I saw Episode Three yesterday. The dialogue was corny and most of the acting was poor, as predicted. But for some reason I couldn’t describe, I found myself thinking “This isn’t half bad. It’s actually okay.” Maybe it was the epic battle scenes, the overarching conspiracy plot, seeing the wookie planet or discovering how Darth Vader became Darth Vader, but I wasn’t completely disgusted.
Yet as I think about it more and I realize it’s a tragedy. The most interesting part of the movie—the conspiracy—is drenched in several layers of crap. Hat tip to Maddox’s review which helped me sort through these issues.
Beyond the dialogue and acting, there were cutsy additions, overwhelming and unnecessary special effects, poorly executed character development and nasty cases of inconsistency. But Maddox doesn’t go far enough. While he rightly pointed out how unreasonable Anakin’s switch to the dark side was (check out the cartoons here and here), that problem pales in comparison to how easily the Senate throws aside democracy in favor of a dictatorship. It takes just one speech about how bad Jedis are—one speech—and people are cheering for an emperor. Excuse me, what? The war just ended, the democracy is on the winning side and Jedis are famous for being the good guys. No power hungry tyrant—not Hitler, not Napoleon, not Caesar—could pull this off. But Palpatine did?
All of these things were clear to me when I was watching the film, but like millions of others I still walked away with a positive opinion. Why? Why is it so hard for people to realize it’s a crappy movie? The simple fact is we don’t want it to be.
The movie answers a lot of questions people had from the far more likeable trilogy. It explores characters we care about and connects them to fonder memories from earlier movies. It revolves around an epic and powerful story about greed, deception and betrayal. Thus we are willing to ignore how badly the story is told in order to accept the story itself. What we forget is that there are hundreds of well told stories with similar plots. Remember that next time someone praises Episode Three.