Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones
Director: George Lucas
Even though this wasn't such a horrible movie, why did I still walk away with a bad taste in my mouth? I couldn't quite put my finger on it, so rather than waste a good buzz and go to bed early, I watched it again with the commentary on with Lucas and about a million other people (couldn't give 'em their own track, eh, George?). Here's the two things I discovered:
1) This movie plays much better without having to listen to the dialogue. This led me to the conclusion of #2.
2) Though not as bad as Episode I, this is not really a movie more than a collection of fantastic battle, chase and location scenes put together, with some dialogue thrown in between to make it all fit. Makes a great video game, but a shitty movie.
I'd prefer not to be so harsh, but when I said The Phantom Menace kinda blew chunks, the hard-core Star Wars fans would put up a feeble attempt at arguing the fact, but they knew deep down, yes indeed, it kinda blew chunks, and conversation quickly segued into something better, like getting kicked in the groin by a llama. So going into this one, expectations weren't the highest (hell, it took me this long just to see it for the first time). Lucas can do some amazing things, but directing isn't one of them. I guess he has the luxury to keep trying until he gets it right again, but it just makes it that much more painful for the rest of us. One last gripe: I realize the importance of making it a truly "universal" movie by shying away from aliens that all look remotely like humans, but I think there's a little too much over-compensation (it started with Jedi and has grown progressively worse).
As for the movie itself, it does usually look great. I could go into the plot here, but does it really matter that much? Basically it's setting up the downfall of Anakin Skywalker to become Darth Vader, and the demise of the Republic that will spawn the evil Empire. And this information is gotten across, just not in the best of ways. Mostly it has to do with the dialogue itself (see #1 above). I know the guy playing Anakin (Hayden Christensen) got a bum wrap after this came out with some criticisms on his acting. Okay, he ain't the best, but Kee-rist, look at the dialogue he had to work with. "Obi-Wan is holding me back. That makes me angry. I've abandoned my mother. That makes me sad. I want to kiss you. That makes me ..." well, you get the picture. Not quite that bad, but because of the quick transition times between CG spectaculars that practically put you into epileptic seizure (see #2), his character writing gets a bit neglected. So I gotta say the whole love story between Anakin and Padme is about as sparky as a wet fart.
There is one pretty good scene with Obi-Wan and Jango-Fett (the one where they're talking, not fighting, though that is pretty good, too), and how they really play off of each other. It's a short scene, you get the point, and the actors have some decent dialogue. I do want to note something pretty funny that is in the commentary track: Lucas talking about the origins of the Death Star, and he makes direct reference (though misquoted to Jay & Silent Bob when it was actually Dante and Randall, but we get the point) about how unfair it would be to blow up the new Death Star while it was under construction with all the contractors involved. If you've seen Clerks you know what I'm talking about. On the other hand, the guys on the commentary track are talking about the other "Darths" (besides Vader) involved, and I'm like, yeah, that's pretty key, but are those names ever mentioned anywhere else? Or is that going to play out in the next movie? Aw, hell, I may have been too drunk to catch 'em. And if it was in Episode I, it's been awhile and, well, that movie kinda blew chunks.
Great Scene: There's a pretty impressive final battle that they break out of the infamous Lucas "static shot" mold by shooting it as if in ground combat, with a lot of camera shake, some crash zooms, and lots of dust and shit obscuring your view. It gives me some hope that Episode III may actually be worthy of the $10 I'll have to pay by the time it hits the theaters.
DVD Notes: All the extras besides the (single!) commentary track are included on a 2nd DVD. Some nice stuff, including 8 deleted scenes. Having watched them separate, they're not bad within themselves, and actually help make the movie a bit more personable in some cases, but overall they killed the flow of the "story" and thus ended up out of the movie. And as expected there's plenty of documentaries which I'm sure are all really nice if I actually sat down and watched them but I didn't.