Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The cult surrounding Star Wars makes people believe in things that aren't true. I'm not talking about light sabres and little green Yodas. I mean things like, "Episode III is way better than the last two films! This is the real Star Wars prequel we've been waiting for!" Folks, stop deluding yourselves. True, nothing can be worse than Jar Jar Binks in Episode I. But this outing - the last of all the Star Wars films, thank God - is hardly any better than Episode II. Which is to say, both are childishly-written, stiffly-acted, completely over-computerized special effects orgies.

Sitting through Episode III was like being in a video arcade for two and a half hours. Let me rephrase that: Sitting through Episode III was like being in a video arcade, watching somebody else play games, for two and a half hours. Stimulating, but never actually engaging.

There's no need to discuss the particulars of the story, since you all have your opinions anyway. All I'll say is that Ian McDiarmid (as the evil senator-cum-emperor) is the only actor who acquits himself well and rises above the terrible dialogue - he has a couple of scenes in which he is so good that you get a glimmer of what this second trilogy of Star Wars films might have been. And I found it amusing how frequently diehard Democrat Lucas alludes to the current Bush administration - and Republicans in general - in his dialogue regarding the evil Sith. (At one point Anakin Skywalker, now speaking as Darth Vader though not yet in his final form, paraphrases Bush's infamous "You're either with us or against us" line.) But that's it. The old magic is long gone.

You can call me a grumpy old fanboy, but I don't think it's just my nostalgia talking here. It's just that once upon a time, back in 1977, you saw craft up on the screen. Miniatures. Sets. Location shooting. Organic optical effects. It made the original Star Wars so human and alive. But how can you really find any warmth, depth, or emotion within 150 minutes of computer programming?

At least it seems that the CGI revolution is complete, for it's hard to imagine what more can be done with visual effects since everything you can imagine can now be easily generated with the right software and a slew of render monkeys. But does this mean there might one day be a return to old-fashioned filmcraft? Or are we going to have to sit through movies that look like video games for the rest of our lives?