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Posts Tagged ‘natalie portman

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
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Thor (2011)

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The beginning of a fantastic superhero-filled summer.

My first association with Thor began when I was just a kid.  My comic-book loving brother had Marvel characters galore coating his walls and I used to stare at them, with zero comprehension of who they all really were.  Probably the best that I’ve really known Thor, though, was in Adventures in Babysitting.  Don’t judge, Thor has a pretty big impact on bad-A car dealers, too.

I’d watched the trailer for Thor over a dozen times at my job.  They play the. same. commercials all day long.  Excitement turned to boredom, boredom turned to mockery, and mockery turned to WTF Kenneth Branagh is directing this??? And then back to excitement.  Needless to say, I was anxious to see what the distinguished English actor/director of Henry V would bring to the table.

Thor.  The god of thunder.  The son of Odin, king of Asgard.  So basically once upon a time, like a billion years ago or whatever, Asgard and the Frost Giants were at war.  Those snowy dudes wanted all-ruling power over the nine realms, including our blessed Earth.  When Asgard blew them over,  the Asgardians took their little ice trophy, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

Flash forward to present, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is about to assume the throne – even over his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston).  Those same, frozen, frisky sonofaguns went and ruined his big day by trying to steal back their power…thing.  Thor is kinda pissed, thinks he’s king already, and decides to take matters into his own hands and kinda starts up some war again with those frosty idiots.  Odin (Anthony Hopkins) realizes that, oh wait THOR can’t be king right now.  He should probably go grow up a little bit.  On Earth.  Without powers.  And kinda without his hammer, too.  Things get worse upstairs when Odin has some kind of stressed-induced heart attack thing and falls into his get-better “Odinsleep.”  Loki takes over as king and he wants to run things a little differently…

First of all, does anyone else feel like laughing every time the name “Thor” is used in casual conversation?  Because I do.

I also have to give credit that it was exactly what I was expecting.  A good story, good action, some cheese, and a lot of great stranger in a strange land moments (which I applaud for being highly entertaining, but not overbearing and distracting).  As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been too exposed to the Thor-verse, so I wasn’t sure how Marvel would mesh with Norse mythology.  After this movie, however, I’m definitely jumping on the bandwagon and I’d call myself a Thor-fan.  While I don’t consider it up to par with the Spiderman movie franchise nor Christopher Nolan’s Batman(s), it does have some surprisingly deep facets to the story – all thanks to Loki.  Loki’s character was the best developed out of anyone else in the ensemble (especially compared to Thor, who became a good boy remarkably quick).  His disturbed countenance and spark of evil are perfectly portrayed, as well as his deep confusion.  I was half rooting for him.  He sold the movie for me and I’d recommend it if only for him.

I think my main complaint was the lack of character development in Thor.  Maybe I’m just not buying the I-am-a-better-person-because-of-a-woman-even-though-I-just-met-her-yesterday plot device anymore.  (Speaking of which, Natalie Portman is in freaking EVERYTHING this year!)  I actually really enjoyed Portman’s performance as the storm-chasin’, researcher/scientist Jane Foster.  Even if I were a science nerd, though, I don’t think I’d be  head over heels for some larger than life specimen from nowhere just because I wanted answers.  I thought that Chris Hemsworth played the two extremes well, but there just wasn’t enough script in the middle to fully appreciate the leader that he turned into.

And how ’bout that Asgard?  The rainbow bridge was as beautiful as I could have imagined it.  Good on ya, folks.  The towers, waterfalls, castles, and landscapes were all breathtaking and god-like.  If I had their kind of power, that’s where I’d live.

We’ve also got things to get us more pumped for The Avengers – Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) played a bigger role than in previous Avenger-precursors.  SHIELD was all over the place trying to figure out that goshdarn hammer, stuck in the ground like Excalibur.  The intrigue builds for the mega-mashup coming in 2012.  But I don’t think of Thor as simply an extended trailer for The Avengers.  I think it’s a great stand-alone flick and I’d welcome a sequel.

The screenplay was fine, but somewhat cliché.  The CGI and action were fantastic and entertaining and the costumes made them gods look awesome.  The secondary characters were good too for the most part (Kat Dennings was getting on my nerves a little bit) with good performances by Stellan Skarsgard, Rene Russo and Colm Feore.

Branagh, you da man.  Thor is a popcorn flick well-worth the popcorn and the price of the movie ticket, too.  7/10

V for Vendetta (2006)

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“Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.  I know of no reason the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”

Geek fest geek fest geek fest…  I can think of a few movies that I’ve seen in my lifetime where I come home from the theater, or turn off the TV and just sit back and think.  Memento falls under this category as does Inception or actually The Prestige… k so any Christopher Nolan movie AT ALL, but I’ve also had this feeling with On the Waterfront, The Truman Show, Psycho, and The Man in the Moon.  It doesn’t have to be trippy like Nolan’s movies to get me thinking.  These movies all made an impression on me in some way or another, whether it’s crazy good acting, a revealing twist, trippy cinematography, a great script or simply a wonderful story.  V for Vendetta made an impression on me.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but this movie is freaking amazing.

So there’s this terrorist dude.  He’s got a white mask, a deep impressionable voice, and goes by the name “V.”  (Hugo Weaving, so awesome even without a face).  Dystopian London is a wreck, and he thinks he can set it straight by finishing what Guy Fawkes and co. started in 1605… blow up Parliament.  On the 5th of November, of course.  Though he dons the Fawkes mask as his symbol, V has his own personal vendetta against the government, beginning with his imprisonment at a British concentration camp for homosexuals, blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc.  His face was disfigured in an explosion (also on November 5th) and he seeks revenge over all responsible at the camp.

There’s also a girl named Evey Hammond (played brilliantly and very British-like by Natalie Portman).  She’s a twenty-somethin’ orphan working at the British Television Network.  She crosses paths with V (well, he saved her life or somethin’) and invites her to watch him blow up the Old Bailey.  The government steals his thunder by covering to the public what really happened, so he makes a personal appearance on the TV Network Evey works at, appealing to the people to unite with him the following 5th of November against Parliament.  Evey saves his life… he takes her to his freaking awesome lair where she’s supposed to chill for a year.  And later she shows off her awesome head shape  – very few women could pull off a shaved head like she can.  (“Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head” anyone?)

Okay, so the British government is pretty messed up.  This is dystopian GB, the US is basically destroyed, and totalitarian gov of the fascist Norsefire party led by Adam Sutler (John Hurt) tries to fix the environmental mess that England is in post some war involving biological weapons.  They basically came to power by creating a deadly virus, killing thousands, and then producing a cure.  And they, like, had psycho concentration camps like Nazis.  Sketchy kinda?  So the public might actually pay attention to this “V” man, no one likes the controlled situation they’re under.

Another character of note is Inspector Finch (Stephen Rea) who is investigating the murders of several government officials, all killed by V.

First of all, V is freaking awesome.  His opening V-alliterated monologue along with Evey’s “Are you, like, a crazy person?” is kind of great.  V kinda has a knife obsession, loves The Count of Monte Cristo, and all things beautiful.  He’s a jack of all trades master at EVERYTHING kind of a guy.  Too bad we only hear Weaving’s voice, but it’s still a good performance balancing brilliance with insanity.

I, personally, think that Natalie Portman is good as well.  Some argue that her accent sucks and that she’s just white noise behind better performances.  But I disagree, I think she’s a very talented actress and her accent is actually quite good.  I enjoyed her performance.

But I’ll be honest, though the acting, cinematography, directing, writing, costumes, technical aspects (freaking sweet in its own right – visually exciting and better than The Matrix in some aspects) and what else have you are all great ‘n’ all… the story makes the movie.  And I’m a sucker for dystopian plot lines.  It’s gotta be my consistently most favorite genre.  I can’t believe I haven’t gotten ahold of the graphic novels yet (it’s on my to-do list now), because just the film itself has sparked a bug in me and I want to know everything I can about this crazy, unfamiliar world.  It’s complex and nuanced, heartbreaking and gripping.  It’s also a kick-A action movie, if you dig that.

I’m sure the Wachowski bros and James McTeigue don’t do Alan Moore justice, but on a strictly movie standpoint – this is hardcore. 9/10

oscars to the 83rd.

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It’s that time again guys.  I don’t know why I don’t get so excited for these.  But I do.  So don’t judge.

Some People Predict 2011. Go.

PICTURE: The Social Network
So King’s Speech has been getting the buzz lately, it took the SAG awards.  But I’m still sticking with the Facebook movie.  It’ll be close – this the toughest competition of the bunch.  Well, this and Director.


DIRECTOR: David Fincher – The Social Network.
And oh why wasn’t Christopher Nolan nominated for this??? Didn’t they add ten slots basically because of The Dark Knight’s omission in 2009? Sheesh.  That man better get his someday.


ACTOR: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
I’m not as Mr. Darcy sick as many of my female friends… but I still love this man.  This is a crazy-great category though – I’d pull for Jessie Eisenberg, James Franco, Firth, AND Jeff Bridges if I could.  I don’t know much about Biutiful, but Javier Bardem is always good too.


ACTRESS: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Yeah, I don’t have anything to say about this category. Go Natalie.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale – The Fighter
Love this guy, glad he’s getting some recognition.  I’m also glad Mark Ruffalo got a nom, I’ve liked him for a while.  I wish Andrew Garfield got somethin’ though!


SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo – The Fighter
I’m probably plugging for Amy Adams, though I’m stoked Hailee Steinfeld got a nod even if it should have been Best Actress.


ANIMATED FEATURE: Toy Story 3
I wish Tangled had been nominated.  But this deserves it no doubt.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: David Seidler – The King’s Speech
I’m still plugging for Chris Nolan with Inception…
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Aaron SorkinThe Social Network
I already obsess over Aaron Sorkin with his work on The West Wing.  That guy can write.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Inception
This is a tough one.  It’s this or True Grit.
ART DIRECTION: Alice in Wonderland
Yeah, I just said Alice in Wonderland. Though the night before the Oscars I may change that to King’s Speech.
COSTUME DESIGN: The King’s Speech
They always go for the period pieces.
DOCUMENTARY (feature): Inside Job
DOCUMENTARY (short): No freaking idea.  Killing in the Name?
Because I’ve heard of it?  This also may change.  Because I just don’t know.
FILM EDITING: Social Network
I would have said Inception, sealed deal but oh wait it’s not nominated…
FOREIGN PICTURE: Incendies
This is another tough category because these guys never get famous until after they win.  Maybe I should be better and pay attention to foreign films all the way along but eh, not worth it.
MAKEUP: Barney’s Version
I guess? Anything but Wolfman right?
MUSICAL SCORE: The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
I’m for Hans Zimmer with Inception. And I think it’d take second.
ORIGINAL SONG: “Coming Home” – Country Song
Because it’s a country song… But it should be Randy Newman for Toy Story 3
SHORT ANIMATED: Day and Night
I’m saying no contest?
SHORT LIVE ACTION: God of Love
Because I’ve heard of it?
SOUND EDITING: Inception
It. has. to. be.
SOUND MIXING: Inception
VISUAL EFFECTS: Inception

Looking forward to the 27th folks. See ya then.

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

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

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So I think it’s about time I did a Star Wars marathon review-fest.  To start off: I. Am. A. Star. Wars. Nut.  I grew up watching the original trilogy and they still remain some of my all-time favorite movies.  Another thing you should know: I am not a prequel-hater.  I prefer the original trilogy, yes.  But I think George Lucas gets a lot of crap thrown at him for prequels that really aren’t that terrible.  There are many things to like.  Sure there are bad aspects which I will discuss in my reviews, but so do a lot of good movies.  The original movies are classic, with the perfect blend of character, action, a wicked plot, and heart.  The prequels are just good movies.

So on to The Phantom Menace

This takes place about 30 years before A New Hope (or if you want me to get really nerdy.. that’d be 30 years BBY – Before Battle of Yavin).  Two jedis, Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are sent to settle a dispute between the Trade Federation and the planet of Naboo.  When things go sour, they narrowly escape and set off to warn Queen Amidala but the Federation are already starting to take over.  While helping to protect the Queen they land on the planet Tatooine where Qui Gon and the Queen’s handmaiden, Padme (Natalie Portman) meet young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) who helps them get parts to repair their ship.  He ultimately joins them on their way to Coruscant, where they hope to settle their issues once and for all.

I have such a clear recollection of going to see this in the theater.  I was just 9-years-old but I still knew the Star Wars universe backwards and forwards.  In the opening scenes, I still remember the excitement I felt at hearing the older jedi with the long ‘do speak the name of “Obi Wan” to the younger jedi with the funny pony tail.  Yes!  Obi Wan!  I had no idea what the plot was going to be about at the time, so I felt a certain security early on to find a favorite character on board.

Many, many viewings later I still get a kick out of it.  Though with that I now notice things like corny dialogue.  Yeah, okay.  I’ll try not to repeat this several times so let’s just consider it understood that the script is not, how shall I put it, its strongest point.  Luckily we get some early lightsaber action to move it along to better things.

Oh sorry, did I say better things?  Excuse my hastiness.  The better things will have to wait until we get this big walking mistake out of the way.  Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) is the WORST thing to ever happen to the Star Wars franchise.  Worse than corny dialogue.  Worse than Hayden Christensen and Jake Lloyd put together.  As Qui Gon put it, “The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.”  Jar-Jar should have just bolted at that insult then and there to spare us from his obscene presence.  Though his real opportunity to be written off came just a scene later – by allowing him to receive the “pune-ishment” he deserves.  But no.  He’s got himself a “life debt” with Qui Gon.  Really Qui Gon?  Do you NEED to hold this Gungan just because you saved his life?  Do you really expect him to help you out in return, I’m pretty sure you can save your own skin a lot better.  *Sigh*  I’m pretty sure that Jar-Jar is the one thing that everyone can reach an agreement on.  Terrible.  I mean doesn’t George Lucas know that “ex-quueeze me” is from Full House of all things?  Shutting up now.

Side note: Would you get a hold of the Queen’s wardrobe?  Holy I’ve never seen anything so big and extravagant.  It’s also fun to see some small Keira Knightley action in there too, even if she is covered in white makeup and feathers.

Now to the better things.  Better thing number 1: The Nubian cruiser.  It’s pretty slick, ain’t it?  I mean, nothing rivals the Falcon but this beast is pretty!  Better thing number 2: R2-D2 is still kicking trash, just look at how he outlasted every single other droid to save the ship.  Man he rocks.

Tatooine is still as ugly as ever.  I also remember going “Hey!  That’s Luke’s dad!  Darth Vader!”  And again, things are so much better when you’re nine.  Jake Lloyd may be a cute kid but he’s not terribly talented.  Frankly though, I don’t mind him.  At least he had some spirit – which is more than you could say for Hayden Christensen.  I think he was a good symbol of innocence.  It was like, how could he turn evil, ya know?

Better thing number 3: C-3PO (albeit a naked C-3PO).  The dynamic droid duo is (almost) reunited once more!

Better thing number 4: The podrace.  This is the first highlight of the movie.  From the announcing of the contestants to the explosions, Tuskan raider chants, and familiar Jawa jabber – this is nothing but intense and entertaining film watching.  I can’t say it’s better than Ben Hur‘s chariot race (though it is uncannily similar) but this is still awesome.  A little long, perhaps.  But awesome.

From then on out we get some more lightsaber action with Darth Maul (Ray Park), an introduction to then Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) with an oddly familiar voice, some political intrigue, and best of all the introduction to the jedi council.  Yoda (Frank Oz), and Mace Windu (what’s this – Samuel L. Jackson in a Star Wars movie??) are two other excellent factors to the prequel trilogy.  I had an Episode I Encyclopedia and I loved learning about all of the different jedis on the council.  Haha, yeah I’m a nerd.

Better (and final) thing number 5: The jedi-battle with Darth Maul.  Being a martial artist myself I delight in watching Ray Parker.  This is the best part of the movie, and one of the best moments in the entire series.  It’s excellently choreographed and perfectly set to John Williams’ “Duel of the Fates.”  What a sick battle, and where can I get me a double sided lightsaber?  It’s too bad Obi Wan had to finish Maul off because we could have used his awesomeness in a few more movies.

Other notes… Acting: This is Natalie Portman’s worst of the trilogy.  I actually really like her as an actress, but she was really wooden this time around.  I do think that Ewan McGregor was an excellent choice for a young Ben Kenobi, or rather a young Alec Guiness.  He too improves in the subsequent movies but he’s pretty good in this one.  Liam Neeson isn’t bad either.  As I mentioned earlier Jake Lloyd may not have been the ideal choice but he isn’t terrible, IMO.

The special effects, scenery, and plot are all great.  We already knew that Anakin Skywalker was once good but here we learn that he had a destiny to fulfill.  He was “the chosen one.”  He was supposed to bring balance to the force.  The story is great, it’s a shame the script didn’t match up.

All in all I think it’s a good introduction to the saga setting up better things to come.  I actually enjoyed it a lot better than the last time I watched it, though it still remains my least favorite of the six.  It doesn’t have the same heart of the original trilogy but it’s still a good, enjoyable movie.  6/10