web analytics
Home > Star Wars > Ten (Okay, Twelve) Things I Like About Windu (Part Two)

Ten (Okay, Twelve) Things I Like About Windu (Part Two)

July 26th, 2006

More moments from the Star Wars prequels:

#6: They Will Call Him Master

Stop-motion animation–the special effects art of moving and photographing a jointed miniature frame by frame–has been largely forgotten as computer graphics have become ever more photorealistic. So it was nice when the folks at Industrial Light and Magic paid homage to the pioneering work of stop-motion master Ray Harryhausen during the Geonosian arena sequence in Attack of the Clones. Ravenous monsters are set loose upon our heroes, and when the rhino-like Reek emerges from a dark cave, the composition of the shot evokes similar entrances by the beasts of Harryhausen’s Sinbad films. Later, as the Acklay–a marvelous abomination that’s half-crab, half-velociraptor–attempts to pierce Obi-Wan with its pincers, the Jedi defends himself by throwing a spear into its abdomen. That’s a classic Harryhausen trope; he liked to find ways to tie his miniature models into the live-action elements, and one of his favorite tricks was to replace a real-life spear with a miniature in mid-throw.

#7: Cane And Able

One of the Jedi Master Yoda’s defining personality traits is his tendency to screw with other people’s heads. It’s part of his whole “by my size, judge me not” philosophy. That’s why I got a kick out of the aftermath of his lightsaber battle with Count Dooku. After proving to the assembled Jedi and Sith that he is an impossibly nimble, whirling vortex of death, he senses the approach of Padme and a squad of clone troopers. Just before they turn the corner…he picks up his tiny, bent cane and hobbles toward them.

#8: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This

Every Star Wars film concludes with a dialogue-free scene. Several of them involve celebrations, but the final montage of Attack of the Clones suggest the total darkness to come. As Supreme Chancellor Palpatine–who is still considered a good guy by everyone but the audience–proudly watches his freshly-minted army lift off to fight in the Clone Wars, we hear the (chronologically) first full-bodied rendition of the Imperial March. This powerful image segues to a private ceremony on Naboo in which the love of Anakin and Padme is sealed. Padme’s love theme accompanies the wedding, but this time it suggests not romance, but inevitable doom.

#9: Dad, He Followed Me Home. Can I Keep Him?

The Star Wars films feature many nifty creatures, but none has charmed me so instantaneously as Boga, the reptilian mount that Obi-Wan rides on the sinkhole planet of Utapau. I loved her loud, whooping cry. While her swaying gait was presumably intended to imitate that of Earth lizards, it struck me as nothing less than an enthusiastic puppy. Boga plunged to an apparent death after being fired on by traitorous clones, but if Obi-Wan survived the fall, why not Boga? In my head, Boga lived to whoop another day.

#10: A Night At The Opera

I could probably fill this entire list with nothing but moments involving Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine. I believe that he, along with the aforementioned sound designer Ben Burtt, is one of the MVPs of the entire Star Wars saga. He’s certainly one of the few who can convincingly deliver George Lucas’ stilted dialogue. My favorite conversation involving Palpatine is his opera box chat with Anakin, in which he relates “the tragedy of Darth Plagueis, the Wise.” Palpatine, who has not yet revealed his identity as Sith Lord Darth Sidious, explains how his predecessor was so powerful that he learned to use the Force itself to create life, but was cut down in his sleep by his apprentice. Sidious never claims to be that apprentice, but one look at his frankly orgasmic expression as he describes the death of Plagueis leaves no doubt.

#11: The Power Of The Dark Side

I can’t leave unmentioned Palpatine’s sudden transformation into full-fledged Sith Master. As the Jedi protectors attempt to arrest him in his Chancellor’s office, he says, “Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?” His hidden lightsaber pops into his hand from somewhere up his sleeve, and he literally flies across the room, spinning arrow-like with a crimson blade as his tip. It’s an obvious special effect, unless McDiarmid was fired from an air cannon, but it’s still way cool. Even better is the final showdown between Yoda and Sidious in the Senate chamber, as the two telekinetically toss the furniture at each other. In both a metaphorical and an actual sense, the age-old conflict between Jedi and Sith tears down the government.

#12: The Birth Of Darth Vader

Officially, Vader was “born” when Darth Sidious dubbed Anakin with his new Sith name, but he isn’t fully realized until the scene in the Emperor’s private tower in which medical droids repair and rebuild his shattered, burnt body. Anakin has destroyed the Jedi Order and inadvertantly killed his own wife, and he pays the price by being sealed into a walking coffin. In a shot which confirms that Lucas still retains some of the directorial talent he brought to his early films, we see Vader’s point of view as the metal death mask is lowered over his face. The electronic eyepieces glow a hellish red, and all other light is extinguished as the faceplate snaps into place, and we hear the first, wheezing breath of Vader’s new lungs.

Soon: Ten Things I Like About Luke!

Categories: Star Wars Tags:
Comments are closed.