Saturday, January 1, 2011

A 2011 two-fer - news and my 7-sentence Star Wars Prequels review

The good news: on New Year's Eve, Mr. Plinkett of Red Letter Media released a new video review on, and it tackles Star Wars 3:ROTS. The bad news: it's 1 & 1/2 hours long, and there's a 1 minute joke that you'd probably rather skip. It even inspired me to write a quick review of all 3 prequels, my first for 2011. You can find it near the end of this post.

I actually learned all this yesterday, but was too busy to write about it; also, I'd already published my Year-End Round-Up one hour earlier. Even though I couldn't watch them at the time, I was happy to see more of Mr. Plinkett, the sinister and word-fumbling character featured in Red Letter Media reviews for big budget sci-fi films like "Star Trek: First Contact" and "Avatar."

Even better, Plinkett came back with yet another funny rant that's part film-student basics dissection, part practical observation. The review is right on the RLM home page, in 3 30-minute clips. As before, Zagat would probably describe it as "thoughtful" "perversely clever" and "funny." It's still thoroughly weird and occasionally rough humor, but he pulls off some jokes that would normally fail or offend.

And, as before, it's an impressive work. It's also a good, if extremely thorough, example of a film review - it covers the film's creation, marketing, dialogue, fx, cinematography, and sets and story, as well as individual plots. Plinkett even begins by putting ROTS in the context of the 2 films that came before it. You can tell that this man knows how to write an essay.

But it's just too long. A lot is said, and it doesn't discuss the story until well past the 20m mark of clip 1. This feels like a mistake. Also, the story discussion is woven throughout the whole review; it might dilute the effect here. The sheer length is a pretty big flaw, and there are other, smaller problems.

2 jokes in the middle of the 2nd clip are nasty and unnecessary. The first one might be brief (and you can tell he's pouring beer into a toilet), but the second comes at 26:20 and I'm happy to tell you that you should skip from there to 27:22. I actually tracked the time so I could save others the pain.

Finally, a few points of critique really do border on the obsessive. I hate people mistaking a "generation" for a "year," but other complaints could be condensed. In truth, "Star Wars ROTS" has a lot of flaws to cover, but it truly borders on repetition.

Despite that, and some excessive randomness, his humor largely works well. I think it's in the way the Plinkett's audio is mixed, and because it's genuinely funny. Also, his voice is very distinct - it sounds tired, but it's slightly unpleasant and his tone is (purposely) off-kilter. It's an impressive piece of comedy, no matter what - while making his points, he cracks a lot of jokes in his 90+ minutes.

I have to highlight the analysis of the Emperor - his nature, his plan, his powers, and the jedi's response to him. It's excellent, really. I also love that he points out how most of the parts either have no job, are very bad their jobs, or succeed in them for no reason.

I'll make it easy for you to decide if it's your kind of humor - you can avoid spoilage or read my 2 favorite examples of Plinkett's style here. Both are below the hyphens, after my Star Wars Prequel review.

You'll definitely want to see Plinkett's work if you like movie reviews or have strong enough feelings about the subject. It's not on youtube yet - I'm guessing it'll be at least a month before that happens, to keep his site traffic up.

The surprising thing is that I "knew" this review would come out before the end of the year. His reviews of the first two Prequels were a big hit and got a lot of attention on youtube. He released a review of the "Star Trek" reboot not long after, as well as a self-made movie. It would've been silly if he didn't try to capitalize on it and keep some kind of momentum going. I was actually about to check RLM yesterday to see if I was right - I went to AICN first, then saw them hyping it.

I say the Star Wars Prequels can be summed up quite quickly. And although what I highlight are also points of Plinkett's review, I'm not copying him in my 7-sentence review of the Star Wars Prequels:

The Star Wars Prequels are a series of intense, high-octane action sequences. Those will probably wow you, but many of them go on too long, no matter your taste
Worse still, all the storylines and plots are either internally confusing or just dumb.
As a final coffin-nail, characters and dialogue rarely make any sense. Actually, each person fails to make any sense at all, at least some of the time.
The tone is uneven. Many jokes, and most "moments" aren't really earned. The violence is excessive for a kids' movie, but the action is all that's engaging. 
The Star Wars Prequels are pretty, but they're also pretty painful.

Given that these reviews are now as long as films, I wonder how many people will watch the whole thing. I also wonder whether anyone will react to this the way that I did. Let me know what you think...

My favorite Mr. Plinkett Star Wars joke here, on the "Sith":
It became established that if you were a bad guy, your name was "darth" and that you had a red lightsaber. Hey, come up with something new! [shot of Jar Jar] Oh, wait, no. No, I take it back! [Shot of 4-armed diner owner] Don't come up with something new. Wait, stop. [shot of 2-headed race announcer] Stop coming up with things that are new.

My favorite Mr. Plinkett "random" joke, said over a montage of scenes and ideas lifted from earlier Star Wars movies:
Oh no... [ROTS steals parts of the escape pod sequence from SW IV] Oh, no! Somebody please make it stop... [AotC steals the bar amputation from SW IV] I'm gonna &*$% my cat. and then eat my cat. and then kidnap a hooker and it'll help me &*$% the pain away, right? Someone do something!

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