Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sith sucks, Crash is a travesty

Let's get some perspective. The fact that "Revenge of the Sith" is much better than "Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones" does not mean it's a good film. The dialogue is still atrocious. The acting is mediocre, save for Euan McGregor and Ian McDarmid and the digital Yoda (though I blame that primarily on the directing, since Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, among others, have shown they're capable of giving very good performances). And major character turning points that the whole trilogy drove up to (you know the one I'm talking about) are entirely undermotivated. So the critics fawning over it are out of their fucking minds.

I actually got a good sense of why these three films have been so retched reading Entertainment Weekly's cover story, which included an interview with Lucas (an opportunity few publications got). In it, Lucas admits that he (in EW's words) "didn't complete the screenplay until the start of production due to his disdain for wordsmithing." "Sith," apparently, was even "looser" (Lucas's word). It wasn't until some F/X artists at ILM told him they didn't think it was clear why Anakin went bad that he reshot that moment. Given that it's still not very clear -- you see why he's tempted, but he all of a sudden goes from being confliced to calling Palpatine "master" -- I can only imagine how bad it must have initially been.

Lucas also admits that he didn't really have enough material to make episodes 1 and 2 into a film. Here's EW" "By Lucas' own calculation, 60 percent of the prequel plot he dreamed up decades earlier takes place in 'Sith.' The remaining 40 percent he split evenly between 'Meance' and 'Clones,' meaning each film contained a lot of... filler." That's why those movies are so forgettable. Nothing happened!

Essentially, George Lucas is making clear that he doesn't respect the art of screenwriting or directing. He had some leftover ideas, he felt like doing them, so he just made it happen. Since he's a billionnaire and financed these movies himself, I guess that's OK, in a technical sense. But morally, there's something really offensive about not going out and getting some collaborators who are experienced and talented and as passionate (if not moreso) about this material. But George Lucas apparently didn't feel like it, so instead of contributing something with lasting value to our culture, he just used his vast resources to get something out of his system in a half-hearted way.

Sadly, "Sith" wasn't even the worst movie I saw this week though. That honor would go to "Crash." Truly one of the most awful movies ever made. That's not hyperbole. It gives other pretentious white Hollywood liberal crap a bad name. From the first line of the film, an absurd and unrealistic phony meaningful nonsequitur from Don Cheadle, to the last shot, I loathed it. Every character is a one dimensional symbol of a type of person in Los Angeles who engages in plot device after plot device to show how very very ISOLATED we all are -- so desperate for connection -- while they spout ridiculous dialogue that nobody would actually say (unless really provoked, which these character aren't) to show how racist and/or lonely we all are.

I guess the question is, Is "Crash" worse than "Episode 3?" My girlfriend was passionately arguing it's not, if only because writer/director Paul Haggis and a mostly talented cast seemed to succeed in accomplishing something. Lucas, in comparison, had low goals that he couldn't even meet due to his lack of talent. But I was entertained during many moments of "Sith." I was apalled throughout "Crash" and desperate for it to end in a way I haven't been in a theater since at least the execrably offensive "Napoleon Dynamite."

Despite the artistic goals of "Crash," I think I ultimately still have to give the award to "Sith." Simply because I was at least moderately to fully engaged throughout the latter film. I honestly found "Crash" so unbelievable and pretentious that I never cared for a moment about what was happening on screen.

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