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Episode III
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I saw Episode III last night. It was pretty horrible, though not necessarily for the reasons I expected going in. I was braced for bad dialogue, and ended up thinking it was actually okay. I was ready for wooden acting. Got some of that, but not too bad.

I wasn't prepared for gratuitous violence and choices by central characters that were completely out of character and made no sense.


I actually thought the opening scenes were pretty good...lots of action, a sinister droid general holding the Supreme Chancellor hostage. R2D2 as a badass fighter droid was a bit silly, but whatever. The opening scenes worked for me.

Then they bring the hostage home and we get a bunch of scenes with slow-moving dialogue setting up the major plot points. Padme is pregnant; Anakin has premonitions she's gonna die in childbirth; Palpatine drops hints about the power of the Sith and how they might save loved ones; Anakin is put on the council and asked to spy on Palpatine. Still, I thought all this was done reasonably well.

The movie started to fall apart for me when Windu and a couple of other Jedi go to arrest Palpatine. Palpatine kills the other Jedi, goes head to head with Windu, and is defeated. Anakin shows up. Now instead of arresting Palpatine, Windu wants to kill him. Say what? "He's too dangerous to be left alive. He's got control of the Senate and the courts." What the hell kind of Jedi is this? Anakin is actually the one trying to convice Windu to arrest him, partly because he thinks Palpatine might be able to save his wife, but it's also clear he's struggling between the light and dark side. But ol' Windu winds up to slice the Emporer in half, Anakin cuts his hand off, and Palpatine lightning bolts Windu out the window. Oh, and cackling like a granny on meth the whole time.

But that's not the scene that really did me in. Palpatine tells Anakin he needs to go up to the Jedi temple and kill anything that moves. Next scene we see him stepping inside the door. Little kids are hiding under furniture, but one bright-eyed bopkin pops up with a British accent and says something like, "There's too many of them Master Anakin, what are we to do?" His answer is to light up his saber with a menacing look in his eye. We cut to the next scene, but it's just been made obvious that Anakin just slaughtered dozens of kids. What the hell? His massacre of the sandpeople was gratuitous as well, but this was even worse. I'd say even though there were allusions to torture in the first three movies, they were still reasonably family friendly. I would not take a kid to see this movie.

Why in the hell did we need that scene in there? Anakin just a few minutes earlier is wavering between good and evil. Then he just trots up to the temple and slaughters children wholesale, in completely cold blood. Whatever sympathy I might have had for the character was completely swept away. There's wanting to take over the galaxy and choke pompous British dudes with the Force...that's one thing. Slicing up children with a lightsaber is another.

The film degenerated after that, but the other cringe-worthy scene worth noting is the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan. They're fighting on a volcanic planet, hot rock and lava all around. It gets down the end of the fight, and Obi-Wan is perched up on a chunk of rock. "I've got the high ground," he yells, "Don't try it." Anakin tells him not to underestimate his powers, and leaps over Obi-Wan's head. Obi-Wan proceeds to slice Anakin's legs off at the knees. He plops down on the rock near the lava, and starts to catch fire. Obi-Wan is yelling at him that he was like a brother, he was the chosen one, how could he do this, etc., etc. Anakin just screams how he hates Obi-Wan. And he continues to sizzle.

Now, is there a Jedi code on putting people out of their misery? Obi-Wan just leaves him there, frying like an egg on the hot rock. I know he's disappointed in him, but damn. Killing him would be both the merciful and sensible thing to do. Instead he leaves him to suffer, and possibly live.

This seemed not only grossly wrong, but out of character.

And that's what ruined the movie for me. People making wretched choices that seemed completely out of proportion with their character.

There were other problems with the film...mostly minor things that would have been forgivable. But not this stuff...and it's tainted the central characters as well as the movies that came before it.

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