Movie Review: Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Movies and Television

I’ve seen this one twice now, and did not like Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith quite as much the second time. (More about that later.) As one of the millions of die-hard fans that caught the first 12:01 a.m. showing I was almost pleased with it. It was much better than Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, heavy on the action and light on the love story, both good things. And almost no Jar Jar!

© 2005 20th Century Fox

Good CGI, fair acting and some stupid dialogue. As the last prequel film, this one also had the least mystery to it, as you almost know everything that’s going to happen, and can pretty much guess as to HOW it will all happen. That said the movie is fresh and entertaining and really zips along for the most part. The ending, not so much.

In tying up all the loose ends, George Lucas opens on a battle/rescue scene, in which we quickly discover that Obi-Wan has been given the rank of general. Then there’s fighting, stunts, rescue, not, fighting, maneuvers by Palpatine and what not. Upon returning from the rescue, Anakin and Obi Wan return to the capital planet, report to the Senate and the Jedi Counsel. Jimmy Smits gets some dialogue, a means to establish him as Senator Organa from Alderaan.

Anakin and Padme do their secret romance thing, and it’s just as bad as in Clones. Seriously someone needs to send Lucas some Harlequins. The actors, normally capable in other films, just cannot do that much with this drivel and struggle mightily to give it some chemistry and emotion. It’s in these tedious love scenes that we find out she’s with child. And that Anakin is shacking up with Padme–What? So much for secret? Is that very stealthy?–and having nightmares about her dying in childbirth.

Palpatine puts Anakin on the Jedi Counsel. What sort of authority, as Chancellor, Palpatine has over the independent Jedi Counsel I cannot say. If the Chancellor has had a representative on the counsel in the past, it’s never been established before this. But whatever, this is all just some Machiavellian power plays meant to frustrate young Anakin that he’s not yet a full on Jedi master. Obi Wan goes to track down some bad guy on some other planet, more action sequences ensue. It’s all good.

More nightmares and blather with Anakin and Padme. He vows not to let her die, all unnecessary foreshadowing. Get with the evil and darkness already.

Somewhere in the middle of the movie there’s this scene with Obi Wan heaping praise on Anakin, then Jedi double talk about duty and detachment, the life of a Jedi, much like we heard in Clones. Which just bugs me because the Force and the mity-whatever-they-are have been clearly established as hereditary. Jedi are not allowed to marry or form attachments with people. Got it. So from where do little Jedi come?

Then more mind games as the Jedi counsel asks Anakin to keep an eye on Palpatine, trying to get a clue as to what he’s really up to, maybe no good or something like that. (Little late there guys.) Anakin does not like all the lying and deceit, gripes about it not being the Jedi way, which gets serious muddling in this one. Palpatine seizes on Anakin’s discomfort, uses it as another step to the Dark Side. Then the reveal of Palpatine as the Sith lord, and his “the Dark side is the only thing to save Padme” manipulations.

And here is where the wheels come off a little. Okay, a lot. Samuel L. Jackson comes, along with some Jedi back up, to arrest the Chancellor who quickly, via sloppy editing, takes out everyone but SLJ with just a couple of moves. I thought so the first time I saw this, that the Jedi were way too easy to dispatch throughout the movie, and upon second viewing it was almost ridiculous. Not to give too much away here, but Anakin chooses the Dark Side and Palpatine dubs him Darth Vader.

A whole lot of bad things and evil happens, with Padme both sage and stupid throughout, on many planets in the Empire and on the capital city-planet. And while I’m mentioning it, let me just say I got sick of all the establishing shots of the capital city/planet.

I realize this is Star Wars and all, but there was just way too much phallic imagery here. While I am not the person to tackle the job, the set designer needs some serious therapy. Pronto.

Obi Wan cannot believe what’s happening and goes to find Anakin. The first place he looks is Padme’s. Or it’s Anakin’s place but she’s clearly shacked up there. So was their marriage secret or not? Anyway he lays it all on her about what’s up, to get her to lead him to Anakin. And he guesses that Anakin is the father.The final big dance number, which is just excellent, is a dual duel that I won’t give away. Except that I think Lucas has some sort of statement on the death penalty he’s trying to make.

Then there is the ending. Or should I say endings, as this one has more wrap-up epilogues than Return of the King. Which were a little much given that a) having seen Episodes IV-VI, we know what happened and b) I needed to pee. If you really don’t know what’s coming, then this is a Spoiler warning and you should stop reading.

  • Anakin goes Darth Vader, donning the black costume; James Earl Jones does the voice and the scary breathing. Yeah! Just awesome.
  • The Emperor lies that he–Vader–killed Padme.
  • Yoda and Obi Wan are the only Jedi left alive, with help from Senator Organa. Yoda goes into hiding, imparting on Obi Wan to learn how to talk to the ghost of his dead master Liam Neeson.
  • Padme has twins, Luke and Leia, and then she dies and gets a state funeral back on Naboo. Organa takes Leia to Alderaan; Obi Wan takes Luke to Uncle Owen on Tatooine, staying to watch over him.

Coming out of the theater at three in the morning, I immediately griped to my viewing companion about Lucas and his revisionist history. I don’t want to give it all away, but lines said by Obi Wan in A New Hope, Yoda and Obi Wan in Empire and Leia in Return contradict much of this closing.

On second viewing this ticked me off, just like George’s meddling with the original trilogy DVDs. Han fired first dammit! I know I’m picking nits. It was a fairly decent movie, almost enough to redeem Lucas for Episodes I and II. Almost.

Final Snark: Money. Lots and lots of it. And that always good.

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