The Jedi-In-Training ROSSMAN
I remember everything. I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday. I was only 5 years old and I went to see The Empire Strikes Back at the movie theater with my Grandfather, and I wanted a lightsabre of my own ever since (never gave much thought as to what I'd do with one though... Except use it to cleanly take out a couple of Dark Side neighborhood dogs and cats and kids I guess). I was too young to see (or at least appreciate in the least) A New Hope when that first came out, but I was at just the right age for Empire, and then when Jedi blasted on the scene in '83 my family went to see it 3 times during it's opening week alone. Oh man, that whole thing between the Emperor, Vader and Luke was just so awesome!... But I remember even back then HATING the Ewoks with the heated passion burning with the same intensity of the Death Star main cannon. I looooooathed them. Mr. Lucas, what the fuck were you thinking? My siblings and I were children, the demographic you supposedly pandered to by placing the Godforsaken hairballs in the damn movie, and we cheered when that one midget bear died on screen!
Anyway, I then had to wait, what, 16 years? for more Star Wars goodness... Unfortunately the wait was not worth it. Yeah, everybody bashes Episode I - The Phantom Menace, and I'm no different, but I'll get into the few good things about it too later on in this review (the very few good things). Patience. Anyway, my hopes were lowered a bit for Episode II - Attack of the Clones, and my downed expectations actually helped make it a bit more enjoyable than had I gone in there thinking Natalie Portman was going to give me a sloppy Jedi blowjob through the screen by the end of the movie. Then I waited for Revenge of the Sith... Would it truly complete the circle? Would it make Episodes I and II better by explaining things that they seemed to forget or take for granted? Or would it rape my memories of the first 3 films and make it impossible for me to enjoy them ever again? Actually, Sith wasn't half bad. It was even better than Jedi in my humble opinion. But I digress. Let's go film by film in their correct order (i.e. any fuck who ever tries to introduce people to this series with Episode I is more retarded than a lobotomized JarJar Binks... I'm talking about starting with Episode IV - A New Hope, genius) and dissect the sci-fi/fantasy insanity in style.
Okay, this review is gonna be a long one. I've got a lot to say about the films in question, so I'll just get started.
Back in the mid '70s, headcase George Lucas had some trippy visions of things that were truly mind blowing. The only problem was that he sucked as a film maker and so he needed mucho helpo in getting his thoughts to celluloid. Think about it, the directing of the original cut of Star Wars - A New Hope was horrible. Even George himself admits this. In fact, the acting is atrocious too because the only kind of direction he could give people was "Bigger!" or "More intense!" or some shit. He would just get his actors to read the lines, he didn't (still doesn't, but I'll get to that) care about making the lines come alive. And yes, as fun as A New Hope is, the acting is knee-to-the-balls bad. The only people who are really any good in it (because they didn't listen to Lucas) are Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness. But whatever. Damn, Cushing really looked freaky in that movie.
So, Lucas sucks at everything but idea conception, but luckily for him (and us) he found a couple of great editors (mainly his film connoisseur wife) for New Hope who hacked up his original cut into the fast paced brilliance that it has become known as. George also had some mavericks in the visual effects field who were able to give him just what he wanted for his envisioned special FX shots (well, "just what he wanted" until many years later when he became nothing but an effects whore who tried to cram as much CGI into a shot as was possible, damn the aesthetics!) which made the universe of Star Wars come alive and give Force-ful handjobs to the unbelieving audiences at the time. Then he got totally lucky and bagged John Williams for his composer, and Williams (in my opinion) is the one who made the whole package work. Seriously, image A New Hope with a synthesizer or cheezy 70s "boom chicka chicka chicka" sound track... *Shudder*. Everything would have fallen apart. Williams made the movie(s) dramatic, romantic and heart-poundingly palpable. Can you just see the raid on the Death Star with the theme from Shaft playing in the background?... Wait, bad example. The theme from Shaft actually would have possibly made Star Wars even cooler than it already is. You get my point though. Anyway, all I'm saying is that Lucas got lucky that he got the right behind-the-scenes staff to save his movie. They made him millions, and thus George was able to continue telling the Star Wars story.
Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back came out a few years later and thankfully it wasn't a "remake sequel" to A New Hope like most sequels are to popular movies (i.e. Empire just had the same characters, but they had grown, and they didn't just rehash the plot from the first movie... Think Rocky 2 for an example of a "rehash sequel"). Yeah, the rebel alliance had struck a blow against the Empire in New Hope, but they were far from breaking it completely. The rebels are in hiding at the beginning of Episode V, and the rest of the movie is just about them running away from Darth Vader. That's it. It's ingenious! It was just as much fun as the first movie, but more dramatic (the one huge action/battle scene takes place at the beginning of the movie instead of the end, and it features AT-ATs! Sweeeet!). Empire also had cooler settings and characters (including Dagobah, Bespin, Lando, and Boba Fett), and of course puppets (I'm talking about the main man Yoda). Plus a major secret is revealed at the end that splinters everything you knew about the Star Wars galaxy. Way to "certain point of view" your pupil, Obi-Wan.
Anyway, the reason Empire was so much cooler and felt so much more real than Hope was because of the director (and writers).
Irvin Kershner was invited to direct (since George rightly understood that he was not an order-giving kind of guy), and although Lucas supplied the basic story, he had MASSIVE help writing the actual script and so got the lines to sound not-so-laughable as they did in his first film. Empire was (dare I say) bigger, badder and more fulfilling than New Hope because of all of this. And the FX department Lucas created (ILM) for the first movie got impressively better at their newly created jobs by the time Episode V was ready to roll.
After Empire's incredible box office returns, it was inevitable that there would be an Episode VI. Unfortunately though, Lucas started getting money grubby at this point, and started selling out and catering to the lowest common denominator.... i.e. kids. The original treatment for Episode VI was vastly different from what we eventually got (I'll get to this more in a little bit). Sure, being a kid myself when Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi first came out, I ate it all up. But now that I'm an adult (in body at least), I can see all the potential that Lucas completely blew with this film. For some reason Lucas didn't want Kershner back to direct Jedi and instead got some "yes man" to do it while sucking his Lucas-dick the whole time he wasn't yelling "Action!" and "Cut!" *slurrrrp*. Not that Jedi is all that bad (as stated previously, the finale between the Emperor and Vader and Luke is fucking awesome!), but it's all about what it could have and should have been.
The story of Jedi was a bit of a let down too. It was just what Empire wasn't. Empire did everything it could to NOT redo New Hope. It went out of its way to not do what had already been done. Return of the Jedi however did all it could to redo the first movie, only with more (retarded) teddy bears. Though, like I said twice earlier, they did have that cool confrontation between Emperor, Vader, and Luke, and finally getting to meet the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt was a good pay off for everything we'd heard about him in IV and V -- but the special FX were shoddier (in some places, but the space scenes were divine), the puppets looked like puppets, and there were Ewoks -- midget furballs who never blinked (due to shitty and slipshod costume designers) that were only in the picture (instead of Wookiees, like Lucas originally planned) to cater to the kiddy market. See, Star Wars toys were really selling well back then, and Georgie-boy thought "Kids buy toys, kids like cute things, so disgustingly cute toys should sell like gang-busters!" George thought wrong. Kids wanted more Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Bosk toys -- cool toys. The Wicket and the rest of the Ewok "action figures" are still on Toys R Us shelves 20+ years after they came out (Buy now! Marked down to 98% off!). Seriously, George, you fucked up big time there. Yeah, the final space battle and the Light vs. Dark Side duel inside the fully operational Death Star were cool enough to make up for the little furry fucks, but the fact is that you could have hit a grand slam had you substituted 7 foot tall Wookiees for the "choobah choobah"-ing little shits we ended up getting. Looks like MeatLoaf was right: "The loneliest words you'll ever know, 'if only if only it were so.'"
After Jedi, we had years to wait for any kind of new Star Wars stuff. It wasn't until 1997 (I think it was 97... Christ, that was college for me. I don't remember a LOT about that time period) that Lucas got off his keister and started even thinking about finally making Episodes I - III. At that time he began his demonization of the original trilogy (New Hope, Empire, and Jedi) by "fixing them up" (his words, never our own) with new, shiny computer generated effects, making Greedo shoot at Han Solo first, Luke scream like a little girl as he lets go of the railing in Bespin, and adding a new, shitty song and dance number in Jabba's palace. It seemed that all Lucas cared about now was not the story told in his movies, but flash... And the flash kinda sucked at that. Not only was it pointless, but it totally stuck out from the rest of the movies. Urgh! The only good part about the not so "special editions" of the original trilogy for me was finally getting to see A New Hope on the big screen (ring around the Death Star and all). Well, that and taking Just Kidding to Empire (which she'd never seen before) and listening to her scream when Luke's hand got chopped the fuck off. That was awesome.
All the CGI tinkering with the original trilogy was really just a test for Industrial Lights and Magic (ILM) to get ready for the NEW Star Wars prequel films. That news was enough for us fanboys to pee our pants in delight and (sort of) forgive George for still not turning the Ewoks into Wookiees in the "special" version of Jedi (I hope in a hundred years when all the Star Wars licenses expire that somebody remakes them and does them right... Han will then shoot first again, Jabba will be scary, and there will be no Ewoks dammit!... but I digress). Then Episode I - The Phantom Menace came out.... And the loathing of all things Lucas turned ugly. REALLY ugly. The CGI that filled the movie from beginning to end was too shiny and impersonal, the main plot was boring as fuck (a fucking trade dispute?! Wha?), and... JarJar Binks appeared and made the entire world say "Mesa now brain retarded! How wude!" Not only was Lucas back in the writing and directing chair, but he seemed to completely forget what made a movie fun, especially a Star Wars movie fun. In other words, he thought that annoyingly horrible child actors, bad FX, and heroes you want to shoot in the face were all part of a great action/adventure movie.
Just to show you how gaytacular a director Lucas is, there's a story going around of how uber-thespian Liam Neeson (who played Qui-Gon Jinn in Phantom Menace of course, stay with me here) went to Lucas in the middle of filming the *ahem* movie and offered the director a piece of advice on how he thought the scene they were working on could be made more dramatic. Just advice from years of working on movies with tons of (better) directors... Lucas got flustered, almost broke down in tears, and called it a wrap that day while he ran back to his trailer and refused to talk to anybody else while he bawled his eyes out. A decree was then heralded forth after that saying basically "Don't Question Lucas About ANYTHING." Whatta cock! This coming from a director who makes his terrible child star say the excited line "Yippee!" while looking at the ground like his cat was just stepped on in front of him by a robot wearing cleats.
Anyway, after working a full day at the office and then going to the midnight showing of Phantom Menace (which then turned into a 3:30AM showing -- which if you want to read more about you'll have to dig through my old Daily Rossman blogs), I was a little sleep deprived and thought that the movie was "okay," if not a little bit fun. In hindsight, after watching it a few more times, I take almost everything positive I say about it back. The dialogue is worse than in New Hope (which was reeeeeally cheezy), the acting is pure shit (mostly thanks to little Mannequin Skywalker), and the characters sucked. Yeah, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan were pretty cool, and Darth Maul was a BAD ASS, but they weren't given nearly enough cool stuff to do. Darth Maul was only in the movie for 5 whole minutes! The main plot (the Trade Federation put a blockade around a backwater planet filled with elected mime queens and gay frog men [no, not the French... At least the Gungans weren't as annoying as the average Frenchie]) was ridiculously lame, and didn't allow for nearly enough action and cool fights. We were promised to see the Jedi in their prime, and we only got one really good lightsaber duel (which was horribly edited with two other lame concurrent battles) at the very end of the movie. Add to that all the really retarded coincidences that tied the entire Star Wars saga up a bit too much (R2D2 was a Naboo robot working for Luke and Leia's mother and C3P0 was MADE by little Darth Vader), and all the plot points that were made in Episodes IV, V, and VI that were contradicted in Episode I (like Obi-Wan saying that when he met Anakin he was already a great pilot... but in Menace he was just an annoying kid, or Obi-Wan saying that Yoda taught him, but in fact Qui-Gon was his teacher). I mean, come on! Lucas supposedly hired 3 people whose sole jobs it was to make sure continuity between the films stayed true! Were they just afraid to tell Lucas that he fucked up some of the plot? I claim sloppy storytelling. But whatever. The WORST part of Episode I was the introduction of the midichlorians... What the FUCK?! Previously, the power known as the Force was a mysterious thing that just was. It didn't need an explanation as to how it worked. In fact it was better if we didn't know its ins and outs seeing as how when we're told that it works only because of microscopically gay bacteria in our cells, well.... That just ruins the whole coolness factor of it. God, George Lucas is a moron. Way to fuck up your own mythology, freak.
A few years after Menace, and Episode II - Attack of the Clones came out. Expectations were lowered after the major disappointment of the chronologically first flick. Lucas did second guess his initial retarded idea of turning JarJar into the prequels' version of Chewbacca though, and instead gave him a role that gave us a very good reason to hate him, and in reverse love just how sly and badass Chancellor Palpatine truly was. The main point of Clones though was to get Padme to fall in love with Anakin Skywalker... This was extremely difficult to do right though when the guy playing Anakin Skywalker could only show two acting faces: "Whiney" and "scary-stalker guy." This was the most unbelievable love story I'd ever seen since Tom Cruise (who's gay) married Nicole Kidman (who's the hottest chick on the planet). There was no reason that Padme would even let stalker-boy Anakin near her let alone woo her hot, tight ass.
Clones did make up for that shitty and incredibly awkward romance with a couple of pretty cool battles -- Obi-Wan fights Boba Fett's daddy on a rain soaked landing pad about a mile above a raging ocean, and hundreds of Jedi fight for their lives against thousands of droids in a dusty arena (where most of the warriors of the Force get their midichlorian-filled asses handed to them at the wrong end of a blaster). The Darth Tyranus against Anakin and Obi-Wan fight was kind of lame (and fake looking), and the Yoda versus Tyranus was just about "Hey! We turned Yoda into a hyperactive Gremlin! Check this shit out!" But that may just be me. It was cool to see some of the pay off of the lame plot of Episode I being fulfilled in Episode II (like Palpatine turning himself into the Emperor and whatnot). A step up from the previous movie, but still a far cry from the fun factor of the first 3.
Then we waited again for the final chapter to come out, Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith. THIS was the one that the whole world and unlaid fanboys everywhere were waiting for. The one where the Galactic Empire is born and Anakin turns into Darth Vader. Sith is pretty much balls to the wall action, and it's actually up there with the original trilogy in terms of funness. It's really violent (no blood though as all wounds are caused by blasters and lightsabers) as we have to see how the Jedi are all killed off by Palpatine and Vader, but it finally felt like we got an honest to God Star Wars movie again. And there was much rejoicing (I always wondered how the Jedi could be destroyed so totally... It turns out that they were all killed because they were just as big pricks as the Sith... Only less charismatic. And on a lesser note, I also always wondered what the world looked like through Vader's helmet. Awesome). There are major problems with Sith, sure, but the same can be said of the original trilogy. There are some major jumps in logic that do confuse me though. Okay, so the Emperor just turned Anakin over to the Dark Side, and dubbed him Darth Vader. He turned him by using the love Anakin has for his wife, and their unborn child (Anakin thinks it's only one baby, remember, dipshit?).... Then the first thing Vader does for his master is, what, kill hundreds of children? What the fuck?
Despite the fact that there was tons of boring storytelling in Episodes I and II that paid off in Sith (like the previously mentioned Anakin's turn to the Dark Side and the even more previously mentioned birth of the Empire), I still believe that Lucas could have made the set ups in the previous movies a lot more interesting. Perhaps the reason that Sith was so much fun was because Lucas was forced (pun intended) into wrapping up tons of loose ends that he left dangling from his earlier prequels. We had to see the Jedi fall, the Empire rise, Luke and Leia born, Obi-Wan and Yoda hide, Vader get barbequed, Owen and Beru get Luke, Wookiees fight (come on! We HAD to see this), and the Death Star getting built. Thinking back, the time that Luke and Leia talked in Jedi and she said she remembered her real mother... That makes absolutely no fucking sense after seeing what Lucas did in Sith. And why didn't Owen and Beru remember C3P0 and R2 when they bought them in New Hope? They all met before (and they owned 3P0 for a while in Clones). And it took close to 18 or so years to build the first Death Star, but only around 3 to build the second, larger one in Episode VI?... That just makes it clear that George had no complete plan from the beginning like he always claimed.
Aaaaaanyway, the full circle that the entire story makes is pretty fulfilling. Sith makes up for Menace and Clones a lot (mostly because of the Emperor's shenanigans and evil cackle that's peppered through the flick), but those first two chapters are still a dark stain on the once glorious name of Star Wars. Why didn't Lucas get outside help to make them?! He had people like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson wanting to direct a Star Wars movie... yet he thought that he was up there in skill level with those cinematic masters himself. What an egomaniacal dick. Way to rape our memories there, George.
One thing that I came across years ago on the young internet (back when the Red-5 website was the place to find out what was being changed in the original trilogy for their "special edition" releases) was a short synopsis of what Lucas had originally planned for the rest of his 9 part Star Wars storyline that he wrote down shortly after Empire was made. According to this plan, Episode I was supposed to focus ONLY on Obi-Wan Kenobi and his perspective of the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order as the Clone Wars erupt (or something like that. Remember, I read this ages ago, but that was the general idea). No Anakin, no JarJar. It was supposed to be a view of the Jedi Order in their prime so that we could see all that was lost thanks to the Emperor and Vader later on.
Episode II was supposed to be about Obi-Wan befriending Anakin and the beginnings of the rise of Palpatine. The Clone Wars would be the focus of this film and the fighting would end when the movie did. We were also to have met Anakin's love (and Luke and Leia's mother) in Episode II. Episode III was the fall of Anakin to the Dark Side, the creation of the Empire, the hiding of Luke and Leia, and the destruction of the Jedi. So far, Lucas kept the plot of this one the most intact.
Episodes IV and V had already been made don't forget, but Episode VI was supposed to take place on Kashyyk (the Wookiee world), it was to have Vader die after redeeming himself, but the Emperor was to live, Luke's twin sister (originally NOT Leia, as is apparent in both New Hope and Empire [God, that kiss still haunts me to this day, *shudder*] if you actually pay attention, retard) would appear from out of hiding and help her bro turn Anakin to the Light Side again, but then go back into hiding by the end of the movie, and Han Solo and Lando were supposed to die. I'm not shitting you (and quite honestly this would have been a much better end for him than letting Han's character get neutered like he did in the finished Jedi. He's a total wuss in it!). Han Solo was supposed to die. Even Harrison Ford wanted this to happen while filming the Jedi that was eventually made... But whatever.
Episodes VII through IX were supposed to end up on one of the central core planets with a big showdown between the Emperor, Luke and his sister (who came out of hiding again, this time for good). I am ashamed to admit that I do not remember the synopsis given for these stories any more than this, but maybe someday I'll come across those old documents again and smile as I remember what might have been. When I watch Jedi nowadays I realize just how far up his ass Lucas pulled that "Luke and Leia are twins" plot thread... It's just totally out of nowhere and completely bogus.
Why didn't Lucas keep with his original intentions to make 9 Star Wars movies? Why did he change his mind before Jedi even started filming and alter the outcome of it so drastically? Most fans agree that it all happened the way that it did because Lucas is a dipshit hack who grew tired and lazy and just wanted to end things. George himself will probably claim that he had other things on his mind and other ideas that he wanted to give birth to... But that's an obvious lie. Come on now, try and think of anything else he's had his hand in between Jedi and Menace. Indiana Jones? Really, those were Spielberg's babies. Willow?.... Well, I liked it, but even I'll admit that it wasn't THAT great.... Ummmm, Captain Eo?.... Don't make me knock your ass off the intarweb!
See, Lucas had nothing going on at all. He just grew lazy. Maybe he was always a hack and just got lucky with the whole Star Wars thing. Have you ever read any of his early scripts for Star Wars from the early to mid 70s? I have. They suck. Lots of the same plot elements from the finished films are still in those treatments, but there's so much gobbledygook going on, and he just keeps throwing sci-fi/fantasy jargon at the reader until they stop questioning it because it hurts their heads to try and make sense of.
I remember reading one scriptment where Luke's character was a girl, one where elements of all three of the original trilogy films were crammed into one movie, and the script dated 5/74 is just a complete and unsalvageable mess. The Jedi are known as Jedi Bendu,
Annikin Starkiller has a brother named Deak and a father named Kane, and lines like "We're in love. She loves me, and I just realized,... I love her" reign supreme (That line sounds like it came from Team America, which is a movie making fun of the lamest parts of all other action movies). I'm very willing to believe that Lucas is a sham and that just like an infinite amount of monkeys on an infinite amount of typewriters, eventually he got lucky and struck gold with a decent movie. Then he let others take control of the sequel, and their help made it better than the first. Then he got greedy and thought "It's me who's doing this! It must only be me!" and he basically ghost directed the third movie while official director, Richard Marquand, bent over and took it from him with a smile on his face... That was when everything Star Warsy first started to crumble. George thought he was invincible and perfect up till then, and he kept thinking this all the way through the tinkering with the original trilogy and then the eventual prequel trilogy. He went back to doing the writing and directing Episode I all by his lonesome, and his true inability shown through for the first time. He got some help with the second prequel, and it showed a little, but by sticking to what he originally planned, and by getting even more help for the third prequel he almost redeemed himself as much as Vader did when he tossed ol' Palpy down the Death Star shaft like a sack of dead Jawas filled with bantha fodder... I said that Lucas almost redeemed himself... It'll take a few hundred years in Hell though to completely make up for JarJar.
The Forceful MEGAPLAYBOY
Boooooong! That's the Force, G. It's all up in your face, and it makes me want to do dark things, homie. Reeeeeeally dark things. Well, not as dark as killing little children because some wrinkly old coot told me to, but dark as in I peed in my neighbor's brand new Mustang Cobra's gas tank because that Ali G. bitch wouldn't let me take his fly ride for a spin. The Force also made me grab Angry Amy's ass and tell her it was the Rossman. Yeah, he was about 12 feet away from her, but the Dark Side Jedi mind trick made that ho believe it. Oooooh, mamba jamba, I just loves me the Force!
I's been a Force junky ever since I was a little tiny player in the crib, yo. Those light sabres are da bomb! Oh, you just know that mine'd be all bling with the bang, and be all gold and shit. All the wimpy Jedi'd be all like "Whoa! Darth Player and his schwing-bling rod o' power! Make way for the dark lord, beeyatch!"
That reminds me of this one time that I got so Colt 45'd up (just like Billy Dee!) that I didn't know which system I was on, and this little green guy comes up to me in the back alley that I was pukin' in, and starts chanting some shit about "Whinos here, cannot stay. Away, you must go. The cops, soon, will I call. Your ass will they pound, in prison where thrown you are." I got all up in his face and served the little buzz kill a nice slice of Jedi mind tricks... With a malt liquor bottle over the fool's head! Ha! He was all like, "Aaaagh! My face did you slice! Filled with blood, are my eyes!" Then I deliberately chose the Dark Side and picked the fucker up above my head and hurled him into the closest dumpster. Unfortunately, due to my mad drinkin' skillz, I had splashed a whoooole lot of the Colt on myself before the hurling of the dwarf, and he used my own lighter to set my ass on fire! Ooooooh Nelly! I ended all charred worse than Vader on that lava-moon (when that nice, drunky sorority chick finally peed the flames out... for a five spot)! Only I didn't get all Holy Grail-Dark Knighted off at the knees and shit. Thank the lord that my main man, Doc Dave, had plenty of spare skin in his lab to graft onto my crispy bod (apparently the Doc has a side biz where he helps break sick fucks outta prison, an' then hides the bastards at his house for a small fee... But then he keeps the money and sells their organs and shit on the black market, or uses them body parts to make crazy monkey-man experiments... Or skin for fools like me. Honestly, Holmes, I dig the new "love/hate" tats on my knuckles! So do the chicks!).
I only found out later that it wasn't a dwarf I slashed and dumped, but a dog... Or was that a small child? Eh.