Sunday, May 23, 2010

Star Wars marathon: Return of the Rebuttal

Return of the Rebuttal

For all full appreciation of this article, a proper reading of Bill's review of Episode VI over at Bill's movie Emporium is required.

Your review made for on peculiar read last week, Bill. You conclude by stating that Episode Vi is, ultimately, the chapter you favour the least in the entire saga and yet you award a higher grade than for Episode IV. 3 stars isn’t half bad for a film a film you supposedly like less than the one you bemoaned until no end a few weeks back.

Enough with grading systems though. Let us tackle the meat and potatoes of your dissection. It would seem that while we both experienced problems with Episode VI, our respective issues lie with different sections of the movie. You expressed disappointment at how the first two-thirds of the movie feel sluggish and tedious due to the story’s reliance on tying up loose ends. I can think of two loose ends that needed tying up before that climax commences: the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba’a clutches and Luke return to Dagobah in order to complete his jedi training. The former is necessary if the trio of heroes we’ve come to love wants to reunite ever again. It also leads to a solid action sequence where Jabba’s organization is obliterated. True enough, this storyline has next to nothing to do with what follows apart from the goal (rescuing Han), but it’s sufficiently entertaining to earn my attention. The setting of Jabba’s palace and all the bizarre characters inside displays some inventiveness that I find much of the rest of the movie lacks, so there is that. The other loose end concerns Luke’s jedi training and Yoda’s passing. This scene I am less a fan of pretty much for the same reasons you argued. It is a bit tedious, I also find it predictable and the drama found in the dialogue is rather boring. Apart from those two, what other significant loose ends are tied up in the first 2/3 of the movie which add to this tediousness you wrote about?

I was admittedly befuddled by your comments on the character of Leia. You compared her active role in Episode VI to that of Padme’s in Episode III. My opinion on this topic strongly diverges from yours. So much so that I felt that same way I had when reading your ‘slow pace’ comments on Episode IV. Like, wha? Those same complaints were warranted to a certain degree when we discussed Padme participation on Episode III plot. It is true that she did not do as much that time around (being pregnant probably had something to do with it. She was running around all over the place in the previous 2 chapters after all...). But Leia being set in a neutered state and becoming a meek character? She partakes in the rescue mission earlier in the film, gets directly back at Jabba for treating her like a piece of fine meat (oh so fine...), helps lead the rebel troops as they venture through Endor, actually engages in a speeder bike chase like a real hero (while Luke cries ‘Wait! Wait!’ like a little baby) and finally is in the thick of the battle when the Rebels and their teddy bears face off against the stormtroopers. Is it because she wears a dress at one point while the Rebels are resting at the Ewok village that Leia is a meek character? I certainly hope your opinions are not based on such trivial matters. I saw Leia do quite a bit in Episode VI for her to earn some serious style points in my book. Come to think of it, she does far more in Jedi than she did in Empire. Not to mention that the actress Carrie Fisher puts on a fine performance as well. I don’t think she had grown as popular as Harrison Ford at the time so she must have been pretty happy to be there and it shows in her acting. She’s really good. Meek? Hardly.

The climax of the film was showered with praise in your review. Words such as ‘action’ ‘wit’ and ‘epic’ are used, but I wasn’t convinced of 2/3 of those. Yes, there is action in the finale, just as there should be action in the finale of any space opera, but ‘wit’ and ‘epic’ are not two words I’d use to describe the final 30 minutes Episode VI. Try’ ‘uninspired’ and ‘dull’ instead. I went over my thoughts on the space battle already (main issue being the second Death Star) as well as the handling of the Ewoks in the forest battle, so I won’t march another parade about those two topics, but suffice to say that they are both large enough problems for disagreement to pit our two opinions on the climax against one another. I’m unsure as to where you saw ‘wit’ and ‘epic’ in the Ewok battle, especially given how poorly it is filmed, but whatever floats your boat...

I think things do get interesting in the final confrontation between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. I briefly touched on Palpatine’s taunting and the attempted seduction of Luke over to the Dark Side of the Force, but I omitted, embarrassingly enough, any thoughts on the actual lightsaber duel. It is a good duel, sort of hybrid between all the battles we’ve seen up until that point. With Vader being in the physical condition he is in one could never anticipate a fight with eye popping acrobatics, but we’re served with a competent sword fight with a decent amount of emotion for a backdrop. About a week after seeing it I can’t say I remember each and every move, but I do recall finding it thoroughly entertaining. I know we discussed the issue of Vader holding back in the comments section of your review, but it did get me thinking about that issue as I prepared this rebuttal. I feel as if the argument can go either way. Thematically, I can see how it makes sense why Vader would feel compelled to hold back (Luke is his son after all), but I think even that notion can be twisted on its head. If I understood correctly, you believe Vader holding back is a hint that Anakin Skywalker is being reborn during those few critical moments late in Episode VI. One can twist that notion around and argue that, yes, Vader did hold back so not to kill he can be used later when they turn on the Emporer and ‘rule the galaxy as father and son.’ Vader and Palpatine aren’t stupid, they both how Luke is uniquely powerful and after all those years of being Palpatine’s lapdog, why not go for the top prize when the potential of a powerful and very loyal ally stands right in front of him. Of course, that’s inserting an idea that is in no way hinted at in the film, but still. Or isn’t it? So Vader holds back, fine. What’s up with those few minutes as he watches Palpatine absolutely torch Luke with electric shocks? He wanted his son as an ally, and when that failed, Vader thought it wasn’t worth it anymore. The kid won’t turn so let’s fry him. I also still think the argument that Vader didn’t hold back at all holds water despite that ‘no amount of arguing will ever convince’ you. Luke is still powerful in the ways of the Force and his far more athletically skilled that Vader. Plus, it is there second encounter, so there is the supposition that Luke has learned from his mistakes.

There are no more battle fields for us to confront one another. All the movies have been reviewed and we’ve shared rebuttal articles for each one. Now is the time to dish out some hardware!

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