Movie Review: Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
I happened to be walking by a movie theater last night when I noticed something odd. Apparently, they've made another Star Wars movie. I was surprised. You would think they would do something to let people know this movie was coming out, like put out some advertising, make a few toys, something. You would also think that someone would mention this on the Internet.
So, in order to help out Mr. Lucas, who evidently can't afford to promote his movie, and to do my part to spread the word, I submit for your approval the following review. I promise not to include any spoilers. No spoilers at all. None. Ok, maybe one: Apparently, Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father, and Luke and Leia are brother and sister! I know, shocking, isn't it?
But seriously, on with the review. Some would say this movie has quite a bit to live down to, considering the two toy commercials, otherwise known as Episodes I and II, that preceded it. On the other hand, preliminary buzz has been really good, so I think expectations have been pretty high for this installment. I know my expectations were high. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
There are some things in this movie that everyone knows has to happen. Anakin becomes Darth Vader. The Jedi are slaughtered. Yoda and Obi-Wan go into hiding. The twins, Luke and Leia are born and Luke ends up on Tatooine, to grow up on his Uncle Owen's farm. (By the way, what the heck kind of crops does Uncle Owen grow on that farm? I mean it's in the middle of a desert, for Pete's sake! "We should have a pretty good crop of sand this year. As long as it never rains, we should be alright.") All of this does happen and much more.
The Good Stuff
My favorite part: Obi-Wan Kenobi. As apparently the only actor allowed to show emotion in the prequels, Ewan McGregor delivers. Unlike the other characters, Obi-Wan Kenobi's character has really evolved over the last three movies, from wide-eyed youth to a mature and confident leader. We feel his anguish over Anakin's descent to the Dark Side. We see the conflict within him when he knows he has to deal with his former apprentice. Too bad the movie isn't really even about him. It's no wonder he is the favorite prequel character of many fans, not counting little green muppets.
He has also become one bad mammer-jammer of a Jedi. There's one scene where he fights General Grievous, the four-armed alien in a giant droid's body. This baddie can wield four lightsabers at once. In Clone Wars, which played on the Cartoon Network (yes, I know, I watch cartoons. Get over it.), Grievous defeated three Jedi Masters in one fight, defeating two of them at the same time. But Obi-Wan takes Grievous on by himself. In deed, Master Kenobi is down-right cocky throughout most of the movie. Even when he's out-gunned, out-numbered, or out-classed, he has a little smirk that says, "Bring it!"
The story. The plot moves quickly and keeps you interested for the entire two and a half hours. Different parts of the story are woven together brilliantly. Even without the back-story of the Star Wars saga, Revenge of the Sith would still be a great movie on its own.
This movie answers all the questions you've ever had about the original trilogy, and probably some you didn't. Not only questions like 'how did Anakin turn to the Dark Side?' are answered, but also, 'how did Palpatine get so deformed?', and 'why didn't C3PO remember Uncle Owen in Episode 4?'. You have to listen carefully for the answer to the last one, but the one about Palpatine is answered pretty dramatically, as are most of the questions this movie is supposed to resolve. This prequel ties everything together in a highly satisfying way. In fact, this is the one prequel that is worthy of the original movies.
The fight scenes. The fights are really well choreographed, and as a result, incredibly entertaining. Everybody gets to throw down. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, Palpatine, and yes, Yoda get some major action due to the abundant fight scenes.
The most powerful fight scene is the climactic duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin. It makes Darth Vader's and Obi-Wan's pathetic little dance in the original Star Wars movie look even more pathetic by comparison. It is very exciting and a fitting beginning for Darth Vader.
The special effects. The special effects in this installment make the original trilogy look like a bunch of amateur fan films. Especially impressive is the opening space battle scene above Coruscant.
The Not-So-Good Stuff
Hayden Christensen. At first, I thought that the Anakin Skywalker character was computer generated, like Yoda and Jar Jar. But then I realized that the CG characters were much more life-like. Chrisensen's constant impression of a wooden post kept taking me out of the movie. Some of the lines that were given him were actually pretty good. Too bad they were wasted on this actor. We hear the words come out of his mouth that express his inner conflict and ultimate descent to the Dark Side. But we don't feel that conflict, because Christensen doesn't show any emotion to accompany those words. The most powerful scene he has is right after he's been fitted with the Darth Vader suit and asks the emporer about the welfare of Padme. It was quite moving. I guess that means that Hayden does his best acting when there's a mask covering his face, and James Earl Jones is voicing his lines.
Most of the other acting in this movie was sub-par as well. However, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) ,during one scene, actually got to display an emotion other than "constipated". And Ian McDiarmid, who plays Palpatine, does a good job of playing that creepy guy in the neighborhood who takes a little too much interest in young boys.
Padme turning into a weak little girl. Padme was one strong young woman in the first two prequels. But she spends this film either crying, or asking Anakin to hold her because she's frightened. I'm not saying she should have been given fight scenes. It would've looked pretty weird for a pregnant girl to take on the Sith. But there are plenty of other ways to show strength and independence besides violence. I know plenty of strong women, but I've yet to see any of them to get into a fist fight. (Though that would be kinda cool.)
Can I have a hand? Why does someone have to lose a hand every time there is a lightsaber duel? What is up with that? I won't reveal who loses their hands, but I can tell you I counted no less than eight limbs being cut off in this movie. That just counts the people involved in lightsaber duels. It doesn't include clone troopers or droid soldiers, who lose plenty of their own body parts. One scene that struck me took place after Anakin, at the behest of Palpatine, kills one bad guy who, incidently, had gotten both of his hands cut off. Anakin says in all seriousness, "I shouldn't have killed him. He was an unarmed prisoner." HA! 'Unarmed'! I think I may have been the only one in the theater who got that. The sad thing is, I don't think that line was meant to be funny, which leads me to my next complaint...
The silly dialogue. The silliest lines were given to Padme. An example: "Hold me Anakin, like you did by the river on Naboo so long ago when our love was all there was." Puke. Who talks like that? It's goofy dialogue like that makes me unable to care about either Padme or Anakin.
Still, Revenge of the Sith is a must-see even for the most casual of Star Wars fans. Many fans are saying this movie is even better than Empire Strikes Back. I wouldn't go that far. Because of the acting, I wouldn't even say it is as good as any of the original three movies. But it is still one great movie.
A warning: If you have little children, leave them at home. This film is way too scary for little kids.
Another warning: Don't get the Jumbo Coke at the concession stand before the movie, even though it's only a quarter more than the medium and you get free refills on it. I have a feeling that I would've enjoyed this movie much more if I wasn't fighting off the urge to go half-way through it. Fortunately, I have the bladder control of ten men, but this meant I had to hold it in for over an hour. That wasn't the least bit healthy, but at least I got to see the whole movie!
Using a new simplified rating system which I came up with myself, I give this movie a 20.45 stars out of a possible 23.