LUCASFILM LTD. / 20th CENTURY FOX (2005)
Director: George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz
The third and final part of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy ties up the events pre-Original Trilogy and puts a bow on the story we’ve become familiar with since Return of the Jedi. Revenge of the Sith tells the story of Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side, the rise of Palpatine, the Empire, Vader, the end of the Jedi, the birth of a Jedi, the Separatists’ demise, Yoda’s exile and the climactic duel between friends – Obi-Wan vs Anakin. Seems a lot to fit into one movie doesn’t it? It plays out that way at points too. However, Revenge of the Sith is by far the best of the three prequels.
It opens with a crash-bang-wallop opening salvo as we are immediately thrown into the middle of a huge space battle, where Lucas can show off his digital wizardry and ridiculously good sound FX.
Setting the story, the movie doesn’t really let up from there – it’s less talk, more action here (thankfully) from the battle to the crash landing of Grievous’ ship, to the Utapau adventure, the destruction of Order 66 to the final battle, the movie thunders along – partly due to the fact that there’s so much to fit in here. This doesn’t always pay off, as certain plot points could’ve done with expanding on slightly (yes, yes, I know...exposition) in order for the impact to be greater and some plot points were tied up a bit too conveniently towards the end.
The dialogue and acting have violently plagued the previous two instalments of the saga, and thankfully this movie bucks the trend slightly. Whilst Lucas’ dialogue is still awful at times, the acting is on a higher level here. McGregor has made the role of Obi-Wan his own and cemented it with a final, great performance of the Jedi, finally able to unleash some acting ability and have some fun too. Hayden Christensen too is far improved from his performance in Attack of the Clones, he’s more brooding and full of rage here than the whiny sod he was before. With no disrespect, in this movie he is at his absolute best in the ‘silent’ scenes – whether staring into the chaos of Coruscant’s skyline to reach Padmé or becoming fully fledged Sith Lord with yellow eyes – he excelled in these emotional, silent moments, and also as his pre-flame grilled Vader personality was unleashed vs. Obi Wan. Ian McDiarmid, like McGregor, was able to ‘act’ – see the incredible opera house scene – and also let loose in full ham mode as his transition to Emperor is completed. As mentioned, a chunk of the dialogue throughout is not great, and again it centres mainly around Anakin and Padmé’s romance. Obi-Wan was given a stack load of one-liners throughout and most of the words the medical droid was given are just convenient and mind-boggling.
The movie is a lot darker than the previous five movies, and it really needed to be if we were to believe the weight of the tragedy that had been evident since 1977. Visions of death, child murders, mass slaughter, limbs cut off at all turns, funerals, immolation, just death really – all part of the package here. Necessary too, if you insist on starting your saga at Episode IV with a fully fleshed story.
AGAIN, the visuals on show are spectacular – but I do find myself thinking CGI EVERYWHERE! EVEN THE FLOOR IS CGI! But Lucas wanted to have a grand vision and CGI is the only way to do it the way he wanted. The opening battle looks grand, the four armed-four lightsaber wielding General Grievous was realised excellently, the setting of Utapau looked vast and the duel on the volcanic planet of Mustafar gave the saga the epic, massive ending it deserved (before Disney took the reins) with molten lava erupting everywhere, I felt the volcano’s heat just watching. Yes, it was highly choreographed, but the duel was fantastic, neither giving an inch as the fight rages on and on in the Hellish environment leading to the conclusion that spawned one of cinema’s great villains.
Whoever came up with the idea to have Obi-Wan riding a massive lizard during this film is an idiot.
Whoever came up with the idea to have Jar Jar silent in one quick scene at the end is a genius.
For all its flaws, Revenge of the Sith is a very good movie – is it a new classic in the vein of The Empire Strikes Back ? Don’t be silly, but Lucas finally delivered on what was then the Star Wars swansong - action, adventure, and the long-awaited duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (plus a battle between Yoda and the Emperor for good measure). For every bit of bad dialogue in the movie, there was a(nother) brilliant score by John Williams. It missed at points and hit home runs in others, but it was a great end to a fun ride.
Rise, Lord Vader…
December 4th 2016