Only Theo Panayides Has Wings

This is a blog about Theo Panayides, the cyprustician online critic that writes reviews of movies old and new on his website ( He is very good. In fact, he is awesome. It is also an exercise for my english-writing abilities, as I'm from Brazil.

Location: Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Revenge of the Shit

After you recover from the sheer idiocy of my pun on the title of this post, I ask you to explain why the hell is everybody enjoying this thing anyway. I like the old trilogy, and I like The Phantom Menace (I do), and Attack of the Clones was mediocre but watchable. Now, this piece of work is special. It sucked beyond any expectations.

Theo: 68? I have got to see your review of this one. I got home after the theater and went to Theo's site looking for updates and guess what? 68! What in the fuck. I kinda felt bad for disliking it so much, and probably will give it a second chance (after re-watching the entire saga again), but I don't see much hope.

Well, I wrote a review of it, and the review kinda sucks (as I suck in english), but I feel like I have to give my thoughts on this thing:


Off to a bad start: the first 20 minutes feel exactly like a videogame -- heroes invading enemy ship, destroying droids, saving Palpatine, killing the big boss Dooku; if Lucas had put a third-person following camera on the characters and released it for X-Box, this would’ve been the most realistic-looking game ever -- with very few actually dazzling moments (like the beautiful opening shot), which is bad for what is basically a prolonged action scene. Still, slightly enjoyable in an emotionally detached way, until the action stops and the characters start talking. Then it gets ugly.

The dialogue and acting are basically “third-grade school play” level, if the writer and actors of the third-grade school play were all retarded. Simplistic, boring, raw, mechanical lines and line-readings, a bunch of one-on-one conversations with crappy pacing and hardly any sense of movement and impulse, directed in a stale and rigid manner. And these go on for the entire second act. Not only is it badly written, directed and acted (a lethal combination), the characters are basically talking and trying to sort out a problem that we know the results and conclusions, which makes it even more frustrating, to the point where I couldn’t even stand looking at the screen for long periods of time. Good thing these conversation scenes are all shot with large windows in the background so you can look at the pretty cityscapes and skies and flying cars, as if Lucas was saying “Hey, if you don’t want to listen to Christensen working through the crap I wrote, check out those awesome ships in the background! Now, that’s technology!”.

Also, Lucas includes so many light saber battles that they lost any importance and anticipation. Remember when somebody turned on their light saber in the old trilogy and you knew Something Important was gonna happen? Well, that’s over now. And not only repetitive, they’re all boring. The Obi-Wan vs. Grievous thing is specially infuriating, cause Lucas introduces a robot with four arms and cuts off most of them in 15 seconds. Like, what the fuck? Also, why did Yoda lose that battle with Palpatine in the end if Palpatine had been easily beaten by Mace Windu? Is Mace Windu > Yoda? Or is Palpatine > Screenwriters? Also, didn’t it feel like a Super Mario adventure videogame when Obi-Wan and Anakin were fighting on those platforms over the lava? Like you had to get Mario to jump from platform to platform so he didn’t fall on the lava and die? Remember that?

Unnecessary scenes drag the movie down (what was the point of the battle at the Wookie planet?), the political subtext progressively sinks amidst the crap, the Ridley Scott moment -- with Padme and Anakin looking out their respective windows, shots of futuristic cities, faux-arabian music playing – doesn’t really work (although it could have, which makes it even more disappointing), etc. Only Ian McDiarmid and Samuel L. Jackson get a decent handle of the dialogue (making it seem slightly less atrocious), the first with classical grandiosity and the latter with restraint. The birth of Luke and Vader is unsatisfactory – good idea with the intercutting, but badly executed – when it should have been an intense, arresting, epic moment. Only the Yoda scenes save the movie – his “badassness” is unshakable, really – and he feels more alive than any other character (which is sad since he’s a computer program: Philip K. Dick was right after all).

I read somewhere an interesting analogy comparing the old trilogy with a debut album from a 70’s punk band and the new trilogy with a Creed album, and it makes sense. The old ones have an energy and naiveté that’s charming and captivating. The new ones feel artificial, formulaic. Compare the last shot of “Sith” (which was great, in theory) with Luke’s new parents in the desert watching the sunrise, and the shot it echoes, from “A New Hope” with Luke also watching the sunrise. Which one feels more alive?

(and I liked The Phantom Menace...)

Anyway, about a week ago I got a cool e-mail from Theo, which was flattering and all. I answered him, and re-read my e-mail like eight times after and sent it cause I got all self-conscious and kept wondering if I said anything stupid. Anyway, Theo's badass. He's like Yoda, in a way: wise and peaceful and charming, but he can kick your ass (when talking about movies). Although Theo wouldn't have lost the light saber battle to Palpatine at the end of "Sith". No way. Also, his short "Malgaat" got like a second place award at the Houston Film Festival, which is something Yoda couldn't say for himself. I bet Yoda wouldn't even get a third place.

I started reading "Catcher in the Rye", which is not popular in Brazil, but I wanted to see what the big deal is. Well, I read the first five chapters and it IS a lot of fun, the idiossyncratic first-person narration and Holden's accent remind me of Linda Manz's voice over in "Days of Heaven". Anyway, I gotta finish it. Also, "Black and White Town" from The Doves' new album is absolutely the best single of the year so far. Thanks for your time.

Theo-Related Quote of the Day
"Things to do while high: 1) read Theo's reviews (I laugh a lot and it's funny cause it makes TOTAL sense)..."
- Khansc


Blogger Ristow said...

Interesting review, though I'd say I desagree with almost everything. Oh, wait, I actually agree with almost everything. Well, I liked the movie anyway.

But that's not the question. I was quite amazed with this wonderful yellow-and-brown blog wallpaper. I wish my bedroom had walls like this. I mean, the actual collor seems so worn out. It's just a huge, dreary and scary YELLOW overlaying me. Jesus.

1:54 PM  
Blogger V said...

Mace Windu is not stronger than Yoda. Palpatine was FAKING it. He was all "Oh, I'm so weak... please don't kill me, etc" but one second later he's charging his lightning and going "Power... unlimited POWAH!"

He was just trying to make Anakin affraid of losing his only chance of saving Padme's life, that's why he appears to be defeated.

Or not.

Anyway, after I saw the movie I went to check Theo's site and noticed he gave it the EXACT same grade as I. That was awesome.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous George Lucas said...

Forget that stupid "Star Wars" movie! (I had an intern make most of it.) There are far more important matters at hand, like how do I access that secret movie geek chat group!?

Oh, and thank you V and Theo for giving my movie 68 points of criticism. I have printed out multiple copies of your comment, V, and of Theo's review, and stuck them up on my many industrial freezers, right next to the magnet-enhanced copies A.O. Scott's review.

6:26 AM  
Anonymous George Lucas said...

Argh! I meant: right next to the magnet-enhanced copies of A.O. Scott's review.

Hmmm, if only I'd proofread my screenplays. Oh, well...

6:32 AM  
Blogger Luis said...

I'm working on the secret movie geek chat group location, although I have a slight suspicion that they do not intend to actually LET US IN. Bastards.

Also, your intern is a retard.

10:14 AM  
Blogger V said...

So THAT'S why the movie is so much better than episodes I and II - it was directed by an intern, not George Lucas.

Now it all makes sense.

11:40 PM  
Blogger V said...

In other news, Theo gave Primer a 71 on second viewing.
A few blue thoughts to be expected, I guess...?

7:46 PM  
Blogger Luis said...

"the Internet critics' forum I participate in (it's invite-only, and the less said about it the better)"
-- Michael Sicinski

5:18 AM  
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I think you're right on track and not many people are willing to admit that they share your views. lost series is an AWESOME place to discuss LOST.

8:58 PM  
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3:47 PM  
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2:52 PM  

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