Reel To Reel:How It Rates: ***1/2
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman
Red Flags: Sci-Fi Violence and Light Saberplay
Preconceived Notions: Ep. I was imaginitive, Ep. 2 dragging, hopefully we can build up steam. And at last we get reacquainted with Darth Vader.
The Bottom Line: Why couldn't the first two have been this good?
Complete, this saga is. A bridge to the past, we have crossed. Enough Yodaspeak. A lot of people dumped on Episode I because they didn't find it emotionally satisfying or witty enough. Patience, young Jedi. One must understand the full workings of The Force. It took three episodes to get there, but at last, we're there.
Episode III is more of what every Star Wars film has excelled at and less of everything it has sucked at. It is a tragedy fueled by love and lust for power. At times it is profoundly sad and sadly profound. Many have already written about parallels to the War On Terror and the U.S.-Iraq conflict, even though Lucas denies it as an influence. He was more influenced by Vietnam. But then again, our angst over Iraq parallels Vietnam, so everything's connected.
Episode III wastes no time pluging into action, including an over-the-top rescue mission involving Anakin Skywalker (Christensen), Obi-Wan Kenobe (McGregor) and R2-D2, that little droid who could. Saving kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) begins to accelerate Anakin's decent to the dark side, as he is seduced by the promise of power greater than he has ever known -- and Palpatine can show it all to him. His motives, however, are not for himself but for the protection of Padme (Portman), the former queen who's now about to become a mother. Anakin senses she will not survive childbirth, and it haunts him constantly. At the same time, he is growing impatient and suspicious of the Jedi council, fueled by the plotting of Palpatine. Both sides want Anakin's help in thwarting disaster, and it is no wonder this young man is left confused and vulnerable. Unfortunately, the dark side proves too powerful, as we all know.
George Lucas wrote Episode I, without the dialogue spark of his first efforts. Episode II improved things somewhat, and III improved them much more. Much talk still has the nuance of an earth mover, but at least the corny, shallow romance and longwindedness is gone. And yes, people, Jar-Jar is still there, but he only appears in one scene -- with no dialogue. At least we get to see Chewbacca. (I really miss Han Solo.) This film actually says things in its sit-down scenes, and I liked it.
As for the effects, what can you say about a franchise that redefined the art? Lucas takes us to new places and re-mixes everything we've seen. Even the light saber battles have new jawdropping twists. And don't forget the showdown between Obi-Wan and Anakin on a burning planet. But frankly, I didn't watch this film for the effects. I wanted to understand how this Jedi Knight Anakin gets caught up in the Axis of Galactic Evil. Now I do.
If Episodes I and II made me hungry for sequels, it was because I knew something better was coming -- something had to be better than this. If Episode III leaves you hungry, it's because you've become involved in the storyline. You want to know what happens to these people, especially Anakin, now Darth Vader. Love him or hate him, you can't help but feel some sort of sympathy for him now.