Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Film Review

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Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel Jackson, Christopher Lee, and the voice of Frank Oz

Written and Directed by: George Lucas

This was it, this was what everyone had waited for.  Even if people hated Episode I and II they would come back for this one, finally watching Anakin’s fall.  I mentioned how one of Episode I’s problems was living up to the expectations.  This one was as tough if not tougher to live up to.

THE moment.

And George hit it out of the ballpark.

Most of the criticisms of the first two were addressed in spades and one of the only ones that weren’t…well Star Wars is known for bad dialogue.

It was a somewhat controversial, but wise call to open Sith at the tail end of the Clone Wars.  Some felt gypped, but that’s what the upcoming Clone Wars series should fulfill.  It is far more important to open with some slam bang action with great camaraderie between Anakin and Obi-Wan to show just how far they’ve come since Episode II.  They banter, they have each others backs…they are truly brothers at this point and it shows.

The opening battle surpasses even the fabled space battle of Jedi at least in terms of visuals.  We don’t spend enough time to really be able to sink our teeth into it but it serves as a great opener.

During the sequence we see the maturity of Anakin Skywalker in his battle against Count Dooku.  It is skillfully done as is the masterfully woven tale of seduction by Chancellor Palpatine, to be revealed as Darth Sidious.  It is subtly shown that Palpatine has become Anakin’s friend and mentor.  Anakin has confided in him for instance what happened with the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine (in Episode II).

Anakin is tempted to kill Count Dooku and pushed over the edge by Palpatine, but he isn’t ready to abandon his loyal friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

After the beginning piece is really the only slow portion of the film as it does get slightly bogged down by a badly written love story.  When I say badly written, I mean in dialogue.  Some had a problem in believing the love story – I didn’t…I just cringed at some of the dialogue…and the fact that Padme’s character is reduced to being pregnant and waiting instead of the action heroine she was in I and II.

The film quickly picks back up though as the subtle machinations between Palpatine and the Jedi Council are intriguing to watch.  It becomes quite apparent how the Jedi have created their own monster so to speak with the way that Mace Windu tends to ostracize him. and tear him down while Palpatine boosts him up.  Then, when Anakin has visions of Padme’s death and the Jedi tell him to basically forget about it, while the Sith Lord tells him it might be possible to save her…it’s no wonder he goes Sith.

Finally the time comes, when Obi-Wan is sent after General Grievous, and Palpatine is still entrenched in power, Anakin learns that Palpatine is Sidious.  Anakin is torn between the love of a mentor/father figure and doing what is right.  Anakin to his credit goes to turn him into the Jedi Council.  Mace forbids Anakin to come with him to arrest Palpatine, sensing his confusion.

What follows is a beautifully eerie scored sequence where Anakin and Padme stare at each other from miles away across the long Coruscant cityscape and watching someone make a choice has never been more heartbreaking.  I credit John Williams score to be honest.

Finally seeing Palpatine in action is worth the wait as Mace and Palpatine have a great duel in Palpatine’s office leading to the point where Mace has Palpatine on the ropes.  Mace prepares to kill Palpatine, knowing that Palpatine controls the court and the senate, so he’d get out of whatever he had to.  Anakin though needs Palpatine alive to save Padme, thus after warning Mace, he takes action.

What follows is one of the greatest sequences in movie history.  Anakin commits to the Sith so he can become dark enough to gain the power to save Padme.  The “Order 66″ montage is sad, horrifying, wonderfully scored, and very powerful.  It works on every level and when Yoda finally takes out the clones coming for him, it was like a much needed breath of air after a sucker punch to the gut.  But it is quickly hit again when Anakin finds the younglings…and slaughters them.

It is followed up Obi-Wan’s discover and Yoda’s proclamation that he has to take out Palpatine while Obi-Wan has to take out Lord Vader. Obi-Wan confronts Padme to find where his former apprentice has gone.  It is a criminally underrated sequence where Obi-Wan’s sad “I’m sorry” is just…perfect.  You have to see it to understand…I again credit Williams’ score with elevating the sequence even higher.

What’s left is the one battle that we’d been waiting to see for over twenty years.  Anakin vs. Obi-Wan on a lava planet.

And it doesn’t disappoint at all.  Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor did their own stunts and hands down it was one of the speediest and most amazing sword fights ever on screen.  I was unsure it would be able to rival Episode I with Ray Park’s Darth Maul setting quite a high bar.  But it did.

Interspersed with another great duel of Yoda vs. Palpatine, the sequences are just phenomenal.

The ending is quite bittersweet although we know it’s coming, but Lucas masterfully allows that beacon of hope shining through as Luke and Leia are taken to their respective homes.

Overall this rivals Empire Strikes Back as the best of the saga, and is quite simply one of my favorite films of all time.  Certainly there was a few acting issues, a few dialogue issues but they all are very subservient to the story.  Say what you want about Lucas but George KNOWS a good story.

A

-Paul Talon

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