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Posts Tagged ‘hayden christensen

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

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Remember when I wrote this and this?  Well, go ahead and get yourself in the mood with those year-old opinions.  My coworker who loves Star Wars even more than I do (if that’s possible) suggested a May tradition of Star Wars lovin’.  I highly approve, and so I’ve been going through them again.  Here’s the next installment that I managed to not write a review of…

*CAUTION* This summary is written under the pretense that, well, all of you know the what’s up of Anakin Skywalker in the Star-verse.  If you don’t know the ending, well, stop reading and join the real world and watch some Star Wars.

K anyways.  Three years after the commencement of the Clone Wars, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) are still teamed up and kicking Separatist trash.  Aside from the war, Anakin’s got more problems.  His secret marriage with Padme (Natalie Portman) reaches new levels when Padme gets pregnant.  Anakin, after more crazy premonitiondreams, is worried that his wife will suffer a similar fate to his mothers and Emp, I mean Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is still taking a special interest in young Skywalker.  The Jedi army aids the clones across the galaxy on various star systems, and Chancellor Palpatine has his own all-but innocent agenda to seize control.

First of all, III is associated with one of my favorite Star Wars memories.  My mom let me skip SCHOOL to see this on opening day back in ’05, and I have my brother to thank for planting that genius idea in my mother’s head.  It was so exciting, and so sad to see it all come to an end… and a pretty tragic end at that.  I believe I will feel similarly after this next Harry Potter installment is released next month.  But seriously, that was amazing.  And I was enamored with the entire movie.  With perhaps a few flaws, this is by far the best of the new trilogy and my opinion is largely the same (though not quite as obsessed).

Let’s talk Anakin.  And let’s talk HUGE IMPROVEMENT over II.  Allow me to reiterate from my last review – if Anakin hadn’t been such a douche in Attack of the Clones, then this third bit would make so much more sense.  Make Episode II Anakin into a nice though still cocky boy, willing to follow orders and inherently good.  THEN in Episode III he can defy the council, kill sand people and be an overall angry person.  But alas.  I did think that he played a confused, and scared young adult playing with fire very well.  His fall to the dark side, though initially implausible because his relationship with Padme is so unbelievable, is emotionally driven and powerful by the end.  Palpatine is a devilish snake, working Anakin like a puppet.  “Remember what you told me about your mother and the sand people?”  He “sees greatness in Anakin” but still reminds him of past mistakes.  He embodies the dark side of the force in the most literal way I could imagine.  He knows just how to play him, how to build him up and butter his ego, and make him more his servant.  It gives Darth Vader’s relationship to the Emp an entirely new meaning in the later trilogy – DV was never more than a slave.  Did I let the cat out of the bag too early?

Natalie Portman is solid as the mother of the future – rockin’ the princess Leia ‘do and everything.  But how could Anakin and Padme expect to keep their marriage a secret if A) they lived together and B) they were having kids!  Is prego Senators the norm in the Star-verse?  Did that affect her rep AT ALL?  I feel like they didn’t think things through very clearly.  Oh well, Natalie Portman is still good.  And beautiful and stuff (as the boy I was watching the movie with mentioned every few minutes…)

Ewan McGregor manages to emulate Sir Alec Guinness to perfection.  He’s fantastic as the scruffy Jedi-master.  I was pissed when he was tossed about so easily by Count Dooku… just like the last one.  Please don’t mess with one of my favorite characters.  I beg of you.  That’s all irrelevant though, because by the end he’s tossing General GRIEVOUS about like his cough were pneumonia and with more style than Anakin could ever have.  He’s a fantastic leader and you gotta feel his anguish by the end.  Poor guy.  I practically get teary (but not really) when Anakin and Obi-Wan part before their final showdown and Anakin bids the force be with him one last time…  So sad.  Yoda (Frank Oz) too is a bad-A green guy – it doesn’t get any cooler than nonchalantly outing Emperor Palpatine’s familiar red guards at the door.  So cool.  And the battle between the two of them is pretty sick, but I HATED Palpatine’s earlier battle with Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and co.  Seriously? There’s no way that his pathetic swordsmanship could have bested all three of Windu’s buddies.  And Mace is MUCH too cool for the death he was given.  Fail.

Anakin and Obi-Wan’s battle is arguably the best in the whole series.  Granted, Darth Maul is the best Sith Lord the franchise has seen, but this is so emotional.  The blue on blue, the music oh the music (I could practically write a paper just on the J. Williams himself…), the lava land, the sadness.  Granted, Hayden is a little over the top once he loses his legs, but Ewan manages to keep it smooth and classy.  Overall it’s a fantastic scene and it gives Ep IV an entirely new twist.  III strikes the perfect tone leading into the old trilogy.  It makes you realize that the entire saga is really just a story about Anakin and his path as “the chosen one.”  He just took a little 20-year detour in a bad-A breathing suit.

Other cool things:

  • The order 66 execution.  And just like that, everything turns Darth Sidious’ way.  Pretty cool way to get rid of all the Jedi…
  • The continual expansion of the Star-verse.  Mustafaar, Kashyyk, whatever else.
  • Chewbacca’s cameo.
  • R2D2 further establishes himself as the number one selection for your team against the Zombie Apocalypse.  What can’t that little droid do?  That opening scene is excellent, and almost manages to capture the charm and wit of the original trilogy.  Almost.  But yeah, R2D2 is boss.
  • NO JAR JAR.
  • Awesome special effects.
  • Don’t tell me you didn’t get the chills when Darth Vader drew his first breath.  Or when James Earl Jones spoke his first words.
I’d ALMOST venture to say that this one’s better than Return of the Jedi.  Almost.  I’ll be rewatching that one sometime this week, so I guess I’ll see what my final opinion entails.  But whatever Lucas destroyed in the first two, he redeems in Episode III.  And hey, I’m not a hater of any of them.  This is the perfect bridge to the old trilogy and makes me feel good about being a Star Wars fan…atic.  8/10

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

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Attack of the Clones picks up ten years after little Ani Skywalker became Obi Wan Kenobi’s padawan learner.  The galaxy is on the brink of a civil war.  There are still Sith lords on the loose, and star systems are threatening to leave the Republic.  After multiple assassination attempts on Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), team Anakin (who’s no longer a baby-faced kid but an angsty nineteen/twenty something year old – played, well, pretty awfully by Hayden Christensen) is on Padme’s detail and Team Obi Wan (Ewan McGregor) leaves to investigate the who and what behind the assassination attempts.

Anything else?  Oh yeah.  Anakin and Padme fall in love.

While Attack of the Clones is leagues ahead of Phantom Menace in most respects… it still has two issues.  Just two – no big deal, right?  Wrong.  Those two things are sort of, like, central to the entire prequel trilogy.  They’re really unfortunate things to mess up on:

Number 1?  Yeah.  Anakin.   I’m not sure who’s more to blame, Christensen or George Lucas.  Hayden aside, what kind of character do we have?  Some idiot who complains all the freaking time about things like sand and life being super unfair.  Unfair?  This is coming from a nobody who was literally brought out of the boonies to become an incredible somebody – all out of the goodness of a Jedi master’s heart.  Man, I wish he’d shut up.  I’ll give him some things, though.  I like him all right when he’s with Obi Wan.  His recklessness and cocky attitude are fitting and keep Obi in check.  I really like their relationship, actually.  (“If you spent as much time practicing your saber techniques as you did your wit you would rival Master Yoda as a swordsman.” “I thought I already did.” “Only in your mind, my very young apprentice.”)

Number 2?  That freakin’ romance.  Natalie Portman’s much better this time around, but I just couldn’t buy their relationship.  Zero chemistry.  And really, why the heck is she attracted to someone who’s so whiny and unlikeable anyway?  Right, I too get turned on by sandpeople slaughterin’ macho men… ?  She started out fine with her initial older sister-like disdain for Ani and the I-think-you-should-shut-up-kid look, but the next minute they’re frollicking in the grass.  Sheesh, man.  It’s all pretty dismissable, except the whole grab-a-quick-kiss-on-a-rhino’s-back thing. Now that really got me laughing.  Could you get any cheesier?

With those major bits out of the way let’s get to the good bits.

Love the Jar-Jar shut-down.  But did anyone else notice that he was the one who granted Palpatine emergency powers?  So he’s responsible for every… nevermind.  Limited Jar Jar is good.

This installment is full of “aha!” moments.  Such as…

  • Jango Fett is a stormtrooper.  Sorta.  At least, they all look like him.  Like father, like son – he too was a bounty hunter.
  • With that – stormtroopers used to be good!  The clones were on our side in The Clone Wars.
  • Owen and Beru get screen time.  Owen’s actually Anakin’s step brother through Shmi’s second (first?) marriage.  Great choices, they look like their future selves.
  • Death star plans? Yessss.

Being the SW nerd that I am, I dig any freaking second on other star systems.  Kamino, Coruscant, not s’much Tattooine, Geonosis, and Naboo (I’d live there!)  The galaxy-expansion is very exciting.  I’m also totally into the political intrigue that went behind the birth of the Empire.

I’m not gonna lie, I get a major adrenaline rush when all those jedi rush out with their lightsabers on Geonosis.  It’s the first time there has been more than three lightsabers present at any given time in the franchise, so that was freaking legit.  This is the golden age of the jedis – to see them in action is such a thrill.  It’s also pretty great to see Mace Windu (Sam’s the man L. Jackson) kick major trash.  The Yoda (Frank Oz) battle is pretty sweet too, what a mean green fighting machine.  Frankly though, I prefer his throw things at you with eyes closed approach better than lightsaberin’ it up.  He flips around so much, you’d think he could just chop his legs off being so small but whatev.  Yoda rocks no matter what.

Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is pretty sweet, though Maul still rocks the ceiling off.  My personal favorite aspect of AotC is Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan.  What a dog, he’s jumping out of buildings, getting in more bar fights, and talking back to his apprentice.  A great character, he is.

The redeeming factors outweigh the major flaws.  This is a much better movie than Episode I, but I think it’s weaker regarding the bigger picture.  After watching Revenge of the Sith where Hayden isn’t quite so bad, if only he could’ve just been likeable in this one… it would have saved the entire trilogy.  If Anakin and Padme had been believable together in this one, Ep. III would make much more sense.  It’s the weakest link; it doesn’t tie the two together like it should.  Thank goodness for kick-A lightsaber battles. 7/10

Written by laurenthejukebox17

August 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

Shattered Glass (2003)

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Warning: Your viewing experience can be absolutely exceptional if you watch knowing nothing about this film’s plot or the real events it depicts.  That, in my opinion, is the best kind of movie watching and this film deserves that sort of attention.  Suffice it to say that this is a rewarding two hours and if you have not already seen it you should stop reading immediately and go rent this.  Right now.

At the dawn of the internet there’s The New Republic – referred to as the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.  Its youngest reporter, Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen), is the man.  He always knows just what cards to play, what compliment to throw and what joke to tell to be loved, admired, and respected by everyone.  He’s charming, he’s witty, he’s unfallingly polite, and he’s on every other magazine’s hot list.

Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) is the new editor of the acclaimed magazine and he’s got it rough after replacing the beloved Michael Kelly (Hank Azaria).  When the news team of the online newspaper Forbes Digital brings to light potential discrepancies in Glass’s recent article “Hack Heaven”, Lane is faced with the gruelling challenge of getting to the bottom of it.  Sarsgaard received a Golden Globe nom for best supporting actor in this role and he is, indeed, phenomenal.  Scene after scene he hits it without a single misstep, though I am partial to a rather stirring moment near the end in which he coolly storms into the building wearing his black leather jacket, perfectly timed to Mychael Danna’s magnificent score.

The story is nothing short of fascinating.  Layer upon layer it sucks you into its web of possible lies and deceit.  It raises some important questions about journalistic ethics, though it may not answer the ultimate question of “what is driving this kid?”  It’s a complex character study with no real rhyme or reason to his actions because pathological liars don’t always have reasons.  It gets even better after it’s over and you can find out for yourself just how accurate the film’s events were, and more importantly how accurate Christensen’s performance was.  Say what you want about this kid and Star Wars, but he is excellent in Shattered Glass.  You may argue that he’s just as whiny as ever but this time it fits his character.  Or perhaps you think he’s finally found his niche.  Either way, he’s great – so I wouldn’t give up on him just yet.  Featured on our DVD copy is the “60 Minutes” interview with the real Stephen Glass and after watching that I can safely say that Darth Vader hit it right on the mark.

Other notable performances go to Hank Azaria, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, and Steve Zahn in his small role (I could watch that guy in anything).  The acting isn’t the film’s only strength, though.  First time director Billy Ray creates a riveting drama that captivates its audience better than any other movie I’ve seen in years.  It deserves a place right next to All the President’s Men as the greatest journalism movies ever made with a perfect, witty script and a satisfying end to boot.

I could watch this movie a thousand times, it’s that sharp. 10/10

“If it was sunny outside and Steve and I were both standing outside in the sun and Steve came to me and said, ‘It’s a sunny day,’ I would immediately go check with two other people to make sure it was a sunny day.” ~Chuck Lane on Stephen Glass

Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm