Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Movie Review: Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

That's right, I'm doing a movie review. You won't see too many of these, but this is Star Wars. This is what I grew up on. I don't know how many times I made my dad take me to see A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. My sister pretended to be my mom so she could check me out of school to go see Return of the Jedi on the day it opened. So I'm kind of a big fan.

That being said, I wasn't one of those people who hated the first two prequels. Sure Jar-Jar was incredibly annoying, but so were the Ewoks. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were not as good as any of the originals, but they weren't bad movies. So I was not pre-disposed against Revenge of the Sith, in fact I was very optimistic about it. And I was not disappointed.

This was by far the best of the prequels. It was probably as good as Return of the Jedi and A New Hope, though not as good as The Empire Stracks Back. That is saying a lot. This is what people had waiting for and why they were disappointed at the first two prequels. They wanted something as good as the classics, and this is the only one of the prequels that delivers.

So what was so great about it? The key to any Star Wars movie is the story. Let's be honest, all of the characters in all of the movies are stock characters. The only character that ever saw any real development was Luke, and that was not until Return of the Jedi. It's the story, the myth that made the originals great. Revenge of the Sith has a great story. What makes it even better is that we all know what's going to happen. You know that Anakin is going to go over to the dark side, but Lucas manages to tell the story without it being anticlimactic. The transformation is really well done. He goes from a Jedi with doubts and fears to a Sith full of anger and lust for power.

Of course what would a Star Wars movie be without great effects? The effects are very good here, but not overdone. They don't steal the show from the storyline. They don't need to. The final battles between Obiwan and Anakin and between Palpatine and Yoda are both spectacular, as is anything with General Grievous.

The movie really left me thinking about Darth Vader and the Emperor. What got me thinking was the Emperor's quote while battling Yoda, that even if Yoda were to kill him that Anakin would wind up being more powerful than either of them. Now he could have just been talking trash, but given Anakin's hailing as "The Chosen One," one could not blame Palpatine for thinking that Anakin was going to be a more powerful Sith lord than even Palpatine. So fast-forward to Return of the Jedi. Clearly Palpatine had to be incredibly disappointed in his apprentice. I mean, what did Vader accomplsih in all those years? He led the attack on Hoth and set the trap for Luke on Bespin. Those were only partial victories and Vader had a lot of help on both.

And what about all those years between Episode III and IV? What was Vader up to during that time? You've got to figure that Palpatine would have sent him looking for Yoda and/or Obiwan. I mean, what else did he have to do during that time? And what about this talk of Vader being the most powerful Sith/Jedi ever? He didn't seem to ever surpass Palpatine. He killed Obiwan, but Obiwan let him do that so that Luke could see it and be less likely to feel any sympathy for Vader once he found out the truth. Of course it would seem likely that Vader would have defeated him anyways, given Obiwan's advanced age. Vader defeated Luke on Bespin, but Luke was very inexperienced at that point. There never seemed any doubt that Luke could defeat him in Return of the Jedi.

So Vader had to be a huge disappointment for Palpatine. Perhaps that makes sense after seeing Revenge of the Sith. Perhaps Anakin's powers were weakened by all the self-loathing he had to go through for all those years. Whatever the case, one cannot blame Palpatine at all for wanting Luke to take down Vader and take over for him. Basically all Vader was good for was as a way to get to Luke. Otherwise he was really a liability to Palpatine.

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