On Thursday I sat in a theater with about 150 other invited people (mostly press) to view a special screening of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, the film I had been waiting for since the first time I saw the original Star Wars as a kid.
Let me preface this by saying I enjoyed the first 2 Episodes (Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones). No, The Phantom Menace was not a good movie… but I still enjoyed watching it. And unlike many people, I actually STILL believe Attack of the Clones was a good film (with a couple of major weaknesses).
I’ll try to keep this short.
The basic story of Revenge of the Sith was (in my opinion) the best laid out story of all the Star Wars films. The political maneuverings, the moral dilemmas, the torn loyalties, and ultimately Skywalker’s decent into the dark side. If you were to read it as a 5 page synopsis, the story and plot stands out as exceptional ones.
Easily the weakest part of the first 2 prequels was the HORRIBLE dialog. Lines that were so cheesy you couldn’t believe someone didn’t say to Lucas “You don’t seriously want her to say THAT do you?” However, the dialog in Episode III takes a MAJOR leap forward. Easily the best scripted of the prequels…. not that’s not saying much, but it’s point that should be made. Anakin’s lines make him sound much more… mature, powerful, serious… something Star Wars fans wanted to see in the second prequel.
The Visual Effects
WOW! Outstanding! Fantastic! Once again the good folks at ILM have outdone themselves. The opening space battle had my jaw on the floor the entire time. Now, having said that, it’s a fair criticism to say that George Lucas has come to overly rely on Visual Effects. Often throwing in VFX shots just for the sake of having them in there and thus distracting from the scene. But still… very nice.
Not Enough Wookies
One of the things I was most looking forward to seeing was a Wookie army kicking some serious ass. I didn’t care whose ass it was. I would have been fine seeing them kick some elderly war vets asses around… I just wanted to see a Wookie rampage! However, we never get it. Sadly all we’re treated to is a few quick shots of Wookies shooting bowcasters and the HORRIBLY ANNOYING obligatory tarzan yell as they swing from a vine on to a droid army tank. How stupid.
The Relationship Between Palpatine and Anakin
The strongest element of the film was the nature of the relationship between the future Emperor and the future Vader. The scenes with the two of them together have you gripped the entire time. And something quite surprising… you realize that Palpatine isn’t JUST trying to manipulate Anakin… but that he actually cares about him. The conversations between the two raise some wonderful questions about the nature of evil… how the good guys do not always act so good, and how the bad guys can sometimes be seen as heroic.
This one really surprised me. The worst part of this film… and that part that I’m sure will ruin Revenge of the Sith for many people is Padmé’s character. Every single scene (withouth exception) that she is in is a total waste of film. The lines she had were worse than the previous two films put together and made her sound far more annoying than Jar Jar ever was. As a matter of fact, this is the first thing I said walking out of the theater: ” Wow, Padmé is the new Jar Jar”. I’m not exaggerating here folks… she is just terrible. It’s so bad that about half way through the film you visibly cringe when you see her come on screen… because you know it’s going to be bad.
The Palpatine / Yoda Confrontation
Oh yes! This is a fantastic fight!!! From the first time I heard that there was going to be new Star Wars movies made I hoped that we would see the Emperor fight Yoda… and oh sweet happiness this fight delivers!
The Vader / Obi-Wan Confrontation
Simply put, the final confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan was everything it should have been. Not just a battle between 2 masters… but also a heart breaking conflict between 2 friends. The fight was magnificent, and long, and carried all of the anguish, anger, sadness and fury you have imagined it would. It is the fight I have envisioned in my head since learning the two once battled a long time ago in the first Star Wars.
Something of an Unsatisfying Ending
The conversion of Anakin ot the dark side was wonderful… but the last 5 minutes of the film… tying up some loose ends… was done a little weak. Some important things are left unexplained, and some important conversations that should have been in there are left out.
Ok… here it is. I really enjoyed watching Revenge of the Sith. And yes, it is quite a good film. However, the scenes with Padmé alone are enough to give you flashbacks of the worst parts of the first 2 sequels, and thus lower your overall enjoyment ofthe movie.
Still… it is a strong film with a strong story, great effects and much improved dialog (with the exception of anything with Padmé in it). Star Wars fans should be quite happy… and non-Star Wars fans will enjoy as well.
Overall… I give Revenge of the Sith a solid 7 out of 10 (would have been a 9 if they just totally took out Padmé or re-wrote all her pathetic dialog).
Go see it… and may the force be with you