Buddy Maeengan and I checked out the spectacle at our favourite theater last night. Despite naysayers, despite the clichés and despite the calculated suckiness of the previous two entries (each containing sparks, I'll admit, and some fun moments), this latest entry was an inevitable improvement. This is largely, I think, because of built-in caché from its proximity to the original 1977 movie within the Star Wars timeline. But it also helps that the kid-friendliness was toned down to a murmur – this installment is all growned-up business. And George Lucas, for the first time in this run of prequels, was looking out for his hardcore fan base.
Maeengan and I talked afterwards about why this one works, and the consensus was that there was something to care about this time. Characters had stakes. Actions had consequences. The tone wasn't black-and-white. Sh*t mattered.
But holes still persist. The acting is still wooden, but at least it's sanded down to a nice softwood compared to the solid oak delivery of the last two entries. Ian McDiarmid has a blast with his role. Watch out for those Anakin-Padmé scenes, they're torture – with one in particular bordering on after-school-special.