Scott Reviews Revenge of the Sith
Posted By Scott on May 5, 2005
(SPOILER WARNING: review contains many spoilers)
Well, the Saga is finally complete for me! A few hours ago I saw Revenge of the Sith at a press screening here in Houston. To put it simply, it?s probably the best of the prequels. If you were to ask me to rank all of the films, I?d probably put them in the following order from best to worst: The Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, Revenge of the Sith, Return of the Jedi, Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace. (Ask me again later and I?ll probably change my mind, but this is it at the moment.)
The movie features a lot of great action as you would expect, and that?s always been the strengths of the prequels. It takes everything that was good about Attack of the Clones and reduces everything that was bad about it. You have cool battles, Yoda in a lot of action, more cool bad guys, and no Jar Jar (well, at least no Jar Jar dialogue). That being said, you also still have some bad dialogue, slow scenes between the action sequences, and cheesy romantic moments. Fortunately none of these weak points drags the film down as much as they did in Attack of the Clones.
The acting this time around seems to be better for a prequel. Ian McDiarmid really steals the show as Palpatine. The way he manipulates Anakin?s feelings is superbly done. His physical transformation from the Chancellor to the Emperor is stunning. From his look to his voice, it is quite impressive. Also stealing the show again is Yoda. Every scene he is in is great. His final battle with Darth Sidious ends up being the real impressive moment of the film and almost upstages the final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan in which it is intercut with. This is also probably the best Obi-Wan performance by Ewan McGregor. He shows so much more emoting this time around that you can?t help but notice the difference. McGregor plays him with a lot of humor early on, then with a lot of anger and regret towards the end.
The editing in the film is particularly noteworthy towards the finale. As Padme takes her dying breaths, it is intercut with Vader taking his first infamous breath. In fact, as the Darth Vader mask first appeared on screen at the end, it was the first time I really felt the prequels connect with the classic trilogy. (On a side note, we get to see inside of Vader?s helmet and we see what he sees from the inside.) Subsequent scenes where Luke and Leia appear as infants also help really connect the stories and were really emotional for me. Over 25 years of story all finally came together.
Of the ROTS action scenes, I had a few favorites. First up, I liked the Jedi Purge. You see the action go from planet to planet and the Jedi being mercilessly surprised and mowed down. The combination of action, effects, and cool worlds made it memorable. The lightsaber battle between Grievous and Obi-Wan was also very cool (though Grievous isn?t used as much as I had hoped in the movie). As soon as he pops his four arms and starts twirling lightsabers, you know you?re in for something cool. As previously mentioned, the battle between Yoda and Sidious was also spectacular. It?s an epic battle filled with lightsabers, lightning, and Senate pods hurtled with the Force. I really enjoyed it. Finally, there?s the big duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin. It was very cool, but my expectations were pretty high. It felt a little anti-climactic up until the final shocking move. (Oddly, a number of people coming out of the theater didn?t realize that Obi-Wan cut off Anakin?s legs and remaining arm.)
There are a few Easter Eggs here and there in the movie. Look for a cameo by a blue faced George Lucas during the opera scene. You can also see his son, Jett Lucas, mowed down by clonetroopers during the Jedi Purge. The Millennium Falcon is also very visible as Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine return from the crash site. Look for cameos by the mouse droids, too. Also listen for mention of Expanded Universe character Quinlan Vos among some of Obi-Wan?s dialogue.
Revenge of the Sith does have its problems. First and foremost, it?s a little hard to buy Anakin?s turn to the Dark Side. He does so very abruptly. He goes from being a loyal Jedi to mowing down Jedi children within a few hours. Admittedly Lucas had to turn him within the short running time of the film, but it didn?t seem like a natural progression in the movie. It needed more time to develop.
There were also a few moments where I cringed at the pure cheese. For example, Chewbacca reprises his ?Tarzan yell? from Return of the Jedi. I didn?t think that was such a high point that it needed to be relived. Also, when Darth Vader breaks free from the operating table, he does so in a clumsy manner like Frankenstein. It was terribly awkward. The ensuing, ?Noooooo!? by James Earl Jones is also a surprisingly weak.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the Kashyyyk battle is extremely short. The whole battle is on the screen less than a couple of minutes. I was also disappointed that General Grievous didn?t have a bigger role. He doesn?t do as much in the movie as you might hope. I also felt that Yoda gave up battling Sidious way too easily. It would have been more logical to have seen him stay on Coruscant and wage a guerrilla war against Palpatine. Oh well.
Before viewing this movie, I really spoiled myself silly. I followed spoilers online and I read the books and comics. Despite this, I don?t think it hurt my viewing experience. In fact, I think it helped it. I was able to follow the plotting and scheming a lot better than other audience members did. The book elaborated on the Jedi Council?s scheme to draw out the Sith more than the movie did. And even knowing the entire plot, there were still a couple of surprises for me. The whole opening scene with Obi-Wan, R2, and Anakin on Greivous? ship is different than either the novels or comics depict.
Now taking off my fan hat and putting on my parent hat, I have to mention the PG-13 material in the film. To be quite honest, I expected it to be a lot more intense than it ended up being. I think if you let your child watch Attack of the Clones and LOTR: Return of the King, then there?s nothing in this movie that?s more intense than in those. Anakin is shown preparing to kill Jedi children in the Temple, but the scene is switched away quickly like it was in Attack of the Clones before he killed the Sand People women and children. The most intense thing in the movie is Anakin literally getting set on fire and burning alive. This probably clinched the PG-13 rating. His hair is burned away and his skin is cooked. It goes by quickly, but you?re going to have to judge for yourself if your kid can handle it. In the end, I recommend screening it first without your kids, then deciding based on that if they can handle it. Personally, I think I?m going to take my young kids now and take them out of the theater during the parts that could potentially scare them. It wasn?t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
Overall, I think George Lucas has learned from his previous mistakes on the other films. While this is by no means a perfect movie, I think it will please fans. Revenge of the Sith is probably one of the best of the prequels and it should satisfy fans who were unhappy with the first two.
I?ve written a little longer review over at Comingsoon.net, so click the link to read more of my review there (contains spoilers).
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