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Star Wars: Episode III ­– Revenge of the Sith (2005) May 15, 2005

Posted by ayasawada in Film.
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Having just seen the movie at a pre-screening -and with the world and his dog having their say on the final Star Wars movie- I may as well add my two cents too. I don’t want to rave, I don’t want to moan, but how to say anything new when this has obviously been discussed to death (star)?

(SPOILER WARNING: I’ll try not to write too many, but if you really didn’t want to know you wouldn’t be reading this)

I guess the first thing I should say is that I enjoyed it. A tad more than Episode II but not as much as Episode I which, weirdly, I still find exhilarating (maybe it’s just the greatest lightsaber duel of all time at the end). I also think it should be judged in comparison with it’s direct predecessors and not with the original trilogy, which were fresh, revolutionary and relatively hype-free compared to the maniacal levels of today (though I guess you reap what you sow…).

So Episode III? Entertaining and wholly confirming that the whole series was nothing but a big homage to 50s sci-fi B-movies. Sometimes it gets so camp that one wonders if George Lucas is really a knowing genius, poking fun at himself and his audience with pantomime. Let us not kid ourselves, almost every criticism of the series is justifiable: the dialogue is outrageously bad, the acting is criminal (Natalie! Ewan! How do you sleep?), the characters are thin, the plot makes little sense, moves erratically and is filled with the kind sci-fi jargon-babble that makes normal people run for cover. Yet for those of us who adore Star Wars (and we outnumber those of you that don’t), there will forever be that exciting magic which blinds us to the faults of the whole. From the opening 20th Century Fox logo to the iris-out to credits, Lucas always knows how to push the right buttons. I will never hate a Star Wars film, nor will I ever not get pleasure out of watching one again.

Star Wars is a ride. One big exciting, rollercoaster ride for which you know exactly what to expect (and I’m not talking about the rise of Darth Vader). From the spectacular opening space battle to the hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck Kenobi-Skywalker duel (an action sequence 28 years in anticipation), Episode III delivers on the grand, moronic action front. We like it and we’re not afraid to say so. In between it does fragment (largely because of Lucas’ questionable editing), which isn’t helped by the clunking dialogue. But certainly the first time you see it you won’t mind. You just want to know how Anakin turns! And that is truly captivating. I’ve been trying to think of another film where the hero turns to villain halfway through, but my mind draws blank. It’s a uniquely unusual experience. We’re used to rooting for the hero or cheering for the anti-hero, not changing perceptions halfway through. Sure, I knew it was going to happen, but the reaction still felt weird. The buzzword about the film has been the word ‘dark’. It’s certainly a lot darker than four of the six films, but not as much as I would have liked (though that would have stretched into 15 rating territory). It’s no Empire Strikes Back, no matter how many limbs are lost. There were rumours of an Empire style twist to mix things up, but if there was one it wasn’t obvious. Perhaps they referred to the implicit origins of Anakin’s virgin birth?

Many scenes could have been better. The whole movie could have been better. The lightsaber duels, though fantastic, are nowhere near the ‘wow’ factor of Episode I (though that was in a pre-Crouching Tiger/Kill Bill/Zhang Yimou/Matrix world). As I’ve said, the dialogue and story are ludicrous with enough plot-holes to keep fanboy bulletin boards going for years to come. Plus this still lacks the chemistry needed to make the story truly tragic. But there are moments of simple magnificence that remind you how good George Lucas can sometimes be. The detail of the whole movie for one, linking these prequels to Episode IV, is absolutely superb. I defy you not to go ‘woah’ (at least in your head) when you see the familiar pristine white interiors of the blockade runner. Then there’s the scene toward the end, where the newly machined Vader stands, arms-crossed, by the Emperor on the deck of a Star Destroyer. But best of all is one scene of serenic calm, anticipation, just before Anakin turns to the dark side: slow zooms, light John Williams score, brooding looks, the glow of sunset. It is incredibly simple and clichéd, but for that it is well executed and the single most moving scene in the entire movie. It also happens to contain no dialogue.

But I can’t criticise it, because I really did love it. You enter that weird ‘enthralled’ time, where you forget how long you’ve been sitting in a dark room and just want the picture to run and run. It’s the whole Peter Pan-syndrome. A big chapter of our cultural lives has just closed and it makes you want to do it all over again.

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