Friday, May 20, 2005

Revenge of the Sith -- first impressions

So I saw the 12:01 showing of Episode III last night. It's still digesting, and I'm going to have to see it again, really, before I come up with anything close to a review. In the meantime, my first impressions:

Holy SHIT.


Wow: we are not fit to share oxygen with Ian McDiarmid.

But somehow all of Natalie Portman's outtakes were used in the finished film on accident.

But wow.

...Yeah. Like I said, a second viewing will be required prior to making any kind of objective assessment.

I'll probably do that tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Kingdom of Heaven

The pieces all seem to be in place here, so it's hard to determine why exactly Kingdom of Heaven falls so squarely on its face. Is it in Orlando Bloom's (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) decent-but-unremarkable lead performance? William Monahan's overly by-the-numbers script? It's tempting to lay the blame at the feet of director Ridley Scott, but it's not his fault we've seen so many of these movies lately -- the Noble Epic Motion Picture, with massive battles and thunderous music and blood splattering on the camera. And the film has a noble message, one that needs to be heard in these times of religious fervor: Kingdom finds the idea of warring over faith -- any faith -- ridiculous, concluding that wars are only fought for "land and wealth," despite any other trappings we might drape upon them. Soldiers on both sides of the Crusades here firmly believe God stands on their side; "God wills it!" becomes an oft-repeated catchphrase. When Tiberius (Jeremy Irons, made-up with a scar that is sure to remind you of, well, Scar) voices that they might lose a battle, it's shouted down as "Blasphemy!" The only one impervious to this spiritual grandstanding is Bloom's Balian, and he states as such in the mandatory Hero's Monologue before the final battle. It's an important statement, and maybe that's the film's real shortcoming -- it's far too wrapped up in its own importance to distinguish itself from the hundred other movies of which it's an exact duplicate. Extra shame, Ridley, for that last big battle sequence, which looks like it was storyboarded directly out of The Lord of the Rings. But bonus points for casting Alexander Siddig as a Muslim soldier -- Dr. Julian Bashir as a sword-swinging badass. Who would have thought?

Rating: **