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STAR WARS: EPISODE III—REVENGE OF THE SITH (PG-13!!!) (2005)

20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm LTD

Official Site

Director: George Lucas

Producer: Rick McCallum

Written by: George Lucas

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee, Keisha Castle-Hughes

Rating:


So it all comes down to this. 28 years. 6 movies. 3 special editions. 2 spin-off telefilms. 3 cartoon series. Thousands of action figures, collectible plates, and knick knacks. Numerous expanded universe novels and comic books. Not to mention countless amounts of slash fan fiction. But here it is, the final feature of the Star Wars saga, Episode III—Revenge Of The Sith.

So I guess the big question here, is this the Star Wars prequel we’ve really been waiting over 20 years to see? Does Revenge Of The Sith justify the complete and utter mediocrities that were The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones? Well in some ways yes, but not totally. (AN: WARNING—Massive hyperbole alert!) Truly Star Wars has never been as dark, depressing, dank, gruesome, grim, graphic, and tragic as it is here. It’s a welcome change as this is the true low point of the space opera, where all the manipulations and machinations of Darth Sidious are finally put into effect and made “COMPLETE!” as it were. The Clone Wars are coming to an end, and the ass-clown Jedi Council is finally going to pay for their idiocy in the last two prequels. They think the bad guys are cyborg, alien leader, General Grievous (voice of Matthew Wood as Grievous, whom we first saw on Volume 2 of “The Clone Wars” animated series on Cartoon Network) and Count Dooku (Lee, who returns for one scene before being embarrassingly dispatched. Not nearly as cool as his removal as Saruman from the extended cut of The Return Of The King). Little do they know the real shit is happening right under their nose; some use that force, midichlorians or whatever, good is.

However, as with the last two prequels, the acting and dialogue are still sub-par and beyond the point of laughable. The best way to describe it, the acting, the actors and the words they speak are just… off. They are flatter than caffeine-free Diet Coke, stiffer than Son Goku’s extending power pole. They are off in a way that they weren’t in the original Star Wars movies. And it’s depressing because you have a solid story and some great talent, the performers for the most part just don’t back it up. Even such fine performers as Portman, who once again plays Padme, McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi, and Jackson as Mace Windu seem to be rendered innocuous and ineffective. While I enjoy McDiarmid’s Palpatine/Darth Sidious, it becomes way too over-the-top and wanders too much in the realm of scene-chewing when it should be chilling.

The main thing I see is that Lucas tries to externalize with dialogue that’s better off unsaid, or should be more internalized lines by the performers. Oft do the Lucas faithful and loyalists cling to the notion of it being ’30s movie and serial style acting/dialogue. Well you know, I’m a film and acting student. I’ve watched movies and serials from that era, and believe it or not they have better acting and dialogue than these movies.

And Christensen, oy vey Christensen. You can’t really be further from Darth Vader than Christensen is here as Anakin Skywalker. He’s still just a whiney, unconvincing brat who sounds more like his toys got taken away than Darth Vader. We do see Vader, or VINO (Vader In Name Only) as I will call it. And like most of the movie it just seemed very un-Vader like to me. When you finally see Vader in his supposedly true glory, you will understand. It kind of looks like Vader, with James Earl Jones’ voice, it kind of sounds like Vader, but it just… isn’t Vader. There’s something in the body language and his first reaction that’s just so lame.

I really want to buy into Anakin Skywalker and his descent into the dark side and his transformation into Darth Vader, it’s just too hard of a pill to swallow. To those who want to know what a real turn to the dark side and a betrayal of your comrades is, witness the character of Griffith in Berserk, or better yet Uchiha Sasuke in Naruto. The Naruto anime (or as Cromartie High School’s Kamiyama says “Just read the manga”) specifically at times feels like Kishimoto-sama knew everything that would happen in the Star Wars prequels ahead of time and decided to show those Lucasfilm scrubs how to do the job PROPERLY.

Despite my misgivings, the movie itself is just so grand and epic it’s hard not to get drawn into it. Composer John Williams once again brings his A-game to the picture’s score, even reviving his awesome “Duel Of The Fates” piece for the inevitable confrontation between Jedi Master Yoda (Oz), and Sith Lord Sidious. And the experience itself is just a sight to behold, especially the big main event of Obi Wan and Anakin on the volcanic planet of Mustafar.

As always ILM’s signature visuals and special FX look very pretty and impressive, but it once again saturates the picture. It seems to be used even in places where it’s just pointless and obligatory. I don’t understand why Sidious needs to be acrobatic and go all Cirque De Soleil with his fighting style; it just doesn’t fit, and at times it’s rather distracting.

I think what the big problem is, is that Lucas doesn’t really accept that Star Wars isn’t his any more. Star Wars is bigger than him now; it goes beyond the circle of creator and creation. The phenomenon has taken on a life of it’s own that will probably last for generations. And I think, the sooner Lucas accepts that, and maybe decides to give the true fans what they really want, theatrical cuts of the original movies on DVD, we can move on with our lives… just a bit.

“The boy is pure dag nasty evil.”

—Obi Wan Kenobi

—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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