Saturday, May 10, 2008

So, I realize that the world of sports is progressing rapidly toward championships in the NHL and NBA, and the baseball season is underway (I could have said in full swing, but I try not to be a douche as much as humanly possible. It's what separates people like me from people like Simmons, Mariotti and the CHB, that and I don't get paid for this). But I don't have much to say about those topics right now. Just that if San Antonio wins another title this season, that's it for me with the NBA.

Greg Popovich is sort of like the evolutionary Red Auerbach and these Spurs are sort of like the Celtics dynasty of the 50s and 60s, at least in the same sense as JD Drew's numbers are sort of like ARod's career stats and in the same way that getting kicked in the balls is sort of like a good time.

San Antonio plays a disgraceful brand of basketball. And anyone who can legitimately say they enjoy watching a team meld cowardice with bullying tactics has no genuine affinity for basketball. Can anyone honestly imagine a player like Bill Russell stooping to using hack-a-Shaq tactics against Wilt Chamberlain (a terrible free throw shooter in his own right)? Russell probably would have thrown a beating on anyone who suggested such a thing. And rightly so, because that isn't basketball. Or at least it wasn't.

I realize that New Orleans is up 2-1 in their series with the Spurs right now, but I just can't see them holding on to that lead. I am not optimistic enough to think that the Spurs won't find a way to flop and hack their way out of the hole they're in right now. If that team collectively starred in a low budget, crummy horror movie, I think I just might have trouble remembering it was fiction.

And as for Manu Ginobli, can you imagine what his career would have looked like if he had the misfortune of playing in the NBA when basketball was basketball? For every rave review of his play, there ought to be at least a footnote to remind younger fans what Jordan, Bird, Johnson, Barkley, Wilkins and Doctor J would have done to him had he had the misfortune to face any one of them in his respective prime. And don't forget that the league's officials tended to actually call games in a fashion that resembled legitimacy back then. Ginobli would be on the bench in foul trouble or so shell-shocked that he'd have to retire. But the trouble with good old days is that they're always gone for good by the time you realize just what you had.

I mentioned in my last post that I was going to devote some attention to what was wrong with the Star Wars movies. Or at least some of the problems, since there are so many and I get bored fairly easily. I guess the fundamental problem is that the films are science fiction, and science fiction as a genre is created by people who are cut off from the real world where people have to make real decisions and face real consequences. That and they probably smoke a lot of dope.

Look at the way Darth Vader kept choking senior officers to death with the Force. After the first few admirals and generals got choked, that would be it for the morale and the discipline of the Imperial military. Fear is a fairly effective motivator, but at a certain point, a person is just going to say "What the hell, if I fail I'm going to be killed, so why even try?" Also, eliminating senior commanders would logically force his immediate subordinates into roles that they may not be fully prepared to take on in combat conditions.

Then there's the Force itself. What exactly is the Force capable of and why does it keep changing to suit the convenience of a particular film at a particular point in time? One Sith Lord hiding in the capital can diminish the ability of the entire Jedi council to use the Force, but another Sith Lord can't stop a kid with about 6 minute's training from using the Force to blow up a Death Star?

And why can Vader sense his son with the Force and not his daughter? For that matter, why the eff did they call the kid Luke Skywalker? Or is creativity one of the ten thousand things that lead to the Dark Side? It kind of defeats the purpose of hiding the kid if you're going to give him his father's last name.

Then there's the fact that the movies are filled with overrated characters who have massive cult followings and yet accomplish nothing. What was the big deal about Boba Fett? And now that I think about it, outside of putting the whining robot's head on backwards, what did Chewbacca do, exactly? But the most overrated character has to be Yoda. If he spoke normally, no one would even give a damn about him.

Episodes 1-3 suffer, too, from the absence of a compelling bad guy. Darth Vader in the original movies was compelling because he was big and scary looking and he had that cool SCUBA regulator breathing thing going for him, along with James Earl Jones' voice. The Emperor was a kind of a puss with creepy magical powers, but the Palpatine character was just a puss in 1, 2 and 3. I understand that was supposed to be part of his act to fool every one, but he just came off as a marginally talented English actor working with a shitty script.

And Anakin took more from the table than any character in any movie I've seen in the last ten years, with the exception of A Scanner Darkly, where every character not only took things from the table, but came back to steal table itself along with the rest of the furniture in the house. The little kid who played him in Episode One was so annoying that he would have triggered a rash of vasectomies had the average Star Wars fan even had the chance of contaminating the next generation with their DNA.

But that little kid ended up looking like Olivier doing Hamlet thanks to Hayden Christensen. God, was he awful. I realize, he won an MTV Movie Award for his performance in Episode 3, but that's not exactly an impressive accomplishment. Perhaps I'm being unfair. Maybe he stole the show in Jumper, I won't know until I happen to see it one night after Val Kilmer's Spartan on USA at 4 AM three years from now, though.

It was more than a bit painful to watch Natalie Portman and Ewan MacGregor in the prequels. After the Professional and Beatiful Girls, it seemed like Portman could act. But it still has to be better to have peaked at 14 than never to peak at all. And MacGregor was excellent in Trainspotting, but with each passing year and each disappointing role, it looks like he channeled every last bit of talent he possessed into that project and that's probably going to be all she wrote for him.

What I've never figured out is the logical process by which Luke Skywalker just accepts the fact of his upbringing without any bitterness. If I found out that I had a twin sister who was adopted and raised as a princess while I was stuck farming water on a desert planet and raised by a broke d-bag who kept scamming me out of a chance to fly space ships, I sure as hell wouldn't take that with a smile on my face. I'd be on the Dark Side paying every waterwalker and do-gooder back for that in a second. But that's just me.

Finally, there's the fact that Lucas keeps revisiting the original films to tinker with them and invariably makes them worse. I didn't like Return of the Jedi much to start with, but the revamped ending and Lucas' midget fetish have made me hate it. Why did he have to edit in Hayden Christensen? What was wrong with keeping the older Vader who actually redeemed himself and not the young douche who went to the Dark Side? And why did he bring in the celebration scenes from Naboo? The Gungans sucked and were probably overly insensitive from an ethnic standpoint to begin with, and they didn't get any better.

It reminded me of something I read in Aldous Huxley's intro to the 20th anniversary edition of A Brave New World. He mentioned that in revisiting the work after that length of time, he saw a number of things that he would have done differently had he the chance and wanted to edit out, but in the end he left it as it stood. And it was the right thing to do. Better to let something that was widely appreciated stand flaws and all than try to perfect it, only to weaken it as a whole.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ummm, Red Sox?