It’s so much better to be safe than sorry

Gentlemen, Start your Engines! At long last the race appears to be about to start as the pod racers power up. Over at one of the viewing balconies, Qui-Gon plays with Padme some more, daring her to reveal the big secret. Too bad the audience hasn’t been given any clues about the big secret, or these scenes would play a lot more like that, and a lot less like Qui-Gon being an asshole.

Here’s a question, how did a slave woman, and 3 penniless off-worlders afford one of those balcony viewing risers? Anyhow, now it’s time for more views of the pods warming up. They sure do take their sweet ass time about it. Lots of close ups of shitty looking aliens too. A quick Jar Jar being stupid moment punctuates the tension, Jabba bites the head off a lizard thing, spits it against a gong, and the race is on. Yeah, classy. Cut that scene, cut it now. Oh No, Skywalker has stalled! Once again George shows us why he’s the master of the subtle art of tension building, how in the world can Anakin win the race now?

So, the pod race is on, and it’s going to stay on for the next 9 minutes. Yeah, 1/13th of this film is pod race. The pod race is… dull. It doesn’t feel as fast or as dangerous as the speeder bikes from ROTJ. Anakin’s helmet it thoroughly ridiculous looking. A lot of racers die. In fact, all of the racers die, except for Anakin and Sebulba. Seems to me this isn’t so much a race as it is winner through attrition. As things wrap up, Sebulba and Anakin tangle, Sebulba losses, Anakin wins. Sebulba shouts “poodoo!” at the end. And there you have it, 9 minutes of film time wasted for George’s love of racing, thanks George. A 4 minute Podrace I wouldn’t have a problem with, maybe even 6 minutes, but 9 bordering on 10, that’s a lot of screen time where only one thing is happening.

So, we’re an hour and 10 minutes into the film at this point, and on the 18th page of this review… yikes. I had hoped this review would help me find the good in the film, talk about your all time backfires.

Anakin has won the day, time for congratulations to be heaped on the boy, terribly unconvincing work by the crowd, Kitster and the rest ensue. Afterwards, in the hangar, it’s time for some more intimate adulations. Too bad they’re such poorly scripted adulations, otherwise the scene might have worked. The worst offender here is Shmi Skywalker herself, who delivers the lame duck “It’s so wonderful Annie, you have brought hope to those who have none. I’m so very proud of you!” Ugh. Hope to those who had none? Who the hell is she talking about? She certainly can’t mean Qui-Gon and company, they had plenty of hope, hence putting him in the pod race to begin with. So who is she talking about? We’ll never know. Even if she weren’t referring to some non existent group of hopeless individuals, the line is so cheesy, and so poorly delivered, that it wouldn’t make a difference.

Now, it’s time for the Gambler’s to hash out their winnings. Watto is none to pleased that he lost his bet, and is going to lose Anakin. After Qui-Gon threatens taking the matter to the Hutts, Watto drops it. Meanwhile, in the Background, there’s another probe droid, ooooh, ominous! Back at the Ship, everyone is busy loading the new parts, Jar Jar is talking like a retarded infant, and Obi-Wan heads over to catch up with his master. Obi astutely realizes Qui-Gon intends on bringing another social reject along for the ride, Qui-Gon confirms, and then heads off to pick up Anakin, riding another of those poorly designed pack mule/aardvark things.

Back in mos Espa, Qui-Gon gives Anakin the proceeds from the sale of the pod, and Anakin responds with a slightly cheesey and just a little poorly timed, but still genuine sounding “yyeeesss!”. Anakin rushes into his hovel to show his mother all the money’s they now have. Here’s a thought, since when can slaves have their own money? Qui-Gon follows Anakin in, and adds to the excitement with his worst delivery of the film “You’re no longer a slave” he said with jocularity and puckish charm. Sorry, this is not a delivery that gels with the rest of the performance, it feels like it belongs in another movie. Do it again. Oh right, George doesn’t like doing that.

The joy on Shmi’s face is almost palpable when she gets the news of her beloved son’s new found freedom. Oh, did I say joy? I meant mild indifference and boredom. Qui-Gon gives Anakin a little speech about the challenges involved in becoming a Jedi, but Anakin is eager. This is exemplified by another poorly delivered shout of “Yippee!”. Ugh. Anakin’s momentary enthusiasm comes to a halt as he finally clues in that momma bear isn’t coming along. This gives him pause for a few seconds, but a quick, poorly scripted bit of encouragement from mom gets him back in gear. All in all this scene isn’t too bad. The acting from Shmi and Anakin for the most part is genuine. Qui-Gon is back in character now, so all seems to be running smoothly…

Disaster! It’s time for Anakin’s good bye speech to C-3PO. This is definitely one of the worst scenes of the film, and certainly one of the worst scenes in the saga. All the lines from Anakin are awful, the deliveries even worse. The decision to shoot part of the scene from 3PO’s POV was a big mistake. The whole scene just whomps.

Luckily, the disastrous 3PO scene is followed by the farewell scene between Anakin and his mother. It starts poorly, with Anakin saying” I can’t do it mom, I just can’t do it!” in such a way that you just wanna groan and roll your eyes, which you will. The rest of the scene is pretty good. Anakin’s promise to come back and free his mom is a little hokey, and would be a good cut. Otherwise, a nice solid little emotional scene. This seems to be a recurring theme in the new Star Wars films. Scenes that almost work, but have a couple of detracting factors. It sure would be nice to get some scenes that just work.

~ by Pagz on June 24, 2008.

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