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Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Temuera Morrison, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Bruce Spence
Director/Scriptwriter: George Lucas
Music: John Williams
Photography: David Tattersall, B.S. C.
20th Century Fox
Running Time: 
Website: <>

As in the first Star Wars film of 1977, the sound comes first. There isn't any sound in the vacuum of outer space, but the smooth roar of propulsion engines is there signalling the action is about to begin. Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith will  meld the storyline of the most recently produced films into the 1977 film. There is some balance: Jar Jar Binks is in this movie for about four seconds (too long for some fans), the light-saber duels never seem to end (not enough for some fans). Acting and dialogue are best described as flexible and  wooden because the actors are hampered by the script and direction.

The basic story of Sith follows Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) as the pupil of Master Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).You can see in Anakin’s face that he wants more action and is starting to dress for his future destiny with long, flowing black robes and jackboots. The two knights are after evil General Grievous and his droid army.  In the meantime, Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) grows powerful and deadly. Anakin’s secret wife, Padme (Natalie Portman) is pregnant and trying to keep this from spies. The story dwells on The Dark Side battling Good to get Anakin. Most viewers of this prequel already know what happens, but how it happens is sad indeed, and includes Anakin’s killing many innocent people. Darth (“Darth” is a title for a Sith lord) Vader emerges and anyone friendly to a Jedi Knight must run for their lives, which is why past films (future episodes, actually) have Yoda living in a swamp.

It is obvious when anyone has gone to the Dark Side. They look the part, in fact, they look embalmed. This must mean they are dead in soul, already. The script for Star Wars III shows the temptation of power and how power corrupts. What is lacking is allowing the talented cast to show this. With the exception of the expressive speeches by Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine, no one else has more than a few sentences of dialogue at a time. Special effects are wonderful and have a 3-D effect that audiences will enjoy. The light-saber fights go on and on, also to the enjoyment of fight fans. 

Hayden Christiansen has an adolescent voice in his roles as Anakin. It is the voice of a boy changing into a man. Whenever he tries to say something important, it has no effect because the audience is anticipating that “crack” in the voice to happen.This doesn’t happen in Christiansen’s other roles, such as Shattered Glass, so what is going on here? Too much dry ice in the fog scenes?  Ewan McGregor has an affected accent that distracted me as much as Christiansen’s voice. There are no vocal coaches listed in the credits. The Force needed them.

Special effects are simply amazing from Yoda’s duels to Obi-Wan’s wild ride on a runaway lizard to his sword fight with General Grievous to the long-awaited duel on a volcano planet between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Anakin goes to the Dark Side and murders children, though children in the film are called “younglings” and this act is implied, not shown. Deception is rampant from Padme’s pregnancy to Anakin’s growing friendship with Palpatine to any two people meeting and deciding not to tell anyone else they met. Politics never dies.

All in all, this reviewer was satisfied with Star Wars III. We knew that good won out and now we see how evil crept in. This is the snake in the Garden and Palpatine makes for a subtle snake, while Anakin, like Eve, longs for that special, powerful fruit. That they would lose Eden for the rest of the galaxy matters not. And so it goes.

Copyright 2005 Marie Asner
Submitted 5/16/05

Like many, my love for the Star Wars mythos was shaken by the two previous miserable installments.  The visage of the epic franchise was forever smeared in my mind; two huge, gaping holes had been violently knocked out of the walls of the once beautiful and strong Star Wars structure.  But with Revenge of the Sith, Lucas gets on his knees, stuccos the holes, and repaints it all with care.  Having now seen the
(reportedly) final installment of the saga, I can say with utter relief that, whilst I stand back and observe it all, although the signs of damage aren’t completely erased, the supports have been repaired, the building renovated, the whole thing saved from utter collapse.  Yes, the previous two Episodes were that bad.  But Revenge of the Sith is that good. 

Though the ultimate theme of the story is redemption, Episode III confirms that the saga is at its most powerful when it is at its darkest.  A shadow looms over every frame of Revenge of the Sith, a sense of utter doom that at times works extraordinarily well at pulling you in and evoking the viewer's emotion.  It’s comparable to- but not quite as compelling as--The Empire Strikes Back.  The many protagonist characters face difficult, often horrible decisions that could lead to ruin one way or the other, shifts in relationships and alliances occur constantly, and the subtle influences of the dark side rip and tear at the societal foundations the Jedi worked to keep in place until everything unravels and utter chaos breaks loose.  If the romance between Ani and Padme--which is a pivotal factor in much of the plot development in Episode III- was less juvenile, and if a couple of the many plot twists were more readily explained, we could have had a story on par with Empire; instead, it ties with the fun but rehashed Return of the Jedi as third best overall.

The story (or, this two-and-a-half hour piece of it) is at least much more invigorating and exciting than the two films before.  The Clone Wars are nearly over; we see in the opening sequence Anakin and Obi-Wan piloting through an intense space battle, capital starships and small fighters blasting and being blasted all about.  They make a crash landing into the docking bay of Separatist honcho General Grievous’
starship, who has kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine.  The two Jedi leap out of their fighters, hack and slash their way up to the highest point of the ship to free Palpatine, then work their way back down, only to be caught unawares by Grievous’ droid troops.  After some
handiwork from the jack-of-all-trades R2D2 (who finally has some new beeping and blurping sounds to his credit), they free themselves, but at the expense of Grievous’ escape, who is the key to defeating the Separatists and ending the Clone Wars once and for all.  From here, the story unfolds like an avalanche, slowly picking up speed and building suspense until the final tumultuous forty-five minutes, an ending that left me breathless and satisfied. 

It should be a given- the special effects are dazzling.  But where Attack of the Clones had a bloated, dispassionate feel to its action and
futuristic cityscapes, Revenge of the Sith successfully conjures a worthwhile atmosphere and almost constant action.  The film gallops through numerous land and sea battles, various lightsaber duels scattered betwixt, with only a handful of actionless dialogue sequences squeezed within.  It’s a good thing, really- it minimizes Lucas’ primary weaknesses as a director and writer.  There are a couple of short, lovey-dovey scenes between Ani and Padme, and though queasy, they don’t completely drag down and kill the flow of the story as they did in Attack of the Clones.  We’re given more of what Lucas does best- sensational action scenes that capture and enthrall the imagination. 

Perhaps the only disappointing feature of Revenge of the Sith is how frustratingly close it gets to being a true masterpiece.  The film is held back from greatness by overall poor dialogue--particular lines feel misread, with emphasis placed on awkward syllables, while others don’t seem to capture the mood of the setting around them.  This is most apparent between Anakin and Padme.  In one particular scene, Padme reveals her secret--that she is pregnant- to Anakin, who replies in a cracking, kiddish voice that it’s the happiest moment of his life.  Whether he meant it or not, the scene is too stilted to properly express what Anakin’s feelings were either way.  A couple plot twists in the film don’t feel quite properly developed. I won’t spoil them for you here, since they are pivotal to what happens later in the film, but just be aware that at least one major event in the story takes place via an overly simple and unexplained act. 

There have been some writers that have connected certain parts and nuances of the film to modern day events.  I wasn’t looking for them, but even I couldn’t help but equate a particular moral stated darkly by Anakin late in the film to one popular amongst our own society- “If you are not with me, than you are my enemy.”  Purposeful or not, Lucas’ film does reflect much of the modern political and societal
turmoil taking place outside of his fantasy; those who keep an eye out for such connections will likely find many, and may derive Lucas’ own beliefs from them.

The saga has come full circle, and those fearing that Revenge of the Sith would be a final deathblow to the beloved series may thank the maker--Revenge of the Sith is exciting and fun.  The dialogue won’t intrigue, and the romance leaves much to be desired, but everything else in Revenge of the Sith is sheer thunder and lightning.

Jonathan Avants 5/21/05


War!  The republic is in the midst of the Clone Wars.  Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped by Count Dooku and General Grievous, a droid with a hacking cough.  The two Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker have been sent on a mission to rescue him.  So begins the third and final film in the Star Wars saga of six.

Lucas must do two things in this film.  First and most important, he must show us what we already know happens.  Anakin Skywalker is betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader.  Second, Lucas must tie in the prequels with the original trilogy.  This is not only a movie.  This is a final episode.

Lucas does a nice job with the emperor seducing Anakin to the dark side and tying that in with Padme’s death.  The film is well-paced throughout, full of light saber battles, and when the action stops, the dialog is meaningful and moves the plot forward, unlike in the first two films.  Anakin, and other characters, must visibly struggle as they make grueling decisions, and with the possible exception of Obi-Wan’s puzzling actions near the very end, they do.

Anakin’s doom is graphic, but it had to be.  Children should either be advised to look away at this point, or parents should explain to them that this is the consequence of his choice to serve evil.

I won’t spoil it by naming everyone who gets cameos from the original trilogy, but I counted at least four or five characters, not including Darth Vader.  So Lucas succeeds in the tie-in aspect, even if some of them are a bit of a stretch.

Much has been said by the political left about this film intending to compare Darth Vader to President Bush.  Completely ridiculous.  Revenge of the Sith shows us exactly how one would expect a dictator to take over a democracy or how one might expect a well-meaning person to go to the dark side.  The political right could just as easily say Revenge of the Sith supports its agenda.  A woman (Padme) has a pregnancy that could endanger her political career and her husband fears she will die in childbirth?  If Planned Parenthood were on Coruscant, they would have been advising her to abort Luke and Leia faster than you could say, "Wedge Antilles."  It’s just a film, people, not a political statement.  As Yoda told Luke at the tree on Dagobah, the only thing in there is what you take with you.

There are a few silly moments in the film.  I looked at the front row of my theater to see if two robots were in attendance when I heard a Wookie give a Tarzan yell, only to discover that it was actually in the soundtrack.  We hear some really bad romantic dialog between Anakin and Padme, which is only made worse by the inclusion of the word, “Naboo.”  We are also treated to the ubiquitous “Noooooooo!!!!” scream from Darth Vader, which falls flat as it reminds us more of Bane from Batman and Robin.  But if you feel all of this detracts from the film, remember this is Star Wars.  It’s supposed to be a bit cheesy.

Revenge of the Sith is easily the best film of the first three, and I’ll go one further and say it’s better than Return of the Jedi.  See this one
in the theaters again I will.

Dan Singleton
May 25, 2005



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