Friday, September 27, 2019

Green Phoenix - Stars War: Revenge of the Sith Review

Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith poster.jpgBy the time Revenge of the Sith was announced in 2004, I was 10 years old and it became perhaps the first film that I can actually remember my excitement for its release. I come from a family of Star Wars fans, though my dad has always preferred Star Trek, and the reveal of Episode 3's title made us all exceptionally excited.

So when the film came out in May of 2005, my entire family went out to go see the film in theaters, something we only really did for the Harry Potter films. And even to this day, Revenge of the Sith remains an essential part of my childhood, even as I recognize its many many flaws.

With that introduction and understanding out of the way, we will now take a look at the fourth film in the Machete Order and the last of the "flashback films", Star Wars: Episode 3 - Revenge of the Sith.

***
  • Directed by George Lucas
  • Produced by Lucasfilm
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 140 Minutes

***

SUMMARY

It has been several years since the start of the Clones Wars at the end of Attack of the Clones and the Republic is seemingly on the very cusp of victory. With the Separatists on the run, political elements within the Republic, including the Jedi Order, have begun to turn their sights to after the war and our concerned with the power of the Supreme Chancellor. At the same time, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker discovers from his secret wife, Senator Amidala, that she is expecting, threatening to expose their secret to the Jedi Order.

With the political machinations, personal dramas, and the last days of the Clone Wars approaching, the fate of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of the Empire are reaching their climax.

***

REVIEW

Going to be perfectly honest with you all, I don't really have all that much to say in regards to the visuals and soundtrack of this one that isn't covered in essence in my review of Attack of the Clones. With respect to characters and story, while there are still problems and major weaknesses in this story, I actually do enjoy watching Revenge of the Sith a lot and find it to be perfectly serviceable if a much darker, entry in the Star Wars franchise.


VISUALS - 8/10

This segment is going to be quite short. Much like Attack of the Clones, the visual effects in this film are quite spectacular to look at. Lucasfilms used the massive amounts of money that the Star Wars legacy afforded them to great use in crafting a visual spectacle.
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Look at Anakin's "special eyes"

I will actually say that Revenge of the Sith does an even better job in its visuals, owing entirely to the opening battle sequence above Coruscant. It is probably the most impressive sequence in any Star Wars film and it does so much to add weight and spectacle to the story right at the start, so I will give the film a higher score visually than its predecessor on that element alone.

SOUNDTRACK - 9/10

Another short and sweet section. It is a John Williams score. It is a Star Wars score, just about every single piece in the film is absolutely stunning and the sound design is top-notch.

If I did have to say what my favorite piece of the film might be, it would have to be the Order 66 suite. It is just so incredibly tragic and moving to watch the fall of the Jedi Order set to this somber and slow-moving piece, feeling almost like a fugue for fallen heroes.

Absolutely wonderful, as we should come to expect from anything John Williams scores.

CHARACTERS - 7/10

Finally, a section where I can go into a little more detail and describe my position without too much reiteration.

I will state this upfront. I like the characters in this film far more than I like them in Attack of the Clones. Even the romance between Amidala and Anakin Skywalker is more believable, as their characters more mature and stable than in the second episode. I buy the chemistry between the cast, oftentimes in spite of the groaner dialog that is spread throughout (I will be completely honest and admit that George Lucas is not very good at dramatic dialog).


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Alright, I buy their romance now...kind of?
Beyond Skywalker and Amidala, I think it is the performance of Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine who do an absolutely incredible job and bump up the characters score as high as it is. There charming and electrifying performance steal every scene they are in and are filled with so much pathos and emotion that even the goofy Lucas elements come across as genuine and dramatic. This is a case where the sheer talents of the actors were able to overcome the failings of their directors, which is a very rare case (a shame that Hayden Christensen wasn't quite as lucky in this regard).

So, in spite of my problems with the dialog, I actually do enjoy many of the performances in Revenge of the Sith and would be more than happy to give it an above-average rating in that regard.

STORY - 6/10

Now the last piece of the puzzle, and quite possibly the most difficult for me to quantify. You see, I actually do enjoy watching this movie. I don't have an utter revulsion to the prequels, as I was only about 6-12 years old when the trilogy came out (and hadn't yet reached the age of reason). I genuinely enjoyed all the various elements in the prequel trilogy (yes, Jar-Jar too). As I have gotten older, I do notice more and more elements of the prequels that either haven't aged well or just don't really work at all.

In most respects, the plot of Revenge of the Sith would be a perfectly serviceable storyline. The fall of the Republic and the fall of Anakin Skywalker are incredibly tragic stories to witness. I just feel like perhaps the prequel trilogy could've been better if these plotlines had been introduced earlier on in the trilogy and we were subjected to a true slow-burn. Because as presented, the story seems incredibly rushed and Anakin Skywalker's fall comes off as incredibly quick and sudden.
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General Grievous: The Boba Fett of the Prequels

I have softened a little bit to the mindset that Skywalker fell for no reason, thanks in large part to the video review by CinemaWins, which presented a wonderful argument for how this plot could be read. But even with that reading, I still feel that this story could have done so much better had it presented the plot more slowly and methodically, instead of throwing everything in the final film in the trilogy.

In addition, the presence of General Grievous and his inclusion in the plot feels like an afterthought, an excuse to get Obi-Wan off of Coruscant and away from Anakin so the fall plotline can occur. I sort of wish that the Separatists had a little more to do in the film since they were supposed to be such an enormous deal in the second episode. But I guess that is what the Clone Wars TV show is for.

Honestly, I think that the best summarization that I can give for the story of Revenge of the Sith is too ambitious for its running time.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I want to reiterate that I do enjoy watching this film. I would actually name it my third favorite Star Wars film, but objectively the film is kind of a mess. But it is not a mess of its own making. Sequels can only build off the strengths of its predecessors and this film had to not only connect a series of, frankly, stumbling movies with a legendary trilogy, but also provide a satisfying explanation to a story that everyone essentially knew the resolution to.

This would be a struggle for any film and Revenge of the Sith had to do it after a false start with The Phantom Menace and the perpetual tripping over its own feet in Attack of the Clones. All in all, while I will always enjoy Revenge of the Sith, it will always be for what it could've been and an exercise in failed potential.


VISUALS
  • 8/10
SOUNDTRACK
  • 9/10
CHARACTERS
  • 7/10
STORY
  • 6/10

 FINAL SCORE - 7.5/10

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