January 1st, 2011

breaking bad

Revenge of the Sith

Funny thing to start the new year by recommending, but people who are interested in film might enjoy this extended video-review by 'Harry Plinkett'* of what is wrong with Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. That's a link to a web site with three embedded videos, and the whole thing is well over an hour of watching-time. He intersperses extracts from the film, with shots from a making-of documentary, with voice-over analysing what went wrong.

Incidentally, be warned that the framing of these reviews is that they are the ravings of a basement-dwelling serial killer, a conceit which is more intrusive in his reviews of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones (both of these are also worth watching). May put you off: the first one in particular is pretend-misogynist.

Inside that framing though, the reviews provide strong functional analyses of what is wrong with the storytelling of the three films. In this three-part review of Revenge of the Sith,for example, he talks very convincingly about how the use of blue-screen makes some scenes over-static and others too busy, with the actors disconnected from their environment. He also talks throughout the reviews about how character development and motivation is bungled in the prequels compared to the original trilogy, and how Lucas is poor at getting the best from his actors. In the third part he does some split-screen comparisons with Citizen Kane: in some ways a similar story, handled at the opposite extreme of skill.

Just as Slacktivist's long running anti-review of the Left Behind novel series has great insights into what makes good and bad writing, I think these three long video-reviews of the prequel trilogy have a lot of teach about the kind of plonking desperation which ruins so much SF film and television. And how it could be much better.

* = Actually horror director Mike Stoklasa