STAR WARS EPISODE 3: REVENGE OF THE SITH
I remember seeing this one, vividly on its initial Cinema run back in 2005. I was struck by its technical achievement and visual innovations and bombastic sounds. A feast for the senses: even without any 3-D facility on the film. But I was saddened that George Lucas crammed so much into one ‘episode’, when he could just have allowed his stories to breathe more organically.
The trailers promised things that simply were not delivered, notably a true bridging of the gap from prequels to the originals. Yes, some visual nods crop up at the end and are flagged up. But this is not quite the aesthetic, tone or feel one had hoped for and sensed might have been delivered thanks to hints in the marketing. Darth Vader and Chewbacca are in this, for all of five minutes.
Generations old promises are brought to the screen, but over cooked and thereby bathetic and disappointing rather than exciting. Case in point: there is more heart, emotion and tension in two old fellas whacking around barely constructed light sticks in A New Hope than in the twenty minute visual carnival of light sabre action choreography in Revenge of the Sith.
Worst of all? This is a horror film and suffers from a chronic deficit of joy. A stench of evil haunts every scene. Yes, kids need moral lessons with visual impact and that does fit with the fairy tale ethos. Brothers Grimm in space, with Palpatine as the wicked witch? That works.
And this is a sophisticated portrait of evil both ancient and budding (the master tempting the vulnerable hero to fall from grace). But it’s handled with gratuitous violence and quite graphic depictions of warped psychology that simply do not belong here. Empire Strikes Back was ‘dark’. But also fun, substantial, exciting. Revenge of the Sith is just depressingly bleak by contrast.
So it’s both too much and not enough, for me. As my STAR WARS STARBUCKS coffee mug says: ‘May the Froth be with you’. I suspect ROGUE ONE will remedy the missed opp that was REVENGE OF THE SITH? Time will tell. It always does.
Meantime, here is FRANK MENGARELLI, our resident prequel revisionist, with his thoughts.
‘This is where the fun begins’..
REVENGE OF THE SITH is the one film that prequel champions and bashers can come together on. With Lucas’ final installment, he organically builds upon the dark themes and subtle transgressive elements of ATTACK OF THE CLONES.
This film, while still having some of the recurring issues of the previous two films, excels in its own right in a very vicious and brutal way. The Clone Wars are coming to a halt, former Count Dooku has been eliminated and all that remains are a few systems under Separatist control overseen by the cunning and guided hand of General Grievous the commander of the Separatist army.
The CGI effects are absolutely flawless in this film that is more than ten years old, surpassing most CGI heavy films of present day, in a visually stunning and fused way. Ewan McGregor turns in his finest performance as Obi Wan, and he is equally matched by Ian McDiarmid’s Dark Lord of the Sith, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious.
The final act of the film hits every single mark with a bullseye. The Jedi are swiftly executed by their respective Clone squads, Anakin falls under the control of the Dark Side and kills all the children within the Jedi Temple, and then that final lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi Wan Kenobi where Obi leaves Anakin limbless and burning to death, amidst Anakin’s cries of anger and Obi’s powerful monologue of heartbreak.
The film ends perfectly. We see Emperor Palatine, Governor Tarkin, and Darth Vader overseeing the construction of the Death Star. Lucas quickly wipes the screen to Tatooine where Obi Wan is shepherding baby Luke to his new home of Owen and Beru Lars leaving us with the promise of a new hope.