Star Wars III

We saw Star Wars Episode III last night and
were disappointed. The experience leads me to realize how ravenous we are in a
mediated culture for newness.

We saw Star Wars Episode III last night and were disappointed. It completes the series, and it’s OK. Just not as exciting as the first.

The experience leads me to realize how ravenous is our appetite for new experiences and new stimulation in a mediated society. It’s a tough challenge to keep us interested, on the edge of our seats, feeling engaged and emotionally involved. (Whew!)

For you Star Wars fans, this isn’t to say Episode III is a bad movie. It isn’t. But it is to say that the audience is a moving target. The trailers that preceded the movie were much more exciting and engaging, if not way too violent. I know, there’s a lot of difference between the movie and trailer. But that makes my point. How is it that trailers, which are short, compact and action-packed, seem better than the feature? Because it’s extremely difficult to keep our attention for the length of a feature. We’re jaded!

When the first Star Wars movie began, the music was electrifying, the opening text scrolling into infinity set the context and the characters, especially R2D2, Chewbacca and C3PO were unique. Along with Harrison Ford, Mark Harmon and Carrie Fisher, they engaged us. They involved us. They intrigued, and kept our attention.

…compared to the
free-wheeling original,
Star Wars became
plodding, pedantic
and sometimes silly.
Critically, the romantic
liaison between
Anakin Skywalker
(Hayden Christensen)
and Padme Amidala
(Natalie Portman)
is still as exciting
as kissing your sister…
–Bruce Kirkland
Toronto Sun

But, alas, we’ve seen it. It’s been done. We’ve been there. And it takes more, much more. That’s the curse of the mediated culture. We’re quickly saturated. Our expectations escalate. A sense of world-weariness sets in if we aren’t engaged and involved from the get-go.

And this episode, while it’s heavy on action, graphics and intriguing special effects, just didn’t quite cut it for me. It’s not bad. Just not that great. I didn’t experience the same suspense as earlier, didn’t feel the same involvement with the characters. In fact, some people got up and walked out about 3/4 of the way through. I saw others looking at their watches. Doing something else on Saturday night? Or just wondering when this will be over?

There is also
a lot of clunky
dialogue in
Episode III and
little of the
snap & crackle
of the original trilogy.
–Bruce Kirkland
Toronto Sun

Partly, this is because we already know much of the storyline. It’s been written about and talked about for a long time. Even the stories about the marketing of the product line seemed shopworn before the movie actually arrived. That’s been done, too.

George Lucas is still a masterful storyteller and I couldn’t do better. In fact, I don’t take any joy in this lukewarm response. The point is, this isn’t about the movie, it’s about the viewer. When we are so mediated that we need something new, something else, what’s a storyteller to do? How can you keep up with an ever-more-demanding audience that is constantly bombarded with new messages, images, sounds, experiences so that they are jaded? Our appetite in the mediated world is ravenous.

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