Monday, January 16, 2006

Halfway There (Oh Oh Livin' on a Prayer)

Well folks… as of last weekend, I have now seen 3 of the 6 Star Wars movies…. (and 4 hours of 24 … oy, my head is spinning!… what a wknd… 24’s Palmer and Michelle get killed… the Colts get knocked out… and GSN shows the first ever Match Game with Richard Dawson… again fueling the question how his Damon Killian character from The Running Man stacks up against Darth Vader in the race to be the Worst Villian in Movie History)…. After seeing the action packed Star Wars II and giving it 3 and a half bladders, I was psyched to see where the story would go next. I had become a big fan of Yoda and was hoping that he would take Annakin Skywalker under his wing after he showed signs of wandering away from the Force and getting into trouble in SW II.

Speaking of Yoda, one day last month, I was driving past Burger King and out of the corner of my eye noticed a billboard about a Star Wars promotion involving Yoda watches. I didn’t catch the whole essence of the promotion as I drove by, so I decided to go in to look into it further. Unfortunately I had to ask the clerk behind the counter to explain what the poster at the cash register’s counter said because it was written… IN SPANISH! That’s right… not Spanish and English… but Spanish ONLY!! And this is in Central Jersey!!

Hellooooo… does anyone speak English anymore? Well, she finally explained to me that I could buy a cool Yoda watch for 2 bucks…. which I did and have been proudly wearing for the last few weeks.. designating my old BK Simpsons talking watch of Bart bellowing “Are We There Yet?” to back burner status. The clerk however, had no answer about the Spanish-ness of the banner.. My dad was an immigrant who came to this country in 1948. The minute he got off the boat he went to great lengths to Americanize himself.. changing his last name, and going out of his way to learn as much English as he could as quickly as possible. It’s with that perspective that I find it insulting that immigrants refuse to learn English, and even more disgraceful that BK doesn’t have the sign in English.. I could have boycotted the promotion, but I really wanted the watch….

So imagine there are two trains on parallel tracks chugging along.. Trains A and B. They don’t chug loudly like the ones out side the El Palacio Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.. But they chug. Both trains carry viewers of Star Wars III…. Train A is every living breathing human being who saw 4,5, and 6 already and know that the purpose of III is to thread the needle and deliver them to the 1977 movie. Then you have me sitting all by myself on Train B.

George Lucas has to play by some strict rules for the Train A people. They know the “ending” of this movie and there are only so many directions he can go with it. On the other hand the Train B person has no clue what will happen in the future of the Star Wars universe, therefore the universe is infinite in terms of the film’s content. Does the fact that he has to play by these rules make it tougher for Lucas when it comes to critiquing the film, and if so, does that mean a reviewer would generally frame criticism differently since Lucas has made a movie under different circumstances than other film-makers? And in reality, how many prequels have their been over the years?

What really grinds my gears is when I am the last one to know something. When there is big news (or gossip), and I’m out of the loop, it just drives me nuts! Well talk about being the last one to know… It seems that was the case when Annakin Skywalker became… Darth Vader. I was so stunned, shocked and amazed…. Good thing I didn’t see this in a movie theater, the other people would have looked at me like I was crazy. Oddly enough, I had heard of Darth Vader and was patiently waiting for his first appearance.. Little did I know that he was there all the time…

The evolution of Annakin to Darth is one of four pivotal scenes in this movie. The first one is when Palpatine (played brilliantly in an Oscar worthy performance by Ian McDiarmid even though he does have some overacting Shatner-esque scenes) tells Annakin about the Dark Side, then there is the heartbreaking simultaneous ambush of the Jedi by the clone army, killing all but a few of them, (including a scene where Yoda escapes into a spaceship that when boarding looks like he’s sitting on a porta potty) and lastly the end which consists of simultaneous epic saber battles between Annakin and Obie wan Kenobie and Yoda vs. Palpatine.

Ol’ Palpie turns out to be a pretty manipulative and nasty son of a gun. The movie opens up with our “hero” Annakin risking life and limb with Obie to save Palpie who had been “kidnapped” by Christopher Lee who does very little except lose his arms and life to Annakin in a saber fight… only to have Annakin say he doesn’t feel it’s the Jedi way to kill an “unarmed” opponent…. Was that an intentional pun? There is also a nasty creature named General Grevious who had a little set up where he could maneuver four light sabers at the same time. The goal for our Jedi heroes is to kill this dude and finally end the war…Obie is sent off to do this… leaving Annakin on his own, and once again he gets into trouble just like Star Wars II when he was left alone with the queen who he promptly hooked up with and somewhere between 2 and 3 impregnated with Luke and Leia… (If it was Luke and Laura, I would have thought this was how General Hospital started).

But Annakin is very troubled…. Just like he had self fulfilling prophetic dreams about the death of his mom… he starts having nightmares that his wife will die in childbirth. But Palpatine who is really the head of the evil Sith…. starts to seduce Annakin with stories about …”The Dark Side”… a side where one can achieve great powers…. and prevent death… He even throws the tidbits in about being able to save one’s wife from death by childbirth tipping off Annakin that ol’ Palpie may not be such a nice guy after all.

That is the scene where we realize how incredibly gullible Annakin really is. I mean just sell this guy a bridge while you’re at it for God’s sake. This is not a person who should be left alone at a time share seminar. Heck this is one guy who would go running for his Webster’s once he finds out the word gullible is not in the dictionary! And…. I’d be scared to take Annakin to a ballgame because I’d be nervous he would see Jews for Jesus flyers and take them seriously! He probably thought nothing of last week’s Lost where we found out 2 brothers on 2 planes crashed on the same island! He’s more gullible than the Palestinians who really think that that rat Yasser Arafat didn’t steal all of their hard earned money. I think you get the point.

By the way,… I hear on the news how the doctors are concerned by Prime Minister Sharon’s non responsiveness. I hear his sons are playing Sharon’s favorite classical music in his room. Remember, Sharon was such a competitive take-no-prisoners warrior in his heyday… You wanna wake him up? Play tapes of Yasser Arafat… that will get his blood boiling and will probably cause him to bolt right out of bed! You think Dick Clark made a big comeback?

But getting back to Annakin, that temptation is too tough to fight off, and Annakin gets into deeper doo doo… and when Jedi Master Mace is about to kill Palpie after he is exposed as a fraud, it is Annakin who steps in to save his life and while doing so indirectly kills his fellow Jedi. “What have I done?” cries Annakin.. But then he promptly shakes it off, and declares his loyalty to the Sith and at that moment Darth Vader was born, whereas I paused the movie to pick my jaw up from off the floor, and remove that “Whatcha talkin about Willis?” scowl off my face. In retrospect I should have left my jaw there since it dropped again during the first ten minutes of Sunday night’s 24 when Palmer and Michele were killed and when Chloe got some hoochy McSchoochy….(I hope Edgar just jumps her bones this season at their CTU Computer Desk!) And what does Darth Vader do as one of his first acts?? He goes to visit some of the little Junior Jedis in training and brutally murders them… an action recorded on a security camera and later seen by a devastated Obie.

Then there’s the finale, as my homeboy Yoda gets it on with Palpie while Obie battles it out with Annakin/Darth… who gets a well deserved can of whoop ass not seen since Jason and Freddie Krueger duked it out. Annakin’s beating comes after Obie and Padme track him down at his new home… Whatsa matter Annakin?.. You leave for some deserted planet and leave behind your pregnant wife who you allegedly love and you never call? Well, when all is said and done, his wife dies in childbirth, yet Darth doesn’t see the irony… (Palpie tries to tell him that “Annakin” killed her.. but the suddenly non-gullible Darth Vader doesn’t believe him)… After Obie beats him to a bloody pulp and takes his remaining arm and a couple of legs back with him…. what’s left of Annakin is rescued by Palpie and the last remaining memory of a now horrifically deformed Annakin becomes the benchmark for all movie villains.. The evil metal wearing Darth Vader!

I liked SW II because it was action packed…. This one is shorter on action.. but plot wise has 24esque twists and turns that kept me riveted…Again the special effects are outstanding, and the musical soundtrack is extremely well done. On a scale of one to four bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go the bathroom,…. Nate from Train B gives Revenge of the Sith, 3 and a half bladders.


May the pump be with you said...

"Whooaahh, oooh! Livin' on a prayer!" Does Natalie Portman sing into *her* dress in Ep.III? Alas, no... and the amazing Pumpstradamus predicts that Carrie Fisher won't, either. In fact, in the final movie, she won't be wearing much of ANYTHING to sing into! How's THAT for a tease! Bwaaahh, hahaha!!

Nate said...

I have never seen anyone sing into a dress Pumpsterdamus except for my trophy wife at our wedding who actually twisted part of her dress into a microphone and proceeded to sing into it at our wedding. Kudos to our sharp eyed cameraman who caught this moment and recorded it for perpetuity!

As for Carrie Fisher not wearing much of anything, I think you must be joking... nudity or semi nudity in a Star Wars movie? I find that very hard to believe!

And why were you so quiet during last weeks posting about James Van Praagh?

alberich said...

IN SPANISH! That’s right… not Spanish and English… but Spanish ONLY!! And this is in Central Jersey!!

Hellooooo… does anyone speak English anymore?

In my more politically incorrect moments, I've wondered about this myself. They have instructions on the ATM machines in Chinese, English, French, Spanish, etc. I always felt discriminated against because they don't have instructions in the Mama Loshen (as if I speak it anyway) ... but guess what? I was withdrawing some money while visiting the girlfriend and, lo and behold, there were instructions in Yiddish!


You wanna wake him up? Play tapes of Yasser Arafat… that will get his blood boiling and will probably cause him to bolt right out of bed!

Actually this sort of thing works! My grandfather had a rather sudden onset of dementia and for a bit, while not in a coma, was completely farchadat and couldn't really remember anything and was barely aware of his surroundings. His sister, with whom he never got along, finally visited -- she got him all riled up (I guess sibling rivalries you never forget) and he's been, while still bedridden and relatively forgetful and not entirely there, much better ever since.

May the Pump be with you said...

alberich wrote: "They have instructions on the ATM machines in Chinese, English, French, Spanish, etc ... but guess what? lo and behold, there were instructions in Yiddish!"

That's impressive! But can anyone explain to me why the DRIVE-THRU ATMs have Braille on the keypads???