Take heed ’cause I’m a lyrical poet

We arrive in Mos Espa, with a brief into by Qui-Gon, and some lame stepping in poo capering by Jar Jar. Soon enough though, we enter the shop of Watto, arguably the most successfully realized computer generated character in the film. He flies up to our crew, speaking in Huttese, and we’re starting to get some of that Star Wars flavor we’ve been missing up until now. Qui-Gon tells Watto what he needs and Watto seamlessly switches over to basic (English). He will spend a lot of time throughout the film switching between basic and Huttese, and it works well.

Watto calls Anakin in to watch the shop while he takes Qui-Gon out back to look at parts. Anakin’s initial dialogue is great, probably because it’s in Huttese. There’s inflection and emotion in his delivery and it sounds real. It’s a situation that isn’t meant to last. As Qui-Gon heads out back, he admonishes Jar Jar, who then sticks his really long, cartoony tongue out at him as he leaves. Yes, this is what I was hoping for from the new trilogy, ridiculous antics and cartoony shenanigans.

Now comes one of the more cringe inducing moments of the film, Anakin’s first talk with Padme. Much has been made of how poor Jake Lloyd’s performance was. I feel this is unfair. I maintain that the lion’s share of the blame for how poorly Anakin comes across rests squarely on George. Jake didn’t write the dreck he was given to say, nor did he direct his scenes. It’s George who decided he was satisfied with the readings and performances he got. As we’ve discovered by now, George is neither a great writer of dialogue, nor a great director of actors. Child performances require a certain touch, a touch George’s friend, Steven Spielberg has, but alas, George does not. Anakin delivers his lines to Padme with all the feeling and conviction of a bored piece of wood, however, the same can be said of Padme’s performance as well much of the time. This scene sows the seeds of Anakin’s infatuation with Padme, and is presumably meant to foreshadow their impending relationship. The scene is book ended with more Jar Jar capering, joy.

Out back, Qui-Gon and Watto are discussing payment. This scene is gold, as Qui-Gon tries to use the Jedi mind trick to convince Watto to accept Republic credits. Watto, as it turns out, is immune. This is the kind of subtle humor that suits Star Wars best. A word though, on Republic credits. Watto explains that Republic credits are “no good out here”. Why would that be? The Republic is supposedly over 1000 years old. Tatooine is within sub-light spaceflight distance of Naboo. Why in the galaxy would the Republic not be recognized out here? It makes no sense, especially later, when we see exactly how large the Republic is. Supposedly the planet is controlled by the Hutt’s, but it seems to me that Gangsters prefer to operate outside the law. It allows them to make profit, while leaving social structure and other such concerns to an outside party. I doubt any gangster’s would want to run an entire planet, it would cut into their profits too much.

Qui-Gon heads back inside, where we get a line from Anakin that comes out of nowhere, relates to nothing in the film thus far, and is poorly delivered to boot “Wouldn’t have lasted long anyways if I wasn’t so good at building things.” What? What wouldn’t have lasted so long? Why is he implying that something has just now ceased functioning? What in the world is he talking about? Once again, we’ll never know. Qui-Gon collects Padme and Jar Jar (who is juggling at this point *groan*) and leaves the shop. Watto comes in, complains about the outlanders to Anakin, tells him to sweep the floor and then ha can go home. Anakin’s response: “Yippee” Umm, yeah. Beyond the really unconvincing delivery, it’s just not something you hear kids say a whole lot anymore. A “woooo”, or a “yeah” would have sounded more natural, but honestly, they didn’t need an exclamation of enthusiasm from Anakin at all, silently getting to work would have been just as effective.

After a brief conversation with Obi, Qui-Gon and company head off into the streets, thus allowing another fabulous scene of Jar Jar being stupid. This time, he’s decided to use that tongue of his to snatch, what is presumably food, off of a Vendor’s cart. The Vendor is a very poorly realized alien costume, it looks supremely fake. This confrontation leads to Jar Jar spitting out the ill gotten foodstuffs, which just happen to land in the soup of a nasty character named Sebulba. Sebulba, understandably, is none to pleased about this, and accosts Jar Jar. Luckily, Anakin is there to diffuse the situation. In possibly his best performance of the film, Anakin delivers his lines in Huttese and sasses off Sebulba. The problem: as soon as his lines are delivered, Jake Lloyd’s face turns to stone. Apparently George neglected to tell Jake that he had to keep acting, even after he’d finished talking. Oh Well. Sadly, the scene deteriorates from here into poor dialogue and acting. Lines like “Your buddy here was about to get turned into Orange goo” just have no place in the Star Wars universe. Anyway, Anakin is now tagging along with our crew, which was, of course, the point of the scene.

It only gets worse from here.

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~ by Pagz on June 20, 2008.

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