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Star Wars: Episode Two

Perhaps my own reaction to the latter (earlier?) Star Wars trilogy is born of the fact that I'm no longer six years old, as I was in 1977 when Star Wars: A New Hope was released. Perhaps Lucas' filmmaking has changed over the years, resulting in the bipolar reactions that new and old fans alike have had to the latest two installments in the series.

However, whatever the reason, while I may enjoy these films, they simply don't have the same impact on me. Maybe that's why the same flaws that I let slide in the first few movies bother me more in the newer two.

In Episode Two, what bothers me most isn't the dreadful performance of Hayden Christiansen, who portrays a young, vulnerable child growing into the universe's most evil adult and plays it like a whiny teenager. What bothers me aren't the dreadful one-liners delivered by Anthony Daniels as Threepio. What bothers me isn't the love story subplot, which manages somehow to be both essential and superfluous at the same time.

What bothers me is the commentary track on the deleted scenes, which you get on the DVD version. Lucas talks us through each of these, and explains why they were cut. What annoys me is that the love story subplot plays about ten times better if you insert every one of the deleted scenes from that thread, and eliminate all the ones that were included. Ironically, the reasons for doing exactly that are the same Lucas gives for him taking the precise opposite actions; that the scenes ran too long, slowed the movie down, and gave no new information.

Removed scenes with Padme's parents tell volumes about her character and motivation; along with Daniels, Portman should take legal action against Lucas for defamation of character. The portions of her performance left in the release version definitely don't do her talents justice.

If you have this film on DVD, give this a try. The chapters are arranged perfectly to do it, as well. Every time one of the love story subplot chapters comes up, switch to the bonus material and watch one of the deleted scenes instead. The only tricky bit is one scene which wasn't deleted outright, but was shortened-- the scene where the two disembark from the ship on Naboo and walk into the Palace.

Which brings me to another point: in a galaxy far far away, they have spaceships and laser swords, but they don't have suitcases with wheels? Come on!