Monday, May 23, 2005

Episode Three

Monday, May 23, 2005
It was half of a really great movie. There is no real secret as to what "Revenge of the Sith" is about: the fall of Anakin Skywalker. The Rise of Darth Vader. How does the boy who yelled "yippee" in "The Phantom Menace" turn into the monster who crushes the windpipes of those who displease him? For Star Wars fans, this is what we've been waiting to see ever since we first saw "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back".

As someone who actually enjoyed the political talk in Episodes I and II, the first half of this movie sort of dragged for me. The opening space battle and rescue of Palpatine wasn't as fantastic as I had hoped, though the special effects were beautiful. Actually, the special effects and the visuals in this movie were stunning all the way through. This is the best looking Star Wars movie and the effects here will be put to good use in other films. But the opening felt forced to me. It didn't engage, but when Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) are together and Palpatine is starting to seduce Anakin with the Dark Side and how it can protect Padme (Natalie Portman) and even bring peace to the galaxy, the movie works. From this point on, when Anakin begins to distrust the Jedi and slips closer and closer to the Dark Side I am totally into what is happening on screen.

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi is especially good here as he seems to be channeling Alec Guinness. His final confrontation with Anakin is probably the moment that fans have been waiting for and we feel the pain and betrayal that each character feels, and with the prequels it is amazing that we feel anything from any character.

There are other parts of this movie that does not work. As always, George Lucas's dialogue is rather poor and the "romantic" exchanges between Anakin and Padme and cringe inducing if you think about it for any length of time. Mercifully they are rather short scenes. Then again, most of the dialogue in the movie makes some awfully good actors sound, well, awful. Ewan McGregor comes off better than most as the movie progresses. It feels like he is having more fun playing the role than he has in two previous movies.

"Revenge of the Sith" answers many questions raised by Star Wars fans over the years, but leaves others unanswered. The one that still gets me is how exactly does someone so powerful in the Force (Anakin) not know that his wife is carrying twins? A follow up would question the wisdom of hiding Darth Vader's son on his home planet of Tatooine, but I suppose there would be no reason for Vader to return to Tatooine.

In the end "Revenge of the Sith" is satisfying for the Star Wars fan, though by no means is it perfect. Having only seen the movie once and not knowing how it will hold up after six months or a year, it feels like I like it third best after "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Star Wars".

Maybe after seeing the movie a second time (probably on DVD) the first half will grow on me and the whole movie will feel stronger, but that second half is worth the price of admission.


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"The empty half of the glass is always at the top"

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