Thankfully, there were no geeks outside with lightsabers or stormtrooper uniforms. Episode III was pretty killer, if not a little wooden here and there. Lucas took a step back from the cutesy ‘little CGI creatures doing funny shit’ tone of the first two. Lots of boom-boom, saber fights, dark portents of doom, and some more ass-kickin’ Yoda. I wouldn’t be disappointed to buy a ticket to this flick, and I’ll see it again in the theater.
[minor spoilers ahead]
5-20: Having a day to reflect on the experience, I’d have to agree with pretty much everything Kottke said. I wanted Yoda to kick the Emperor’s ass. I wanted for Anakin to renounce the Dark Side, and for Mace Windu to kill Palpatine, but I knew it wouldn’t happen. Some of the images that stuck in my head were ones I didn’t think we’d see from Lucas—Anakin’s end by the lake of fire, several thrilling lightsaber duels, and the sight of a young Chewbacca keeping an eye on Yoda. Surprisingly, the set-piece space battle that begins the movie was the only one, and it wasn’t all that memorable.
Finally, I have to say that there’s something intangibly more real about the old-skool plastic model approach to filming spaceships. While it’s infinitely easier to create everything in CG, there was something missing from the thousands of little pixellated blobs zipping around in each frame. I think back to the stunning tracking shots of the Millenium Falcon dodging asteroids in Empire, and of the skill and care taken to line up each shot. The cameramen cared about getting it right, because they had to make a ten-foot plastic model look huge and alive. I miss those days, but I have to just let it go.