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## Neal Stephenson on Star Wars in the NYT679

SnapShot writes "Neal Stephenson has an editorial in the New York Times about the difference between the old Star Wars and the new Star Wars, and the difference between geeking out and vegging out. Oh, and computer scientists and engineers are the Jedi of the U.S." From the article: "Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you've seen the "Clone Wars" cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air."
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## Neal Stephenson on Star Wars in the NYT

• #### Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:29PM (#12843606)
Old one didn't suck.
• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Funny)

<hakdragonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:36PM (#12843683)
That reminds me of a conversation my Calculus professor (a true geek who constantly makes references to Star Wars, Star Trek and the ocassional BTTF) had with one the students during class.

Student: I got to see Episode 1 in HD the other night.
Professor: That's cool. Did it still suck?
• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Funny)

<my/.Username@gmail.com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:13PM (#12844155)
Calculus geeks - always expecting everything to change over time.

Unfortunately, SW prequel suckage is a universal constant.

• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:4, Funny)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:58PM (#12845691)
so, you're saying dsuck(swe_{i})/dt = 0 for all i, 1 = i = 3?

• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:08PM (#12844086)
Actually they did. The acting was pretty bad, especially Hammil, who was almost as wimpy and whiney as Christensen was. The difference between Eps 4-6 and 1-3 is that 4-6 were made to be a fun set of movies, but 1-3 were made to be blockbusters. Lucas set out to make world changing movies with terrible material and competing with movies which were fun to watch because they didn't take themselves seriously.

Also they tried to explain everything which before where just accepted (ie what makes a Jedi able to use the force) and added to a mystery that your imagination could fill in.
• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:49PM (#12844712)
Also they tried to explain everything which before where just accepted. . .

Groundhog Day is a great fucking movie. It is a great fucking movie for one primary reason:

They never once, not even to the teeny, tiniest degree, tried to "explain" what was going on. They simply told the story. What happened.

I wish more writers would grasp the essential idea that a story is simply what happens.

Cinderella works, and has continued to work for over a thousand years, not because the paranormal events are well explained, but because they are not "explained" at all. It's magic. Everybody knows that.

The second you try to invoke biological or "quantum flux" into the deal to give a plausable reason for the mice turning into horses you're just going to create an audience that sits there saying "Like, dude, that's completely retarded."

We can accept magic in a story, even if we know there is no such thing, and enjoy it immensely, because magic is, up front and by definition, not subject to the rules of reason or physics and we have suspended our disbelief in such from the outset in order to enjoy the tale.

Any attempt to impose rational explanation on magic simply ruins the exeperinece of the tale by creating obvious falsehood and makes it clear that the story teller is a hack who doesn't know his own business.

Magic wands are perfectly "believable." Showing a .44 casing in a story that requires it to have been fired by a .38 is not. Magic need only be shown to be obeying the "laws" of magic. Reality needs to be shown to be obeying the laws of reality.

Mixing the two up inappropriately innately creates an unbelievable mess.

KFG
• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:5, Interesting)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:23PM (#12845241)
Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable. - Oscar Wilde
• #### Re:Difference between old and new Star Wars (Score:3, Insightful)

Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable. - Oscar Wilde

I truely hate to critise Mr. Wilde, as his genius often relied on chosing exactly the right word at exactly the right time, but. . .

As my own example of the shell casings illustrates there is a good deal more subtlty to it than that. Man can believe the impossible, but it has to be exactly the right kind of believable impossibility.

I believe the word that Mr. Wilde was looking for was not "improbable," but rather "implau
• #### Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:29PM (#12843607) Homepage Journal
Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes.

This quote from the article in particular resonated with me. We (scientists) have long been running an uneasy gauntlet between those that want us represent their theological, political or personal beliefs while trying to find truth where it is and for what it represents. Granted, these issues always arise within each one of us, but our training is to make hypothesis and then test them against what resources we can bring to bear. There are those that are not interested in truth and will twist facts and even scientists themselves to represent their perception or will which has always been part of the fascination I had with many of the original stories and sociological background behind the idea of the Jedi. (Disclaimer: The last Star Wars movie I thought was any good was "Empire Strikes Back").

The danger of course in not accepting rigorous scientific study of available facts leads us to confusion and obfuscation of truth which leads to jeopardy of person and country. Unfortunately, we have in the last few years gone quite far down this road through decisions made based upon data twisted to represent a prior beliefs rather than letting the data speak and then drawing conclusions from those data.

There has of course always been a fascination by many folks with power and "shiny things", but if we are to proceed beyond vanity and self obsessed cultivation of what others find attractive or desirable to find truth, we need to cultivate new generations of people interested in seeking the scientific and mathematical explanations of the universe.

• #### Re:Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:40PM (#12843737) Homepage
There has of course always been a fascination by many folks with power and "shiny things", but if we are to proceed beyond vanity and self obsessed cultivation of what others find attractive or desirable to find truth, we need to cultivate new generations of people interested in seeking the scientific and mathematical explanations of the universe.

Blame the media [mediamatters.org]. Seriously, we scientists, engineers and mathematicians should hold the media to task for its blatant disregard for truth and justice. When you look at the news and see a bunch of what is essentially staged, opinionated garbage, you figure you might as well watch your favorite fictional show instead, since that's also staged and maybe opinionated, but at least it isn't neccessarily garbage. Remove the fake news and people will start to get interested in things that matter again.

• #### The media (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:16PM (#12844197) Homepage
Seriously, we scientists, engineers and mathematicians should hold the media to task for its blatant disregard for truth and justice.
At one time, the media was held to codes of practice and ethics that were comparable to any standards to which scientists hold themselves. You could reasonably expect news from any respected news outlet to be well-researched, factual, and delivered in the interest of providing reasonably unbiased information to the public. Over time, the influence of American corporate culture on the media has eroded this ethic. (This is often referred to as "the commercial realities" of media, but this is only an apologist view of a very significant ideological shift that has taken place among the power elite over the last few decades.)

The really sad thing is, judging from some of the current headlines, the field of science is next.

• #### Re:The media (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:15PM (#12845126)
At one time,...

Not to be snarky, but just when was this? It certainly wasn't during the 19th century (when the term "Yellow Press" was coined), and we can rule out the entire 21st century as being close enough to today. So, that leaves the 20th century. Leaving aside issues of racism, sexism, jingoism, and so on, which scientist were equally prone to, I ask you -- what period of the 20th century did not feature, alongside good journalism, sensational and prurient reporting? (The phrase "respected news outlet" is something of a red herring as reputations change and defining what is and is not 'respected' begs the question.)

Just as there has always been bad, junk, or psuedo-science, so to there is bad journalism. But instead of simply writing off "the media" as some monolithic entity and ignoring the fact that there are many good outlets delivering the kind of reporting you seem to want, maybe you could buy a subscription or two so that they can keep doing it!
• #### Re:The media (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:57PM (#12846400) Homepage

Can't be too specific, but I'd say that the news media in this country was far superior during most of the 20th century, up to and including the launch of CNN, and you can probably use CNN as your gauge for when it started to suck. If you can turn on CNN and expect to see good news coverage (as opposed to 8 hours of coverage on the "Runaway Bride" in a single day), then you're living in the "time" I'm talking about.

The kind of bad journalism I'm thinking of isn't really the blatantly corrupt, partisan reporting of a Fox News, either. That's one part of it. But even if you agreed with the current political climate in the U.S., you still have the problem of the gradual shift away from news as an public informational resource toward the concept of news as entertainment media. News media alter their coverage, not because of their political aims, but because they're afraid the public will get bored and change the channel. That's bad.

• #### Re:The media (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @06:44PM (#12847753)
I think the main difference is that the "Press", and a lot of this was newspapers -- looked at itself has helping out "the common man". Sensational or not, the concept of a "debt to the public" is gone.

The News is an outlet for corporations. A little fact here and there to pad between the infomercials. The antis-scientist movement is similar to the tactics of "big tobacco". They hired a lot of pulmonary specialists to say what the Tobacco industry wanted. In a more indirect way, this is happening (at least to the leadership) of science. Science that supports the corporate goals is passed on. Anti-science makes it hard to prove anything, which means you can do anything if you have the power.

This will result in a big loss for business in the end. Confidence in food, drugs and the safety of products will erode. Personal experience with friends and relatives who've been damaged by bad products will end up permeating peoples consciousness, such that almost everything will be in doubt. I think that once that subconscious meme hits a tipping point, the effects will be drastic, overnight, and widespread. People will want to hibernate and wait for the BS-storm to pass on.

There really is good profit to be made with environmentalism, conservation and consumer advocacy. Too bad that too few have learned that lesson. We are repeating the stupid, greedy profit taking that caused the US to lose the automobile market.

What market is going to fail next?
• #### Re:The media (Score:5, Interesting)

<yoda AT etoyoc DOT com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:40PM (#12845461) Homepage Journal
Actually no.

Major papers in the 19th century were about on par with the tabloids today. News outlets gained most of the "credibility" during the propaganda programs of WWI, WWII, and the Cold War. Then, they were transmitters of information one needed to know to survive, serve the Arsenal of Freedom, and learn of the heroic deeds of our men in uniform.

I think the media was last taken seriously in the early 70's with a brief shot in the arm during the Watergate scandle. Seriously, go watch the movie "Network."

• #### It wasn't always like that. (Score:5, Interesting)

<mark@mwiley.org> on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:05PM (#12844974) Homepage Journal
In the 60's Space Race, lots of people went into science to be "Rocket Scientists". It was a popular and prized profession. When I went through high school and college in the 70's and 80', plenty of people talked about the great surge in interest in science "just a few years ago" and how it had deminished recently. Younger professors had been educated right in the middle of all that greatness. The 80's were a bit of a let down for all of them.

More recently, science has been put on the back burner due to political issued. It seems the popularity of science has more to do with what it can do for you than for what it is. In the 60's they needed science to accomplish something. The way to do that is to unleash it with all the resources it needed. It worked great.

Today, political hacks don't want truth and they don't want progress. They want to push their own agendas. And for the most part science does not support their agendas. It either contradicts, or is mearly immaterial. The needs of the politician is to sweep science out of the way and let them do what they want. Thus you get the current pitiful state.

When we get another major goal that only science can achieve, then we'll see the rise of the "Rocket Scientist" again.

• #### Impossible? (Score:3, Informative)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:31PM (#12843626)
Impossible, maybe. But consdering Hayden Christensen never portrayed Anakin as anything but a piece of cardboard, I doubt he's without fault.
• #### Re:Impossible? (Score:3, Funny)

He is the second best Anakin Skywalker ever ... OK that's not saying much as that little kid was so annoying that most people had hoped he would come across the wrong end of a light sabre a few times
• #### Re:Impossible? (Score:2)

http://imdb.com/title/tt0264796/ [imdb.com]

He was good in 'Life as a House.' He still plays a whiny teenage punk, but his acting and dialogue actually have depth. Natalie Portman (don't say it! ;)) is also great in everything that I've seen outside of Episodes I-III. I think it's 100% Lucas here.
• #### regfree link (Score:5, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:34PM (#12843660)
• #### The Real Difference (Score:5, Interesting)

<ieshanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:35PM (#12843666) Homepage Journal
The real difference is character development.

In 4,5, and 6, Darth Vader was primarily the "bad guy". Sure, he had character, but it was primarily as the foil to the symbolic "light side" of the force that ran as an undercurrent in the rebellion / Luke's story.

By adding 1,2, and 3, Vader really becomes the central figure in the story, but he isn't given adequate plot time in 4 and 5. It's as if the writer of a tragedy changed focus in Acts 4 and 5, and then resumed Darth's story with his "return to the good side" in ep. 6. Darth and Obiwan (aside from the droids) are the only characters present in all 6 films, and Obiwan is only a ghost in 5 and 6. Darth is the only living character to speak in the 6 films, and this makes him central to the story, whether or not you like it.

And I don't like it. The story was good as Good vs. Evil rather than a "Look at how Power Can Corrupt the Good". Darth's story in 1-3, to me, totally shifts the focus of the films. That's why they can't actually be watched in their numerical order. Watching them that way totally screws with your perceptions of Darth in 4-6, and makes the plot seem convoluted and non sequitur. I mean, why should the films switch focus onto Padame's children when Darth Vader, the focus of the first three films, is still alive, kicking, and doing things in the Star Wars universe?
• #### Re:The Real Difference (Score:2)

> In 4,5, and 6, Darth Vader was primarily the "bad guy". Sure, he
> had character, but it was primarily as the foil to the symbolic
> "light side" of the force that ran as an undercurrent in the
> rebellion / Luke's story.

> The story was good as Good vs. Evil rather than a "Look at
> how Power Can Corrupt the Good".

Uh-huh. And the fact that Episode VI ended with Vader going from evil to good? The fact that Vader was the focus of those scenes with the Emperor? Episodes IV-VI were about Anaki
• #### Re:The Real Difference (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:48PM (#12843839)
Because, miss the true point of the story, you do. Bringing balance to the force, this story is about. Anakin and Luke, but elements of this process are. Focus on the light side of the force, the films do. When the light side Anakin, leaves, focus of the story does he lose. Luke, then, the hopes of balance rest with, and so focus does he gain.
• #### Bah Scientists aren't the Jedi's of our Society! (Score:2, Funny)

The people in this article are, "Two Star Wars fans are in a critical condition in hospital after apparently trying to make light sabres by filling fluorescent light tubes with petrol. A man, aged 20, and a girl of 17 are believed to have been filming a mock duel when they poured fuel into two glass tubes and lit it. The pair were rushed to hospital after one of the devices exploded in woodland at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire." Granted they need practice but they are trying and soon the Force will be stro
• #### Neal Stephenson?!! Two pages?!! (Score:5, Funny)

<stan.dyck@gmai l . com> on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:35PM (#12843670) Homepage Journal

Gees! It must of killed him to be limited to so few words.

• #### Re:Neal Stephenson?!! Two pages?!! (Score:2, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward
Yeah, but he dealt with it by just making the ending really sudden and abrupt.
• #### Re:Neal Stephenson?!! Two pages?!! (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:41PM (#12843748)
Gees! It must of killed him to be limited to so few words.

Perhaps this is just the first of a three part Editorial Cycle.

Actually, I'd like to see him do a regular column in a serious outlet (Washington Post or something). He's as articulate and encyclopedic (and more lyrical) in his own way George Will, and his take on things, given his sense of cultural history (seen through the lens of technology) is really interesting. Like, or not, some of his conclusions or predictions, you just can't stop reading anything he writes. I've never put down one of his chapters without doing more history and language homework in the following hour than I did during my entire stay in high school.
• #### Re:Neal Stephenson?!! Two pages?!! (Score:3, Interesting)

This piece seems to be heavily edited, if you ask me. His conclusions about geeks at the end hint at having more to back it up than was presented.
• #### Re:Neal Stephenson?!! Two pages?!! (Score:2)

You think that's bad, David Foster Wallace got the assignment first and exploded 10 minutes into it.
• #### article text (Score:5, Informative)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:36PM (#12843687)
IN the spring of 1977, some friends and I made a 40-mile pilgrimage to the biggest and fanciest movie theater in Iowa so we could watch a new science fiction movie called "Star Wars." Expecting long lines, we got there early, and found the place deserted.

As we sat on the sidewalk waiting for the box office to open, others like us drifted in from the towns, farms and colleges of central Iowa and queued up behind. When the curtain in front of the big Cinerama screen finally parted, the fanfare sounded and the famous opening crawl appeared against a backdrop of stars, there were still some empty seats. "Star Wars" wasn't famous yet. The only people who had heard about it were what are now called geeks.

Twenty-eight years later, the vast corpus of "Star Wars" movies, novels, games and merchandise still has much to say about geeks - and also about a society that loves them, hates them and depends upon them.

In the opening sequence of the new Star Wars movie, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," two Jedi knights fight their way through an enemy starship to rescue a hostage. Ever since I saw the movie, I have been annoying friends with a trivia question: "Who is the enemy? What organization owns this vessel?"

We ought to know. In 1977, we all knew who owned the Death Star (the Empire) and who owned the Millennium Falcon (Han Solo). But when I ask my question about the new film, everyone reacts in the same way: with a sudden intake of breath and a sideways dart of the eyes, followed by lengthy cogitation. Some confess that they have no idea. Others think out loud for a while, developing and rejecting various theories. Only a few have come up with the right answer.

One hyperverbal friend was able to spit it out because he had read and memorized the opening crawl. Another, a hard-core science fiction fan, had been boning up on supplemental materials: "Clone Wars," an animated TV series consisting of "epic adventures that bridge the story arc between 'Episode II: Attack of the Clones' and 'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.' "

If you have watched these cartoons - or if you've enjoyed some of the half-dozen "Clone Wars" novels, flipped through the graphic novels, read the short stories or played the video game - you will know that the battle cruiser in question is owned by the New Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which is backed by the Trade Federation, a commercial guild that is peeved about taxation of trade routes.

And that is not the only aspect of "Episode III" that you will see in a different light. If you watch the movie without doing the prep work, General Grievous - who is supposed to be one of the most formidable bad guys in the entire "Star Wars" cycle - will seem like something that just fell out of a Happy Meal.

Likewise, many have been underwhelmed by the performance of Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Only if you've seen the "Clone Wars" cartoons will you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air.

In sum, very little of the new film makes sense, taken as a freestanding narrative. What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?

Modern English has given us two terms we need to explain this phenomenon: "geeking out" and "vegging out." To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal - and to have a good time doing it. To veg out, by contrast, means to enter a passive state and allow sounds and images to wash over you without troubling yourself too much about what it all means.

In corporate-speak, there is a related term used when someone has committed the faux pas of geeking out during a meeting
• #### Reading comprehension skills (Score:4, Insightful)

<sg_public@mac.cTOKYOom minus city> on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:37PM (#12843694)
In the opening sequence of the new Star Wars movie, "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," two Jedi knights fight their way through an enemy starship to rescue a hostage. Ever since I saw the movie, I have been annoying friends with a trivia question: "Who is the enemy? What organization owns this vessel?" ...when I ask my question about the new film, everyone reacts in the same way: with a sudden intake of breath and a sideways dart of the eyes, followed by lengthy cogitation.

*sigh*

Maybe your friends think you're an idiot.

War! The Republic is crumbling under attacks by the ruthless Sith Lord, Count Dooku. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.

In a stunning move, the fiendish droid leader, General Grievous, has swept into the Republic capital and kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine, leader of the Galactic Senate.

As the Separatist Droid Army attempts to flee the besieged capital with their valuable hostage, two Jedi Knights lead a desperate mission to rescue the captive Chancellor....

So, the enemy is Count Dooku. The ship is owned by the Separatists. The ship has the Chancellor on it. He was "kidnapped" by General Grievous. No viewing of the Clone Wars DVD was required to understand this.

This guy's point is that the old movies had "geek" sequences that told the story, but he claims the movies have no story, just "veg out" sequences. But he's wrong. Someone with at least rudimentary reading comprehension skills would have figured it out.

Maybe the fact that he saw Episodes IV-VI a million times is the reason why he understands the plot. Since he was seeing Episode III for the first time (and obviously not paying attention), that could be why he didn't understand. Has nothing to do with the quality of the movies.

As someone with an embarrassingly-encyclopedic knowledge of the movies*, I'd say Episodes I-III are as good as (and maybe better) than Episodes IV-VI.

This guy is in a long line of people who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the new Star Wars movies are not as good as the original trilogy. (The rest of the line will be posting in this story about how George Lucas ruined their childhood, etc).
• #### Looking down on you (Score:2)

As someone with an embarrassingly-encyclopedic knowledge of the movies*, I'd say Episodes I-III are as good as (and maybe better) than Episodes IV-VI.

Well, sure, anyone in your position would say that, to hide the embarassment.

If you had encyclopedic knowledge of the originals, you were a huge nerd, but at least other nerds respected and feared you.
But with the prequels... even the nerds look down on you! ;-)
• #### Re:Looking down on you (Score:2)

> If you had encyclopedic knowledge of the originals, you were a
> huge nerd, but at least other nerds respected and feared you.
> But with the prequels... even the nerds look down on you! ;-)

A nerd's nerd?

nerd^2?

meta-nerd?
• #### Re:Reading comprehension skills (Score:2, Insightful)

He asks this as a trivia question. This means he knows the answer and likes to annoy his friends.

I would guess that misunderstanding of yours is responsible for the rest of your comment.

Did you actually read the article? (You rant about stuff the author does not even write...)
• #### Re:Reading comprehension skills (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:02PM (#12844010)
From TFA:
"One hyperverbal friend was able to spit it out because he had read and memorized the opening crawl."

Stephenson's point is that the important back story for this section of the movie is only explicitly (and only partially) explained in the text prologue. Further, the viewing audience doesn't seem to care much whose ship it is, and happily make the movie a blockbuster without understanding the important plot points. In other words, the plot is secondary to the action sequences in the new movie, and it doesn't matter (the geeks get their background elsewhere, and the non-geeks get to veg out and watch cool f/x).

Want further proof? Ask 10 random people what the the phantom menace referred to in Episode 1's title was, why was it a chimera, and why was it important to the events in the series? I'd be surprised if more than one or two people were able to explain it.

Stephenson has a lot more clout than whining Star Wars fanboys, and knows a thing or two about storytelling.
• #### Re:Reading comprehension skills (Score:4, Interesting)

<sg_public@mac.cTOKYOom minus city> on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:48PM (#12844697)
> In other words, the plot is secondary to the action sequences in
> the new movie, and it doesn't matter

While I agree that many people who watch the Star Wars movies don't understand the plot beyond the basics, I don't think it has anything to do with Episodes I-III themselves, but the fact that plenty (if not most) of people watch movies (Episodes IV-VI included) looking at only explosions and the like.

However, the author is implying this is because of the movies:

If you have watched these cartoons - or if you've enjoyed some of the half-dozen "Clone Wars" novels, flipped through the graphic novels, read the short stories or played the video game - you will know that the battle cruiser in question is owned by the New Droid Army of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which is backed by the Trade Federation, a commercial guild that is peeved about taxation of trade routes.
...or if you read the opening crawler. If you watched Episode I you would know who they were.

But having to watch Episodes I and II to understand III is no different than Episodes IV-VI. Just like if you didn't see Episode V, you wouldn't know why Jabba the Hutt had Han Solo in carbonite. Or if you didn't see Episode IV, you wouldn't know why Ben was a "force ghost" and not just some hallucination.

If you watch the movie without doing the prep work, General Grievous - who is supposed to be one of the most formidable bad guys in the entire "Star Wars" cycle - will seem like something that just fell out of a Happy Meal.

But is that true? Grievous is a coward. Watch Episode III, most of the time he is threatened, he hides behind his droids. Only once Obi-Wan confronts him with a circle of a couple dozen of Grievous droids around him does Grievous actually stand his ground.

What's interesting about this is how little it matters. Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand.

But that's the same with Episodes IV-VI. For example, people who have seen the movies dozens of times don't really understand what Tarkin means when he says that Palpatine dissolved the Imperial (no longer Republic after Episode III) Senate.

In corporate-speak, there is a related term used when someone has committed the faux pas of geeking out during a meeting. "Let's take this offline," someone will suggest, when the PowerPoint slides grow dark with words. Literally, it means, "I look forward to geeking out on this topic - later." But really it's a polite synonym for "shut up already!"

Good point. Not that it's germane to this article. I just wanted to point out that I don't mean to criticize the whole article.

The first "Star Wars" movie 28 years ago was distinguished by healthy interplay between veg and geek scenes. ... All such content - as well as the long, beautiful, uncluttered shots of desert, sky, jungle and mountain that filled the early episodes - was banished in the first of the prequels. ... These newer films don't even pretend to tell the whole story

I disagree. Examples:

Episode I, Padme explains the "diversion" with the Gungans. Qui-Gon explains midichlorians. Amidala is manipulated into helping Palpatine into power. We learn of Obi-Wan's defiance.

Episode II: Anakin reveals to Padme that he supports a dictatorship. Obi-Wan unravels who is building the Clones. Dooku gets the separatists to join his plan.

Episode III: Yoda talks about the "prophecy being misunderstood". Palpatine tells the story of the Sith.

There's probably more plot in Episodes I-III than in Episodes IV-VI. Some people have complained that there's not enough action, and too much plot and dialog, but he's complaining about the opposite.

One is welcome to opinion that they don't like Episodes I-III as much as IV-VI, but one should be careful not to justify that opinion based on erroneous information.
• #### Re:Reading comprehension skills (Score:3, Interesting)

This guy is in a long line of people who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the new Star Wars movies are not as good as the original trilogy.

Why would anyone need to prove it? Proving one movie is better than another is an impossible venture - atistic worth and entertainment value are completely subjective, and cannot be proven. All he has to do, and all anyone "has" to do, is provide reasons that they think the new movies are worse than the originals - and then you and I can either agree with

• #### Re:Reading comprehension skills (Score:3, Insightful)

The plot information is certainly presented. The question is how many people actually understand it. It's a jumble of facts and characters. Episodes I-III have Republics, Federations, Empires, Separatists, a Senate, Clone Armies, Droid Armies, Creature Armies, Sith, Chancellors, Counts, Lords, etc... It's complex enough that most people give up trying to understand it. Instead, people just revel in the pretty pictures, the familiar characters, and the funny little quips. Episode IV, for example, has a
• #### War veteran? (Score:3, Interesting)

<spydermann.slash ... N.com minus poet> on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:38PM (#12843706) Homepage Journal
seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hmmm letme see. Anakin eats some worms AND HE LIKES IT! He says, humorously: "But master, you've always told me to feed from the force".

In his freeing the Nova warriors from the machines, the only traumatic experience was the loss of his already cybernetic hand. And then he built himself a new one! Oh, and this wasn't just a simple battle, it was the last test of a Jedi.

So tell me, what part of "post traumatic stress" did he experience? No, he was just a warrior who was constantly tempted to the dark side by the Sith. Remember how he killed that Sith in the jungle, by using his anger?

So will anyone explain me how the heck is he a "poor veteran suffering from PTSD"? No, the traumatic experience was the loss of his mother, and he NEVER recovered from it.

Oh yeah, the script still sucked. I'm sure he'd been given a much better chance to perform with a better story.
• #### the ending... (Score:2, Funny)

It was a great editorial, but the ending kind of left me hanging.
• #### Re:the ending... (Score:2)

ROTFL! Someone mod parent up, please!

You owe me a coffee! :-)
• #### Besides lack of Anakin backstory... (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:39PM (#12843727)
It didn't help that Hayden and Natalie apparently practiced their scenes together by first using broomsticks to represent the other character. At least that's the only plausible explanation I could deduce when watching the two perform scenes together in Ep III. In other (non SW) films they seem to emote just fine, Ms. Portman especially, but for some reason - bad coaching, bad script, bad directing, all of the above? - they just didn't seem to connect at all in the new Star Wars.

Here's a fun game to play the next time you watch the film: in every scene with just Padme and Anakin, add the word 'Broomstick' to the end of each line they say to one another, it makes the acting more believable!

e.g. Anakin to Padme: "I will never let you die... broomstick." (Variations like 'Mr./Ms. Broomstick', 'my sweet broomstick', or 'you lovely 2-by-4' add depth and drama!)

• #### Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:40PM (#12843730) Journal
"you understand that Anakin is a seriously damaged veteran, a poster child for post-traumatic stress disorder. But since none of that background is actually supplied by the Episode III script, Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task"

I work with "seriously damaged veterrans" every day, many of them the same age as Anakin is supposed to be. I can say with certainty, the background isn't required.

If he was damaged, it would be obvious in him like it is in most of my kids. But Christensen can't ACT. That's the bigger problem.
• #### Re:Bullshit (Score:2)

I work with "seriously damaged veterrans" every day, many of them the same age as Anakin is supposed to be. I can say with certainty, the background isn't required.

If he was damaged, it would be obvious in him like it is in most of my kids. But Christensen can't ACT. That's the bigger problem.

I don't think that was intended to be a slight on your actual veterans.

I think it was more intended to point out that nothing on screen conveys that in terms of plot elements. (Or, as you say, acting. :-P)

Someti

• #### Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @02:04PM (#12844953) Journal
Well, not to offer up a free pass to Christensen, but some of those lines of dialogue he had to speak (Lucas) and the direction given to him in which to speak those lines (Lucas) were just terrible.

On another note - Padme goes from kicking ass and storming her own freakin' castle in Episode I, to being the Damsel in Distress in Ep.II, to being a pouty little bitch in Ep. III. What's up with that? :)
• #### It's ALL the directing (Score:3, Insightful)

Seriously, it has to be Lucas' atrociously bad character directing.

Because there are other people in the film, like Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson, who are fine actors elsewhere and squeeze out the most wooden performances of their life in SWIII.

Look at Obi-Wan when he's "bowing out of the political moment" and talking to Anakin after the crash at the beginning of the movie. Pay attention to the ridiculous, unnatural arm gestures he's making - then try to find McGregor body-acting that badly in any
• #### One of the biggest differences is context (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:41PM (#12843757) Homepage Journal
In the 1970s/1980s, there was nothing else like Star Wars. It was like nothing that had come before. No previous movie had such effects. No other movie had been so successful, had been such a phenomenon. No other movie had so much merchandise or spawned so many cool toys. Movies that grossed a hundred million dollars did not come out every day. [dsiegel.com] (By the way, I keep seeing comments in Slashdot that say "If those movies defined your childhood, you're a LOSER!" but they don't understand--I started kindergarten in 1977 and finished sixth grade in 1984. The Star Wars movies were released from 1977 to 1983. *Everyone* like Star Wars. It was always there. Everyone had the costumes and action figures. It didn't define my childhood, but it was a big part of it, and I've got a lot of happy memories playing with Star Wars toys, alone and with friends.)

Fast-forward a couple decades. We're totally saturated in big movies. We have several hundred-million-dollar-plus movies every summer and a never-ending series of fast-food tie-ins. George has shown us the way and *everything* is merchandised to the hilt. The world that the new Star Wars movies play in is very different from the world that the first movies played it. It's *not* just that we're all 20 years older now.
• #### Re:One of the biggest differences is context (Score:2)

Quick note: If you look at the linked page, you'll see there were 17 \$100M movies in the 1970s, 44 in the 80s, and 51 in just the first half of the 1990s. Yes, part of that has to do with rising ticket prices, but that's not the whole story.
• #### 80s kids (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:30PM (#12844428)
This is quite possibly the best Star Wars comment on Slashdot, ever.

One thing a lot of people here don't realize, is the immense age range on this site. We all assume everyone else is within a few years of age from us, and this comes up time and again: "my first computer was a 486" "I used punch cards, newb!" etc.

Us 80s kids (those that actually grew up in the 80s, not those born in them) are a very odd breed. We bridged the cultural gap between Leave it to Beaver and American Idol. Between transistor radios and mp3 players. Between pocket calculators and the latest G5s. Between Bugs Bunny and Pokemon.

Think about it: before Star Wars, mass merchandising almost didn't exist. Within 5 years of Star Wars, the movie industry changed entirely. Box office revenues became such a small portion of income as to be almost meaningless for many films. Saturday morning cartoons became an entirely different breed one the merchandise tie-ins became the important factor. We went from computers being these huge things you might have seen on television (back when there were 5 channels if you were lucky), to having one in your pocket that can SHOW television, all 300 channels of it.

When I was very young, the world was as my parents saw it. Pop culture came through the radio (been around for decades), television (a few channels, hasn't changed much other than the introduction of colour a while back - and most people only owned one), movies (theatres only, so you're only ever going to see a movie once or twice in your life) or newspapers. During my childhood nearly all of what we have today developed - the Internet, VCRs/DVDs, Cassettes/CDs, the 300 channel universe...

The world changed profoundly during the 80s. Those of you who were already adults just adapted, and in many cases, stayed away from the changes. Those of you too young to remember, well, you think the world has always been this way. There's a fairly small subset of society that's shared both experiences: the time from about 1945-1977, and today. Not just shared it, LIVED it. I cannot for the life of me explain to my parents just why a home computer is so cool. They'll simply never get it. And most kids these days just expect it. The magic is lost on them.

Insert Star Wars into my rant, and maybe you'll understand just why it's considered such a huge part of my generation's lives. What Star Wars did to the movie/toy industry is what we saw EVERY DAY while growing up.
• #### "Clone Wars" cartoons were required viewing. (Score:2, Informative)

If I didn't happen to crash at a friends houes after clubbing the week before and he showed us Clone Wars on his Tivo, I woulnd't have had the slightest clue what was happening in Episode 3. There was so much backstory, I think anyone who hasn't watched it will be left in the dark about a lot of things. My friend stated to me they should have made the cartoon into a live action movie and made it Episode 2, which I somewhat agree or least Episode 2.5 as a full length movie.
• #### Why we watched it (Score:4, Interesting)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:43PM (#12843780)
Millions of people are happily spending their money to watch a movie they don't understand. What gives?

It's basically the same scenario as with the Matrix trilogy (well almost). Everyone just wanted to know how it ended exactly, if for no other reason than closure. Even though 90% of the people knew ultimately where the story was headed, everyone still wanted the little details.

Otherwise, the author of the article is right in that the newer movies really don't do a good job of explaining what's going on. The part about Anakin having mental problems from post traumatic stress disorder would have explained his character a lot better. Personally, I still think Hayden Christensen was a poor choice to play the part and would've ruined it anyhow, but they really could've given us a lot more.

Additionally, General Grievous just sort of popped into existance. Assuming that I would know all about him from the various other publications is a mistake. Thinking back on it, it really made the movie seem a little off.

While the hardcore fans of Star Wars will have read all the books, seen the cartoons, and read about other lore and history on the internet, there're a lot of us out there who haven't. Some of us saw the movie just for the sake of seeing it. And in the end, I guess the box office take is good enough to justify producing movies in that fashion.

Hayden Christensen is a terrible actor. Ignoring script and storyline issues he isn't able to convey much emotion through the screen. One easy test of good acting: are you able to forget the actor is anyone but the character they are portraying? In this case I saw the actor more than the character. I'm completely shocked that he was able to get this role. I'd be surprised if he got it any other way than knowing someone big on the inside. He simply isn't able to pretend to be someone else.
• #### Better actors may disagree... (Score:2, Interesting)

..but with a tiny bit of [university] acting experience as my guide, I think that what you aim at as an actor is "becoming" the person, not pretending to be them.

And that, I think, is Hayden's problem in this movie. Seems more like he's pretending to be Vader than he is becoming Vader.
• #### Geek Groupies? (Score:3, Interesting)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:50PM (#12843863)
Neal Stephenson seems to have some absurd geek-worship complex. While it is nice and ego-tickling at times, don't let it get to your head.

Just because writing computer programs is probably more intellectually demanding than collecting garbage or farming does not make us more essential to society. I hope that everyone reading this can easily see that the truth is the other way around. Although we do improve the efficiency of society, we are not so entrenched and important that modern civilization could not exist without us.

We don't have superpowers either, which is another common suggestion of Stephenson. Sure, the uninitiated look at what we do as mysterious and amazing. But look at a backhoe in operation. It is just as amazing how the operator in the cab can move a large and powerful piece of machinery with such precision. The difference is that our abilities are less familiar to people, so they seem somehow more amazing. If you get the chance, look into a chemical processing plant and you will see mechanisms and processes that are much more amazing still, but are just hidden from most people.

I don't read Stephenson's novels any more. It's just masturbation. That's not the way the world works.

• #### In the new one the Jedi are terrorists (Score:4, Interesting)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:51PM (#12843879) Homepage
Here's my summary of revenge of the Sith:

1. Anakin wants to be a good Jedi, but he keeps dreaming about his girlfriend's (Padme) death.
2. Anakin talks to Joda asking for help. Joda tells him he shouldn't worry because that's bad and he should accept the faith of Padme.
3. Anaking doesn't like that answer. (Why should he?) The Jedi answer pretty much sounds like a big "screw you". Of course he's gonna worry about Padme. I would.
4. The Emperor tells him he may or may not be able to save Padme, but he should at least try. However, trying goes against the Jedi dogma.
5. Anakin decides that the Jedi dogma is not correct, and joins the "dark" side. (Note: Dark doesn't mean evil. It means having an open mind and exploring both sides of the "force".)
6. The Jedi can't tolerate people that don't follow their religion, thus the emperor is forced to have this religious group killed.
7. Even though Anakin saved Obi-wan's life, Obi-wan is too blinded by his Jedi religion, and trys to kill Anakin. Trying to kill someone that saved your life is pretty low and evil in my book.
8. Anakin gets his arms and legs cut off, and his girlfriend dies. That makes him pretty pissed. (I'd be pretty pissed, too.)
9. Obi-wan doesn't even get a finger cut off, and he kidnaps Anakin's kids.
-- The End -
• #### Re:In the new one the Jedi are terrorists (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:02PM (#12845742) Journal
It's Friday, so I'll bite a troll. But only because someone actually modded him up, and I don't have any mod points myself.
3. Anaking doesn't like that answer. (Why should he?) The Jedi answer pretty much sounds like a big "screw you". Of course he's gonna worry about Padme. I would.
Anakin isn't supposed to be involved at all with Padme, because attachment is bad, lust is bad, jealousy, yadda yadda. So, from Yoda's point of view, Anakin is just whining about this girl that he knows. So of course Yoda's response is just "Yeah, people die all the time, kid. Life is tough. Deal."
5. Anakin decides that the Jedi dogma is not correct, and joins the "dark" side. (Note: Dark doesn't mean evil. It means having an open mind and exploring both sides of the "force".)
No, dark does mean evil. The dark side of the force is about frying people with lightning and choking people, and most importantly, manipulating the very nature of life and death itself, not to mention killing anyone and everyone who interferes. It's about being driven by emotion -- primarily hatred and lust (for sex and/or power).
7. Even though Anakin saved Obi-wan's life, Obi-wan is too blinded by his Jedi religion, and trys to kill Anakin. Trying to kill someone that saved your life is pretty low and evil in my book.
Even when that person has become a mass murder (of children) and is hell-bent on becoming a brutal dictator through any means necessary? And besides, it wasn't like Obi-Wan went after Anakin with the sole intention of killing him. Sure, it was something he knew he might be forced to do, but he still continued to try to reason with him. Only when it became clear that he was beyond being reasoned with did they come to blows. And even at the end of the battle, Obi-Wan was still trying to avoid killing him (i.e. "Don't try it... I have the higher ground"). But Anakin continued to fight, and Obi-Wan did what he had to do.
8. Anakin gets his arms and legs cut off, and his girlfriend dies. That makes him pretty pissed. (I'd be pretty pissed, too.)
Yeah, but your ordering is all wrong. Anakin became an evil sonofabitch before any of that happened. He had already murdered kids, aliens, Dooku, sand people, and whoever else before any of that happened to him.
• #### Hehe (Score:3, Funny)

It's not just RotS, as this classic post [slashdot.org] illustrates. (I take no credit for this, I just had it bookmarked.)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:55PM (#12843921)
Boy, does he take a turn into left field at the end there.

You know, I went to a pretty good school (Georgia Tech) and studied first engineering and then atmospheric science. There were people lining up to take science, engineering, and math classes... so much so that if you registered late, good luck getting into your required courses that semester.

Going back to high school, I checked my yearbook and about 40% of the students were going to college to study science of engineering. (I found it more interesting that 10% were going into law enforcement... but I digress.)

Why do people keep saying that "boys and girls run away from science and math?" I just don't see it. Kids younger than 12 are all about science, and based on my graduating class quite a few end up there at the end of high school. Sure, kids check out when they are teenagers, but who the hell doesn't? My personal opinion is that if you never skipped a class in high school, your priorities were a bit out of whack.

Is there any factual basis for Mr. Stephenson's claim? Or is the constant harping about "the young generation avoiding math" just more baby boomer bitching?
• #### The Difference is the Fans (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @12:58PM (#12843962) Journal
In the original trilogy, people were so happy there was a Star Wars that they were happy to overlook any and all flaws in the dialogue, storyline, plot elemenets, etc. They didn't mind that the Ewoks could defeat an elite stormtrooper legion, that an enormous Imperial fleet could simply go missing at the ROTJ, that Luke could become a full Jedi Knight in just a few years time. They didn't mind any of it, because the 70s and 80s were the time of action movies where Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood were major stars, followed by the Governator, Van Damme, etc. And all they had to do was either shoot people or beat the shit out of them. Rambo, Dirty Harry, Rocky, the Terminator, take your pick. But times changed in the 90s. Moviegoers became a lot more critical, demanded more from filmmakers. Particularly once the internet came to be widely used, everybody and their brother became armchair film critics. Everybody suddenly was an expert on filmmaking, writing, acting, producing (especially Slashdotters)though most had no clue what it all entailed. Movie audiences steadily got spoiled over time by some truly great epics until finally, these days, very few if any movies are good enough anymore. Thus the complaints about the plot holes in the Prequels, questions regarding the acting, the dialogue, etc. All things that could have come up while critiquing the OT, but which didn't for one reason. Because once upon a time, people went to a movie and simply enjoyed it for what it was. They didn't spend the entire time ripping it to pieces and then running home to post on their lame websites every flaw that they perceived and how they themselves could have done it better people. Think about people. You're spoiled to the point where you are unlikely to ever enjoy many movies in the future. Any movie you can think of, I can find someone on the internet who will be happy to rip it to shreds. Because it deserves it? No, because people just like to bitch and whine. It doesn't matter what the topic is, and it's what keeps internet forum from becoming totally deserted.
• #### Differences in Jedi (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:03PM (#12844028) Homepage Journal
One of my gripes with the new vs the old is with the treatment of the Jedi.

In the original trilogy, the Jedi didn't really do much fighting. Yoda even tells Luke in Empire "the force is to be used for knowledge and defence, never for attack." When the Falcon gets pulled into the Death Star, Obiwan doesn't come out swinging, he sneaks around to free the ship. The part that gets me most is when Luke is fighting Vader in Jedi. When does Luke declare himself to be a Jedi? When he throws his weapon away. He STOPS FIGHTING. That was when he claimed is rightful status.

To watch the new movies, you get more of a sense of "Jedi can kill anyone they want! Jedi cut off
heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it. These guys are so crazy and awesome
that they flip out ALL the time. I heard that there was this Jedi who was eating at Mos Eisly Cantina. And when some dude dropped a spoon the Jedi killed the whole town. My friend Mark said that he saw a Jedi totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window."

It just doesn't mesh with:
There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no death, there is the Force.

I know it's not canon, but it clearly illustrates to me the Yin/Yang qualities that balance the light and dark sides of the force.

While watching the new movies, it was like a stone in my shoe that kept bothering me. I kept thinking "but a Jedi wouldn't act that way.

I know this may be more of a personal interpretation, but I think the original trilogy mesh with my view.
• #### Re:Differences in Jedi (Score:3, Insightful)

The biggest, most fundamental difference:

Jedi is not a practice or a religion that anyone might master. It is more like a race.

Episode I revealed that the Jedi are recruited based on the midi-chlorian count of their bloodstream. Based on this, they are "recruited" as infants.

This, along with the fact that the Jedi are now a giant beauracracy with committee meetings, make the whole thing feel like Soviet olympics committees enslaving children to become gymnasts.

I really wouldn't care if Lucas had j
• #### Re:Differences in Jedi (Score:4, Interesting)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @03:35PM (#12846162)

Well, it is possible to view the difference you pointed out, not as an inconsistency, but rather as an integral part of the plot.

The prequels, and especially "Clone Wars", make the point that the Jedi order deviated from its "correct" path. That's the "imbalance in the force" often mentioned, that caused the reactive "inverse imbalace" of the dark side and the Empire coming to power.

Anakin/Vader embodies that imbalance. Note for example his blunt, haughty disregard of all those "lower", non-Jedi people at the bar scene in the beginning of Ep. 2 ("Jedi business! go back to your drink.")

Of course, later this deviation becomes only too appearant when he slaughters and entire village. But it can be argued that the whole Jedi order has been deviating with him. That the whole order was drifting away from the original philosophies of peace, serenity, inaction - into egocentricism, arrogance, disdain, indifference. In short: into the dark side.

This deviation leads to the rise of the new Sith Lords out of the ranks of the Jedis, since they are in fact a logical conclusion of this process.

Anakin himself rather represents the original spirit of the Jedi, as it drifts back and forth, right on the border between the light and the dark sides.

At first, the haughty attitude he absorbs from his fellow Jedis is expressed, leading him eventually to cross over to the dark side, and become Vader. But after the order is crushed, humbled, and all but destroyed, there is a return to the original spirit of the Jedi, presented in the sequels by the scenes of Yoda training and teaching young Luke.

And so does the order of Jedi, after drifting away from "enlightment" and into ego-worship and the dark side - so does it return to it's source, and into the light. And Darth Vader becomes Anakin Skywalker once again.

Just a thought.

• #### Well, that's something anyway (Score:3, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:20PM (#12844262)
That at least explains the incoherent plot and the lack of character development.

But that's not the worst part.

Darth Vader. DARTH fucking VADER!!! The most evil badass in the fucking galaxy, second only to the emperor but that guy's getting kinda long in the tooth.

I mean, I went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago, and they have the Darth Vader suit behind glass, and it just seemed to exude evil. Gave me chills. This is one scary badass genocidal black-hearted motherfucker.

So, how did he become such a villain? What drove him to this abyss of the soul?

He wanted to save his sweetie.

WHAT????

He didn't really want to join the dark side, but he had to do it to save someone else? So really, it was self-sacrifice! It was an act of GOOD! He's a misunderstood good guy!

And why did he feel this step was necessary? Because (1) he had a dream she was gonna die, and (2) the chancellor tells him a story about one old Sith who supposedly could save people from dying. Does it ever occur to Anakin, when he finds out the chancellor is an evil sith lord, that maybe he shouldn't believe the evil Sith's little fairy tale? No! He becomes Vader because he's the most gullible Jedi in the fucking universe!

And then, the final moment. The helmet goes on. Darth Vader at last steps fully into his dark destiny. And what are the first words out of his mouth? "Where's Padme? Is she ok?"

This is evil???

And then, the horrible moment...when he throws back his head, throws up his arms, and screams "NOOOOOO" right out of a hundred other B-grade schlocky movies.

God. What horror. All I can do is tell myself, this isn't the real story. The real story of Vader is still untold. This is just the distorted vision of a senile old man.

And of course, there are a hundred other points you could pick apart. Even the fight scenes sucked. Phantom Menace wasn't a great movie, but the lightsaber fights with Darth Maul, those were cool. These were just flash flash flash, you couldn't even tell what was going on. And Padme, used to be a strong character, now she spends the whole movie snivelling.

And in all three movies...it used to be good vs. evil. Now, the essence of a Jedi is "no attachments." Anakin can't be a Jedi and fall in love. The power to heal is only on the Dark Side, the good Jedi just accept death and let people die. Ten years go by after taking Anakin away from Tatooine, and the great Jedi and the Queen never bother to buy their golden boy's mother out of slavery. Being a Jedi means not giving a shit about anybody.

When we watched the old movies, every kid, at least every boy, wanted to be either Han Solo, or a Jedi. These movies have no Han Solo-type character, and the Jedi are assholes. Gaagh, what a waste. These are not Star Wars. Star Wars had character. Where's amnesia when you need it.

• #### Poor Hayden Christensen (Score:4, Informative)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:40PM (#12844566)
Anakin Skywalker may have doomed his career, unfairly so. The guy has shown that not only can he act, but that he's actually a fine actor. Feel free to check out his performances in "Life As A House" [imdb.com] and "Shattered Glass" [imdb.com]. After seeing these two films, my opinion of Lucas' skills as a director fell even further. I had heard that he was not an actor's director, but to take a fine young actor and elicit such wooden performances from him, Good Lord man!
• #### I can't swim, sir! (Score:5, Funny)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:50PM (#12844734)
Mr. Christensen has been given an impossible acting task. He's trying to swim in air.

Yet somehow, he manages to drown.

• #### Lightsabers in Ep 4-6 vs 1-3 (Score:4, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @01:50PM (#12844737)
One thing that's always irked me about the prequels that I've only recently put my finger on is the gratuitous use of lightsabers compared to what we saw in 4-6.

In Ep 4, lightsabers were shown quite sparingly:

Luke in Obi-Wan's house
Obi Wan in the Cantina
Luke practicing on the M.Falcon

In the scene when Obi-Wan gives Anakin's lightsaber to Luke, he makes a point of telling Luke that it's a warrior's weapon that represents honour and grace. You would not expect a samurai to use his sword to cut sandwiches; merely drawing your weapon is a significant act in itself. Contrast with episode 1 when in the opening scene, all it took for Obi-Wan and Anakin to whip 'em out was a loud noise.

Of course, in 1977, the technology level wasnt there, so every second of lightsabre screen time cost a lot more than now when CGI is just a commodity, which probably explains it's scarcity in eps 4-6. However, Lucas' often gratuitous use of lightsabre battles in the prequels totally smacks of fan service. IMHO it really dilutes the mystique and significance of the lightsaber and makes the jedi look like gang members who think running around with dual beretta's held sideways is cool. Nothing at all like the introspective and disciplined order the jedi are supposed to represent.
• #### Re:Lightsabers in Ep 4-6 vs 1-3 (Score:5, Insightful)

on Friday June 17, 2005 @04:22PM (#12846684)
Why wouldn't lightsabers be more common in 1-3 than in 4-6?

In 1-3, there are a LOT of Jedi, and they are out doing things that require their lightsabers.

In 4-6, there are exactly 2 Jedi, one of whom is dead for 2 movies, the other only becomes even a Padawan about halfway through the second movie.

Hell, once Luke gets part of his training and runs off to fight Vader, it's like he never puts the damn thing down. Even before that, it was used to cut Luke free from ice, gut a tauntaun, and slice open an AT-AT.

So, we see a lot more lightsabery stuff in 1-3 because there are a lot more lightsabers - but they're still used for the same thing: as a tool and a weapon.

Sorry, but whoever modded the parent insightful pretty clearly hasn't actually seen the movies.

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