By B. Alan Orange (with Imperial Mantooth)
At this very moment. Right now. Right here…Star Wars fever is as hot as it's ever going to get; call it the high hat. Geek skin is melting off at 110 degrees. And sh*t, I don't really care. Everyone (especially on this God forsaken thing called the Internet) seems to have an opinion about Episode III. Me? I've gone silent. Incognito. My euphoria has subsided. It's been exactly two weeks since I saw Revenge of the Sith. Here I sit, on the Eve of it's official release, and I don't want to see the movie. Ever again. It's had an odd effect on me. It's left me feeling empty inside. Dark. Angry. It's true. I'm suffering Post "Star" War Trauma. A neo-isolationist tendency called: Clone War Syndrome. Stress. I can't even look at the toys. And the Adult Whopper Kid's Meal? Forget about it. I'd be puking up the souls of a thousand dead cows and tiny plooms of plastic for the better part of my day. Collectables, my ass! (Seeing Darth Vader converse with that horrific plastic-faced Burger King has really tainted the over-all dramatic effect of this film for me.)
I didn't want to write a review, but it's a mandatory faction. A part of the job here at Movieweb. Which kind of sucks. Sometimes, I'll see a film, and it will leave me speechless. For various different reasons. No. I don't think Revenge of the Sith is ass. Nor do I think its all that great, either. I've had a lot of time to think about it. All I can do is draw a blank slate. For me, the film was about tiny moments. There were a couple of three-second scenes that had me clinching the armrest. Other than that, "Blah!" Right now, rewinding the experience, all I can think about was how the digital projection burnt my eyes. So severely, I couldn't look at the screen for moments at a time. I had to look at the floor. And that's all I have to say about Sith.
Maybe I'll feel different with the passage of time. Maybe I'll go back to the film, and watch it again. And be okay with it. Until then, I'm just going to get drunk and waist my time. At the bottom of a staircase. Naked.
Instead of rambling on about nonsensical Star Wars nonsense, I will now turn you over to an email I received earlier today. Yes, more Sith thoughts were found lingering around inside my inbox. Only, instead of coming from some Technical Engineer upset over my spelling of Qui Gonn Jinn (Anyone else feel cheated that he doesn't make in appearance in Episode III? The Jedi, not the Technician, I mean...), this dissertation came from my Soju After Movie co-host, Pvt. First Class Imperial Mantooth. Which, in all honesty, surprised me, because I've never known Mantooth to have much to say in regards to the Star Wars Universe. He's like me; he enjoys the films as Entertainment. Not as a lifestyle. I take it one step further by playing with the toys, sure. That's only because I have no friends, and I need something to pass the time. Anyway, I will now share his email with you, because I think it holds a lot of merit…
Without further ado (or, in keeping with the Lucas theme of things, should I say…Without further poo-doo?)…
"THE PHANTOM MENACE IS A PIECE OF DOG SH*T!"
By Seann "Imperial" Mantooth
I wasn't shitting my pants in masturbatory glee at 12:01 am this morning when Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith premiered. Anyone who was is a douche bag. Sorry…Is that a little too real? We've got boys getting their nuts blown off in a desert thousands of miles away just so some fat shithead in a Doritos stained ‘Warwick Davis' fan club T-shirt can hold a blue colored plastic stick in front of a movie theatre and wax poetic about ‘Jedi honor'. Please. (*1; see bottom for addendums)
You can probably see, already, why Movieweb doesn't let me go to junkets or interview celebrities (*2). And I probably would have let this whole Episode III thing slide by had it not been for our own Brian Gallagher's blowjob of an open letter to George Lucas. Seriously Bry, get a room baby!
Let's get something straight; I like 'Star Wars' and I thought I'd appropriate that, since we are evidently in the ‘end times' of the franchise (yeah, right). I would like to take a look back at those last two much maligned prequels now that the eve of Episode III has come and gone. Armed with only my grim sense of self-satisfaction, let me just say….
THE PHANTOM MENACE IS A PIECE OF DOG SHIT!
C'mon…say it with me. It's all right…really…It is. "THE PHANTOM MENACE IS A PIECE OF DOG SHIT!" (*3)
I haven't seen Episode I since it opened in the theaters and I will admit that I didn't mind it as much the second time around. After six years, my hateful fires have mellowed; Jar-Jar wasn't as annoying, I didn't want to pound "pedophile's dream" Jake Lloyd into Bantha poo-doo quite as much and, in retrospect, the plot DID make sense...Although it was lame, pathetic, half-assed sense.
I've heard all of the fan boy Lucas apologists (*4) give their good German arguments and try to polish the turd that is E1:PM (*5). My favorites are "It was meant to be a kid's movie" and "It's a bait and switch to get everyone ready for the darker, meatier prequels to come." (*6) I will now address both of these;
"The Incredibles" was a kid's movie. "Spiderman", for all intents and purposes, IS a kid's movie. "Labyrinth", from Papa George's own maw, is a kid's movie. What do these films have in common…Other than being kid's movies? Here's one…THEY DON'T SUCK! (*7)
Regardless, this is more straw grasping. Strangely enough, somehow both Lucas and Kevin Smith have developed this bizarre diehard fan base where nothing they can do is "wrong" and must be part of some grander master plan. Thus the attitude of "No! Phantom Menace wasn't a crap show...it's by design". Which I think looks worse for Lucas than just admitting it is a crap show.
I'm not saying that PM doesn't have cool parts. It does. But the light saber battle with Darth Maul at the end only serves to point out how the movie fails, often times grievously so, as a kid's movie, adult's movie or, more specifically, as a Star Wars movie in general. There's no need here to go into the movie's flaws as they've been well documented. Suffice it to say that the criticisms leveled against PM are, by and large, correct.
Episodes I and II should have been one three-hour movie with the first half hour telling the story that Phantom Menace took over two hours to explain. I enjoyed "Attack of the Clones". To say I enjoyed it more than Episode I is the same as saying I enjoy a nice cold beer more than a hot cup of vomit. However, while enjoyably watchable, it's still blown out of the water by Cartoon Network's episode bridge "Clone Wars". What does this say about Revenge of the Sith? And why the hell do I care? (*8)
I care because, like it or not, I have to admit I love Star Wars. And if it is indeed true that the progression in quality from Episode I to Episode III is some kind of intentional shaggy dog ploy on Lucas' part then I think the paying public should not only feel gypped but also angry and taken advantage of.
I have no doubts that "Revenge of the Sith" will be great. I know it will be. And when I'm sitting drunk this Saturday at The Vista (*9), comfortably away from the maddening crowd, I know it's going to rock my world. And that's why I have a problem. If George Lucas should be congratulated or thanked for his cinematic contributions then he should also be held accountable. Star Wars is bigger than us all now, young Padawans, and just because 60% of the ideas are in "Revenge of the Sith", I don't think that lets Lucas off the hook for crapping out one down right butt hole of a movie and another fair to middlin' one under the Star Wars banner.
Maybe I'm wrong and maybe George thought Phantom Menace was the bee's knees. If Star Wars is bigger than all of us than it is certainly bigger than the bearded man in Marin who begat it and maybe even he was incapable of keeping the magic on tap for whenever he needed it (The Ewok Adventure anyone?).
Am I suggesting an elaborate conspiracy where Lucas has been churning out inferior product deliberately to make his final Star Wars opus look superior? Not really but I think the argument CAN be made that with his eyes to firmly on the outcome a lot got lost on the journey itself and it is us the fans and the viewers who have paid for it, literally.
I'll just be glad when after 25+ years this whole matter can be put to rest and Lucas can move onto a project that I'm really keen on…The prequel to "Howard the Duck".
Mantooth is co-host of Soju After Movie and he doesn't like you (*10).
(*1 B. Alan here with a few notes: Can we all take a moment to laugh at those jerks sitting in front of the Mann's Chinese theater for a month hoping that Episode III would show up there, even though it was a well known fact that it wouldn't. Now that group of fools certainly are a bunch of Super Douche Bags! Also, I'd like to add that, "Yes, Mantooth, that's exactly why those boys are in the Desert getting their nuts blown off. So we can watch Star Wars." Without them, we'd all be standing in line for a beheading. Thank you, Armed Troops, for continuing to give us this "line-waiting" opportunity.)
(*2 Mantooth is not allowed to go to junkets or interview celebrities because he is a liability and an asshole.)
(*3 B. Alan here again: I just want to say that "Yousa in big doo-doo dis time!" Is one of my all time favorite, quotable Star Wars lines, and therefore, do not agree with Mantooth's statement that the film is dogsh*t.)
(*4 B. Alan with one last note: What the f*ck is a Lucas Apologist? I hate this term. And I don't quite understand it. Who exactly is apologizing for what? Lucas Apologist is a buzzword that should be retired. No offense to Mantooth, everybody's slinging it around the farm these days. Get rid of this awful term. It sounds retarded.)
(*5 i.e.: See "Yousa in big Doo-Doo dis time!" as the most quotable line any movie has ever produced as a good reason why PM is awesome…"George took a BM in the PM!" Ha, ha…)
(*6 Sorry, B. Alan again…He forgot mine, which is, "It reminds me of the Marvel Comics from the 70s, which came out right after the original movie in ‘77"…Which it does. Here is Mantooth's response to my so-called Apologetic Critiquing: "I read about one issue of this comic series. I remember it because it involved a brain damaged (read: retarded) Jedi. So...yeah....I guess you could say that the Jedi from the old Marvel Comics DOES remind me of the Jedi in the Phantom Menace..." B. Alan again; Just wanted to say 'retarded Jedi'? Awesome. If they don't explore this in the coming TV series, I'll be pissed and I'll refuse to buy the DVD box set. Oh, and if that Jedi aint played by Chris "Corky" Burke, the Sith (hardy-har) is really going to hit the fan!)
(*7 Episode One is a Preschooler flick, not a kid's movie!)
(*8 Because, deep down, you're a geek, Mantooth, deal with it.)
(*9 I'll be there too, come join us! I promise to keep my pants on this weekend! I know I said I wasn't going to watch the movie again, but I wouldn't miss going to the theater with my friends. That's what this whole 'Star Wars' thing is about. Really.)
(*10 Mantooth wrote this line, and he stole the last part from me. Jerk.)