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A stop in New York, a strange perspective on accents, and Revenge of the Review

By Andrew Pollack on 05/20/2005 at 10:22 AM EDT

On my way to Fort Lee, New Jersey for this weekend's Penumbra meeting, I stopped at the Palisades Center to wait out the traffic on the parkway. Its a huge shopping mall in the worst sense of all such things. This massive windowless, featureless, block constructed center with open metal painted ductwork and exposed beams interior houses a fantastic lot of upscale stores and theaters.

The drive down had been wonderfully uneventful, and the new Chrysler Pacifica provided a wonderfully quite, smooth, comfortable ride and got much better mileage than I'd expected. With the cruise control set to either sixty-nine or seventy-four miles per hour (depending on the state, and their reputed tolerance for such things) I got a computer reported 22.9 miles per gallon -- which is the high end of the car's official EPA rating for highway travel. I'd heard that the cars were known to perform below that rating so it was a nice surprise. This is a big heavy road vehicle and I didn't expect to do as well on that at all.

Shopping at the Palisades was strange because of the New York accent. I realize that being in New York the accent itself isn't strange -- its just that my family is from this area. In fact, in the drive later I saw many familiar sounding roads or turn-offs. We moved to Arizona when I was six, so my memory of the area is quite dim. What was odd is that because we'd live in Arizona, the only time I'd heard this accent was at family gatherings. The result, is that every time I'd hear a middle aged woman talking to her "dowter-in-lore" in the stores, my head would swing around expecting to see a family member standing there. Very odd. Its an experience not unlike that of hearing your first name called by someone else in another context.

While there, I decided to stop and see "Revenge of the Sith" -- a 5pm showing had plenty of open seats in a nice theater and I saw no reason to sit on the parkway in traffic rather than a nice theater, only to get to a hotel a couple of hours earlier in the evening. The reason the reviews of this movie are mixed, is because there are three movies running through it.

First and foremost is the move which is a final payment on a promise to the die hard fans that they'd finally understand how the golden boy becomes the antihero. The execution of that is almost believable and is really only foiled by the third sub-movie's utter failure - I'll get to that in a second. The second sub-movie is the action thriller / special effects bonanza. On this level, Lucas succeeds spectacularly. As you'd expect from any of his work, the fight sequences -- both those between spaceships and those between light sabered Samurai where stunningly presented, wonderfully filmed, and set to music so well as to nearly carry the rest of the movie. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say its very cool when Yoda goes all "sonic the hedgehog" on people.

Now to the third mini-movie. In this I include absolutely all dialog and acting. It is horrific on both counts. The dialog is so horrible that the diehard fans in the theater laughed out loud at moments clearly meant to be dramatic or heart rending. The dialog is so bad that even good actors couldn't pull it off. Everything you've heard about the bad dialog is understatement.

Overall, Revenge of the Sith resembles the first Stars Wars movie more than anything else. If you look back, and admit what we all know, that first movie was a B-level action flick like a great many others that happened to kick the world's ass with its use of special effects, music, and cinematography. The result was a multi-billion dollar industry, but the core was still essentially a fairly standard action adventure. Revenge of the Sith is a B-level action film, that like its distant sibling back in 1977 kicks the world's ass with its sensory experience. Its great candy, enjoy it as candy. Don't expect steak.

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