Anakin Skywalker, Artificial Jedi

I’m sitting in a StarbucksBose conjoined store and am facing a Philips 50″ plasma TV that’s looping a segment from Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. I remember Lucas’ new installments being criticized for their CGI work, which looked fake. I read an article talking about how they were optimized for some kind of THX digital theatre, which made the movie look ultra-realistic (or so I read).

Well, let me tell you, the plasma TV makes it look like a low budget BBC sci-fi series. The clarity and crispness (I guess) of the screen throws the weak and unimpressive CGI work into sharp relief. I keep expecting Dr. Who to run past or an Anakin vs. Dalek fight to break out. The characters look as realistic in their environment as a person standing in front of an episode of Star Trek on TV looks like they’re in space.

The characters all have a too-crisp silhouette, and the lighting is thoroughly unconvincing. In fact, when the characters leap or fall in a manner that the actors clearly couldn’t pull off, they move with the unnatural glide of a window being dragged across a desktop.

On top of this, the lighting has that not-quite-balanced feel that TV usually has because of its tighter production turnaround and budget. It makes every effect feel shoddy and off. I really don’t remember the movie feeling this unnatural in the theatre.

Ah well, this has the same rank smell of hubris and stubborness, as most of what Lucas has been doing recently does (I’m speaking about messing with his classics in some lame-brained attempt to make the more ‘right’.). I’m sure that ILM had its complacency kicked when Lord of the Rings came around and showed us all what CGI could really do. Hopefully, that lesson was taken to heart for the next Star Wars installment. You can’t be king of the hill on name alone. (Though, I must say that Peter Pan had a wonderful aesthetic to it.)