Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Old vs. New in a galaxy far, far away

If you browse the threads of various forums, you’ll sooner or later stumble over a discussion that doesn’t seem to die down the least: Which trilogy is better “Episode 1-3” or “Episode 4-6”? This is my own opinion.

Most discussions hover around two main topics: style and Anakin Skywalker.

Style is more easy to explain, as the style of the two trilogies varies greatly. This is not my reason for disliking the ‘new’ trilogy. It’s the same galaxy, but another time. Looks might vary, they’re even expected to vary. Okay, the ships of the old trilogy - set 20 years after the end of the new one - look older than those which are supposed to be older. But then, most of them look rather used anyway. Maybe the repair crews had to use a lot of old scrap.

Anakin Skywalker, on the other hand, is a character I never really got into. I could - just - live with the kid in “Episode 1”. Okay, I didn’t really think he was interesting, but he could have evolved. He did evolve - unfortunately. After getting a good look at his older self, I sincerely wished the kid were back. “Episode 2” isn’t just romantic, it’s sickeningly sweet and sticky romantic. It’s the kind of romance which, normally and without the clone warriors, would drive every guy right out of the movie theatre after five minutes. (People regularly reading this blog will know that I’m not exactly into romance, but I can tolerate some of it in a ‘non-romantic’ movie like “Star Wars”.) “Episode 3” is dark - the one redeeming thing about it -, but still shows a galaxy that’s practically earned its new Emperor and a ‘hero’ (and I use the term loosely here) I want to see in that well-known black suit rather sooner than later. As long as the “whinning adolescent emo with the mind of a cheesy poof” (not my words, I’m quoting a picture from roflrazzi.com I’ve already posted on this blog) is gone.

Yes, to turn against the Jedi (and his friends, like Obi-Wan), Anakin needs to be susceptible to the Emperor’s (well, future emperor’s) manipulation. Otherwise the war against the Jedi could have been a short one, ending with Mace Windu killing Palpatine. But Anakin is annoying and downright stupid. He could have been naïve instead. He’s secretly married - and worries about his wife’s life. Yet, in the end, he’s practically killing her with his own hands (knowing she’s highly pregnant with his children, mind you - every halfway logical maniac would have waited until after the birth). Anakin could have - and would have - fallen for a trap laid out by Palpatine, had he just been naïve. He could have been manipulated by other means than just this ‘I’ve had a vision with my wife dying and don’t want that to happen, so please, turn me into a Sith Lord and help me kill her myself’ spiel. (And yes, I know, he’s lost his mother in a terrible way in “Episode 2” and therefore is especially afraid of losing those closest to his heart.) I personally think Palpatine is able to do much better than that. He’s done it to the whole council, after all. Those were politicians and expected to know about intrigues and subterfuge. Anakin is a 20-year-old Jedi who probably never had a lesson about politics in his life (Padme will have had better things to teach him, given the fact she’s the older one of the two.)

And even with some people (especially one at my favourite forum) trying to show me young Anakin is a lot like Darth Vader, I simply can’t see it, sorry. They’re both good pilots and Vader tends to be a bit quick to anger sometimes (so is the Emperor, though, and I won’t start with other villains from different genres). But Anakin is a whiny kid who couldn’t see the truth if it dressed up in neon colours and held a sign saying ‘I’m the only truth out here, kid, look at me’. Vader might know a bit too much about the machinations of his master. Yes, he is twenty years older, twenty years wiser, but still, I can’t see the similarities clearly.

Damn it, with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” Lucasfilms proved they can do it, making new movies with old heroes which still work. Why didn’t they get it done a bit earlier? Even the new “Star Trek” looks more promising than “Episode 2” did - and it’ll be a prequel, too.

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