STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH review – Star Wars Special

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STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI), but others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I’ll be reviewing them:

  1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
  2. EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
  3. EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
  4. EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
  5. EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
  6. EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
  7. EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!

Essentially, this entire movie is one big spoiler. So, seriously, if you haven’t seen STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), then STOP READING!!! And for that matter STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND GO WATCH STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!!! It’s an amazing film! So from this point on, I will be talking about this film 100 percent unfiltered. There are spoilers galore here. So with that said:

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SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS 

This is it. The last one. The final installment to the Star Wars franchise for the next ten years, if you don’t count the animated feature film THE CLONE WARS (2008), which served as the unofficial pilot to the wildly successful TV show THE CLONE WARS (2008 – 2015).  Everything that the prequels have been building up to. The Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side, becoming Darth Vader and hunting down and destroying the Jedi. Even though we knew what the outcome was going to be, the point wasn’t what was going to happen, but rather how it was going to. And that’s not what anyone knew, no matter what they said. You bet I was excited for this back in the day.

I think before I go any further, I think it’s about time I explained the order in which I choose to watch the Star Wars films the way I have. Well, to be honest, the order depends on the audience you’re showing it to, an adult or a child. If the audience is a child, then the order is exactly as I have it, ROGUE ONE, NEW HOPE, PHANTOM, CLONES, EMPIRE, REVENGE, then JEDI. If the audience is an adult, then the order becomes ROGUE ONE,  NEW HOPE, EMPIRE, the prequels, then JEDI. My idea is to push back the famed twist from EMPIRE as much as possible. ROGUE ONE and NEW HOPE don’t drop hints regarding the twist. Sadly, I and II kind of do, constantly referencing how clouded Anakin’s future is and how dangerous it is to train him, and CLONES drops that Imperial March theme when Anakin exclaims his hatred for the Sand People. If an adult were to watch the movies in the order of NEW HOPE, PHANTOM, and CLONES, they could probably pick up on the idea that Vader and Anakin are one in the same. A kid on the other hand, who probably hasn’t had much experience with twists and turns in films, might not. In NEW HOPE, the audience is led to believe that Anakin and Vader are two separate people. Granted, in PHANTOM and CLONES, kids may be confused as to where this Vader character might show up, so it’s still possible that even a clever kid will figure out that Vader is Anakin. With adults, it’s far more likely, hence it’s probably better to just go straight to it, NEW HOPE then right to EMPIRE.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Hayden Christensen (JUMPER [2008], AWAKE [2007], THE VIRGIN SUICIDES [1999], and the upcoming LITTLE ITALY [2018]), Ewan McGregor (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], CASSANDRA’S DREAM [2007], A LIFE LESS ORDINARY [1997], and upcoming films ZOE [2018] and CHRISTOPHER ROBIN [2018]), Natalie Portman (SONG TO SONG [2017], THE DARJEELING LIMITED [2007], MARS ATTACKS! [1997], and the upcoming ANNIHILATION [2018]), and Ian McDiarmid (THE LOST CITY OF Z [2017], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS [1988]). In support, we have Samuel L. Jackson (THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD [2017], 1408 [2007], JACKIE BROWN [1997], and upcoming films THE LAST FULL MEASURE [2018] and INCREDIBLES II [2018]), Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT [2015], ZATHURA [2005], MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND [1996], LABYRINTH [1986], and THE MUPPET MOVIE [1979]), the late and great Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999], GREMLINS 2: THE NEXT BATCH [1990], 007 THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN [1974], DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS [1966], and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1957]), Temuera Morrison (VERTICAL LIMIT [2000], SPEED 2: CRUISE CONTROL [1997], video game STAR WARS: BATTLEFRONT II [2017], and upcoming films OCCUPATION [2018] and AQUAMAN [2018]), and Jimmy Smits (STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE, TV show NYPD BLUE [1993 – 2005], and TV mini-series THE TOMMYKNOCKERS [1993]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is George Lucas, known for AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Composing the score is, of course, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005), SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET (1997), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and Star Wars Episode IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is David Tattersall, known for THE FOREIGNER (2017), THE HUNTING PARTY (2007), and CON AIR (1997).

This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH

(SUMMARY)

Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The Clone Wars have raged on for three years. Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) have successfully rescued the kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the Separatist droid leader General Grievous (Matthew Wood), and manage to kill Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) in the process, but Grievous escapes. The war’s end depends greatly on the capture or death of Grievous, causing the Jedi Council to focus all of their efforts on finding him. However, other things are stirring. As Palpatine continues to coddle Anakin, he in turn rises in the Jedi ranks, and becomes consumed by a fear that his visions of his Senator wife Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) dying in child birth, desperate to find a way to keep her alive.

(REVIEW)

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

REMINDER: SPOILERS EVERYWHERE!!!

Wow, what a vast improvement. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, I think this is a good movie. Ehhh, for the most part. It still has problems, but it’s clear that lessons were learned.

Alright, so lets tackle those problems. For one thing, the movie isn’t written much better, at least during the scenes where romance is involved.

ANAKIN
You are so beautiful.

PADMÉ
It’s only because I’m so in love.

ANAKIN
No, it’s because I’m so in love with you.

PADMÉ
So love has blinded you?

Or how about that incredible, “Anakin! You’re breaking my heart!” from Padmé? Definitely not good.

Let’s also talk about the absolute biggest problem with the film: Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The pivotal moment that’s supposed to be the beginning of a galaxy being shrouded by fear and oppression. It makes zero sense.

Okay, so Anakin’s been having dreams that Padmé dies giving birth. He doesn’t want that to become a reality. That’s all well and good, and perfectly understandable. Here comes Palpatine saying that the dark side of the Force can prevent people from dying and if Anakin joins him, he can be taught. And without that much persuasion, it somehow works. First off, Anakin just learned that Palpatine is the Sith Lord that the Jedi have been looking for, and for someone who is so devoted to the Order and its codes, rules, and regulations, he immediately trusts Palpatine’s word. There is no proof that he can do anything that he’s saying. Already, the concept is flawed upon arrival, but the execution of it is even worse. Anakin cuts off Mace Windu’s (Samuel L. Jackson) arm, Palpatine Force-lightnings him out the window to his death, Anakin stumbles back in horror, and then… just pledges himself to Palpatine right there. The pacing of it all is WAY too fast. Anakin doesn’t appear to be sizing up the weight of his actions, traumatically trying to regain his focus, nothing. He just jumps right to pledging his allegiance to the deformed old man in front of him. This should have been a lot more subtle, but it’s like the story had no idea how to turn him to the dark side, so little to no effort was given to properly explain it.

Continuing on with Anakin, this conclusion to the prequel trilogy also made this “Prophecy” totally useless too. What do I mean? The only reason why everyone believes Anakin is this “Chosen One” is because of his midichlorian count of over 20,000 that even Yoda doesn’t have. Here’s the glaring problem: it has no impact on Anakin’s character. At no point in these films, or even in the animated CLONE WARS TV show, have we ever seen those 20,000 midichlorians at work. He never does anything that makes the audience go, “That’s the Chosen One.” His incredible powers have never manifested, so all that build-up was for nothing. All we ever really get is that he’s a great pilot and a terrific swordsman, and you can make the fair argument that he’s one of the best, if not the best in the Jedi Order. That would have been enough. But the fact of the matter is, we’ve never seen him use the Force in any incredible way. The implications mean nothing if there’s no execution.

The problems with the movie don’t end there, although they’re smaller by comparison.

Why exactly does Anakin execute Count Dooku? The man was unarmed and bested in combat. He could have been taken in and put in a jail cell, and executed by Anakin or the clones during Order 66. Why didn’t General Grievous use his many lightsabers in his confrontation with Obi-Wan and Anakin on his ship? Speaking of Grievous, his death at Obi-Wan’s hands was extremely anti-climactic. Seriously? Blaster bolts to his chest? Come on, man. Why does Anakin care so much about not being a Jedi Master, even though he’s the youngest Jedi Knight to have a seat on the Council in Jedi history? How did Sidious so easily kill three Jedi Masters? I know the implication is that he’s just that deadly, but why not actually show how deadly he is? In the TV show CLONE WARS, he’s shown to dual-wield lightsabers. I will never understand why the Jedi never did, or had their own double-bladed sabers… or for that matter, why they didn’t use different colored crystals other than blue and green. Yeah yeah, Mace had the purple one, but that’s ONE purple lightsaber. Why did the fight between Yoda and Sidious end? Yoda’s been hoping around on those Senate flying disks pretty easily enough. He wasn’t seriously injured in the fight, so why did it end? In fact, wouldn’t this fight have been a great reason to explain his need for the cane in the original trilogy? That he got seriously injured and wasn’t able to continue fighting? And why did Sidious tell Anakin that Padmé died? He didn’t even know that she was on Mustafar. Was he just talking out of his ass and he just happened to get lucky? Oh, and who can forget:

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I have other problems, but I’ll address the last of them in my JEDI review.

But enough of the problems. Similar to PHANTOM, I do believe there’s a blend of good elements that can get overlooked, or don’t get enough credit.

For one, that opening space battle is utterly brilliant and still holds up for how awesome it is. Giant ships fighting giant ships, you really get a sense of the scope and scale of the war being fought. And Obi-Wan and Anakin storming Grievous’ ship never stops being fun to watch. Even the humor gets turned up a notch. And I’ll never stop laughing at, “Another happy landing.”

The action is still unbelievably cool. Anakin versus, Dooku, Obi-Wan versus Grievous, Sidious and Mace Windu, Sidious and Yoda, and the incredibly epic Anakin versus Obi-Wan, the lightsaber play will always be the highlight of these movies and cranked it up ten fold here. Coupled with John Williams’ scores “Anakin Vs. Obi-Wan” and “Battle of the Heroes” makes for the best swordplay scenes you’re ever going to see in a Star Wars movie, or hell, any movie with swordplay.

And holy hell, we actually learn a thing or two about the Force. But not just any ole thing, the dark side of the Force no less. Ever since the original trilogy, all we’ve ever known about the dark side of the Force is that… it’s bad. Well, gee willikers, I would never have figured that out. It’s pretty self-explanatory, if you ask me. Although, Yoda does mention that the dark side is more seductive and now we understand why thanks to that opera scene. We learn that the dark side of the Force can teach you how to prevent death, something that Anakin desperately wants to learn in order to save Padmé. Well… yeah, that does sound enticing. That does sound like a good deal, especially if you’re haunted by nightmares of your loved one dying. So kudos to that!

And honestly, there’s improvements with the characters as well. Look, I’ll be the last to say that Anakin is a good character, but still, this movie does give him a bit of a personality. He’s reckless and cocky, but it’s not in an unlikable way. And say what you want about the delivery of his lines, I do firmly believe that Christensen is a good facial actor. If nothing else, he’d have had a good career as a mocap actor. And even though the romance dialog between Anakin and Padmé is awful, they do occasionally bring up legit conversations that don’t involve how in love with each other they are, or where to have the baby. When Anakin has nightmares of her death, he tries to hide his fear from her and she says, “How long will it take for us to trust each other?” That’s… a real relationship problem, a lack of communication and trust. At one point, they even talk about their political views. Padmé thinks that the Republic is failing and might become the very thing they’re fighting against, but Anakin thinks that everything is going to work out fine. A real conflict of interests that has broken relationships before, creating legit drama. Okay, it doesn’t exactly mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, and it’s ruined by, “Hold me, like you did on Naboo when there was no plotting, no wars…” but it feels a hell of a lot more mature than “You’re so beautiful because I’m so in love with you” GYAAAAH *barf*!!! Bleh!!! My bile tastes better than that dialog!

And the weight of the choices made by the characters is truly felt here. When Sidious says to execute Order 66, the deaths of all those Jedi, the coolest beings to ever grace film, just slaughtered by their own men with no warning or anything. I remember crying hard during that scene and though I didn’t cry now, it’s still legitimately heartbreaking and I legitimately hate Sidious for it. And when Anakin and Obi-Wan are fighting on Mustafar, I really do feel like it’s more than just lightsabers being swung around. I do feel like there’s emotion into each swing. I feel like there is serious turmoil, struggle, and agony on both ends. It truly is an amazing climax, full of atmosphere and I believe that this is where the original trilogy comes from.

Folks, it’s not a perfect film. Not by a long shot. But when you really take a step back to see how much it did right, there is something to value here and makes it worth watching. It’s easy to make fun of, sure, but for every awkward step back, there’s a really solid step forward. At the end of the day, I do like this film as a whole. There are even aspects that I love and adore. I may not be able to ignore the problems that this film has, but I can’t deny that this is my favorite of the prequels, as far as the core stories are concerned. The saga concludes on a very flawed, but a strong enough finale.

My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH: a strong 3/5

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