Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge Of The Sith

Films Very Recently Watched:

Star Wars: Epidode III -- Revenge of the Sith (2005) dir. by George Lucas

Here are a few initial thoughts in the form of a modest review. I may add to this post as other thoughts occur to me or possibly if I get the chance to see the movie again.

With Revenge of the Sith, Creator/Writer/Director, George Lucas brings to a conclusion the Star Wars prequels and, in doing so, brings an end to the Star Wars saga. Lucas has managed to do all of this in fine fashion.

Sith finally tells the story of Anakin Skywalker’s turn from good to evil and the creation of the Galactic Empire against which the now famous characters Luke, Leia, Lando, etc. rebel in Episodes 4, 5, & 6. It is the film that we all wanted 1 & 2 to be. Few really wanted to see Anakin as a ten-year-old kid who exclaimed, “Yippee” far more than is becoming of any future Dark Lord of the universe. Few really wanted to see twenty-something Anakin whining about his teacher’s methods to his new girlfriend, Padmé. But, alas, Lucas decided to make a trilogy of the back story films to mirror the original trilogy, so that’s what we got. Far be it for me to complain about the number of Star Wars films, though, as I have enjoyed every minute. Ultimately, perhaps the best way to say it is that Episodes 1 & 2 are there mainly to set an extravagant stage on which Episode 3 can revel. Regardless, Sith is easily the best of the preqels and it was worth the wait.

Ewan McGregor
delivers the best performance by far in this film, in my opinion. Even more so than in the previous two prequels, Ewan is Obi-Wan Kenobi. Any faults here would have to fall on the writing and not the delivered performance. McGregor supplies believability to a range of emotions including humor like a veteran. Well done, Sir Ewan.

We got to see a glimpse of the intensity of which Hayden Christensen is capable in Attack of the Clones. In Sith, Christensen is given the opportunity time after time to display that intensity. For a director whose primary guidance to his actors is the now infamous, “Faster – More Intense,” Hayden must have been an absolute dream to work with as far as Lucas was concerned.

Surprisingly, CG Yoda gives one of the most human performances in the film. From full motion shots to extreme close-ups, Yoda looks amazing on screen and I’ve got to give props to the animators at ILM who created his performance for this film. Frank Oz again provides the voice of Yoda. He does it unlike anybody else, but Yoda does a fair amount of speaking in this film and his uncanny speech style begins to stick out after a while. “Talk like this, I must. Began it did in Empire. No other way is there.” Other than that, fantastic.

I was expecting to be amazed by the performance of Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. As it ended up, I was only amazed by the fact that I wasn’t amazed at all. I found much of his performance was over-the-top, to say the least.

This could be another case where the faults lie with the writing and/or directing, but I believe that there are deeper issues with Natalie Portman’s performance as Padmé in Sith. Overall, Portman just seemed very one-dimensional here. Seems with all she’s going through, there would be a much wider range of emotions, especially when you consider the fact that she’s pregnant through the entire film! Whether it’s the writing/directing or the performance, itself, there is much more that could have been done with Padmé that would have benefited the film.

In my opinion, there are probably only two or three scenes that put the rating of this film past the PG rating that all the other films in the saga have received. As an adult, I am glad that Lucas chose to show these scenes exactly the way he wanted to, but I must admit that had he toned these scenes down a notch or two, or possibly removed them entirely, relying on implied rather than overt violence and gore, the film as a whole would not have suffered.
Parents of young children, go see this one yourselves before allowing your kids to go. The 13 year mark denoted in the PG-13 rating is probably about the right dividing line for this film, though every child is different, of course. You know you want to see it more than once anyway, so this can be your excuse! See it yourself and use your best judgment for each of your children.

For the record, tears were not shed from these eyes during my first viewing of this film. To Lucas’ credit, though, there were a couple of times when I got caught up in the emotion of the story and had to consciously battle against welling up.

For what will probably be the last Star Wars film ever, I felt that I owed it to myself to keep tradition and attend the Midnight showing. As I explained previously, this is not just ‘going to the movies,’ the Midnight show is an event, and I am glad that I went.

Finally, in order of release, here are my rankings of each of the films that make up the Star Wars saga:

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope 9/10
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back 10/10
Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi 8/10
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 8/10
Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones 7/10
Star Wars: Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith 8/10

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