Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Expectations confounded: Revenge of the Sith

After my recent viewing of Episode 2, my expectations for Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith were not high. Maybe that’s the best way to approach it; because I was surprised to find it overshot my expectations by a long way. Better than not-too-bad; it’s really pretty good.

That’s not to say it doesn’t suffer from the same old Lucas troubles. The opening space battle is overly frenetic and polished, ending up looking more like sterile videogame footage than the original trilogy’s sparse and grungy dogfights. There’s the usual throwaway bad guy, present merely as lightsaber-fodder; this time it’s the droid leader, General Grievous. R2D2 continues to get recast as a mini action hero, complete with weapons and the ability to fly: this is, remember, the bumbling little droid who falls into a swamp in The Empire Strikes Back. And all the dialogue between Anakin and Padmé is, as usual, flat and featureless. Lucas simply cannot write love scenes. Or indeed any sort of scenes for strong women; Padmé spends the entire movie either looking worried or crying, and the few female Jedi promptly get struck down from behind.

But there’s a lot to like. The story of Anakin’s gradual but inevitable seduction to, and poisoning by, the Dark Side is strong and compelling: the first of the prequels which actually made me care about the outcome. Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the snaky Palpatine is excellent. And much to my surprise, Hayden Christensen has grown into the Anakin role. His performance is convincing here, and a long way from the pouty teenager of Epsiode 2. And the action rocks: we finally see Yoda at full force fighting Darth Sidious, and the final lightsaber showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan is epic.

More than anything, it has a direction. The previous two episodes wallowed in directionless slapstick and windbag politics. This episode is confident of the story it’s telling: it’s all about Vader, all about the creation of a monster.

4/5: recommended.

Categories: Movies

Comments:

I've seen it twice now, and while I enjoyed it the first time - it's even better the second time through.

It has the usual clunky dialogue. The confrontation between Count Dooku, Anakin, and Obi-Wan being the worst offender:

Anakin: "My power has doubled since we last met".
Dooku: "Twice the prize, double the fall".

The love scenes aren't great. Ironically, the best out of these is the one where they're not together - the part where they're thinking of each other. Anakin's terrified of losing Padme, but also wants to remain loyal to the Jedi, and turn over the chancellor. Cracking stuff.

In fact, this is the first Star Wars movie in a while that's had an emotional impact. I had to stifle a few tears in the cinema, especially when the Jedi slaughter (including younglings) began.

The way Anakin gets twisted by the chancellor is sad, and like you say - the final battle with Anakin and Obi-Wan is epic. The outcome is tragic - even more so when you think of altruistic little Anakin from Episode 1.

We also get a hint at Anakin's origins. He was a virgin birth (as discovered by Qui-Gon in Episode 1), and we discover that Darth Plagus had the ability to influence midichlorians (of which Anakin has the most out of any Jedi), and create life.

Maybe Anakin was created because Plagus didn't trust his apprentice.

One thing I found disappointing was the Vader costume. For me, it holds more comedy value than menace. It's a shame Lucas couldn't have tweaked it a little more. After all, the clones/stormtroopers look better and more cool than those in Episode 4.

Anyway, Revenge of the Sith ... a cracking (if slightly upsetting and disturbing) ride.
I note also that Yoda’s extended his repertoire to compound sentences: if X you do, Y result will.

Hmmm. Slightly annoying, you are getting now.
Benjuthula Rocks, does he.

Wise words.