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|STAR WARS: Episode III|
THE TRILOGY | A NEW HOPE | THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK | RETURN OF THE JEDI | INTERVIEWS|
THE PREQUELS | THE PHANTOM MENACE | ATTACK OF THE CLONES | REVENGE OF THE SITH | GALLERIES
Revenge of the Sith
War has been raging throughout the galaxy, keeping the Jedi duo Obi-Wan and Anakin (McGregor and Christensen) busy. But darker forces are at work, most insidiously in the friendship between Anakin and Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid), who's of course secretly an evil Sith lord. Anakin is still hiding his forbidden marriage to Padme (Portman), who's now pregnant. And as he begins to worry about his future, he finds himself with a life-changing choice to make between power and selflessness.
Knowing everything that happens is the biggest problem; it'll be much more dramatic for new fans who watch the episodes in sequence. Since we know Anakin's future, his agonising decision doesn't seem quite so precarious. Lucas connects the dots with rather obvious events that feel somewhat quick and convenient. But at its heart, this is a serious film dealing provocatively with politics (including some strong up-to-date parallels), responsibility and emotions. As it morphs to connect with Episode IV, Lucas manages to add new resonance to the overall saga, especially in Obi-Wan's complex personal journey. And across the six films, Palpatine is now a truly epic villain.
There are superb moments scattered throughout--fierce battles featuring Palpatine, Yoda (Oz), Mace Windu (Jackson), Dooku (Lee) and the increasingly intriguing General Grievous (voiced by Wood); the gruesome showdown on the lava planet Mustafar; the first rasping Darth-breath! The overarching tension is impressive. As Anakin is pushed and pulled to the dark side, the Jedi are so preoccupied that they hardly notice. Although you do feel like Lucas rushes through these intense scenes with melodramatic shorthand and some rather obvious plot turns. And there's one bit of revisionism (he'll probably edit something Leia says in Episode VI out of his next revamp).
Visually, the film looks terrific. Most effects are seamless, although there are a few inexplicably dodgy shots. But it's great to see a much darker, shadowy visual tone, and Lucas brilliantly brings the imagery back around to the designs, ships, costumes and even hairstyles of Episode IV. It's no surprise that the final pieces of the puzzle aren't terribly surprising. But they all fit just right.
dir-scr George Lucas|
with Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Christopher Lee, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Matthew Wood, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Silas Carson, Jay Laga'aia, Temuera Morrison, Oliver Ford Davies, Ahmed Best, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse
release US/UK 19.May.05
Jedi vs Sith. Christensen (above), McGregor and Portman (below)
Matt Adcock, UK: “I have to declare an interest here – I am an unashamed Star Wars fan; I named my firstborn son Luke with the express intention of being able to put on my best Darth Vader voice and tell him, ‘Luke, I am your father’, so at least you’ll have some idea how much I love the original trilogy. The truth is that the Force has never been as strong as it is in Episode III, and for me Revenge of the Sith is the definitive Star Wars film. Lucas has delivered a megaton hit of movie wonder that completes the saga in grand style and more than makes up for the first two prequels. The effects are the best ever committed to the screen – the ‘fakeness’ of Episodes I & II has been remodelled into a living, breathing galaxy. The fight chorography is savage, exciting and thrill inducing – the passion is back and for the first time since Jedi you really care what happens to the characters. Of course there are things that some won’t like, and much of the acting is still plank wooden or wildly over the top to go along with the stupid dialogue, but this is Star Wars and it’s never claimed to be highbrow. Sith is an endorphin rush of pure Star Wars pleasure - you owe it to yourself to see this film at least twice. The Force is very definitely back and it rules! On the strength of this I just might call my next child Yoda.” (10.May.05)
Kat, Japan: "Worth watching to complete the epic, this movie was much better than the other two. That being said, it's quite lacking in punch. Anakin's metamorphosis into Vader is supposed to make you ache for him because of his misguided moral crisis and all-consuming love of Padme. Mostly you just want to take him out back and shoot him for being a pouty brat who keeps reciting what a Jedi is supposed to be without emulating any of it. And he and Padme have less chemistry than Britney Spears and her boy-toy love. Sometimes a good actor can work around horrible dialogue to give a decent sense of character. Hayden's not one of them, although even Samuel L Jackson seems like he’s on some kind of psychedelic medication that removes all vestiges of acting ability. Still, little touches like the massacre of the Jedi, the physical transformation of Anakin into Vader, light touches of wit and humor, the setting up for the epic we know as the Original Trilogy, and some gorgeous sets/FX, all make this film worth my time to rebuke it. I wonder if Lucas realized good a movie he almost made." (21.May.05)
Martin, Canada: "Absolutely brilliant. I dunno what detractors of the now infamous 'bad dialogue' criticism were watching, but I thought the acting at least was solid and, in fact, was always at least palpable. I digress. Sith features a stunning combination of seamlessly integrated CGI shots that somehow augment the emotionally cathartic process of the entire film. All the more brilliant is Lucas' ability to never let the momentum flag, despite a running time of 2 hrs and 20 mins. Ian McDiarmid steals the show as the duplicitous Palpatine/Sidious and, despite some obviously rushed pivotal transition scenes (eg, where Anakin pledges his allegiance to Palpatine), the movie has a tangible dramatic weight. The musical score by John Williams, especially the opening space battle, adds to the tension without being distracting. Natalie Portman's scene on Mustafar where she confronts Anakin and tries to reach him is gut wrenching. Even R2-D2 is integrally involved in the unfolding of events. Overall, the movie is definitely the best since Empire and is arguably the best of the entire saga." (23.May.05)
© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall