Monday, May 09, 2005

Do or do not, but it's better if you do

I'm 29 years old, and I've got a good memory.

Have you ever tried to determine what's your oldest memory? I tried awhile back, but I came up with the same answer I innately knew when I tried an even longer while back: Dusty Baker hitting a homer for the Dodgers on television. I think it's my oldest memory because it's the first one I can associate with a name and a place and a context. When was it? I can't be certain, because Baker played for the Dodgers for a hell of a long time. It must have been in the summer of 1979, when I was three, because I clearly remember the following February, when my grandfather died.

So Dusty Baker, it is.

I remember other bits and pieces from my early childhood, but one of my first tangible, recurring memories is Star Wars. I'm not sure how---from networks playing it on television, I guess---but I had seen both Star Wars (as I knew it) and The Empire Strikes Back quite enough to know everything there was to know when I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater when I was seven. (No doubt the action figures helped, too.) And I specifically remember that. I was in the theater with a friend back then named Alex; both of our mothers were there, too. During the speeder bike chase, when one of the stormtroopers slammed against a tree and perished in a fireball explosion, your little laddy Inquirer here stood in the theater and shouted, "Whoa! That got him!" (I remember the mothers' faces; the friend's was sort of half-mortified, but the expression on mine was more like vicarious joy.)

And why did I say that? Because it's a line from TESB (by Wedge, for those of you scoring at home).

I say all this to say that the Star Wars galaxy has been something of a lifelong companion of mine. Of course, as I got older, my rapt attention waned, but it always held a special place in my heart. I never got into the other stuff, like "Star Trek" and comic books and superheroes. Star Wars was my one special foray into fantasy (or "space opera," or whatever hokum George Lucas calls it).

Last summer, I took the Virginia Bar Exam. The bar exam is not the death march that it is sometimes portrayed; after all, an awful lot of people take it and pass it, right? Nevertheless, it is a special kind of torture; all that studying and pressure and stuff takes something from you. Or maybe it infuses something back into you. You know what it did for me? It made me interested in the series again. These guys are a little too hardcore for me to keep up, so I only check on it occasionally, but I started learning about the plot to Episode III. I even checked out a few of the "Expanded Universe" books from the local library, among other "lighter reading" while I waited to get the results and to start work. I had never read any EU before, but I suddenly did. I'd say I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm really not; it was fun, especially the so-called "Thrawn Trilogy."

I even set out to reassess the first two prequels, but that proved too optimistic. They're still rather vapid.

Nevertheless, I held out hope that Revenge of the Sith would be kick-ass, and I have the sneaking suspicion it will be just that. Even if it's not, I'll still be satisfied, I think. How else can I hold such anticipation to the third act that has been preceded by (in my opinion) two lackluster ones? Because, ultimately, I care. I don't know; maybe it's a validation of that which I held dear in my childhood. Maybe I have an inset urge to return to my childhood. Maybe I just love a fun story of derring-do. Who knows?

Anyway, Yurasko has been keeping track of the pre-Episode III build-up, and---as he probably guessed---he's not alone among Nats' bloggers. So have I and, I suspect, so has Nien Numb's biggest fan. And, I reckon, so has this guy, so by virtue of knowing who the hell Nien Numb is. And so forth. I figure, among the people who read and write in our little blogging community, we're all near the same age, but it probably doesn't matter. You could be 10 or 50 and still be into it.

So I'm pleased to report that many of the early reviews are good. Look at, for instance, Time magazine's "preview" review (how does that work, exactly?). Here's some excerpts. I'll try to make them representative, but simply put, apparently you don't need to know the name of Count Dooku's hair stylist (Bubbles, I believe) to enjoy ROTS:

Clever, indeed. After two episodes—The Phantom Menace (1999) and Attack of the Clones (2002)—that often dawdled in political filibustering and starchy line readings, after the fan base's outrage at the unfortunate Jar Jar Binks incident, Revenge of the Sith shows Lucas
storming back as a prime confector of popular art. Again one feels the sure narrative footing of the first Star Wars, the sepulchral allure of Empire, the confident resolution of a dozen plotlines that made Jedi a satisfying capper to the original enterprise.

[. . . ] Sith has some clunky bits—all the films have those—and some amateur acting. But McGregor grows and grays intelligently into the middle-aged Obi-Wan, and his fellow Scot Ian McDiarmid has a starmaking turn as Chancellor Palpatine. It is brooding stuff, the most
violent of the series—it's rated PG-13—about the coming-of-rage of a classic villain. Anakin even has a bit of Shakespearean resonance: the conflicted Hamlet finding the grasping pride of Macbeth, the noble assassin Brutus festering into a yellow-eyed Titus Andronicus.

In two weeks, lots of people will fill movie houses around the world to judge the latest and last Star Wars episode. True believers will debate and deliberate over each scene with the severity of a Jedi Council. The rest of us will breathe a sigh of relief that Lucas found the
skill to make a grave and vigorous popular entertainment, a picture that regains and sustains the filmic Force he dreamed up a long time ago, in a movie industry that seems far, far away. Because he, irrevocably, changed it.

And, no, I don't plan on going in costume. But, if I were, it would no doubt be as a a Tauntaun. I freaking' love those things.

*ahem* Nien Nunb.
Nien Nunb, huh? I never noticed!
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