Yes, of course we were in Studio 28 Theatre #1 at 12:01AM 19 May 2005... Look, I'm not going to Spoil it for anyone, okay? But I suppose it's reasonable to ask if this was worth waiting 28 years for.
Sure. Why not.
When it first became clear that there were going to be sequels -- and especially after that "Luke, I am your father" crap, as if that could possibly have been true -- I often had an odd thought. Maybe not so much for myself, but perhaps someone else out there. Maybe someone who was dying of cancer or something. Someone who really loved the movies and really wanted to know what happened next, but maybe didn't live long enough to find out. Bummer.
The Return of the Jedi, although it didn't quite go in the directions my friends and I had been predicting, proved a satisfactory ending to the original trilogy and tied things up nicely. It would've been a shame to have not lived to see that. Revenge of the Sith just isn't quite the same. In part, because we know what the setup is in Episode IV: A New Hope, so it is a much more incremental story. We know Darth Vader is coming and that Anakin Skywalker is his vessel -- the rest is just details. We know the Jedi are going to be wasted, except for Yoda, Obi-Wan, and possibly some other refugees -- the rest is just details. We know that Padme is going to give birth to twins, whom we know as Luke and Leia, and then die -- the rest is just details. We know the Chancellor is scum and is going to become the Emperor -- the rest is just details.
Nobody Quite Does It Like Lucas
While the pure SF set will have a cow over a lot of details (including whether any of this is SF or not), the movie has a built-in power base just because it is George Lucas' Star Wars. And frankly, as much carping as there has been about the previous two movies, and will be for this third one as well, the pre-Rebellion trilogy of Episodes I, II and III has a big style that just isn't like any of the other me-too space opera productions. The Star Trek faithful have gone to see all the Star Trek movies, even the sucky ones, but they never had the production values of the Star Wars movies.
And even though we've seen space battles, flying sequences, chase scenes and lightsaber battles aplenty, George has pulled it off this time, too, and given us some compelling visuals.
Nobody Quite Does It Like Lucas, Part Deux
And the dialogue really does suck. I mean, my wife and I on the way home kept repeating lines of dialogue, but from the Rebellion trilogy. Indeed, it is time to crack open the DVD boxed set of Episodes IV, V and VI, and watch it unfold with a new heart. Even if the universe seems smaller, more barren -- wasted perhaps by twenty years of Imperial bullying, if you want to play the SF-movie-justification home game -- all the really tasty little bons mots and snappy repartee of dialogue are here. Indeed, most of the best lines I can remember from twelve hours ago are replays or future echoes of things to come. George himself says that the standing joke line, "I have a bad feeling about this," is importantly common to all these people who feel their way through the universe.
And don't quibble that Han Solo is not a Jedi -- he's "lucky". More or less. Sort of. Anyway, back in the Early Days, after we saw The Empire Strikes Back, I was sure that Yoda's reference to "There is another" was about Han.
It Will Never Be That Way Again
But no one is likely to have thoughts like that. Except for some film purists, who managed to ignore Star Wars all through their formative years and then somehow have this urge to analytically watch all six movies in their production order. We are going to have a world forever divided into those who know Star Wars as IV-V-VI-I-II-III and I-II-III-IV-V-VI, with a smattering of gap children with the non-canonical variations such as I-IV-V-VI-II-III and I-II-IV-V-VI-III, etc.
And while I shall, in due time, sit and watch the series from end-to-end, I to VI, it will never be the same experience as that of some future Star Wars virgin.
My generation is a dying breed.
Sir, You'll Have to Put That Creature Away -- This is a NO JAR-JAR Zone
Jar-Jar Binks shows up twice, I do believe, and barely has one line. After rewatching Episode I: The Phantom Menace over the weekend, as part of my "pre-lab" for this morning, I think I feel sorry for the actor who did Jar-Jar, Ahmed Best. I'm sure he wasn't expecting to be thrown into the background in II and nearly forgotten in III.
Indeed, much like the third Matrix movie, there are a number of minor re-appearances of characters, nearly lost in the great swirls of politics, deceit and battle.
Lost in the Details
Sharper eyes than mine will begin reporting on the web all the little inside jokes and details not apparent sitting off-axis on the side in the third row (they opened the house way early, so getting there an hour ahead of time didn't net us the "best" seats, but they were pretty swell enough). So I'm sure the Millennium Falcon is hiding out in that one spaceport -- I just didn't notice it.
My Other Pre-Lab
Last night I finally got a chance to plop Star Wars: Clone Wars into the DVD player and watch it before taking a evening nap. This is Chapters 1-20 of the Cartoon Network anime series done by the guy who does Samurai Jack.
I think Lucas did well greenlighting this project. This style works well with all these iconic figures. Sure, facial features of Obi-Wan, Anakin and Mace Windu have either angles or curves exaggerated, but you can tell the players -- and the various droids and Clone warriors and ships are all detailed properly. The story itself is all Episode II.5 -- between II and III. Much like the Animatrix, there are some clues, but if you never see it, you won't be completely crushed.
Overall? It's Got A Good Beat And You Can Dance To It
A number of early reviewers have said that III is the movie we've been waiting for, after being disappointed with I and II.
Finally, Hayden Christensen works much better in III than in II, at least for my money. I still don't see what Padme sees in the whiny jerk, but that's her problem.
The last five minutes settles up a whole lot of scores and paves the way for Episode IV. Of course, in the new reality of the "finished" sequence, you can argue it sets up things too much, and so what fun is that?
Anyway, Episode III moves fast and has some spectacular visuals. I'll be writing in the not so distance future about some of the MAJOR Physics Phlaws in this movie, but that can wait. (George Lucas, after ignoring it for five movies, suddenly discovers vacuum and gravity.)