Saturday, May 21, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review


That's my review. I liked the movie. Episode III was certainly better than the previous 2, and certainly not as good as the original trilogy. The biggest frustration is that there was a movie in there that could have been up up there with the original trilogy, but I don't think Lucas has the chops to make the movie anymore. He's too in love with his visuals, too in love with what's possible to concentrate on what's necessary to serve the story. That probably sounds harsher than I mean it to, but whatever.

If you haven't seen the movie or don't want to find out stuff about it, don't read on. If you don't care, keep reading.

Ok, still with me? Good.

My big issues with the movie are pacing and tone. The movie starts out with a huge, exciting, visually amazing battle leading to a Jedi battle with Count Dooku that is short and brutal. The whole tone set by this first 20 minutes or so made me extremely excited to see what was bound to be a brutal, cold, and exciting story.

Then we spend like 40 minutes with Obi-wan trying to hunt down General Grevious. It's a ridiculous waste of time, something that could have been accomplished in half the time and been far more effective and interesting. But it feels like Lucas wanted to be able to show all sorts of creatures and whatnot, so it gets dragged out.

It also gets dragged out because it's intercut with Anakin turning to the Dark Side. Those scenes between Anakin and Palpatine are good and compelling and make it a bit more understandable how Anakin became Vader. It all leads up to the awesome awesome awesome "Order 66" scene where all of the clones turn on the Jedi and systematically wipe them out. Probably the second best sequence in the entire movie.

The only problem is now you're like 90 minutes in and it's been mostly filler to this point. The movie's lost so much momentum that these really powerful scenes could have been even more powerful if the movie was tighter.

This all leads up to the Anakin/Obi-wan duel and the Yoda/Palpatine duel. Both are great, though the Anakin/Obi-wan battle stretches the limits of plausibility, even in the Star Wars universe. I'm more in favor of the short, brutal battles. Battles where everything feels like it legitimately hurts the characters -- like the Vader/Luke duels from the Empire or Jedi. The battles in ROTS throw the characters all around, but then they get back up and keep going without a limp. This is a place where the CGI effects get in the way, as it's too easy for Lucas to just have them animated getting thrown around, and then popping back up.

Obviously, all of this leads to Anakin being defeated and becoming the half-man, half-machine Vader. The birth of Vader stuff is the most powerful stuff in the movie, and it is nicely intercut with Padme giving birth to Luke and Leia. It all leads to the greatest scene in the movie, the Vader mask coming down and hearing those first distinctive Vader breaths.

Fade to credits.

Or not.

What the fuck?!! Why would you not end the movie there? Why stick another 8 scenes or whatever after that, including a "Vader as Frankenstein's monster" scene that is supposed to be heart-breaking, but is instead comical? Why stick a heartwarming end on what might otherwise have been the darkest of the movies in the Star Wars universe?

I hope someone on the internet releases a cut with some of the last 20 minutes cut out and shuffled around, all ending with that Vader breath scene. Then they should send it to Lucas and he'll see how badly he blew the ending to his own movie.

Anyway, as bad as I've made it sound, it's not that bad. It's really pretty good, but certainly not up to the standards of even Return of the Jedi.

Oh, and don't bother even trying to figure out the timeline issues. They make no sense. I'm just pretending that people age very very very differently in this galaxy. And that it takes 30 years to build a Death Star.


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