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Discussion in 'Movies' started by Robert Crawford, Dec 17, 2015.
I believe a scene or two was shot digitally in TPM. Just a few moments on screen.
In an effort to be as comprehensive as possible, we're watching all the deleted scenes for each movie. We watched the scenes from TPM DVD (which were completed with visual effects) and the blu-ray (which were not finished). There's really nothing there that merited inclusion. The emphasis in these scenes on more pod racing shows how much Lucas intended that to be the central showpiece of this movie, something I never got. Yes, it's good, but it's essentially just one of his beloved car races and doesn't really advance the story or the characters.
Attack of the Clones today for us. After TPM, this is the weakest Star Wars movie, but there is still a lot to enjoy here. Some great set pieces, and the story of Anakin's past starts to come together with the visit to Tatooine and the Lars family. The finale with the Jedi and the Clones fighting the separatists is a real showstopper, and one of the biggest battles we've ever seen in a Star Wars movie. Curiously, it's the Jedi that come off looking bad in this movie. When Padme says she thinks the attempt on her life in the beginning was Count Dooku, the Jedi say no, it was miners on Naboo. Mace Windu even says Dooku used to be a Jedi, so he can't be a murderer! This was a failing of the prequels -- Lucas is clearly showing how the Jedis' own arrogance and unquestioned belief system have corrupted them to the point where they're failing, but he never pays it off. It's all just left unsaid and the audience has to piece it together.
There are a few other times when logic is served well in the story. Toward the end, when Yoda is fighting Dooku, and Anakin and Obi-Wan are defeated on the ground, Dooku uses the Force to throw a big pipe or something at Yoda, and Yoda drops his saber and gently moves the pipe away from crashing on his friends, while Dooku escapes. Yoda, with his Force grip on the pipe, should have just smashed it into Dooku's ship, thus ending his chances of escape! Another instance is at the end, when the Jedi don't want to believe Dooku's claim that the Senate is under the control of the Sith lord. "We'll keep an eye on it," they say. That's it? Why not start an investigation? Sure, the first major galactic war in who knows how long has just started, but the existential threat could be under their noses and they just want to watch it? All of this is poor writing. Also, much has been said of the lack of chemistry between Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman. I agree. I also think Portman's heart is not in the role. She is a wonderful actress, but is often just not convincing.
The look of the film is different from TPM, which is likely due to the switch to digital and the heavy, heavy use of CGI sets. It all looks good, but the texture and lighting is different. One area the movie really excels is showing us civilization for more-or-less the first time. Up to this point in Star Wars films, we'd only seen desert settlements, Cloud City with its meager population, Naboo's idyllic society and a brief look at Coruscant. This one lets us see huge parts of the population, and we get a sense of how their society functions. We even get to see an airport.
Next we're doing something different, and watching the Clone Wars theatrical movie and the Clone Wars micro-series before with get to Revenge of the Sith.
Have fun nonetheless.
Forgot to mention the Episode II deleted scenes: These are more substantive than the Episode I scenes, and most deal with Padme's backstory, her family and her desire to have kids of her own. They also feature Padme being interrogated by Dooku (Christopher Lee is terrific here, and this should have been included in the film) and on trial in front of Poggle. Most of the scenes feature Natalie Portman, which strengthens my feeling that her performance just wasn't there. Also, we see the poor characterization at work here, as Padme has to be told by her mother and sister that Anakin has feelings for her, which tells us she's a character that isn't aware of her own feelings or her surroundings - not exactly qualities you'd expect from a leader. In a few of these scenes, Anakin is as quick to disagree with Padme as he was with Obi-Wan in the film. He comes off as petulant. The blu-ray contains more scenes that are unfinished, including a lengthy one from the battle of Geonosis, in which some Jedi attempt to shut down the droids. The work on these scenes is so unfinished that it is a wonder they included them at all.
We watched the Clone Wars movie today. This was released theatrically in 2008, and lead into the Clone Wars TV show. It's often overlooked among Star Wars films, and that's too bad, because it's fun. The movie isn't as good as the TV show would become, but it is particularly notable for introducing the character of Ahsoka Tano, a Jedi padawan that would become the soul of the animated series and one of the best characters in the saga. The animation is terrific, with the ships and locations looking photo realistic, and the characters having a 3D cartoonish charm. Some of the movie actors are even back as their characters, including Anthony Daniels, Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Lee. The movie's main failing is that it relies too much on the familiar, with movies' sixth return to Tatooine (for such an unknown world, it sure seems like the center of the universe) in 7 films, and use of Jabba the Hutt as an antagonist. The character of Anakin is too much of a classic hero here, showing none of the characteristics that will allow him to fall to the Dark Side by the end of the war and become Darth Vader. The use of a baby Hutt may seem too cute for a Star Wars film, but then you remember about Ewoks and Jar Jar.
The movie (the only one distributed by Warner Bros. and the series' first blu-ray) has a few deleted scenes, and like the ones from Episodes I, II and III, these are finished. The scenes are worthwhile and add to the enjoyment of the film.
Ahsoka was the main reason I watched the Clone Wars series in the first place. I liked her character very much and can’t wait to see her again in Rebels.
Weirdly with Attack of the clones I think you could put the family scenes back in cut out the terrible “I don’t like sand” scene and the awful fireplace scene and just build up to Padmes declaration at the arena - none of it is great but I think those scenes work better than what’s there
Today we watched the Clone Wars micro-series (still not on blu-ray, but the DVDs look great), which is about 2 hours and 15 minutes when watched together. It is terrific. Genndy Tartakovsky's style really suits the material, and I was surprised to see how much the Clone Wars TV show borrowed from it. Originally meant to be 3-to-5-minute installments, it really cooks when you watch them together. The first hour or so is mostly showing you what the various characters were up to during the war, but the second hour really advances the story and places you at the exact moment Episode III begins. I wish this was still considered canon as it is simply wonderful. I'm so glad I included this in our Star Wars viewing project.
Revenge of the Sith for us yesterday. This was always my favorite of the prequels, and it still is. I always said it's a better movie than Return of the Jedi (we'll see if that holds when we get to Jedi). Things are a little silly in the beginning, with R2-D2 and the battle droids, and the banter between Anakin and Obi-Wan is too lighthearted for such a serious mission, but that's a minor nit in an otherwise very good picture. The CG backgrounds improved a lot since Episode II, and I was surprised to see how much talking there is in the movie. Large segments of the film go by with little or no action, but these are essential moments in Anakin's transformation. That said, his turn to the dark side is still too sudden. Like the recent complaints about the Game of Thrones finale, ROTS should have taken more time to show him slipping to the dark side. Where the movie succeeds is living up to the promise of what we were told to expect 28 years earlier. When Star Wars was released, George Lucas described the fall of the Republic and the battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin on a lava planet, and it lived up to that. Seeing it in the theater for the first time, I was stunned at how accurately it fit the old description.
This movie has the most deleted scenes of any of them, 30-40 minutes or more. A lot of that is animatics, which I find a bit tedious (but my kids enjoyed). Still, the finished deleted scenes on the DVD (which look terrific, even by blu-ray standards) are great. As with Episode II, most cut scenes deal with Padme and her role in the establishment of the rebellion.
Next we jump 10 years or so into Solo, a film I very much enjoyed last year.
Today we did Solo, which I enjoyed a lot, again. I find the movie fun and full of clever moments, the kind of movie I would like to see more of (even if I’m the only one). However, watching this with all the other Star Wars film, one area where this film is lacking is its color palette. Many scenes are very dark, and even the well lit ones are full of drab colors. That said, the script is good, the actors are too, and despite the well publicized production troubles, it all comes together and works.
The deleted scenes are good, and are mostly finished. The extended meeting between Han and Chewie is especially good.
This is the first time the kids have seen this since it was in the theater, and they loved it. As big fans of the Clone Wars and Rebels series, they knew exactly why Darth Maul was there and loved it. One of them said “If you’re a Star Wars fan, you should watch those shows and know what happened.”
In the last few days, we watched Rogue One and A New Hope, two of my favorites in the series (along with Empire). The kids are having a blast this deep into the series.
Rogue One is a great film and it fits within the world of the original movie very well. I told the kids that it's as good as it is because it's uncompromising (and I had to explain what that meant), and that's why everyone died at the end. But just the germ of the idea for this movie is inspired, and whatever production troubles it had, it comes off fantastically. Seeing things like the Death Star and the Yavin 4 base and the blockade runner, along with (IMO) great CG recreations of Tarkin and (to a lesser degree) Leia are absolute thrills. Sadly, there are no deleted scenes on the blu-ray for this one.
One of my kids surprised me when he said he wanted to watch the original theatrical versions of the original trilogy. I explained that the versions I have (the letterboxed versions from the 2006 DVDs) wouldn't look nearly as good as blu-ray. He said "I want to see what you saw when you were a kid." (Bonus dessert for that.) Well, what we ended up doing was this: We watched the blu-ray and I pointed out to him what the changes were, and afterward, we watched the letterboxed version but only the scenes that had been changed. So much had been written about the changes to the original film, but when it comes down to it, it's not that much. Unfortunately, one of the greatest parts of the film is virtually ruined with CG, and that's Mos Eisley. The Special Edition makes it into a bustling desert city, versus the very remote outpost we saw in the original film. So much of what's added is just distraction and frankly, some of it is sloppy (one scene has the landspeeder zipping down the street, with people moving on both sides; at one point there are two stormtroopers on the left and two on the right, and they are so clearly shopped in that you can see the shadows for one pair go in the wrong direction!). Naturally, the Greedo scene changes are just wrong (and also sloppy). I can only hope we get the 4k version of the original next year, as rumored.
The deleted scenes of A New Hope include what I long considered the holy grail of Star Wars: The scenes with Luke and Biggs at Tosche Station. Longtime fans will remember that pictures from these scenes made it into books and comics and I personally spent 20 years dying to see them (they were first released on a CD-ROM in the 90s), so having them on a blu-ray is almost too good to be true. The other deleted scenes don't add much, but are nice to see.
One thing that doesn't work when you watch the films in order and within a few days of each other: Owen doesn't recognize C-3PO, who lived with him on the farm for a while before Anakin took him in Episode II. You'd think he'd remember the voice, if not the name. I also wondered when watching this if we'll see a recreation of Obi-Wan's home in the new Obi-Wan TV series.
ROTJ is still my favorite SW movie. I never understood why people think it is the weak link of the OT. It has a better Death star battle than the first film, The Emperor portrayal is amazing as we finally get to see the evil behind the the Empire. And the battle between Luke/Vader and the Ewoks, and Endor! Yeah, there will never be a SW film as good as that one.
I'd equate droids in the SW universe to electronics in our world. I don't remember the look or sound of a clock or phone that I had 22 years ago so I don't see a problem with Owen or Beru not remembering C-3PO.
Fair point. But the difference between C-3PO and a clock or a phone is that he was not a run-of-the-mill mass-produced droid; he was custom-built by Anakin, and presumably meant a lot to Owen's stepmother as a sentient reminder of her other son. That makes him much more distinctive and memorablethan some other random droid. Also, we haven't heard any other droids with a voice remotely like C-3PO's, which also seems unique, specific and hard to forget because he talks so much. So Owen should remember him.
For me, the problem is the extreme tonal whiplash in it, which is exemplified most in the final act as it goes between the silliness with the Ewoks and the seriousness of the intense showdown between Luke, Vader and the Emperor. They don't feel like they belong next to each other because it veers so wildly in what you're supposed to be feeling. It's still a good movie, but it is much less cohesive than either of its predecessors.
Given the ubiquity of protocol droids in the SW galaxy, that Threepio is a different color than when he was owned by Owen and that Owen doesn't even learn C-3PO's name in the less than a minute that he's around him again, there's no problem with him not recognizing him as the droid that he owned more than two decades ago. And not to get too morbid but I don't remember my grandfather's voice and he's been dead about as long as the time between Attack Of The Clones and A New Hope so I don't see that as an issue either.
Plus, I'd argue that since Anakin used existing parts to make C-3PO, the voice module (or whatever you want to call the thing that is used to make him talk) presumably only has so many voice options so it wouldn't be impossible to hear the same voice coming from a different droid.
This. I have always said that Jedi's biggest failing is that they build up the dramatic tension in the scenes with Luke, Vader and the Emperor and then break it when they shift to comedy with the Ewoks or the swashbuckling of the space dogfight. Also, the scenes with Jabba's entourage are too often played for laughs (Salacious Crumb's cackling, the Rancor keeper sobbing, etc.) and it's a very different tone from the first two movies. I've long said that it's a movie made by people having too much fun.
Thanks for the reminder of the Clone Wars micro-series. I never saw this when it was originally out, but did buy the 2 DVD set(s) when they were released in 2003-2004 - and really enjoyed the series. Excellent animation - it definitely reminded me of old-skool cartoons from the '70's/'80's (using cels instead of CGI), but with a style that I hadn't quite seen before - well-done. The storylines were also great & interesting.
I also wanted to agree that these CW Micro-series DVD sets have incredible PQ - especially given that these are 15-16 years old at this point. They look great on my HD set. In fact, if these came out on Blu I'm not sure I would even want to upgrade - given that these regular DVD's are so stellar. And, I rarely say that!
Conversely, I despised the animation used for the regular Clone Wars (2008-on?) series, and the Clone Wars animated film. That animation was very CGI-ish and "blocky". Though the stories/characters may have been interesting, since I hated the animation I never really watched the show to any great extent - i.e., the presentation ruined this for me. They should have kept Tartakovsky as the animator for the regular series as well.
Empire Strikes Back yesterday and Return of the Jedi today. Very different movies.
Empire continues to be my favorite, as it strikes the right tone with the characters but it's never grim, and it's often a lot of fun. There are plenty of surprises along the way, and the revelation at the end is one of the best in movie history. The kids now say this is their favorite too.
Good deleted scenes, with the Wampa attack on Hoth being a nice addition. There isn't much, but what's there is nice to see. Empire has the fewest changes in the special edition and some of them are even welcome, like the addition of windows in Cloud City (any place named Cloud City would have a lot of windows). The change in Vader's dialogue at the end, as he leaves for his ship, is particularly egregious though and changes the tone of the scene and Vader's characterization.
Return of the Jedi I liked even less this time than before. It's a massive failure. The tone is all wrong, and everything is played for laughs. The creatures on Jabba's barge and in his court act like Muppets, with the jumping and laughing you'd expect on The Muppet Show. The makeup and costumes are a step down from the Cantina scene, and the creatures are more cartoonish and puppet-like. The script and the actors' delivery are all lacking. Harrison Ford gives what might be the worst performance of his career, and Mark Hamill's delivery is stilted and his dialogue is unnatural. Lando and Han's goodbye is not genuine and sounds like something from a Saturday morning kids show. The ending ruins the dramatic tension of the final confrontation.with cuts to Ewoks for comedy when that's the last thing we need at that point. I know Lucas has said these are supposed to be kids' movies, but he went from making movies for 10-12 year olds to one for 7-8 year-olds.
The deleted scenes have a few nice things, like the early reveal of Luke and his new saber, but Vader's calls to him are cringe-worthy.