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Star Wars - Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

The third episode of the "Star Wars" movie sextilogy released in 2005.

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Still No Spark Coming Back

  • Jul 12, 2009
  • by
Almost everyone loves Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.  I think it mostly comes from the idea that the first two movies just weren't that great and so by then audience expectations was so low that the third movie could've been Anakin sitting on a toilet for two hours and it STILL would've been better than the first two movies.  That's not to say Star Wars Episode III is really bad.  It's just to say that it still feels like it's missing something.  The first two films had a really big problem with a few things, but Episode III has an even bigger problem with other things.  Lucas never really got back that spark in terms of character development and whatnot.  For all the fantastic special effects we're provided with in the prequels, the story just never really hits an all time high.  Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is not really much an exception to this.  It DOES do a better job in terms of story, but by the time we got to Revenge of the Sith... the damage to my memories of Star Wars was already done.  

The film opens with a huge space battle that Obi-Wan and Anakin are participating in.  Palpatine has been caputured and its up to the Jedi to save them.  Anakin, now a fully fledged Jedi FINALLY does some flying in the series.  Remember how Obi-Wan said he was the best star pilot in the galaxy?  Well, now we actually get to see that come through.  Well, not really.  There just isn't much done here, and the skills that we expect of Anakin as a Jedi aren't that great either.  He's just not that amazing.  But I suppose the first two movies prepared us for this.

They get onboard a huge Trade Federation vessel and make their way to Palpatine.  There they meet up once again with Dooku.  In a fight that last less than a few minutes, Obi-Wan is incapacitated and Anakin manages to cut off Dooku's hands and then head.  "It's only fair," Palpatine tells Anakin.  After all, Dooku took a limb of his.  It seems strange that with how awesome Dooku was in the second film he would meet his fate so easily.  They manage to recsue Palpatine only to be confronted by general Grievous... a legend in his own right.  He eventually escapes, sending the ship hurdling toward Coruscant.  It's up to Anakin to land the ship and he does successfully.  Padme is there and she's got news.  She's pregnant.  This is a happy moment, Anakin declares, but he doesn't exactly show it in his emotions.

We also learn that the Jedi have suspected Palpatine of corruption and they want Anakin to spy on him.  This sort of backfires as Palpatine and Anakin actually don't have that bad of a relationship.  The Jedi have forbidden Anakin from being a Jedi Master.  Palpatine also introduces Anakin to The Dark Side of the Force.  Relating to him a story about a Sith lord who could stop people from dying.  This is exactly what Anakin wants to now... because he's been having nightmares in which Padme dies.  It could be a premonition of the future.  So is it possible to learn this power, Anakin wants to know.  To which Palpatine replies, "Not from a Jedi."  Of course, it takes Anakin a while to piece together that Palpatine is a Sith lord.  And when he does he immediately tells Mace Windu (played by Samual L. Jackson who STILL doesn't get to say motherf@#ker) who decide they're going to confront Palpatine.  They do, and die.  Most of them.  Mace Windu is left when Anakin comes in.  In the process Mace is about to kill him when Anakin says he must stand trial (you know, like Dooku).  Of course we know the real reason Anakin needs him.  To save Padme.  And he betrays Mace Windu and succumbs to The Dark Side of the force.

This is perhaps one of the moments in Episode III that doesn't exactly bod well.  Anakin's shift is almost nothing at all.  We didn't exactly get that much of a turn in the second film.  Here the dialog might as well have been as follows:

Palpatine: Anakin, come to dark side!
Anakin: Okay

There's no real struggle in Anakin's shift to The Dark Side.  You can argue that it was in the second film, but if that's so... Lucas did a horrible job of showing it.  Here there's no conflict with Anakin.  In some ways it DOES work because of his emotions and selfish nature (he's desperate to save Padme) but it's just an awkward shift.  And out of nowhere Palpatine decides he shall be known forth as Darth Vader.  Where was the struggle for Anakin, exactly?  He submits too easily.  We're constantly bombarded with how strong Anakin is.  We've been bombarded with it since Episode IV.  And here he just... gives himself over?  Just like that.

While this is happening, Obi-Wan is pursuing General Grievous on the planet of Utapau.  Here we finally get to see Grievous in action as he succumbs to Obi-Wan rather quickly.  Grievous, who is apparently supposed to be a really bad dude loses to Obi-Wan... and Grievous is using FOUR lightsabers.  The battle, while kind of fun just leaves us disappointed in Grievous as a whole, and as a character.

And in the midst of all this, Palpatine--Darth Sidious--is able to corrupt the Republic and form the intergalactic Empire.  After this is done, he executes order 66.  An order that turns the clone troopers on the Jedi.  Despite all we've heard about the Jedi, they're mostly taken down quite easily.  It's a little sad, but when you realize that you never really knew them in the first place it subsides.  Yet it IS a dark movie.  Not all of the Jedi die.  The ones who don't are scattered.  There's also a battle on the wookie homeworld, but this is just fan service for those of us who want to see Chewbacca.  Yoda decides to return to Coruscant and do battle with Palpatine.  A battle he ultimately loses.

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan comes to the jedi temple and manages to turn the other Jedi away after a false order to bring them back.  However, Obi-Wan discovers that it was Anakin who got into the temple and helped slaughter Jedi.  Including the young ones.  Anakin has been like a brother to Obi-Wan (though their relationship mostly played out in episode II as a sort of Father/son relationship).  Unfortunately, Anakin is on his way to Mustafar by order of Sidious.  Padme refuses to believe that Anakin has gone to the darkside and decides she'll go after him to learn the truth.  At this point Obi-Wan sneaks onto her vessel.  Once on Mustafar Obi-Wan shows himself to Anakin.  At this point Anakin puts Padme in a choke hold that nearly kills her (I thought Anakin wanted to save her?).  Once he comes to his senses for the moment, Obi-Wan relates that it's about time to end this.  Anakin is too corrupt.  Thus a fantastic duel ensues.  It's not exactly the climactic duel you'd expect.  It's fun to watch, but a little long.  Mostly because we know that there really is no victor.  We already know that both Anakin and Obi-Wan survive.  But it's still a fun battle, and it's still fun to watch as the emotions run high.  And even then, some of it comes off as wooden.

Yet what IS hard to fathom is Padme's demise.  She gives birth to her twins and names them... and then suddenly dies.  Padme just... dies.  Because she's lost the will to live.  One of the focal points of the prequel trilogy was showing us how strong Padme was.  It's a little hard to believe considering how she just gives up.  It really feels as though Lucas just decided he needed to get rid of her or something.

We also get to see Anakin become Vader--literally.  This has been the biggest problem with the prequel trilogy.  Anakin Skywalker.  He just wasn't that much of a well defined character.  From being compeltely unlike what Obi-Wan tells Luke in Episode IV to being a more whiny and emotional guy.  If there was one thing the original trilogy gave us, it was that Darth Vader was a cold remorseless man.  Anakin's change, despite how he becomes Vader, is never truly realized.  And since here is when we see the birth of Luke and Leia... there's still quite a bit more to learn about Vader.  Metaphorically, Anakin is pretty much dead (according to Obi-Wan in the future) but it's ust this idea that behind that mask we have... basically a teenager.  He knows Padme is dead, and with her, he believes the child (because he didn' tnkow she was carrying twins) went with her.  So yes, we can see Anakin's turmoil.  He tried to save someone he loves... twice, and failed to do so.  If all these things were presented better, the movies in their own right would've been remarkable.  But thanks to wooden acting and some bad writing... they just don't come off that well.

Another thing which is a little bothersome was how Lucas felt he needed to fill in holes.  Some are done a little too easily.  The first is Threepio (who doesn't really serve much importance in this movie other than to badger R2).  His memory is wiped clean so that by the time we get to the original trilogy, he can't come forth and say anything.  R2's memory is not wiped clean, however (and if it is we don't know).  Yet... strangely, throughout the course of Episode IV, V and VI R2 NEVER says something to Threepio along the lines of, "Hey dude, you were built by Darth Vader and all this crazy stuff happened years ago."  Nothing like that.  It brings about the question if George Lucas really did have this all planned out before doing it.  Not to mention Luke's Aunt and Uncle see C-3PO and R2 (in Episode II).  Yet not at one point does Luke's uncle realize that he's seen droids LIKE them before in Episode IV.  What I'm getting at is that while Episode III is milestones better than the first two films, Lucas didn't seem to care much for continuity.  Other things that can be a little irking at times is learning how the force can make Jedi live for a very long time.  And yet Obi-Wan goes from looking like this:

to looking like this:

Episode IV doesn't take place THAT far afterwards.  Did the force just suddenly tell Obi-Wan to go screw himself?  Yoda went from looking like this:

to this:

Point taken.  In the midst of making his prequels, Lucas didn't seem to care much for continuity. 

The film also isn't helped by the acting.  Once again, it could be because Lucas uses a lot of CGI here.  In one scene Ewan McGreggor can be seen talking to one of the clone troopers.  But notice anything odd about that clone trooper?  He's not a real guy.  He's fake.  A CGI trooper.  Ewan is on set talking to nothing.  Much of the troopers are CGI when you see them in mobs.  Can it really be that hard to get extras for a Star Wars movie?

But let's give Episode III credit.  Of all the films in the prequel trilogy, it is the best.  The story is far better, coherent and just all around absorbing.  Even though Anakin never becomes fully realized as a character, the movie doesn't feel useless in the mythos of Star Wars.  Some have gone so far as to say Revenge of the Sith is better than Return of the Jedi.  I disagree, but just the same, Star Wars Episode III shows that George Lucas didn't entirely lose it.  The spark itself never really came back, but at least the story is much better than the previous two films.  It's a dark film as well, but many of the dark moments actually don't come off as cheesy.  George Lucas does a far better job with dark themes than he does with romance.  The writing here is also better because we don't have to get the sappy wooden lubby-dubby dialog between Anakin and Padme.  It's not strong dialog, but it's still better.  

Really, the only big thing we can nag at (aside from the continuity errors) is that the acting continues to be weak.  Hayden Christensen as Anakin does a better job, but on the whole you're still not getting much from the actors.  And many of them are talented.  One standout, however is Ian McDiarmid.  If everyone else is wooden, then he makes sure to be the life of the party.  Sometimes he overdoes it.  But it's still better to see a lively actor than a wooden one.  We can talk about George Lucas and his love of CGI all we want, but one thing is clear... it doesn't benefit every actor.  People like Ian McDiarmid and Samual L. Jackson actually do alright in a film that's mostly filmed on greenscreen.  But Natalie Portman and Ewan McGreggor are examples of actors whose potential isn't fully realized.  In films not shot in front of a greenscreen, the two are actually far better than they appear to be here.

But that may also have to do with Lucas who never held an esteemed reputation for working well with his actors in the first place.  He's often described as a friendly guy, but he also has a reputation for not pushing for excellence.  Star Wars probably best shows how important it is that a director work with his actors.  Otherwise even accomplished actors can come off as a little wooden.

Overall, it's not a bad film.  It's certainly better than the other two, but it's still not that strong.  It isn't that it can't reach the original trilogy.  George Lucas probably shouldn't have been expected of that.  It mostly comes from the fact that it's a film that can reach higher... and COULD reach higher... but doesn't. 

Star Wars is an amazing saga in its own right.  Just the prequel films aren't nearly as fantastic.  They have phenomenal production values.  Special effects and music that can make watching them fun.  But it loses heart because of the little attention put into the details of the story itself.  Despite the problems in storytelling episode III have... it's still a fun movie in its own right.  It's at least one that's worth watching a second time for Star Wars fans.  The prequel trilogy as a whole just could've reached a lot higher.

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January 12, 2010
this was alright but the prequels just lacked any feelings of thrill that I thought they were the 'same old thing'. nice review
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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