....have your perceptions changed?
I wanted to wait until I'd seen the movie a few times and really absorbed it a little before venturing any strong opinions.
I'm liking it more with each successive viewing! Like every other SW film, this one opens up more each time. So much detail, from character moments/interactions, to visual ones (bridges to the other episodes, clues to what could be next, the ever-popular "easter eggs") to take in....one (or two!) viewing(s) is not enough....
What still works every time....
Ewan making the role of Obi-Wan his own while still paying homage to Alec Guinness with his performance is nothing short of breathtaking. He really establishes the sometimes abrasive but always paternal relationship with Anakin quite well. The respect he shows Yoda...still coming back to his teacher while he's a master himself, showing the great traits of being a jedi...Ewan does it with complete style & conviction. His verbal sparring & subsequent duel with Jango was great. Both Ewan & Temura got a good tension going in those scenes. It was like watching a dance.... I also enjoyed the meeting with Dex...a real interesting & fun character. We got just enough to make us want to know how these guys met & what adventures they might have been through. (Are you listening Dark Horse? C'mon Jan....start drawing it right now!!)
Ewan MacGreagor is hands-down the finest SW actor in the prequels so far.
The design team's fantastic efforts are stunning. More than EpOne, this movie feels like a true collaboration between Lucas & his excellent team of artists. Pick up a copy of "The Art of..." & admire how the digital preproduction paintings really lit the fire of inspiration for creating this journey into darkness and how much the finished film really looks like those paintings! Not since Ralph McQuarrie's beautiful paintings for ESB has this been accomplished so completely. The vehicle designs effectively bridge the gap between the films...from the triangular shapes of the republic dropships to the animal-inpired designs of the various war machines (of special notice are those cool death star-like guns on the bubble turrents of the republic gunships - truly an excellent ship destined to by remembered right along with the classic x-wings & TIE fighters). So many shots had echoes of what we've seen (er, will see) in the future episodes. (I REALLY loved how the Geonosian catacombs are reminicent of the forthcoming Death Star interiors, epecially seeing them as the architects of it...the shot of Anakin meditating on the Naboo balcony like he does as Vader aboard the Executor in ESB...the stunning silouette of Ani & Padme on the Lars house, Ani's looking like Vader sweeping her in his arms, just to name a few) The care taken to bridge the gaps is really great and one of the highlights of repeated viewings for me.
The last thing (for this posting anyway) that really stands out in this film is of course, Yoda. And not just for the great fight scene at the end that people can't stop talking about...this guy has so many wonderful character moments. Rob Coleman & his team really merged with Oz to pull off a genuine acting job here. My fear when I'd read that Yoda was to be completely CG this time around was that it would be TOO different from the beloved puppet performance of Oz. But it's not...the balance is there. One moment that still takes my breath away is when Yoda is on the front line...the clonetrooper is reporting to him, but he's got that far-off look...he's sensing something through the force & you can SEE his mind working! WONDERFUL! Just a tiny character moment, but indicative of how good the work was on him.
Now for the dark side....
One thing that STILL gets me more than anything is something about the score. It just seems like Williams ran out of time or something. A good three-quarters of the score is new (and great) music, but huge portions of the final battle & most noticably when Anakin & Padme arrive on Geonosis (it's the exact music from the opening of episode one!) it seems like portions of the movie were temp-tracked with stuff from the other films and it was just left that way. It is still a major distraction for me. I'm not objecting to certain themes being re-worked into the score (like "Duel of the Fates" being reworked for Anakin's journey to find his mother or the really effective re-use of the fed theme for when Lama Su shows Kenobi the clones marching), but when the music is just literally lifted from the other scores it just seems "lazy".
The other bad feeling I had initailly was really of my own making....I had read so many spoilers about certain scenes (many of that we know were filmed) that were nowhere to be found in the final print. Granted, this makes for a hopefully huge deleted scenes section on the DVD later this year (and hopefully a few will be re-instated in the movie ala EpOne), but it was distracting at first. Now that I've had a chance to really absorb the movie the way it is, it's pacing & flow seem fine to me.
Now on to what seems to be a "bad feeling" to alot of other folks (especially the extremely jaded & boring mainstream press)...
The acting. I think most people are missing the point. This is a very stylized story being told in a specific way. I think alot of the audience is trying to pin modern sensibilites (i.e.: swearing alot...smart-a** remarks constantly) on what is basically a fantasy. It is a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away for a reason after all.... And as for the so-called "stilted" dialouge during the romantic scenes....let's cut these two a break shall we? Here we have two young people who have basically been thrust into adult situations early in life (in regards to duty, not emotion). What sounds like cliche (although I'd like to ask Ebert in what film in the last 20-odd years he heard the man say.."You are in my very soul tormenting me." to make it so cliche') sounds rather inspired coming from these two characters considering what their backgrounds have been. Anyway....I'm liking Hayden & Natalie's performances just fine.
Okay....that was a mouthful....but I DID wait awhile before I said my piece so.....what are your thoughts after having seen it more than once?