Ebert:1/2 Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
MANY plot points revealed!
I love Star Wars. UNCONDITIONALLY. I think it is one of the greatest movie series in history. All 6 episodes. And this last installment, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is, by my ranking, the second best of the entire series. I would rank them in this order (if someone made me rank them) Episode 5, 3, 4, 2, 6, 1. Star Wars is definitely a movie that fits into "Alan's Continuous Storyline - Love it All or Hate it All Philosophy"
By now, you know that my taste in movies is scattered all over the place. But I'm a sucker for blockbusters and Star Wars is the absolute archetype of the blockbuster genre. I know the franchise has made billions of dollars and because of that some see it as the worst kind of movie evil. I don't have any problem with the profits of Star Wars. Given the chance, I would climb up to the top of the pile of money that George Lucas sits on and kiss his toe in thanks for what he's given me. He is a genius.
The greatest strength of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is that it does a fantastic job of facilitating the transition to Episode 4 (aka Star Wars: A New Hope.) We see Anakin's descent to the Dark Side of The Force and his metamorphosis into Darth Vader. We see the birth of Luke and Leia. And we see the destruction of The Jedi and the final creation of the Empire and the Emperor.
I went to the first screening at midnight on Thursday so I was kind of sleepy but I was riveted throughout the entire 2 hours and 26 minutes. It seemed to fly by. I can't wait to see it again because I know I missed tons of details. I estimate that it will take about 10 viewings before I can truly say I've seen Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
OK, I'm going to go into details now so if you don't want to know anything before you see it STOP READING NOW.
My friend Bendy is the biggest Star Wars fan I know and we discussed the film all day today. I will repeat parts of our discussions here.
Bendy provided this quote which basically sums up the entire movie: No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. —Luke 16:13
This is exactly what happened to Anakin and as far as I'm concerned the Jedi are more responsible for his downfall than he is.
Bendy said, "With Anakin's path, that is where I fault the Jedi. I felt he wanted to stay the course but the answers were not measuring up. Once he helped kill Windu, there was no turning back, he was done. You know this guy (Anakin) has problems, anger, fear, arrogance and trust. Yoda tells him a Jedi should not be attached to anyone or anything, yet he has a pregnant wife. They want him to spy on the Senator. He goes and tells Windu that Palpatine is the Sith they have been looking for he does not believe him. All the while Palpatine is telling him he could be the greatest and most powerful Jedi, bring peace and save his wife."
The Jedi have always been against Anakin. I've always wondered about a few things in this respect. If there is a prophesy that The One will bring balance to The Force, then if Anakin is The One and the rest of the Jedi are Good then the Jedi should know that The One, Anakin, will bring balance to the Force by becoming part of the previously weaker Dark Side. If this is the case then the Jedi should have a standing order to find The One and destroy him or her before balance is brought to The Force. Perhaps Good cannot exist in the absence of Evil but you don't need a perfect 50/50 ratio. Why would you want balance?
The Jedi also never wanted to train Anakin but they allowed it anyway and then constantly discouraged his development. Not making him a Master after he was appointed to the Jedi Council was just the last in a long line of insults.
Speaking of the Jedi, this is off topic but has bugged me since Episode I. How is it that the super perceptive Jedi can literally sit right in front of Senator Palpatine and not know that he is the Sith Lord Darth Sidious? Even Yoda was unable to sense this? That is almost unbelievable.
Despite the horrible treatment at the hands of the jedi, I don't really think Anakin's path to the Dark Side was justified. I hoped there would be more explanation for his descent. The scene which made me think he was just insane was when he personally killed all the baby Jedi. That was just so harsh. "Anakin, Anakin. There's too many of them. What should we do?" Then that look on Anakin's face, the little Jedi's face, and the buzz of the light saber pretty much changed him from a sympathetic character into a psychotic one. There was never enough justification for his Jedi killing rampage. I understand why Sidious needed it done but Anakin's participation should have perhaps been limited to Mace and Obi Wan.
Finally, Padmé. Anakin's desire to save Padmé, which he ultimately couldn't even do, seemed way too selfish of a reason to destroy the Jedi and hand the republic over to Sidious. That's just crazy. Basically Anakin threw the entire universe into chaos and hardship to save his wife.
OK, enough discussion about character motivation. Technically speaking, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is just as impressive as the first 2 Episodes. There is a space battle at the beginning of the film that may be the best one ever filmed. I could have watched it for hours. I love the detail granted by the CG technology that allows Lucas to paint his limitless vision on the screen. More than any other films, the last 3 Star Wars, have pushed the envelope of new technology and I love every digitally encoded bit. For every Jar Jar Binks, there's an entire planet brilliantly defined like Courasant or a new villain like General Grievous. Plus there's the new Yoda. Honestly, do you think Yoda's skill with a lightsaber would be anywhere near as impressive if Frank Oz had to manipulate the old foam puppet through the motions? So next time you're groaning about Jar Jar, just remember where we'd be without the technology that has made him possible.
Lightsabers. "The lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi, an elegant armament of a more civilized time." The lightsaber battles of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith are the best ever filmed. They are so cool that they alone make the movie worth watching. When General Grievous brandished four at the same time my heart almost stopped beating. Plus in this movie we get to see lightsabers do the most damage ever. Beheadings and countless amputations in addition to stabbing, chopping, and lots of slicing. One great thing about Episodes 1-3 is that they really showcase the true potential of the lightsaber.
The actors all do a fine job. Hayden Christensen (Anakin) and Natalie Portman (Padmé) are probably the weakest of the bunch but that is because they are stuck with all the tedious love scenes that Lucas is just weak at writing. When Christensen is focused on being angry though, he is fantastic. Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) is probably the best in his role because he has to play it more experienced than the last two times and this time he has to do more of a Alec Guinness impression to facilitate the transition in the next episode to the older actor. Ian McDiarmid is my favorite as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. He is so menacing. It's a great performance in a film where acting is very secondary. Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) does his usual fine job and gets to go out in a pretty big way.
The rest of the actors all do great too. Anthony Daniels and C-3PO, Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, Bruce Spence has a small role as Tion Medon in make-up that is similar to the Mouth of Sauron that he played in the director's cut of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. And speaking of Lord of the Rings, Christopher Lee (Count Dooku) is now starting a trend in his career wherein the villain he portrays is killed at the beginning of the third installment of the series. This same thing happened to his character Saruman in the director's cut of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Both deaths were spectacular though so he's pretty cool.
I know George Lucas has said that this is it. That the final Episodes 7-9 will never be filmed but I hope he's wrong. I don't want Star Wars to ever end. Maybe he'll be too old to film them himself but he could get a younger director or director's (The Wachowski brothers from The Matrix, or even Peter Jackson from Lord of the Rings.) Actually you know what would be best? Lord Spielberg. That would be awesome!
Anyway, nobody is going to go see this movie based only on my review so I won't say you have to go or you can wait to see it on DVD. If you're a real fan then you've already seen it by now. It's definitely a big screen experience and will be diminished on DVD no matter how big and jacked your home theatre system is.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is awesome. It is a perfect end to what I hope will not be the end. May the Force be with Us, Always.