Thursday, May 19, 2005

Brace Yourself

It's gonna be a long entry.

Review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

Excellent! Awesome! Even though I absolutely DETESTED Episodes I and II.

Check out this cool site.

***spoilers spoilers spoilers alert***

Watching a movie early in the morning is a little insane, but I love it, heh heh. Huge theatre, scattered groups of people with lots of space in between, minimal germ transfer. :)

So I practically scrambled to Great World City at 8am today, sleep-deprived as usual ( slept at 2 in the morning ), grabbed a hurried breakfast, then caught the 9am screening.

If, like me, you've been swearing at the silly script and annoying child actor in The Phantom Menace, not to mention the insipid mush and stiff emoting in its sequel ( and the laughable Jar Jar Binks in whichever episode, I forget ), then rest assured, 'cos George Lucas The Master Storyteller is back.

From the dramatic opening sequence featuring a daring rescue of Senator Palpatine by Jedi Knights Obiwan and Anakin, the exciting yet foreboding atmosphere is established. What follows is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, transgalactic chases, complicated ( and gorgeously rendered ) battle scenes, and of course, Anakin Skywalker's desperate confusion and final transformation.

I'm not a Star Wars fanatic, but I've seen Episodes 4-6 ( especially Episode 4 ) enough times to be classified under the "fan" category. Despite being a little girl ( I believe I first encountered Luke Skywalker in Primary 1 ), I used to get really worked up whenever Luke made that beeline for the core of the Death Star, bravely defying the Empire's many attempts to thwart his mission. The films had a very grainy, occasionally fake look - considering the many limitations in the special effects field at the time - but the cool dialogue, memorable characters and terrific storylines were the stuff of legends.

When Episodes I and II came along, many Star Wars supporters were sorely disappointed, and for good reason. What's-his-name who played the young Anakin made me want to strangle him. Hayden Christensen's lovelorn expressions and wooden speech induced cringes everywhere. And all that dumb I-love-you-but-I'm-a-Jedi-so-I-shouldn't-but-I-can't-help-it-so-let's-get-married-in-secret subplot was so horribly scripted it sounded more like a bad soap opera than the epic romance it was trying so hard to be.

Thankfully, lovey-dovey stuff is kept to a minimum in the finale. And when it does surface, it's heartening to see that Natalie Portman and Christensen have finally stepped up and infused their lines with some measure of passion. In particular, Padme's confrontation regarding Anakin's betrayal is heart-wrenching.

"You're breaking my heart!" she sobs. "You're going down a path I cannot follow."

Man, that scene deserves an award.

Speaking of acting, Christensen should also be praised for handling his difficult role deftly. His angry rebelliousness in Episode II painted him as a petty teenager, but this time, the anger has escalated into rage, and rebelliousness into an all-consuming greed for power. Share in his conflicted psyche as he searches for a way to save Padme's life. Observe his reluctant embrace of the riches the Dark Side promises. And finally, witness his dramatic undoing when forced to acknowledge Obiwan's disappointment and Padme's pain. The climactic face-off between the two Jedis isn't just about spectacular visuals. Thanks to Christensen's and Ewan McGregor's stellar acting, the showdown is effectively portrayed in all its multi-layered glory. Good vs evil. Teacher vs student. Surrogate father vs surrogate son.

Another worthy mention is Ian McDiarmid, who plays Senator Palpatine and his alter ego, Darth Sidious. Originally relegated to a small secondary role in the earlier films, he shares significant screen time with the main characters here, as he slowly but surely corrupts the naive and gullible Anakin. A quiet scene, in which the Senator shares a story about a Sith who once acquired so much power he was able to bring the dead back to life, is so reminiscent of a grandfather's gentle demeanour, yet equally menacing because of the underlying manipulative evil hidden just beneath the surface.

Good stuff indeed. :)

The last 15 minutes wrap up the loose ends and set things up for Episodes 4-6. Maybe most people lost interest at this point, but I was riveted. I never actually realized how much the Star Wars franchise meant to me until now. Despite its flaws, the epic has come full circle in the most perfect way.

This is one movie you simply MUSTN'T miss.

***end of spoilers***

DVD Reviews

Hotel Rwanda - fell way below expectations. Give me Schindler's List any day.

Exorcist: The Beginning - not too bad, but still B-grade calibre.

Shark Tale - so bad I couldn't get through the first 30 minutes. Finding Nemo it sure ain't.

The Phantom Of The Opera - another major travesty in the movie-making industry. My favourite musical was mauled beyond recognition by terrible singing ( the Phantom sounds awful, sacre bleu! ), bad acting ( Emmy Rossum is lifeless, Minnie Driver psychotic, and Patrick Wilson one-dimensional ) and over-ambitious directing that weighs too heavily on the thin plot. A real pity.

Meet The Fockers - pretty funny, but lost most of its novelty in the first installment.

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason - now I liked this one. :) Renee Zellwegger is super-chunky but adorable. Hugh Grant is roguishly handsome, as always, and Colin Firth - don't get me started or I won't stop. Haha :D

Shall We Dance - another winner. Richard Gere is beautiful to look at, Jennifer Lopez is suitably Ice-Queen gorgeous, and the music is positively wonderful. The best of the lot I rented, and unexpectedly so.

The Goggle Box

American Idol 4 draws to a close next week, and from all indications, Bo Bice is tipped to win in a landslide ( they say it's a 1% margin, but I say they're lying ). Respect him for that show-stopping performance of For The Love Of Money ( aka the theme from The Apprentice ), but...
I still maintain that Constantine Maroulis belongs up there in the finals, but hey, life's like that.

Survivor: Palau ended as well, with Tom the New York firefighter going home a million bucks richer. This season was extremely satisfying, with its many firsts, major tribal upheavals, and a huge twist when Ian gave up his place for Katie ( stupid stupid stupid! ). Oh well, there's always the next Survivor: All-Stars.

And once again, Jeff Probst is HOT. :D

Nip/Tuck Season 2: Every Wednesday night at 10:30pm on Channel 5. I caught the first few episodes - uncensored, by the way, heh heh - in Tasmania last December, and am ECSTATIC that it's finally made its way to local TV. Promises more gore, bedroom antics, and cool one-liners. Christian Troy, you can operate on me anytime. :)

CSI: New York continues to impress with its intelligent scripts and top-notch acting. Here's a nice quote from this week's episode:

"There's something gooey here."
"Gooey - now there's a good forensic word. We should use it more often."


Reviews of Kevin Spacey's and Mario Frangoulis' albums will have to wait. Before my brain cells give out, I'm going to end off with a couple of random paragraphs.

Medical stuff can be found at the other blog. In case you've forgotten. Tsk tsk. :)

I retract my statement about The Da Vinci Code being better than Angels & Demons. The former is getting a little melodramatic in its last 100 pages, which is worse than the latter, which was melodramatic from the word go so it wasn't quite as annoying. Also, I think the puzzles in Angels were a lot more challenging, and the landmarks more fascinating.

Kylie Minogue's been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Lots of press coverage, which is warranted considering her celebrity status. I'd much rather read about HER than about some local reporter's repeated personal updates ad nauseum.

My biological clock... is apparently still alive and ticking, darn it.

A cousin and his family visited last weekend. He's got two beautiful little girls aged 8 and 4, and they're ANGELS, I tell you. Pretty, intelligent, kind, playful, obedient, you name it, they've got it.
As we were walking to my car after lunch, the 4-year-old softly asked if she could hold my hand, and I obliged. Feeling her little fingers in my palm got the clock started something fierce, aargh! Stop it! *smacks the clock senseless*

It didn't help much when later that night, I met up with 3 swinging bachelors during a group dinner with friends. Great meal, lots of crazy conversation, drinks at Brix later. I don't usually notice guys much, but these 3 are real characters, good-looking, interesting, lead some pretty unusual personal lives - and all of them work in the field of emergency medicine.

Any takers? Girls? Introductions? Just kidding. :)

I'd actually like to ask one of the guys out, but can't muster the courage. Oh well. :D

More another day. Thanks for reading.

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