I really enjoyed Rogue One. Lots of my friends in the industry were talking about poor plotting, hamfisted writing and constantly shooting Jyn Erso actress Felicity Jones from an angle that seemed to diminish her looks and give the impression that she has beaver teeth. In those ways, they’re all correct. For example, when you’re writing the scenes where they have to get the file, then upload it, then shut down the shield, then transmit it, etc the goal is not a running commentary about what the next challenge is. A more elegant way to tackle it is to make sure that the audience knows, without a shadow of a doubt, what the goal is, and then you make it impossible, thereby giving everyone a HOLY SHIT WHAT NOW moment. And when your characters figure it out? Well, then smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.
Even with all of that, you put me in the world of Star Wars, it’s going to take a miracle for me to dislike it. I found a way to enjoy the Jar-Jar and Young Anakin stained prequels, so Rogue One was like fifty touchdowns better than that for me. And I LOVED this dude:
…and this dude:
And this dude:
That said, no one’s stock takes more of a hit than Darth Vader.
WHAT A FUCKING TOOL.
I’ve been doing this voice with the kids in the car for the last few days where I’m like an offscreen assistant to Darth Vader while he’s in his electrolyte burn tube and I have kind of a Long Beach surfer voice and I’m like:
Hey Darth Vader, man. Could you, like, get out of your test tube of bubble bath water for a minute or something? Cuz, like, there’s this dude in white pajamas and a robe and stuff that came here to get, like, choked and stuff?
Because that’s what it is, right? They reprise the Darth Vader’s helmet shot from Return of the Jedi except this time it’s burn water. And he comes out to JUST CHOKE one dude.
That’s it. It’s not like that scene advanced the plot at all. It’s like “goddamnit we’re wasting Ben Mendelsohn. We need more Ben Mendelsohn and more Darth Vader. We have a movie with NO JEDIS and NO WOOKIEES and NO TWI’LEKS and NO HUTTS and NO BOTHANS. We do have one Mon Calamari, but we better figure out more than one scene for Darth Vader. So let’s have him do something with Ben Mendelsohn, okay?
But where will he be? Where does Darth Vader live when he’s not murdering sand people and adorable younglings?
Well, OBVIOUSLY, he’s just sitting in his fucking LAVA DAM all day in a goddamn cylindrical scuba vat of dermal repair goo. Sheesh!
It goes without saying that, if you go to the dark side, you want to be around magma. That’s page one. And if you can USE that magma to also fuel your vat of a thousand dressings? More’s the power and it silences those pesky environmentalists to boot.
So once upon a time, Anakin seduced pretty much the hottest and most amazing woman in the galaxy. A woman who broke all of the ethical compacts she held most dear because she loved him so much. And she was like ten years older than him. It’s like falling in love with the head camp counselor that every single person is in love with and then, in the future, when you turn 17 and she’s 27, she’s like I’m breathlessly in love with you. I would gladly throw away everyone and everything in my life if you’ll just love me.
On top of that he was the chosen one. His coming was FORETOLD. And he was the best warrior in the universe, had fantastic hockey hair, and the coolest friends and got to wear super lose fitting clothing and had the coolest padawan ever in Ahsoka Tano, hanging on his every word.
So that was his life. That’s who he used to be.
And now he’s this fucking six foot tall scab that has to like, be intubated and sunk into an internet and TV-free glass cauldron of boringness and do what? Meditate and connect with the scintillating dark side heroes like Darth Maul and Count Dooku? UGH! His dead pals USED TO BE LIAM NEESONS AND SAM JACKSON AND EWAN MCGREGOR! The light side has way more kick ass dead people. Then he has to get his shit interrupted and drained mid conversation and then pat himself dry with wet wipes and take a deep breath before hitching the clasp on his utility belt.
Then he has to like look at himself in the mirror and be like go out there and show him who’s boss, damnit! Look at you! You’re Darth Vader! You’re the most recognized villain in the history of mankind. You’re the #1 most beloved character in the most beloved franchise! Go out there and show this dude who’s boss! How come the emperor isn’t taking my calls? Did he not like that Corellian Ale I sent him? STOP IT! DON’T THINK LIKE THAT! GO OUT THERE AND BE DARTH VADER. LORD VADER! PEOPLE WITH LORD IN THEIR NAMES ARE INHERENTLY IMPORTANT. YOU CAN DO EET.
So he goes out, exchanges a few useless details that were forgotten instantly and then he walks away.
Ben Mendelsohn gets to do the classic CLASSIC thing of like…wait…my throat..I can’t…what is that…I…can’t….breathe…
Do it. Do it now. It’s so much fun. The best part is the initial ‘curious’ thing where you’re…not sure what’s…is that….wait I can’t….
And then Darth is like “DON’T CHOKE ON YOUR ASPIRATIONS” or whatever and he turns to show he’s got the force choke on hip fire.
OHOHOHO! Sick burn, dude!
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? That is sooooooooo lame. That’s the definition of weaksauce. If I’m force choking a motherfucker, you better believe he sees who’s doing it. It’s not this yawning, walk-away subterfuge choke. It’s I AM CHOKING YOU. FROM OVER HERE. BECAUSE I CAN. YOUR FEAR AROUSES ME SEXUALLY.
That’s the dark side, baby!
The ONE THING, the ONLY THING that saves the entire Darth Vader franchise from a precipitous fall from grace is that last scene with the red lightsaber coming on in the dark and then the ballet of death that followed. That was so good, so much of what we love and expect from Darth Vader, that people have largely forgotten the first scene.
And sure, a case could be made that if ol’ Anakin good have gotten on his horse a bit instead of kind of doing his 2 MPH pimp walk of annihilation, he would have caught that reb before the hatch closed, but it’s all academic. Darth Vader doesn’t run. He doesn’t even walk kind of fast. That was brand integrity right there and it ultimately saved the franchise.
But make no mistake about it. We were close, people. We were damn close to losing it all.
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