Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith
Lil' Palpatine (Warning: Possible Spoiler in this parody if you haven't seen the movie)
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Hayden Christensen, Frank Oz, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniel, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Silas Carson, Jay Laga'aia, Bruce Spence, Wayne Pygram, Temuera Morrison
Synopsis: After three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker falls prey to the Sith Lord's lies and makes an enemy of the Jedi and those he loves, concluding his journey to the Dark Side.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images
Jedi Kitten with the Force
The Birth of Darth Vader (Warning: Contains Spoiler if you haven't seen this movie)
Revenge of the S**T!!!
Surprisingly better than you might think, but still falls short of it's full potential. As many of my readers know, I hated the last two prequels with a passion. Therefore, when I first saw this one in theaters several years ago, I didn't have high hopes for it at all. Although I won't say the film is bad, but I can't say it's that great either.
The special effects are still very nice to look at, as Lucasarts does a tremendous job on the visuals and sound effects. Plus, you still have to love the amazing character designs that George Lucas presents to us, as they're very unique. Hell, even some of the makeup and costume designs are great. Not to mention, the sound editing isn't half bad either. Plus if you're a fan of the "Star Wars" CGI cartoon spin off, "The Clone Wars", then you'll find quite a few easter eggs throughout this movie as well.
Unfortunately, like the last two prequels, the visuals can still have a tendency to overshadow it's own characters half the time. For example when we see Anakin Skywalker fighting with Obi Wan Kenobi, I have to admit that it was a great fight scene from a visual standpoint, with the massive lava planet in the background. The visual effects were nothing short of amazing in that particular scene, but the problem with that part was that it seemed like Lucas was focusing on the settings for the fight rather than the conflict itself.
This is one of the reasons why the prequels the pale in comparison to the original trilogy. In the "Empire Strikes Back" for example, you still had the impressive backgrounds and settings for the final fight scene between Darth Vader and Luke. In fact, the visuals still arguably hold up even to this day, but you'll notice the emphasis during that fight wasn't so much on the visuals and settings for the fight, but rather the conflict itself. In fact, most people, that fondly remember the film, often point to the heart stopping climax when Luke found out Vader's secret, before they even talk about the settings of that particular scene. Which is exactly how it should be.
The sad reality with the final fight scene between Obi Wan and Anakin Skywalker is that it's overshadowed by the fact that the visuals are almost too perfect. There's too much going on visually, in the background, that it often distracts from the central conflict itself. Granted, from a fan's perspective, it was a pretty cool scene to watch, but because the visuals overshadow the characters during that crucial fight scene, it doesn't have the emotional impact it should've had.
As for the story, I'll get into that now. Unlike the previous films, this one shows that maybe George Lucas might've learned from his previous mistakes in the past two prequels. As I pointed out in my review of "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace", one of the key problems about the prequels was that it lacked a centralized character. Sure, it's never necessary to always have a film focus on one character, but it often helps when you're orchestrating a movie that's designed to take audiences into a fantastical world that requires them to suspend their disbelieves, in name of cinematic fun.
In this particular prequel, it seems Anakin has jumped into the role of the main protagonist this time; which is amazing considering the fact that he started off as a throw away pointless character in the first prequel, to one of the main characters in the second, to now being the main focus. Quite a step up considering this probably should've been the case the whole time.
Another aspect that hurt the last two prequels was that it never seemed clear which audience it was trying to cater to. Sure if you watch the last two films, you could say that it was geared mostly towards kids, as all the action scenes and lightsaber battles looked like nothing more than elaborate toy and video game commercials for Lucasarts. Not to mention Lucas even created that extremely unintentionally racist CGI character, Jar Jar Binks, because he wanted the first prequel to appeal heavily to children. Plus, the tone of the first two movies were lighthearted enough to where it almost seemed like Lucas was catering his prequels to appeal to younger audiences.
But on the other hand, if it's for kids, then why would you have the first movie involve crap like taxes on trades? Does Lucas honestly think little six or seven year old kids are going to understand that? Not saying kids are stupid or anything, but let me ask you all this. When you were six or seven years old, did you care or even know ANYTHING about taxes and stuff like that?
Plus, in the second prequel, Anakin cried to Padme saying how he killed women and children out of revenge...um...yeah...a bit dark to be geared towards children don't you think? Sadly, this was another problem the prequels suffered from, as it seemed like they were trying too hard to appeal to everyone, yet it failed drastically.
Although some people that defend the prequels by calling the original trilogy boring (yes, there's people out there that say that), but I will say this. Say what you want about the original trilogy, but at least, it knew what audience it was trying to appeal to. Unlike the prequels, the original "Star Wars" movie wasn't trying to appeal to everyone, as it was primarily geared towards young teens and young adults back in it's heyday; along with a few old school science fiction nerds that followed the days of "Flash Gordon", as "Star Wars" did pay homage to that series as well.
As the first film became a hit, the sequel got a bit darker considering that it's audience had gotten older as well. Granted, some fans will argue that "Return of the Jedi" took the series back to it's more kid friendly roots with the Ewoks being introduced, but it never lost touch with the audiences it was trying to appeal to throughout each film of the original trilogy. Not only that but unlike the prequels, it knew how to keep the story focused on the characters; which is why many of them are iconic even to this day.
Sadly, you can't say that about any of characters in the prequels because a lot of them weren't written well, or they were often overshadowed by the visual effects, and it shouldn't be that way. Not to mention the mediocre dialogue and poor character development that plagued the prequels doesn't exactly help either.
Although I will say that George Lucas actually does a great job this time setting up the story, and developing some of the key characters in this one. In fact, out of all the prequels, this is actually the only one where I can safely say that I like Anakin Skywalker as a character. In the first film, we didn't know anything about him because he was poorly written. And in the second one, he was too much of an egotistical selfish whining jerk that you just wanted to slap him.
However, in this one, he's portrayed as more of a sympathetic figure. He's a man that's lost his mother, so he's constantly haunted by visions of his wife dying; thus he fears that he won't be able to save the woman he loves more than anything in the world. This is a very deep story that "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" tries to convey, and it works on a lot of levels. Unlike the last two prequels, this one seemed to know what audience it was catering to this time around, as the fans that grew up on the prequels were older by this point, so you can tell they were making the story more for adults this time as well. It's refreshing in a lot of ways to see the tone and story matchup this time.
Sadly, the film still suffers from mediocre dialogue; which hinders a lot of the acting as well. Most of the acting performances ranging from overacting to sometimes just straight up underacting that it sadly tends to take you out of the otherwise good story that George Lucas was trying to convey.
Sure, Ewan McGregor tries his best with the dialogue that he's given to read, but even he can't overcome George's poorly written words. Unfortunately, this also means another overacting performance from Natalie Portman, who is actually a great actress when given the right material to work with. Sadly, she's not given much to work with here.
However, one actor that does surprisingly shine in this film is Ian McDiarmid (Supreme Chancellor Palpatine), who plays a great villain in this feature. Something the other two prequels lacked severely. Sure, the dialogue makes his character's intentions all but too obvious throughout most of the feature, but you can tell Ian puts a lot of great subtlety and effort into his performance. In fact, his best scenes in the film feature Palpatine tempting Anakin over to the darkside, which is very reminiscent of many great devil movies that often involve satan tempting innocent people to turn evil. However, the irony is that isn't a devil movie of any kind, but it's about "Star Wars", and it works almost too perfectly with how it's set up here.
It almost makes me sad to think that maybe if George would've touched up the dialogue just a bit, and had better performances out of his actors, then maybe we could've gotten a great movie out of all this. However, as much potential as this story had, it still doesn't excuse some of the other technical problems about this film.
Like the previous prequels, this one still suffers from a lot of pointless scenes, and the action sequences tend to drag out longer than they should. Not to mention there's still a lot of pointless throwaway characters that don't really add much value to the story other than it's a cool reference to see if you're into the "Star Wars" expanded universe stuff (i.e. "The Clone Wars" CGI cartoon that was mentioned earlier). Sadly, all this results in having the story itself have an incredibly slow pacing to it to get going, and it never really picks up until the latter half of the movie, where Lucas has to do everything he can to tie in the prequels to the original trilogy.
Overall, I would never call "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" a bad movie per say, as it had a lot of great things going for it. In fact, I still say if this film would've had better dialogue, better acting performances, and possibly better editing, then this might've been one of the better "Star Wars" films out there. However, for what the film is at face value, it's fairly decent. Nowhere near the epicness of the original trilogy, but it's good enough to make up for the follies of the first two prequels. Definitely worth a look with a rating of two and a half out of four.
© 2013 Steven Escareno
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