Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith
* * * 1/2 (out of 4 stars)
by Andrew Olson
The teaser trailer is available at
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
is to return to a magical place. For me, that time and place began in 1977 when
I went to Uptown Theater in Richland, Washington, on a warm summer's night. I
remember hearing a few good things about Star Wars from other kids, but I wasn't prepared for the out-of-body experience
the film would induce.
I remember watching that opening shot of star
destroyer flying overhead for what seemed like 10 minutes, and I must have
stopped eating my popcorn. I went home and dreamed of the battle over the Death Star
all night. Little did I know that the effect of Star Wars would only grow
stronger as I got older.
I bring up
that first Star Wars experience, because after seeing Revenge of the Sith I
felt the same level of excitement
as I did when I was 10 years old―but Revenge of the Sith has five other
Star Wars films to build on. It also has the advantage of being the
final piece of the puzzle.
Revenge of the Sith is, as one critic put it, "A
flawed masterpiece." George Lucas has succeeded in creating a film where you
can't tell the difference between the special effects and reality. While great effects have always been
the hallmark of the Star Wars films, they really seem to shine in this one. The screen
vibrates with color.
The film opens with one of the most spectacular
space battles ever seen on the screen. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden
Christensen) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan
McGregor) are on a mission to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian
McDiarmid). There's more action and
special effects in the first 10 or 15 minutes of Sith than probably the entire Star
Wars Episode IV film.
After the opening battle, the film centers on Anakin's
turn to the Dark Side of the Force. But that crucial plot point doesn't happen until about the middle
of the film, so there's a lot of buildup. Unfortunately, the part that should
be the strongest―Anakin's love for Padmé (Natalie
Portman) and fear of losing her―is the film's weakest
element. In short,
all of the scenes between Anakin and Padmé are almost unwatchable. You come away
thinking Natalie Portman is a terrible actress, and
any better. But I wondered if this wasn't how Lucas wanted it. He's heard enough
criticism about Episode II, so this must be why he's clearly going
through the motions with the love story. This is why
the film is a flawed masterpiece.
And just when you think the bad acting and
writing is limited to the love story, you get
(Mace Windu) acting like a cardboard box. (And we all know Samuel L. can act.)
Obviously the director didn't mind the wooden performances.
This wooden, one-dimensional acting also robs the
audience of experiencing Anakin's fear and conflict, which eventually leads him
down the dark path. Again, I don't know
if it's Hayden's acting chops or Lucas's directing. In the end, it doesn't
matter. You see what he's going through; you just don't feel it.
All these weaknesses aside, as Anakin slips
toward the Dark Side, the momentum picks up and emotions run high. There were times I felt myself getting a little choked up (no, I didn't
cry). You realize that this
young man, who was just a kid in Episode I, is really changing into Darth Vader.
And as he becomes Vader, his actions become truly horrific.
Two actors really shine in this movie: Ewan
McGregor and Ian McDiarmid. Both create complex characters
and make you feel the emotions they're feeling. I was particularly
impressed with McGregor's Obi-Wan, who displays bristling confidence and shattered pride
at the same time. At the end, you feel his pain of knowing he made the wrong
choice in training Anakin.
There are also two digital characters that come
off really well, too: Yoda and R2-D2. Yoda was digital in the last film (with
doing the voice), but in this one you forget you're watching computer animation. I'm
pretty sure that much of R2 was animated in Revenge of the Sith, too, but
you can't tell.
Throughout the entire film, you start to see
things that resonate with the other films. It's as simple as seeing the stark
of the Tantive IV (the ship that becomes the blockade runner corvette, the first
image we see in Episode IV) getting chased by the Star Destroyer. Or seeing the
new Jedi Starfighters that look a lot like TIE Fighters. Or seeing
the Darth Vader mask for the first time. All these images are mythically loaded,
and Lucas uses them to his full advantage.
At the end of the film, you realize we've come
full circle. Lucas drops us off where the adventure began (for many of us in
1977). It's more than pure nostalgia; it's the sense of seeing all the pieces
fit together. And even though Lucas has said he won't do
any more Star Wars movies, you can bet there will be more Star Wars stories―on
the big or the little screen, in books or games, or maybe on Broadway (hey, it
could happen). The Star Wars universe has a life of its own and will continue to
entertain us well into the future.
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out how lightsabers work!
- General Grievous looks like a great new
villain. Check out this picture:
Description of General Grievous from StarWars.com:
"A twisted melding of flesh and metal, General
Grievous' body is a deadly weapon forged by the cutting edge developers of the
Confederacy. Within the hardened carapace beats the heart of a remorseless
killer. Grievous hunted Jedi for sport and proudly displayed his victims'
lightsabers around his belt as trophies of his conquests. His unorthodox
fighting form and mechanical enhancements gave him an edge in close-quarters
combat, and his strategic ingenuity and flawless cunning rendered him almost
invincible against the Jedi."
Here are a few stills (warning:
Anakin turns to the dark side
Queen Amidala and Obi-Wan
Chewie and friend
Darth Vader comes to life
Star Wars fire fighters
The Leia hairstyle returns
Dual of the Fates II
Star cruiser battle