STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH
***** (out of 5)
May 19, 2005
Ewan McGregor as OBI-WAN KENOBI
Natalie Portman as PADME AMIDALA
Hayden Christensen as ANAKIN SKYWALKER
Ian McDiarmid as SUPREME CHANCELLOR PALPATINE
Samuel L. Jackson as MACE WINDU
Jimmy Smits as SENATOR BAIL ORGANA
Frank Oz as YODA
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Christopher Lee as COUNT DOOKU
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: George Lucas
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’m a “Star Wars” geek. I grew up with the movies – the first came out when I was only five. Even today, my mother tells stories of how I saw that movie in the theaters and was fascinated with it.
As a child, I devoured anything “Star Wars” – even the crummy televisions specials like “The Ewok Adventure” and that dreadful “Star Wars Holiday Special” that George Lucas would rather forget.
When “Episode I” came out six years ago, I saw it with eager anticipation. Yes, Jar Jar Binks was annoying. Yes, Jake Lloyd was an awful actor. And yes, there were a lot of things in there that just made no sense in the established “Star Wars” mythos. I’ll be the first to admit that “Episode I” was the weakest of the entire series. But it was still “Star Wars.” Seeing new words crawl up the screen over the star field for the first time in sixteen years was still a treat for me.
“Episode II” was a far, far better movie. Sure, Obi-Wan goes to a 1950s-style diner for crying out loud, but at least that film was closer in spirit to Episodes IV through VI.
Now we have “Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith,” the final piece of the “Star Wars” puzzle. I know that’s a cliche, but it’s very apropos for this film. I never thought that Lucas would ever be able to competently explain this midichlorian B.S., but he does. I never thought Lucas would be able to make sense of the wild coincidences of Anakin Skywalker’s life, but he does. I never thought he could make the most depressing episode of the new series the best one, but he does.
“Revenge of the Sith” is so good, it almost redeems “Episode I.” Almost. (There are still some continuity gaffs that even Lucas couldn’t plug.)
The fans are going to love “Revenge of the Sith.” Even if you’re not a fan, it’s still a great film. It’s an action piece and a tragedy at the same time.
Lucas may say that the star of this film is Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. While he does a competent job as the young wayward Jedi, the real star is Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. McDiarmid played the Emperor in “Return of the Jedi,” and he has reprised his role in Episodes I-III. He manages to be the cheesy sci-fi villain but remain classy at the same time. And when he makes his full transformation to Emperor Palpatine, it is almost as chilling as seeing Darth Vader rise in his infamous breath mask for the first time on movie screens in 22 years.
Look for the scene at the opera in which Anakin and Palpatine first have a chance to really talk to each other on-screen. Not only does McDiarmid do some of the best acting in the film here, but it also reveals so much of the back-story that it becomes fully clear what Palpatine’s true objectives are. This is an excellent turning point of the film, without any lightsaber battles or spaceships.
And speaking of lightsabers, this film has some of the greatest duels since Darth Maul stepped onto the screen. Instead of a climactic battle sequence at the end, the lightsabers are flying throughout. Plenty of limbs are lopped off in this movie, contributing to the fact that “Revenge of the Sith” is a lot darker than the other films. It makes “The Empire Strikes Back” (the darkest of the first series) look like “The Sound of Music” in comparison.
When you see this film, keep in mind that Lucas isn’t the greatest writer in the world. He can do high concept, but his grasp of dialogue is horribly flawed. Why else would he put words like “Yippee!” in the Episode I script. There is some bad dialogue in “Revenge of the Sith,” and there will inevitably be moments when you’ll cringe. But considering how far Lucas has come from Episode I – and the fact that this is the film I’ve waited almost thirty years to see – I’m giving it five stars on principle.