Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Director(s): George Lucas
Writer(s): George Lucas
Reviewed by: Ian Evans on
Release Date(s)May 19, 2005 - Wide
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With the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, writer/director George Lucas completes the epic journey that he began back with Star Wars in 1977. Revenge of the Sith fills in the last details that fans of the series needed to know about Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the dark side of the Force and the events that led to the creation of the evil Empire that Luke and Leia battle against in Episode IV. The situation here is the same faced by those watching an historical drama. Dedicated Star Wars fans know how it’s going to end. Like those who watch Titanic, it’s all about the journey.
Hayden Christensen’s Anakin and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi head off on a rescue mission to save Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and the droid army leader General Grievous. Palpatine is more evil than he appears to be and, knowing Anakin’s skill with the Force, begins to appeal to the brash young man’s ego and anger in an attempt to bring him to the Dark Side.
We also learn that Anakin’s secret wife, Padme (Natalie Portman) is pregnant though his reaction to the news is less “Oh boy I’m going to be a dad!” and more like a high school quarterback wondering how this will affect his game.
Politics and intrigue abound, though not delivered in as much detail as in Episode II, which often felt like sitting through a civics class. Palpatine is seeking even more power for himself and wants Anakin to spy on the Jedi. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (voice of Frank Oz) in turn don’t fully trust Anakin and want him to spy on Palpatine. Treachery and betrayals are afoot and deadly consequences are in the cards.
In terms of action and overall story, Lucas has delivered a film that delivers as much as The Empire Strikes Back did twenty-five years ago. Over the six films of the series, Lucas has created an epic, self-contained universe that has so many characters and twists that it could probably be presented alongside Greek mythology classes. The history lessons in this film are taught more at the end of a light sabre than at the end of a speech. In the original Star Wars, Lucas introduced audiences to one of the most iconic villains in movie history and Revenge of the Sith gives us the final steps of Anakin’s descent from a promising young Jedi into a dark and murderous Sith Lord.
Lucas also makes sure that hints of the episode to follow (1977’s Episode IV) are sprinkled throughout, including an appearance by Chewbacca and the design of ships that closely resemble TIE fighters and X-wings.
Every frame of the film has eyes darting all over the place as Lucas populates the cityscapes with bustling CGI-created activity. His hand-to-hand battle scenes echo the swashbuckling heroes of Saturday morning serials, while his spaceship battles hearken back to the swooping planes of a WWII film.
Lucas still has problems with dialogue and directing his actors. Many of his lines are so clunky that even talented actors like Ewan McGregor and Samuel L. Jackson can’t help but deliver them with all the finesse of a brick hitting the floor. Any attempts to show the romance between Padme and Anakin end up like eavesdropping on the first date of awkward high schoolers. Also, I’m still second-guessing Hayden Christensen’s casting in such a pivotal role. I thought he was wooden in Attack of the Clones. Maybe the wood’s been polished a bit but he still doesn’t have the range to make Anakin’s transformation into Vader anything but a sulky, pouting bout of balled fists and angry eyes.
At this point though, we’re here for action and Lucas keeps the momentum up. He deftly jumps from planet to planet, and battle to battle, as he and his team of effects wizards spin the web that ends the journey they started us on a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
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