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

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  May 19, 2005 @ 11:59am

Filed under: Movie Reviews 

Star Wars began back in 1977 and changed the way movies were made, marketed, and seen in theatres around the globe. Its impact still makes fans hearts skip a beat when the theme rocks the multiplex.

Just before the dawn of the new millennium, George Lucas – the hero who brought us "light sabers", "laser battles", and "droids" – returned to the silver screen with a promise to finally unravel the mystery that is one of the greatest villains in cinematic history, Darth Vader. Did we buy it? Not really.

How could we when all we saw was a short blonde haired kid who seemed to be surrounded by the Star Wars universe but was never fully planted. It was going to take a lot of convincing.

Three long years later, Star Wars fever erupted once more as Lucas unleashed his clones and some of us had a feeling of what Star Wars was once more. But still, in the back of our minds, something was missing, even though the film was impressive and way better than the first offering.

Revenge of the Sith marks the conclusion to the series that has spawned a generation. This could be the last time we see the world "from a galaxy far, far away". So, do we finally get to see the real Star Wars? Can fan-boys jump out of their seats with glee? Sort of.

Revenge of the Sith concludes Anakin's (Hayden Christensen) decline into the hands of the Dark Side of the Force. Anakin's epic struggle and love for his wife Padmé (Natalie Portman) seems to be the catalyst as he learns that his now-pregnant wife may die in child-birth. Anakin believes that the Dark Side has the power to make sure that his family will go on. This fatal flaw makes Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lick his evil lips with glee.

Meanwhile, as Anakin descends, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) watches as the Republic's once powerful clone army begins to turn on their Jedi commanders and a desperate struggle to save the Jedi Order begins. Obi-Wan eventually will have to come to terms with the fact that the world he loved is over and that it has come down to a life and death battle with his apprentice, now succumbed to the power of the evil Sith. A new era is dawning and another is ending.

The special effects and brilliance that is Star Wars rips across the screen in glorious brilliance. Lucas is the king of effects and his technological expertise is there in spades. It is more brilliant than his previous prequels and makes Revenge of the Sith breathtaking eye candy.

Ewan McGregor is still the best actor when it comes to these films. McGregor's Obi-Wan seems to have the most depth, sense of self, and raw energy than any of the other human characters in the film. I just wish Lucas would have allowed McGregor to go even further.

Portman seems to have become "set dressing" in this film as her performance and complexity seems to have been scaled back. I wanted to feel sickness and pain from this woman.

Christensen proves here just how wooden Lucas can make epic scaled characters. He comes off more as a spoiled brat than an epic tragedy figure. Not for one second did I believe that he was more than some troubled teen who has become lost to the void. This is all uncanny, since he won the role by playing a troubled teen in the TV show Higher Ground. Evil to him is squinting his eyes and mouthing off to his elders. Now that's scary.

Lucas seems to have lost a lot of what makes Star Wars great through the course of this prequel series. Revenge of the Sith's script really, really bugged me. Every time Yoda spoke I wanted to punt him. Can the guy just say one sentence normally? Then there is the whole Anakin turning scenes, which drove me batty because there was no depth of emotion for something so grand and epic.

I think what Lucas forgot over the course of these prequel films was that he wasn't solely responsible for making the original series so great. As I look back, I can see that a lot of the character development and relationship depth probably came from co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. I also firmly feel that the original series benefited when Lucas shared the directing job, especially when it came to Kirshner on The Empire Strikes Back.

Going into Revenge of the Sith, I knew a lot of what happened in the film since there has been oodles and oodles of talk about how Darth Vader was born. Some were speculation and others were fact based. After seeing Revenge of the Sith, I do realize that 95% of what I learned beforehand was in fact true.

When the audience finally sees the ominous black hood of evil, there are supposed to be gasps and shocks, but for me I snickered. Why was I laughing at something I held in such high regard? Well, hearing the deep baritone voice of James Earl Jones saying lines from Anakin, and the extreme awkwardness of tiny Hayden Christensen inside the giant terror suit, ruined a lot of the illusion and fear Darth Vader used to bring to me as a child. Hearing Jones utter those words was like watching the poor great actor doing a reading for One Tree Hill. Furthermore, Christensen in the suit reminded me of a 12-year old at Halloween.

Revenge of the Sith marks the end of an era for sci-fi fans, but as a film it could have benefited from a better-conceived script and deeper character emotions for such an emotional final resolution. It is almost like Lucas put a noose around his actors' throats and dared them to act. Lucas desperately needed a collaboration to bring such a brilliant story of descension. (3.5 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.

Tags: Star Wars, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Revenge of the Sith, Episode III, George Lucas, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee

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