Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 14, 2005
POP CULTURE: Sneering at Star Wars
In the interests of balancing my sight-unseen irrational exuberance about Revenge of the Sith, I present to you a nasty, sneering essay in the New York Observer. (via Instapundit). Frankly, in complying with the First Rule of Sequel Reviews - tell the reader what you thought of the earlier movies - the author, Dale Peck, gives the game away with his assertion that "[t]here has not, in fact, been a good Star Wars movie since the first one." And frankly, the entire article is almost a parody of sneering contempt for the whole Star Wars enterprise and its fans, to the point where I sincerely doubt that Peck enjoyed the first one, either. Plus, of course, the picture of the elitist New York movie critic unable to enjoy a good show wouldn't be complete without totally non sequitur anti-Bush rants.
Look: the Star Wars films are not everyone's taste, but you really have to work at this kind of animosity towards the entire project. Among other things, you need to separate yourself wholly from the ability to enjoy films with even a shred of the joy and innocence of childhood (just from reading this "review" - which scarcely discusses Revenge of the Sith, so it's really more of an essay on Star Wars in general - I would bet good money that this guy has no kids of his own).
I didn't understand this line at all:
[T]he real loss in the immediate sequels was the cantankerous sexual triangle of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia that had given Star Wars a recognizable and genuinely compelling psychological frisson . . . Mr. Lucas jettisoned the sex stuff, along with any other traces of personality that had crept into his original story . . .
Did this guy see The Empire Strikes Back? I mean, you don't have to like the romantic angle in that movie - I certainly don't - but there's really quite a lot more of it than there was in the original Star Wars.
I should add that, in general, I've never liked the romantic stuff in these films. At first, looking back, I thought that might be because I saw them first in boyhood, when my natural reaction to such scenes was "yuck." But now that I'm an adult and enjoy romantic comedies and drama and the like as much as the next guy (romance, that is; not sex scenes . . . I've never really grasped the appeal in watching two people making out if I'm not one of them), I still don't like these scenes. I think it's a combination of two things. One is that Lucas just doesn't know how to write these scenes, or for that matter to write female characters in any mode other than scrappy, sassy and wisecracking. The other is, really, that I almost never enjoy this kind of stuff in action/sci-fi/fantasy films, because that's not what I'm in the mood for when I go to one of these movies; the scenes very often seem forced and artificial and I wind up feeling like I wasted valuable time that could have been spent advancing the action.