Journey to The Rise of Skywalker: Episode III

Glenn Danzig fascinates me. The brain behind seminal horror punk icons the Misfits, Danzig has made some rockin’ tunes. The Misfits rule, the first three Danzig albums rule, and yet Danzig has been part of a considerable amount of shit. Plenty of bad songs, plenty of idiotic interviews, bad comic books, etc. His earnest attempt at a horror film was likened to The Room.

Danzig’s ability to balance moments of brilliance with moments of absolute garbage boggles the mind.

The wife and I have continued our journey to The Rise of Skywalker, and the other night I realized that Ian McDiarmid’s work as Palpatine in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the Danzig performance of the Star Wars saga. On one hand, he is the best part of this movie. Somehow, at the same time, he almost manages to blow the whole thing up and ruin it. It is truly incredible.

For his success in the role, look no further than the fact that my wife has been walking around the house going “DEW IT” for the last several days. Of course that line and “I am the Senate” have been memed to death, but they’re still prime examples of him at his evil best. Half the time he’s on screen, McDiarmid is magnetic and clearly trying real hard to deliver a memorable performance.

He looks like absolute poop

Then there’s the dark side, no pun intended, to his performance. By the time he exerts himself shooting Force lightning and starts to look like foreskin, Palpatine becomes campy and hokey beyond belief. Instead of menacing evil he comes across like he would be at home in the Adam West Batman series. Emperor Palpatine is over the top to the point that it nearly derails the final act of the film. His voice, his mannerisms, it’s all way too much.

Whatever the desired effect of McDiarmid’s performance was, we got some wonderful unintentional comedy out of it.

What also confuses me is the fact the Palpatine makeup looks terrible in Sith. He looks like an old, wrinkly ball sack. In 1983’s Return of the Jedi, he looks decrepit and sinister, yet somehow with all of the advances in 22 years they make him look like a guy wearing bad makeup here.

Other than that, I still like this movie even though it suffers from the same problems as all of the prequels. Bland directing, awful dialogue, Ed Wood-esque performances, terrible CGI that dates the movie and looks phony. The Mace Windu-Palpatine lightsaber battle is an all-time awful movie scene. Please watch a scene from a good movie then go back and watch this fight and tell me with a straight face it is not preposterous (“He is the traitor!” “No, HE is the traitor!”). The Yoda-Palpatine lightsaber battle is similarly atrocious and makes you wish the movie would just cut back to the epic Obi-Wan-Anakin fight.

Anakin’s “I want more, and I know I shouldn’t” scene is the single best moment of the prequels. It is the one time Hayden Christensen gives a believable acting performance. Aside from that, I could do without him being such a baby.

These two provide a master class in poor acting

And I have to touch on another all-time bad scene: Anakin telling Padme she is “so…beautiful.” Historically bad dialogue and acting. Read this shit:

Anakin: You are so…beautiful.
Padme: It’s only because I’m so in love.
Anakin: No. No – it’s because I’m so in love with you.
Padme: So love has blinded you?
Anakin: Well, that’s not exactly what I meant.

Then what the fuck did you mean, George Lucas? That is garbage.

Maybe I’m too soft on this one since I saw it in the theater with my brother and thought it was going to be the last ride for Star Wars, but despite all of this ridiculousness, I still  enjoy it. Obviously, I wouldn’t say this is a “good” movie at all. All of the prequels are pretty damn bad, it just becomes a battle of which one is the least bad. I think Revenge of the Sith has to take the cake on that.

The opening rescue mission is a lot of fun – aside from R2D2 being a killing machine – and is the rare moment in the prequels where it feels like you’re watching the Star Wars of old. You know, a movie that is uptempo, exciting and fun rather than boring and childish in the worst ways. Sure, you get the awkward reaction shot like Palpatine cheering Anakin on during the duel with Count Dooku, but overall we’re stepping in the right direction.

Not even the legend Jimmy Smits can elevate this movie

But I’m still in that delicate balancing situation since much about this movie is so shitty. I didn’t want to rehash every single thing I said four years ago, but I still cannot get past this:

And then there’s the time issue. If you thought the concept of time was an issue in The Dark Knight Rises, well then just remember that Christopher Nolan did say he was influenced by Star Wars.

Night is falling in Coruscant when Anakin travels to Mustafar to kill all of the Trade Federation people. He seems to get there pretty quickly as we see not much is changing on Coruscant during all of this. Suddenly Obi-Wan asks Padme where Anakin is, and it is broad daylight. She says she last saw him the day before.

Padme and Obi-Wan then travel to Mustafar. During all of this we see cuts to Anakin literally standing around, staring at lava, crying. How long was he standing there all emotional for? He makes it to the planet pretty quickly and kills everybody. Meanwhile everybody on Coruscant has time to sleep, wake up the next day, go about their business, and then Padme has time to travel to Mustafar. This is like Bane attacking the stock exchange in broad daylight, turning a corner and it’s night, and then Bruce Wayne is broke the next morning.

All of that aside, this is the best of the prequels. I have no idea when I will ever watch it again, but it was certainly the most tolerable of them all.

I am relieved to be done with the prequels and can now watch the actual good movies.