have a paper cup of coffee in his hand.
posted by octothorpe at 9:47 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love these reviews -- they're generally more enjoyable than the subject material!
posted by modernnomad at 10:05 AM on January 1, 2011


I just watched his Star Trek (2009) review, its interesting because he quite likes the film, but still finds insightful things to say about it for over an hour.
posted by memebake at 10:59 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey Plinkett, critique Ozu.

And here we have another static camera shot, and all we see are people talking. They're just sitting at a table! It's like the director is afraid that people will move or something. It completely drains the energy from the scene. Compare it to this action-packed shot from North by Northwest ...
posted by zippy at 11:37 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]



I'd pay good money to watch redlettermedia's analysis of Howard the Duck.


Mark Kermode's review of Scott Pilgrim has a pretty good sidetrack where he talks about Howard the Duck in a way that gave way more thought to it then I ever thought anyone had done. Link.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:19 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]



As with his other reviews, I got in about a minute, contemplated the total running length, tried to figure the odds on whether or not it would be worth the time (factoring in the weird serial-killer thing that everyone keeps talking about), and decided to leave it be.


Next, I calculated the time it would take me to pointlessly inform everyone in the thread that I did not care about the subject of the thread I just clicked on and commented on...

Managed to plough my way through most of it, with some difficulty- took away the overwhelming impression of someone complaining that he wasn't smart enough to understand anything complex.
posted by malusmoriendumest

I wish I was smart enough to understand the subtle metaphor behind Jar-Jar stepping in the poopy. No, seriously, please: Explain to the dummies here which parts of the plot Mr. Plinkett complained about being too complex are actually brilliant pieces of writing when examined with a keen mind?

He wasn't really saying he couldn't figure out if he sat around and diagrammed it, the point was that it was needlessly complex while still sucking either way. Remember, it's a kid's movie! *burning corpse*

But seriously, I'm dumb, explain to me how the Emperor's plot across the movies does not have enough holes to make Rosie O'Donnell a star running back.

Wow, his analysis Lucas' dialogue scenes is devastating.

It's amazing once you really look at it. The movies are made of two parts:

1: Crazy action sequences, some of which are actually kinda ok.
2: Sitting on couches and talking, walking and talking.

That is literally it. There can never be a running and shouting even because they would run out of room in the green screen chamber. They can't even do a West Wing fast walk and talk because there isn't enough room for it. Space Coyote NAILED IT with "Holodeck Walls" but at least there was some sort of treadmill thing going on in those so you didn't hit your head every time you used it. Please don't invent the treadmill green screen process Lucas, trust me, we can tell when someone is running in place.

Plinkett drinks New Glarus Spotted Cow beer. Good taste in beer and media criticism.

Hah, good beer kind of seems out of character for a guy who lives on Pizza Rolls.

But what happened to Lucas who could do the character arc of Luke?

She got a divorce.

For some reason he switched from Youtube to BlipTV for hosting.


IIRC, his reviews were pulled for a bit from Youtube over some DMCA stuff, must have pissed him off.

He didn't write or direct Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi.

He had a writing credit for both. He didn't do it solo, but he was definitely involved.

Also, imagine the original trilogy without Harrison Ford. He's literally the only thing that makes it worth watching.

Not at all true. Remove him, and the film falls apart, yeah. I would say the same thing for Alec Guinness, R2/C3PO, the soundtrack, the FX, the ship designs, laser swords...

MAYBE even Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Great actors? No. Pretty perfect for the roles, yeah.

I think that the problems is the direction of the arc. Luke's was all up, a straightforward sort of rise from the anonymous farmhand to great warrior, someone so clean that he'd rather fall to his death than cross over to the "dark side". It's more of a biblical or saint's story and isn't all that complex to dramatize.

It seems like the fall from grace story is well known enough that a capable writer could pull it off even if it is harder. I think the technology really is the bigger problem. Could Lucas compellingly tell the story of Luke Skywalker...from the prequel exposition couch...no chance.

I think one thing he didn't mention is that I think Lucas in the 2nd and 3rd movies tried to get a little bit politically relevant and draw parallels to Bush and Iraq, and didn't really do a great job.


Yeah, I can't hate the guy for framing that asshole Bush as an evil wizard, but still it failed.

Interestingly, I started thinking about the Bush metaphor when Mr. Plinkett was talking about how the war never changed Coruscant in any way. Maybe what Lucas was doing there was just sticking with the Bush analogy. Things are certainly not blowing up here in homefront America, but we are definitely involved in a war, and this is one planet. It seems logical most wars might not hit home in a big galaxy.

America did have 9/11 though. If you want to do a Bush metaphor, start with something big like that on Coruscant, maybe towards the end of the movie so we have a connection to whatever you blow up before you do it.

I skipped ahead to 12:30 and watched it for 5 minutes. He says the movie is unsuitable for kiddies, then he denies it's a "dark" movie with a flat "No." He says the opening scene of spaceships having a grand fleet battle is pointless and you're an idiot if you enjoy them because there's nothing impressive about visual effects if they don't take weeks of painstaking model work. He says there were no actors in "The Incredibles" or "Toy Story" (I'm sure Tom Hanks and Holly Hunter would disagree). He says there's no rhyme or reason to having a battle, even though this is clearly explained in the opening crawl of the movie. He says the Clone Troopers must be treated by the characters as completely expendable and Anakin shouldn't do anything to save them, even though storywise he has been fighting side-by-side with them, comrades in arms, for the past couple of years. And then I closed the window.

This is a seriously ignorant comment, you didn't watch the review and yet you want to comment on it, and you are even wrong about much of the stuff you claimed you did watch him say. Most idiotic comment of the thread right here. I'll take this apart piece by piece if you are still reading and need an explanation, but Christ why would you be reading this far into a thread about a review you didn't watch?

Citizen Kane vs Revenge of the Sith was never going to be a fair fight but Plinkett's eye for revealing cinematic cliche with a split screen is dead on.


It was fair to compare this to Citizen Kane. Lucas considers himself a GREAT filmmaker, and he has made some absolutely undeniably great movies. Compare him to the big boys, especially when you are telling a similar story.

Lucas sees himself as a revolutionary visual filmmaker, so why not compare his stuff to one of the quintessential revolutionary visual movies? All of those neat angles and lighting and camera movements and tricks that made Kane unique are just waiting for CGI equivalents that blow them away and make us say wow. The Matrix got way closer to this level of wow factor than anything in the prequels. You made a nice background, it's awesome, not revolutionary though. That was the problem with the fleet battle. It sure looked cool, but it wasn't something I had never seen before like an Imperial Walker or an X-Wing.

But still, the couch scenes. Use some CGI to make the scene interesting, this is the biggest new movie technology ever, it has to do more than action scenes and wallpaper.

Loved Plinkett pointing out how things could've been worse by inserting a child Han Solo into various scenes.


Hey. Look at this.


Jesus, didn't you 'oh God, his voice' and 'oh God, the misogyny' whiners get it out of your systems the first two times? We get that you don't get it, and never will get it. You can all go grab a soy decaf latte and sit down on a couch and talk about the thing you didn't watch with somebody else we don't care about in serious voices using words like 'discourse'.


THIS.

For his next review I would like him to take a look at The Matrix trilogy. He doesn't need to do a video for all three, just one for the series. Why one was good, why 2 sucked, why 3 sucked. I also want to see him do The Last Airbender for similar "failing the source material in an epic fashion" fodder. Like the prequels, TLA failed filmmaking 101. TLA nerds don't hate it for changing a couple charecters or speeding the plot up or whatever, it's just a total joke of a film from every technical standpoint. Mr. Plinkett's ability to teach film school "what not to do" would be well leveraged here.

He was even funny when he did "Baby's Day Out" though so I don't care what he does next as long as he keeps going.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:33 PM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Does the audience need to know General Grevious is a lightsaber-wielding lizard-cyborg prototype of what Vader will become?

Was that really what he was supposed to be? If so, then yes I would have liked that conveyed to me in some fashion, because otherwise he was presented as an inexplicably-coughing robot that provided a boss fight for Obi-Wan had as much character depth as the big feathery iguana on which Obi-Wan gave chase.

I could point out that you managed to do in one sentence what Lucas failed to do in an entire film, but I'll let Plinkett do the heavy lifting.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:01 PM on January 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


forgot the italics on the quote
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:02 PM on January 1, 2011


furiousxgeorge, good suggestion on doing the Matrix trilogy.
posted by Danila at 10:26 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


After New Years Eve partying I was about to go to bed, but then swaw this, and ended up staying up waaaay too late to watch the whole damn thing.
So good.
posted by Theta States at 11:20 PM on January 1, 2011


This guy does the most consistently correct and evidence-backed nerd rants I've ever seen. I've even gotten used to the stupid voice, although I still skip the serial killer filler. I'd be interested to see/read his take on a well-loved movie that he really likes, with explanations of why it works instead of just "hey this is cool".

And I'd be interested to know how Lucas got into film in the first place - when he started, what was he trying to acheive? Does he feel that he's met that goal or has he completely given up?
posted by harriet vane at 12:05 AM on January 2, 2011


I'd be interested to see/read his take on a well-loved movie that he really likes, with explanations of why it works instead of just "hey this is cool".

I don't know if it's a well-loved movie, but his review of the quite popular Star Trek (2009) movie is a good example of him liking a movie and pointing out why it works.
posted by hippybear at 6:45 AM on January 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I'd be interested to know how Lucas got into film in the first place

At the beginning Lucas was seen as one of the more radical and experiment of the 70s movie brats (Scorsese, Spielberg et al) and after his brief sidestep to do a tribute to the 40s adventure serials was supposed to be going back to more arty fair. But he seems now to have been completely seduced by the Dark Side.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:49 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a documentary about American Zoetrope.
posted by The Mouthchew at 7:20 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It lacked the well-needed humour that filled in the previous 2 reviews, but the critique was spot on. He's got a knack of uncovering flaws that you just don't notice first time around - such as the urgent life-or-death casual walk.

The fact that the Darth Vader arc was tacked on at a later date was also something that troubled me. It worked for the original trilogy, but unless you're going to make his back story interesting then there was no point revealing it. Because we already know how it ends (and in a much more interesting and tragic resolution), so the bar has been set high to begin with. Having Anakin as a good guy who gets seduced by the Dark Side would have been more interesting than Tales of Emo Kid.

The final fight is just a ridiculous excuse to show off what you can do with a green screen. And that highlights the entire prequel's flaws - there's little tension, drama or thrills.

I think The Matrix as a worthy contender for a follow-up gets my vote. Very similar territory: brilliant first installment followed by under par sequels.
posted by panboi at 1:58 PM on January 2, 2011


The American Zoetrope link merits a MeFi post all by itself, The Mouthchew. It's interesting that the whole company was brought down because Lucas made such an emotionally cold first film, in light of the prequels.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:45 PM on January 2, 2011


Minor nit: apparently the Millennium Falcon does appear in RotS.

A baby Han Solo cannot be far behind.
posted by mazola at 5:39 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A baby Han Solo cannot be far behind.

That image furiousxgeorge posted led me to this:
As with Boba Fett, Lucas also toyed with the idea of inserting another of his fans' favorite characters into EPISODE III: Han Solo. Of course, he would be much younger - only about ten years old. This idea made it into the rough draft of the screenplay. Concept art was approved, dialogue was written, and the character was inserted into the Kashyyyk battle scenes as a helpful kid who actually plays a role in finding the elusive General Grievous' location, to the delight of Jedi Master Yoda.
: /
posted by memebake at 6:25 PM on January 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've watched bits and pieces of the others.

Serial killer stuff aside, these are great for any writer of anything. Make your story make sense, or at least make it make sense that it doesn't make sense. These show the effects of a story that doesn't. For me it was being vaguely entertained at the time, and then trying to think back to the films later and not remembering anything that happened. The reason is: nothing makes sense in these films, and therefore doesn't stick in your memory.
posted by codacorolla at 8:29 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much of the script problems had to do with Lucas having to deal with 20 years of continuity that he barely had anything to do with?
posted by empath at 8:31 PM on January 2, 2011


Zero. Movie canon is not beholden to EU canon, and where movie canon contradicts the EU, the movie wins.
posted by kafziel at 8:41 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Screenwriting and directing 101s don't change with the material.
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 PM on January 2, 2011


The only point where EU cannon really screws up the movie is General Grievous. His backstory is told in the Clone Wars cartoon but is never referenced in the film, leading to a character that (on film) is introduced and dealt with in a very random —wtf was that— way.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:47 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


A few more take-aways having watched the whole thing:

-- The Plinkett character is unpalatable, but also (ostensibly) our protagonist for the meta-story of these reviews. What the director of the reviews shows is how to do what George Lucas was trying to do, which is to say make a character piece about a bad person that the viewer comes to sympathize with. Plinket is a serial killer, psychopath, woman-hating, piece of shit, but we find ourselves laughing and agreeing with him in spite of this as he tears down the prequels. This is what Lucas wanted to do with Anakin and failed absolutely and totally at. The point isn't that the serial killer story is good, it's that it's emotionally effecting (as the responses to it show). When Annie murders a gradeschool class you sort of shrug and say "whatever", A) Because it doesn't make much sense and B) because it's just fucking boring to watch. They made child murder a shruggable scene.

-- George Lucas, having made three of the best loved films... maybe even the best loved narratives of all time, is ruined by that power. He has the technological might of Lucasfilms behind him, and he wastes it on lifeless green screen shots. The power of the films actually becomes a hindrance. You think, maybe, when Lucas had to answer to producers, and editors, and budget limitations it required other people to review his work and fine tune it, as well as clever movie making to create a believable sci-fi world. From the comfort of his director's chair with unlimited power and no constraints on his vision, Lucas loses the ability to make a good film.

The reviews go over this, going so far as to compare Lucas to Charles Foster Kane.

-- "It's like a fucking play," is the quote used, and really, it is. The actors are moving around on a green screen. For all intents and purposes they are in a minimalistic play, with simple geometry as the stage. Except, unlike a play with minimal setting, the dialog isn't the point, it's something that sets up the next set piece, which is usually an actor reacting to another green set of boxes, or possibly even a 3D model of the actor. Lucas rarely moves the camera, and seems to be very bad at communicating what he wants his flesh-and-blood material to do, so the dialog scenes of the movie are boring and lifeless, and because of that, make the audience not care about the action scenes.

-- It made me think, that as empath suggested, the cultural weight of these movies was too much. They were so loved that Lucas (giving him the benefit of the doubt) wanted something for everyone. There were pointless, nonsensical cameos for the fans, a bland poorly written love story for some imaginary rom-com loving woman audience, irritating gimmicky aliens and robots for the kids, all tied together with action that doesn't make sense and is a tiring blur of sound and light. It's almost like Lucas takes an objectivist view of film making, where if you throw enough money and computers at something, and hit points A, B, and C for viewers A, B, and C, then you'll have a good (or good enough) movie. Instead you wind up with bland dreck that mostly sold tickets out of a perverse sense of obligation. I saw all three of these movies in the theater, and don't remember being excited about any except the first (and feeling very disappointed after that).

-- The reality of how the prequels are filmed is that nothing really happens. The Star Wars prequels are the uncanny valley of an action film. They look beautiful, and are masterful from a technological standpoint, but they are just far enough away that we recognize them as fake. But unlike a movie with campy, stylized effects (the Fifth Element for example) this isn't intentional, it's just the last few inches that technology might never bridge, which the primitive part of our brain can realize and is disconcerted by.
posted by codacorolla at 9:54 PM on January 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Grievous was just the most apparent symptom, the problem he illustrates is that virtually the entire Clone War happens outside the moves when the war itself is ostensibly the setting for the movies.

The EU for the original series was a true expansion, it took what was there and added more. In the prequel timeline the movies are just a part of a bigger story of which the EU is an essential part. This was an issue the Matrix sequels shared, with too much of the necessary background told in The Animatrix.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:59 PM on January 2, 2011


"It's like a fucking play," is the quote used, and really, it is. The actors are moving around on a green screen. For all intents and purposes they are in a minimalistic play, with simple geometry as the stage. Except, unlike a play with minimal setting, the dialog isn't the point, it's something that sets up the next set piece

You know, I just finished watching the incredibly 8.5 hour RSC production of The Life And Adventures Of Nicholas Nickleby once again, and there is such a marked difference in the amount of audience interest and enjoyment which can actually be created on a nearly bare stage and minimal props compared to the Star Wars prequels, it's stunning.

If Lucas had a real story he was telling, or if he were even telling the same story only using decent dialogue, the films MIGHT hold up better. But they don't. The actual story is simply filler used to get from one big action sequence to another, and none of it really makes sense on multiple levels. So all the sequences which aren't people sitting on couches talking to each other or having a slow walk and then stopping to talk are loud and noisy, and all the other scenes are too quiet and don't have anything memorable going on in them.

The whole Plinkett Reviews take on the prequels has been hugely helpful to me, because I've always KNOWN there were deep, fundamental problems with the films, but don't really have the language or skills to express exactly what. I swear, after watching the review of The Phantom Menace, I nearly felt like that film was redeemed for me. Not because it became any better, but because the review put together all the flaws in a clear way which let me see the film for what it was and not continue to try to make excuses for it.

I would pay large amounts of money, and maybe even a non-minor body part, to have hidden camera footage of Lucas watching these reviews and being able to see his reaction to them. They're the movie review equivalent of The Daily Show's takedown of Jim Cramer, full of research and depth and exactly on the money.

Sadly, I don't think we'll ever see Lucas sitting down with the author (who isn't the same guy who voices Plinkett) having a heart-to-heart about how he just plain got it wrong. But damn, I'd love to see that.
posted by hippybear at 10:10 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I LOVE when The Fifth Element comes up in prequel discussions. Here is the best compare and contrast.

Ok, I can't actually find a link for the contrast. Imagine I linked the chase scene through Coruscant with the Jedi jumping around on hover cars after Padme is almost assassinated with a robo-bug. It's so lame and forgetabble apparently no one put it on youtube that I can find.

It's obviously a total ripoff attempt at the scene in Fifth Element. The special effects look better in the prequels but that is it. Bruce Willis wisecracks better than Obi/Ani, he actually looks to be in danger which gives the scene tension, and when he pulls it off he actually looks impressive because he is just a regular joe who can't do things like fall two miles to a new hovercar and live.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:12 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but the fifth element was a rip off of Heavy Metal.
posted by empath at 10:41 PM on January 2, 2011


When I saw the Fifth Element I remember thinking that I was watching the future of cinema: awesome visuals and minimal storytelling. I think its gotten worse, because at least the Fifth Element had memorable moments. I frankly can't remember anything from the first Transformers movie outside of the scene where one of the robots is skating on a highway, and I can barely remember any secondary plot points or images from the prequels. The whole 50s dinner scene from Sith was bizarre, I had completely wiped that out of my memory banks.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2011


Yeah, but the fifth element was a rip off of Heavy Metal.

Which is a rip off of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream.
posted by kafziel at 12:28 AM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


The 5th Element remains the best movie by a 12 year old boy ever.

I mean that sincerely and with all compliments. It's distilled French SF pulp.
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 AM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Star Wars prequels are the uncanny valley of an action film.

They're Frankenstein's Monsters*. A lot of disparate parts that are stuck together in ways that resemble a coherent whole, but only from a distance.

*Film version, appropriately.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:55 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


so what is the internet consensus on the original Star Wars trilogy, then?
That its greatness is a fluke made out of limited money and less actual control by Lucas?
posted by Enigmark at 9:35 AM on January 3, 2011


How about a gifted young film maker (possibly a genius) playing with beloved conventions of the Hollywood of his childhood? Then passing off the directorial chores to others on the second two?

PS: I know everyone loves Empire, but I see the seeds of the prequels beginning even there.
posted by Trochanter at 9:44 AM on January 3, 2011


so what is the internet consensus on the original Star Wars trilogy, then?
That its greatness is a fluke made out of limited money and less actual control by Lucas?


There's a bunch of factors, but that's two of the big ones.

To his financial credit, he got in early w/r/t advances in technology and merchandizing. To his artistic shame, he utterly embraced them.

He stopped listening to people, including actors (The classic Han/Leia exchange in Empire, as written, was "I love you." "I love you too.")

He divorced his editor.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:45 AM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lucas also had the great advantage on 2 of the first 3 movies to have a young Lawrence Kasdan as screenwriter, a guy who used to have a very good sensibility for pulpy material as well as for creating warm likable characters.

THX sort of shows the prototypical Lucas strengths. He had a good visual sense and overall feel for the arc of a heroic story, but his characterizations fall into a coldness that is hard to relate.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


his characterizations fall into a coldness

I don't think that had to necessarily be his doom though, I mean Kubrick is notoriously cold, and he still made compelling movies.
posted by Trochanter at 10:33 AM on January 3, 2011


That's cause Kubrick isn't about "the characters", it's about the larger forces that create them.
posted by The Whelk at 10:35 AM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing I think is important is that if you look at Lucas' IMDB page as director, it goes Star Wars 1977, then nothing, then Phantom Menace 1999.

That's TWENTY TWO YEARS between directing gigs! That's a lot of time to forget how to make a movie.
posted by Trochanter at 10:43 AM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also Kubrick plays on so many different subtle levels of meaning that his characters acquire a certain "interestingness" just by being there. The SW were films designed as updated pulp, with traditional heroic arcs and stereotypical (the kid, the space pirate, the princess) characters. I'd argue that genere fiction, and simple narratives (THX is nice to look at but very basic as a story) requieres a certain warmth to work.

For me some of the most jarring differences from the original vs prequels were the shots of old Ben and Yoda vs new Ben and Yoda. There's a kind of relatable kindness in the old versions of the characters that's lost in the new. I frankly loathed every time Yoda came on screen in the prequels even more than Jar Jar. He just came off as a know it all stubborn putz.
posted by Omon Ra at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, the Star Trek: Insurrection review has the funniest commentary of Plinkett's reviews, such as this bit at 1:05:

They also got the worst costume designer in the quadrant. Ain't no one wining an Oscar for the JC Penney spring fashion look. Earth tones, people! Everyone wears earth tones! Browns and beige - and mother of pearl!

Other gems at 9:40 and 13:20.
posted by zippy at 2:29 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


OMG HE'S IN TEANECK!
posted by Eideteker at 7:10 AM on January 4, 2011


Interesting how the arc of the movies more accurately reflects the character arc of Anakin. Start out warm, earnest, emotional, and later on become cold, computer-driven, mechanical.
posted by Eideteker at 8:04 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


No that's just from living in Teaneck
posted by The Whelk at 8:04 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not that I represent anyone's idea of consensus, but Return of the Jedi was the big letdown for me. Empire expanded the pulpy Star Wars universe into something deep, dark, and complex, and had us on the hook for three years after the biggest reveal in cinematic history and then . . . Ewoks and, oh, another Death Star.

The dagger in my heart was celebrating the liberation of the galaxy with a teddy bear tra-la-la dance scene.
posted by whuppy at 8:24 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was someone turning out to be someone's dad already a cliche back when Empire Strikes Back came out? Certainly, characters turning out to have some family relationship they were previously unaware of has been a mainstay of drama for a very very long time.
posted by memebake at 2:52 PM on January 4, 2011


It's not just "Villain is related to hero", though. It's "Villain is hero's father (in the context of a story where hero is rebelling against villain), despite hero's father-figure having previously claimed that hero's father had died at villain's hand". There's more layers there.
posted by kafziel at 3:12 PM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He says there were no actors in "The Incredibles" or "Toy Story"

Or "Transformers". One of the funniest throwaway lines.
posted by Penks at 8:03 PM on January 7, 2011


This is a seriously ignorant comment, you didn't watch the review and yet you want to comment on it, and you are even wrong about much of the stuff you claimed you did watch him say. Most idiotic comment of the thread right here. I'll take this apart piece by piece if you are still reading and need an explanation,

I'd really like to see you do that, since everything I said is a fact. 5 simple points, have at it.

but Christ why would you be reading this far into a thread about a review you didn't watch?

Because the comments here are interesting and aren't being read by someone that sounds like they got drunk after visiting the dentist.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 1:44 AM on January 8, 2011


He says the movie is unsuitable for kiddies, then he denies it's a "dark" movie with a flat "No."

Your fact is wrong. He does not deny it is dark, his no refers to it BEING GOOD because it is dark. He refers to kiddies because an earlier apologist position for the prequels was that they were movies made for kids so silly comic relief characters like Jar Jar and mindless cartoony action scenes made sense.

He says the opening scene of spaceships having a grand fleet battle is pointless and you're an idiot if you enjoy them because there's nothing impressive about visual effects if they don't take weeks of painstaking model work.


His problem is that the effects aren't impressive because they are overused. In the era of models they had to be used sparingly which made them dazzling when they happened, even if they didn't look as great as CGI.

You can't dazzle with CGI when they make entire animated movies out of it. That is only one part of why the scene isn't good, he goes on to explain he has no idea who is fighting who so he has no emotional stake, and some of the actions the characters take makes no sense. Sure, crawl explains federation vs. clones or whatever but the actual motivations behind the factions are shady and confused.

He says the Clone Troopers must be treated by the characters as completely expendable and Anakin shouldn't do anything to save them, even though storywise he has been fighting side-by-side with them, comrades in arms, for the past couple of years.

Mr. Plinkett does not count the EU for purposes of movie reviews, nor should he. Most people going in to that movie didn't see any EU material.. All the movie audience has seen is the clones being treated as expendable, faceless, henchmen.

and then I closed the window

This is apparent. You are perfectly welcome to comment on episode 3, but you shouldn't review the review if you aren't willing to actually watch it. This is why I accurately described your comment as ignorant.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Has anyone linked Darths & Droids? It's been around for a long time but I just started to see links for it pop up in other discussions on the Sith review. Jar Jar is much more endearing when you imagine his lines were ad-libbed by an 11 year old girl.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2011


Your fact is wrong. He does not deny it is dark, his no refers to it BEING GOOD because it is dark.

Okay, fair enough.

His problem is that the effects aren't impressive because they are overused.

Which is bollocks. CGI doesn't have to be used sparingly, it just has to be used well. The Chronicles of Narnia had plenty of it throughout, yet the big battle remained impressive.

Sure, crawl explains federation vs. clones or whatever but the actual motivations behind the factions are shady and confused.

But it's the start of the movie, the audience doesn't need to know any of that yet. In "Raiders of the Lost Ark" it wasn't explained what the archeological significance of that Idol was, who built the boobytraps, even what country they were in. Just kick it off with an action sequence, and leave the exposition for later, if at all.

Most people going in to that movie didn't see any EU material.

It's fair to expect the audience to know they've been fighting on the same side in a war when the last movie ended with "Begun, the clone war has" and the opening crawl says "War!"


I do have to agree about Darths and Droids. It is really good at patching over the gaping plot holes and has the most brilliant character description of Jar Jar ever.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 6:06 AM on January 9, 2011


Which is bollocks. CGI doesn't have to be used sparingly, it just has to be used well. The Chronicles of Narnia had plenty of it throughout, yet the big battle remained impressive.

Not sparingly, no. A better way to say it would be it has to be used for something besides just looking cool.


But it's the start of the movie, the audience doesn't need to know any of that yet. In "Raiders of the Lost Ark" it wasn't explained what the archeological significance of that Idol was, who built the boobytraps, even what country they were in. Just kick it off with an action sequence, and leave the exposition for later, if at all.


It's part three of a three part story that is far less self contained than the Indiana movies. The war started a whole movie ago. But again, it wasn't a great action scene on its own. It was a bunch of random explody space stuff. I am a sucker for that kind of thing, I'm the guy who watched BSG for the dogfighting and Adama dropping his ship through the atmosphere. It just wasn't a good action scene.

The visuals were a bunch of CGI ships exploding each other, yawn. The plot aspect of it was murky and confused, yawn. What is left for this scene?

It's fair to expect the audience to know they've been fighting on the same side in a war when the last movie ended with "Begun, the clone war has" and the opening crawl says "War!"


You last saw the movie two years ago...you remember the guys with the Star Destroyer like ships are the good guys and have the clones in them? Maybe, I dunno, I guess some people might.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:56 PM on January 12, 2011


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