atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1568: Say it's not so, Star Wars ep 2 edition

In the comments for this Darths and Droids strip, David Morgan-Mar et al have this to say:
Although this scene appears in the movie, it is quite short. There is a deleted version where this scene carries on for about 15 minutes while they walk approximately 19 miles from the shuttle landing site to wherever it is they're going, past gorgeous Italianate palatial scenery, with Anakin and Padmé talking about the politics of Naboo in excruciating, mind-numbing detail.
The entire relationship of Anakin and Padme had no energy to it. Every time those two were alone on screen it was a complete yawner. I tell the tale every so often: when I saw ep 2 in the theater for the first time, there was the scene at that country estate on the lake where Anakin and Padme were talking about--you know, I don't even remember WTF they were talking about. And it was so fricking boring that I found myself counting the peanut lights along the theater aisle; that was more interesting than the movie. (Or at least that scene.)

It doesn't surprise me that the deleted scene mentioned above was "excruciating" and "mind-numbing". I mean, for an epic, the first three eps of the SW series are awfully dull. Ep 1 was titled "The Phantom Menace" but might just as well have been called "The Enormous Fricking Block of Incredibly Boring Exposition".

This is why Lucas should not have waited--what, 20 years?--between filming ep VI and ep I. The first three movies were exciting; and even the stupid parts ("Ewok celebration") were at least mildly entertaining the first time you saw the movies.

* * *

In general I liked the revisioned versions of the original movies. The only sour note is, of course, Greedo shooting first, and the pathetically bad CGI "dodge" that Han used to avoid being shot. (A teenager with moderate artistic talent and a Commodore 64 could have done a better job. Jesus.)

I keep mulling the idea of dumping the DVDs of both versions to the computer, then replacing that one scene in the "enhanced" version with the original version, thus restoring righteousness to the universe.

Lucas, of course, changed the scene because Han Solo wasn't supposed to be a bad guy and only a bad guy would shoot first. This is wrong.

The rule for pointing firearms at people is pretty simple: "Do not point a gun at someone you don't want to shoot, and do not shoot someone you don't want to kill." If someone is pointing a gun at you, you must assume that it indicates an intent to kill you. And, in fact, Greedo makes mention of the fact that he's expecting to see Han dead relatively soon just before Han shoots him.

Of course, I am beating a dead horse. (Dead and rotted away to bones.) But some people don't understand that sometimes pre-emption is your only option, that you risk injury or death if you wait for the other guy to shoot first. I think Lucas is one of those people.

Of course, he made a big effort to market the later Star Wars efforts to children. The first movie was not for kids, not when you have Darth Vader crushing peoples' larynxes and using the Torture-Bot! to interrogate Princess Leia. And in fact Empire Strikes Back is not what I would call "child-friendly" for many reasons. But Return of the Jedi with the fricking Ewoks--WTF was Lucas thinking?

And then the PC nonsense about battle droids, and Jar-Jar Binks--Jesus. You know, it used to be that the good guys killed the bad guys because the bad guys gave them no choice. In that seemingly simple moral landscape there is endless capacity for exploring the "shades of gray" of moral and ethical situations--and instead we avoid all that.

But in fact Lucas' solution of sending droids into battle is actually worse than having Jedi killing people. Why?

Look at the technology: droids are sentient, or at least they present such a convincing simulation of sentience that there is no point to debating whether it's "real" or not. C3PO would pass the Turing test with flying colors. Hook R2-D2 up to a modem and he could, too.

Droids in SW can be fitted with a "restraining bolt" which limits their ability to flee--the robotic equivalent of laming--and the fact that such a device is necessary proves that all the droids in the series are slaves. All of them.

So the battle droids--while not terribly bright--are essentially sentient beings...and no one asks what they want to do. They're built, packed up, and sent off to war...and the Jedi gleefully hack slave soldiers to bits.

The more that I delve into the "Old Republic", the less I like it. It's held up in the first three movies as a shining example of wonderfulness and freedom, but in fact it's a pretty grim place. The Jedi seem to think nothing of having an army of clones on its side--"We need an army, and hey! Someone left this one sitting around for us!"--and nothing is said about the morality of pitting cloned troops against robotic troops, none of whom has the ability or right to say "I don't want to do this!"

Raising an army of clones (or robots) who are trained from birth (or "initial boot") to fight and to obey is worse than conscription. It's slavery.

There is nothing wrong with the Republic being flawed, but if you look at how the Jedi deal with slavery--not at all--suddenly it puts Palpatine's desire for empire into a different light. He's not really any worse than anyone else out there; and if he is, then it's only by degree.

Still, it makes for an interesting situation: slavery is so commonplace that "the guardians of peace and justice" are neither surprised nor dismayed at its practice, and seem to think nothing of it. Slavery is "okay" in the Republic as long as the wrong people don't practice it.

I am not going to go deeply into the economics of why slavery wouldn't freaking happen in the Republic. But look: droids are everywhere and they're easier to maintain than human slaves are. Droids don't need food, for one thing; add a restraining bolt and you've guaranteed the thing can't run away. And the power economy of the Republic is fricking huge: do you ever see anyone recharge a lightsaber? Ever? How much power does it take to cut through a blast door with one, as we see in ep 1? And the Death Star somehow generates enough energy to blow up a planet and there is little surprise that someone's made a space station that big and powerful. There isn't going to be slavery in that kind of economy; there just isn't: it's economically impossible.

* * *

I guess I keep revisiting the flaws in the Star Wars franchise because I'm a nerd. Well, there are worse things, I suppose.

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