Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (DVD, 2005, 2-Disc Set, Widescreen) Reviews
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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (DVD, 2005, 2-Disc Set, Widescreen)

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Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith: George Lucas Finally Gets It Right, Sort Of

May 19, 2005 (Updated May 19, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:good balance to the film, more coherent story, Ian McDiarmid

Cons:wooden acting, inconsistencies, why the hell does a droid cough?

The Bottom Line: I'd give it 4 1/2 stars if I could - well worth it for fans and I don't regret staying up for the midnight show to see it.


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Well, okay, it was almost thirty years ago in a suburb of New York City that a girl finally got to see the movie that everyone was talking about at the local $1.50 movie theater. That movie was Star Wars and the girl was me. I was so blown away that I went back the next night, and the night after that, and the night after that... I saw it seven times in a row over the summer. Never before had I seen anything like it.

Since I don’t want to spoil the film, I’ll discuss some general issues first and then put specific plot discussions further down with a spoiler alert.

A common complaint in the newer films created by George Lucas in the last six years has been the focus on effects and a lack of story. While the problem hasn’t been solved completely in Revenge of the Sith, it is much better. I can easily say that this is the best of the three films. The story and effects are more balanced than before. In the other films I had the impression that a lot of plot points were put there just so Lucas could show off some effects, with Revenge of the Sith I had the impression that there was ore of a melding of the two, although I still think there were a few scenes shot because they looked cool rather than furthering the story.

When we revisit the characters last seen in Attack of the Clones, a war is going on between “the Separatists” and the Republic. The Chancellor (Ian McDiarmid) has kept the “temporary” powers granted him and the Jedi are beginning to get nervous. Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi Wan (Ewen MacGregor) have just returned from a mission on the outer rim and are sent to rescue the Chancellor from kidnappers. When they arrive back on Coruscant, Padme (Natalie Portman), Anakin’s clandestine wife, informs him that she’s pregnant.

This sets Anakin on an inner struggle as he has visions of Padme dying in childbirth and doesn’t know what he can do to prevent it. Instead of reaching out to his fellow Jedi, or to Obi Wan, he gets a few comforting words and a level of trust from the Chancellor which has not been granted him by the Jedi.

If you're not with me, then you're my enemy...

I have to say that Christensen is much better as Anakin in Revenge of the Sith than he was in the previous film. Is he still wooden? Yes, but I think he’s come into the character more or gotten used to acting in front of a green-screen. I still maintain that Jonathan Jackson was perfect for the role, but Christensen has come a long way and managed to portray Anakin convincingly. The problems I have with the character’s descent to the dark side of the Force has more to do with the actual pacing of the film rather than Christensen’s portrayal.

This was one area of the film I’m critical of Lucas on. I think there were certain parts of the evolution of the characters which seemed forced or rushed. This was especially true in the case of Anakin in regards to certain situations getting turned around and him having his perceptions of the people around him change. Other scenes seemed to drag on (of course, it took the theater an hour to turn on the air conditioning so that might have colored that perception as well). I still did not feel any chemistry between Christensen and Portman, and I’m not sure who to pin that on although I’ve seen Portman in enough films to know she usually comes off well with her co-stars, even carrying them at times.

This is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause...

Ewen McGregor also drew some parallels between himself here and the Ben Kenobi we see in A New Hope. At the end, I noticed him draw his hand across his upper lip in a way that I immediately knew where I’d seen it before and could just picture Alec Guinness standing there watching Leia’s hologram come out of R2D2. At times he seemed a bit lost in the acting, but I think that comes from having to react to things that just aren’t there. A better director than Lucas might have had more success with the actors in this department, although it’s not as bad as it’s been in the past.

I felt that General Grievous, the leader of the droid army was something of a miss as well. He kept coughing throughout his scenes and I had to wonder why a droid would cough. Later on it seemed like he was part organic, but it’s not something I caught onto right away and found it to be distracting. I found it a bit contrived that one of the Wookie friends of Yoda’s turned out to be Chewbacca - I hate when there are just too many coincidences and that was one that bothered me right along with the whole Boba Fett thing in Attack of the Clones. There was just no good reason for it and in a universe this big, sometimes it’s better to let a Wookie be just a Wookie.

Although the movie does have an overall dark tone to it, there are a few lighter moments that got some laughs. It was easy for the audience I saw it with (12:01 a.m. show on May 19th) to cheer on Yoda and to laugh at some of the tings you just don’t expect a short green guy to be doing. R2D2 had some comic relief as well, giving a break to all of the darkness. This seemed to balance out perfectly with the action, so while the pacing might be a bit off, the balance between comedy, drama, and action is very good.

Star Wars fans won’t be disappointed by this film, I believe. I had read some negative reviews before going to see it, so I was expecting the worst and ended up very surprised and happy. It’s quite a bit darker than some of the other films, and I’d caution parents on bringing their kids just because of some of the things Anakin does as he turns to the dark side of the force as well as the scene of him alive and on fire as he becomes the “more machine than man” that we know Darth Vader is.


***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Is anyone really surprised that Chancellor Palpantine is really the Emperor? I had heard talk about that being a spoiler, but I had that figured out way back in The Phantom Menace. Ian McDiarmid was wonderful as the Chancellor/Emperor. He was dead on so many times with his portrayal, right down to getting the voice to match the original one we heard all those years ago. The scene where he reveals himself is a powerful one and McDiarmid conveys his strong presence on the screen very well.

Any scene he was in with another actor impressed me. I thought the battle between Mace Windu (Samuel Jackson) and the Chancellor was excellent. It was nice to see Samuel Jackson finally get a strong action sequence and the effects during it were great.

There were a few points I had problems with that didn’t seem consistent between Revenge of the Sith and the story Luke and Leia talk about in Return of the Jedi. Luke asks Leia about her mother and what she remembers about her, giving the impression that Leia was raised by their mother. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Padme dies and it really just seemed like a big slap to me. I expected her to give birth and end up with Senator Organa (Jimmy Smits) after annulling her marriage to Anakin or something. I thought that was a glaring inconsistency that was just done for the dramatic effect of Padme dying of a broken heart.

I felt that Anakin’s transition to the dark side was way too abrupt, especially the way he turned on Padme. The whole bit about turning to the dark side was supposed to be about protecting her and saving her, yet as soon as there’s a tiny hint of betrayal, he attempts to kill her (and consequently their child) without even letting her explain. I just found the whole situation to be rushed and would have liked it more if his evolution to the dark side had taken a longer period of time. However, the movie is already 140 minutes long and I could see this turning into one of the Lord of the Rings films (maybe Peter Jackson should have directed!).


***END SPOILERS***


All in all, I think it’s a good finish to this part of the series. I think George Lucas did pretty good with it. Don’t believe the bad reviews - for fans of the series, you won’t be disappointed. I’d definitely make sure to see the other films prior to seeing this one because you’ll miss half the story if you haven’t. If you’re not a fan, I’d stay away as this is the type of film that’s “preaching to the choir”.


© 2005 Patti Aliventi


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