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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (2005) -- Who could have done this?

May 19, 2005 (Updated May 23, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Spectacular visuals, Anakin and Padme finally get real, ungodly lightsaber battles!


The Bottom Line: Here's where the fun begins!

It's hard to remember specific details. People gathered in clusters of five or six, a rock radio station was camped out right outside the movie theater, playing "Heavy" by Collective Soul. It was 11:25 at night. Oh yeah, and it was raining.

After a 15-minute wait at the concession stand that for whatever reason flew by, I found myself amidst a sea of taken seats. Finally, I found one next to this cute girl who was reading a book and seemed to only be there at the request of her boyfriend.

This fat guy who was sitting right in the middle suddenly shouted, "20 minutes... until Star Wars!" and he had one of those deep, rumbling voices. A few people clapped and woo-hooed. I just laughed. The girl's eyes didn't waver from her book, which I managed to see had Sigmund Freud on the cover.

Well, I sat and I stared as silent images of Adam Sandler in a football helmet and Nicole Kidman on a broomstick flashed before my eyes. But it would not be surreal for long. Today, after nearly 30 years, a saga written by the one and only George Lucas would be complete.

Everyone in the theater except the girl erupted in applause as the theme music burst out and the Star Wars logo shrunk into space. Then, there it was -- Episode III: Return Of The Sith.


I can still feel that brief moment when my eyebrow raised by itself. The first word of the big Yellow Scroll was "War!"? And I thought putting "ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC" in all caps in Episode 2 was cheesy, but using an exclamation mark, that just takes the cake. Well, the remainder of the scroll settled us nicely into the story.

For a moment, I wondered which way the camera was going to move once the letters were out of sight.

It moved down.

It's no big secret that Revenge Of The Sith is meant to be the "darkest" film in the whole lot of 'em. But you have no idea. Some of the things you see in this movie are more darker, depressing and disturbing than you ever imagined Lucas would go. The near-demise of Anakin Skywalker is merely one of a hundred different scenes that keep flashing through my head. The subtlety with which it happens; you think it's going to somehow be more "sudden", and just.. wow. This may be a galaxy far, far away, but damn if you don't feel it coming right at you.

So on with the story already! Senator Palpatine has been kidnapped by a fiend known as General Grievous, and our good boys Anakin and Obi-Wan are on it like white on rice. Immediately, Sith thrusts us into a space battle that quite possibly dwarfs anything previously done in either of the two Trilogies.

I must say, weird stuff happens in this movie. And I'm not talking about the fact that Anakin steals one of Han Solo's great lines. But, well, for one thing, we see an Artoo unit get its head removed. It was weird, it was cool, but it was almost kind of silly.

As for R2-D2 himself, well it seems he's getting a real piece of the action this time around too. Up until now, R2 has had very little to defend himself with, except maybe a mist sprayer or an electrical shocker. Now, he's got these things coming out of every little crevice. He's jumping out of spaceships like Jackie Chan after they park, and he's "pooping" oil into the faces of probe droids. All in the name of pure silliness. But I suppose the Sarlacc Pitt monster burping is no different.

Dialogue hasn't changed much. I did find myself breathing a sigh of relief after many of Anakin and Padme's scenes, as these were handled with more sincerity than before, by both the writing and the actors. For instance, one of the driving forces behind Anakin's descent lies within his dreams of Padme dying during childbirth, and they have an exchange that goes something like this:

Padme: "I won't die during childbirth. I promise you."
Anakin: "No, I promise you."

Okay, it's a bit cheesy. But there is not just foreshadowing here, there is irony in that Anakin and Padme are promising the same exact thing to each other, both with completely opposite ideas as to how they plan to keep it. Besides, put that exact same exchange in a foreign or indie film and I'm sure the gushing and fawning would just never end.

Early on, there were some truly bad lines, though. There was one exchange between Anakin and Senator Palpatine in which Anakin had two lightsabers up to another person's neck, and Palpatine urged Anakin to give in to his anger by saying, "Do it!" I don't know, "do it"? That just seems sorta blasé. So then, Anakin does it and Palpatine says "You've done well." As if it were all some prearranged program written 30 years ago that must be religiously adhered to. Several times, the exchanges mimic those between Luke and the Emperor in Return Of The Jedi, sometimes word-for-word. So that might be excessive for some.

Chewbacca's appearance in this movie is more than welcome, and the sight of a thousand Wookies charging into the water to take on a droid army, it's just unexplainable. Chewbacca's allowing Yoda to ride on his shoulders elicited a few "Awww"s from the audience. And the world that the Wookies live in -- instantly, that has become one of my three favorite scenic places in a Star Wars film. It's like Dagobah, but with light and beaches. Strangely, I thought the whole reason for Chewie's being in this movie was to establish a connection between him and Obi-Wan Kenobi, who seems to "know" him at the Cantina in A New Hope. But as I recall, they hardly interact, if indeed they do at all.

There are definitely more lightsabers than you can shake a stick at here, although their pointy tips are puzzling. Grievous fights using four of them at once. The mere sound of his igniting them one at a time, "Pshhh! Pshhh! Pshhh! Pshhh!", it's little stupid things like that that make me want to go see it again today. Mace Windu finally gets to cut loose with his purple lightsaber, and that dude can drop some serious smack like you never would've guessed from his limited use of it in Attack Of The Clones. As you may have seen in the preview, even Senator Palpatine has a lightsaber up his sleeve now. His big "thing" is that he dispatches most of his foes within a few seconds.

Yoda's lightsaber moments are still among the best ones, not necessarily when he's actually fighting (his duel with Palpatine looks almost identical to his one with Dooku), but when he pulls it out of nowhere while you're not expecting it and scares you half to death in the process. And yet, there's something weird about having him with a lightsaber again this time around. Remember how in Return Of The Jedi they had that big chase through the forests of Endor with the speeders? Then you didn't see them around for a while and suddenly, during the big battle with the Ewoks, all of a sudden two speeders come out of nowhere. One of them gets attached to a tree, running circles until he crashes into it, and the other gets knocked off by a rope (that still looks so cool). But when you see those troops on speeders, you can't help but think "What good are they gonna do on those?" And maybe it's because speeders wouldn't be "practical" in that particular battle, or maybe it's because speeders aren't the "big new thing" at this point in the movie. Well, that's kind of how it is with Yoda using a lightsaber. He's not the "big new thing" anymore, and he certainly does take a beating at the end, which may upset the kids a bit.

Of course, it's all building up to the big one between Anakin and Obi-Wan at the end, which indeed is probably the greatest lightsaber battle filmed yet. All in all, they probably could have benefitted from fewer cuts (particularly in Obi-Wan vs. Grevious) and something bothers me about the fact that in Obi-Wan vs. Anakin, they both use blue lightsabers. But still, these are some of the fastest and most furious ones yet.

Grevious is not exactly the most intimidating villain, what with the cough and all. For some reason, he strikes me as the kind of character who is only half-aware of where he is, what he is doing or why he's doing it. Or maybe it's just me.

Ewan McGregor serves up his philly cheese steak homerun as usual, lending a super strength shrouded by a soft elegance to the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Hayden Christensen trades in the whininess for cockiness, and you can tell by his smile he's having ten times the blast here that he did in Clones.

Natalie Portman has a tough cross to bear when you really think about it. She is the mother of these two extraordinary characters; how can you possibly pretend not to know that when the camera points at you? There is no hint of a Senator anywhere in her character now, but merely a scared young lady who may have just bitten off a little more than she can chew. (Hey, he's more machine now than man, after all...) I think that her fate in this movie might hit a nerve with some people. I mean, sure, you don't want her to be Charlie's fourth angel, going around kicking butt in high heels like anybody could possibly do that. But she is made out to be so much weaker than before. I mean, yeah, guy dumps you, it breaks your heart, I know that and I'm in no position to make a judgment on the pain that must cause. But I'm just saying if there are teenage girls out there who think about suicide, I don't know if they'd want to see something like this. It would just weaken their will.

Many of the questions that have been teeming like locusts for the past three years with regard to the events of the Prequel Trilogy have finally been answered, though possibly not to the satisfaction of everyone. The whole thing with some Jedis disappearing upon death and others not will always be a mystery, as will the true identity of Jedi master Sifo-Dyas. And the way things pan out here, there is no way that Princess Leia could have had memories of her "real mother" in Jedi. I guess we just have to assume she has them because of the Force. Ah, but here's something interesting; if it were because of the Force that Leia had the memories, and yet Luke did not, that would suggest that Leia's powers (which, sadly, we'll never see) could have surpassed those of Luke.

So the Star Wars saga is finally complete! No doubt about it, we got a lot of excited people out there right now. And really, all nitpicking aside, there is plenty to be excited about. As Star Wars movies go, this is definitely the most spectacular, to visual and visceral senses alike, installment in the series yet with the possible exception of The Empire Strikes Back (but of course). When Yoda puts his hand over his heart in the midst of the Jedi Purge, or when Darth Vader utters Padme's name through the mask, I dare you not to feel something.

Recommend this product? Yes

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