"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith"
by Chris Alexis
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|| ****1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Ewan McGregor as OBI-WAN KENOBI
Natalie Portman as PADME AMIDALA
Hayden Christensen as ANAKIN SKYWALKER
Ian McDiarmid as SUPREME CHANCELLOR PALPATINE
Samuel L. Jackson as MACE WINDU
Jimmy Smits as SENATOR BAIL ORGANA
Frank Oz as YODA
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Christopher Lee as COUNT DOOKU
Opens May 19, 2005
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: George Lucas
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It’s about time. We’ve been teased with the return of Darth Vader, one of the most interesting villains in cinema history, to the big screen for a long time now. Ever since the teaser poster for Episode I showed us the dark shadow of Vader made by the nine-year-old Anakin, we’ve been anxiously awaiting. When the trailers for Episode II arrived, they put in the “Vader breathing” to tease us more, but still there was no big bad man in the big black suit. Finally, our beloved antagonist returns.
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….but you still have to wait until the very end of the movie to see him.
Actually, Revenge of the Sith is one of the best, if not the best, Star Wars. Not just the best of the prequels, but one of the best of the whole bunch. Why? Because, like The Empire Strikes Back, everything goes to hell in this one - and that’s what makes interesting cinema. Even in life, we always want to know the juiciest parts. The most intense parts of the conflict between people. This is it.
The story of this final adventure takes place three years after the events of Attack of the Clones. Anakin, now a full-blown Jedi Knight, partners with long-time mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi to rescue Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of Count Dooku. After the rescue mission, Anakin begins to have visions. Horrible nightmares that Padmé, his pregnant wife, will die in childbirth. There’s already the tension in the air that he must keep his marriage secret or be thrown out of the Jedi order, and this pregnancy complicates things. When Anakin goes to Master Yoda for help, he doesn’t like the answer he gets, and so he seeks out the Supreme Chancellor. The results lead Anakin to some very dark places.
This film is much better than the other prequels because it fixes a lot of the problems. I didn’t care much for Episode I. It had some cool things about it (Darth Maul for one) but the political discussions went on too long and felt out of place for a Star Wars movie. Of course, we all know what effect Jar Jar Binks had on the film. I really enjoyed Episode II, but I know it was a little to over the top in it’s illustration of the budding romance between Anakin and Padmé. Some the acting was just awful in that one, too.
The acting here is a bit better. It isn’t Oscar material or anything, but the cringe-factor is much less here. Especially towards the end, when Anakin screams at Obi-Wan during their climatic battle - it feels genuine.
The only thing that makes this film suffer at all is really a few key hokey scenes. The worst being at the tail end with Vader once he’s in the suit. It’s supposed to be an emotional and intense moment, but it makes you cringe and might cause some audiences to actually laugh. Everyone will know it when they see it.
What is really great about this film is that there are a lot of loose ends tied up. More than you’d expect. Not only do you learn more about Anakin’s fate as Vader, but about his past as well. You see why Lucas put in place some of the story lines in the earlier films. The payoff is all here. Pay careful attention to what the Emperor tells Anakin during the Opera scene. What he suggests, without directly saying it, is striking.
The pacing of this film is better than some of the other films. Other episodes in this series have had only so much story and the rest is padding. This film is like Pamela Anderson. No padding required. In fact, George Lucas has officially said there was so much story to get through, he had to focus mostly on Anakin and cut away time from the other characters. That’s why Padmé, C-3PO, and other characters as much don’t get much screen time.
One final note: parents be warned. This Star Wars is not like the one you remember seeing as a kid in theatres several times back in the seventies. This film is intense and would scare a lot of young children. (Caution: a couple small SPOILERS - read if you’re concerned about taking your child - if you don’t want to know anything about it, skip to the next paragraph) -- More than one character is hideously and violently deformed. There is the suggestion of violence against children. There is a lot of loud suffering in this movie by a lot of characters.
Okay, spoilers done. I only wish Darth Vader as we all know him would have been in the movie more. I’ve been waiting years to see him on screen again….we all have.
…but I think no matter what, we could never get enough of Vader. We’d always be asking for more, no matter how much they packed him in. He reflects the struggle in everybody. The pain and the anger that resides in us that contests with our good natures. We want to interact with that on the screen and to re-connect with that sense of awe we get in his on-screen presence, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
So, in the end: was it worth the wait? You bet.