written by Mike Shea on 17 May 2002
This article is a single source for all things Episode 2. Included is both a review of the film itself as well as the digital display used to present it. Probably most useful is the expanded list of links at the bottom of the page including links for both episode 2 and digital projection technology. Keep in mind that while the following review is spoiler free, the same is not true for the external links.
Thanks to my great friend, Brad Myers creator of the excellent web empire, BAM, I was able to see the latest Star Wars tale on this new finagled DLP digital projector technology way out here in Las Vegas. Star Wars Episode 2 is a first for many things. After the disappointment of Episode 1, Lucas had to make a come back. It was also the corner stone for what many would see as the future of film, digital recording, distrubition and playback. How did it all turn out? Read on.
I didn't know whether I was going to like this movie or not. I had heard quite a few rumors that Lucas had listened to the vast cry that came from his fans about the first movie's horrible digital comic sidekick, Jar-Jar. I had heard that this was to be a darker, meaner chapter in the trilogy. I had heard that this was Star Wars for the fans. Walking into the theater, I was excited, but a little worried that this one might suck just as bad as the first.
Discussing episode two with my companions after leaving the theater, it was clear that there was quite a bit of thought put into the elaborate story, one that transcends all six movies. Though most didn't seem to care to follow the story, the die hard fans will have fun playing Shirlock Holmes, following the clues back through the movies to unravel exactly what happened, and what will happen next.
Then there are the effects. I would be lying if I didn't say that Lucas may be a propeller head, but he is a damn good one. Episode 2 is beautiful. The battles are huge, far bigger than anything in Episode 1, and the planet-scapes are each frames of art. Lucas also follows the rule that science fiction doesn't need explanation. We don't have to be experts in solar power to admire and possibly understand the solar sail that pops out of an escape pod.
Episode 2 isn't without faults. Too much dialog is a big one, and it shows it's ugly head in just about every type of scene, whether it be a romance a battle or comic relief. Emotions are best portrayed by looks, not words. Film is one of the best medias to portray emotion without words, something impossible with books. Lucas doesn't trust his own actors or his own direction to portray this emotion so he fills up the script with extra dialog to explain to us how people feel. I've seen Natalie Portman in real dramatic roles, I know she can do it, Lucas does not. My bet is no editor on earth would correct a script by Lucas.
I will need a few months of contemplation to give Episode 2 my full feelings, but now, just a short 30 minutes after the movie, I am very happy with it. It isn't the Godfather, but neither were any of the others. And it sure does look good.
One of the bigger publicity pieces about Star Wars Episode 2 was the use of DLP armed digital theaters. I was lucky enough to see it in a digital theater myself and now I can give my substantiated opinion.
Digital theaters are crap, and here's why:
Now I know what you are saying, time will fix these problems. That may be true for some things, but probably not all. Film isn't flawless. It wears out, it is expensive to reproduce, it doesn't archive well, but the fact is it works and has worked for a hundred years. I am all for progress, but this isn't it. Digital technology for movie presentation is not ready.