Thursday, May 19, 2005

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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd hoped that Lucas or someone in the crew would have forced Christensen o take acting classes after what he did in the last two films, but if they didn't, it didn't show,

The film doesn't quite explain my biggest question about Anakin/Vader, though - namely, how his accent mutates from a slightly affected Midwest American one to the strange transatlantic-type thing that James Earl Jones does.

10:31 AM  
Blogger lost said...

if i'm not wrong, the farm on tatooine is a 'moisture farm'... seems to me they harvest moisture from... uh. air? underground? who knows. you can probably find out by searching, but i'm not that hardworking.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. It's a moisture farm.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was confused b/c in the 70's Star Wars movies Princess Leia says she can remember her real mother, but clearly that is not true...

12:10 PM  
Blogger ─Éirestraits said...

haha unarmed! thats pretty funny! i totally didn't get that.

and hey did you find that thing yoda said about qui-gon jinn discovering immortality through the force just slighty dubious.. and for that matter his body was cremated, too, not just poofed into the force.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

direstraits and anonymous,

Regarding Qui-Gon's Force ghost and Leia remembering her mom, I had the same questions. But then I remembered the following words to the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song and felt better:

"If you're wondering how he eats and breathes,
and other science facts,
Repeat to yourself, 'It's just a show,
I should really just relax'!"

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another fun bit: in the original Star Wars, Obi-Wan says no one has called him by that name since before Luke was born. Dammit, according to this new film, he's off by a few days, isn't he?

One would also think the Jedi would have hand guards already.

1:54 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I caught the "unarmed" line but was dead sure that wasn't meant to be a pun. I think all your comments are right on. A lot of lines in the script were what actors would call "tough material," meaning it would take all their skill to bring them off. And given Hayden Christensen's limitations, some scenes had little chance success. I think this movie demands a second viewing; you're better prepared to deal with and accept the corny parts so you can go on to enjoy all the rest the movie has to offer, which is considerable indeed.

Here is the worst line in the movie:


9:37 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

I thought I was the only one who started to laugh in the theater at the "unarmed" bit.

I've learned the smaller drink is better lesson too. This time I was actually able sit and enjoy the flick with my 32. oz. instead of the 84 oz. Miss the Movie or Piss Yourself drink.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to cheer at the moment when it became necessary for Hayden to wear the mask. Was that wrong of me?

(Master Jedi Yoda told me to read your review. I don't have a blogspot account. :-( ).

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to add this to the above comment. I'm not so sure if Palpatine became deformed in this movie, or if he had been that way all along, and using the force to put on a normal face as Senator/Chancellor from Naboo.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous The Sith Girl said...

Hmm your review was very interesting, but I must say I thought Hayden did an excellent job.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohh boy, I'm not even going to say anything about your opinion cuz you are entitled to it.

All I'll is we have our differences. ;)

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Patmatticus said...

In regards to the Anakin/ Vader voice change; I'm sure that after a series of wars, building a clone Army and all the labor put in to building Darth Vader the Empire had to cut the budget somewhere. So they used the Verizon/ Bell Atlantic voice rather than hiring a voice actor.

2:36 PM  
Blogger suzanna said...

In regard to Christensen's acting, I think it was the dialogue that was bad, not the acting. Even the best actors would have trouble giving a good performance with the wooden dialogue that Lucas provided. Orson Scott Card (author of Ender's Game, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards) wrote an interesting review from a writer's standpoint. You can find it at under the "OSC reviews everything" section. Of course, most people seem to agree with your assessment of the acting! :) By the way, I'm enjoying your Yoda blog so much! Providing many laughs, it is.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Ruby-Flame said...

Anonymous said "Oh yeah, I forgot to add this to the above comment. I'm not so sure if Palpatine became deformed in this movie, or if he had been that way all along, and using the force to put on a normal face as Senator/Chancellor from Naboo."

This is exactly what my first thoughts were as well!

By the way, I agree with the majority of your review. I have my own review of the movie at:

(If anyone cares to see.) :)

2:53 PM  
Blogger jiri said...

Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Hayden's Defender. said...

Hey! Leave Hayden alone! If you think about the character he plays, you might just realise that he was told to act like that! I've seen the behind the seens DVD! So quit picking on him! He's an amazing actor. LIVE WITH IT.

2:42 AM  

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