THE SAGA IS COMPLETE.
The first one was an OK adventure for the kids. The second one was not particularly memorable save for a sequence where Yoda actually fights with a lightsaber. But with this third entry in the second series of Star Wars films, George Lucas closed in on the original series – not just in terms of story but also quality. Even critics had to admit this one was pretty good.
The film is full of ingeniously designed sets, wondrous special effects and actors looking embarrassed as they mouth the lame dialogue flowing out of George Lucas’s pen. But there’s a story as well. The Clone Wars that began in the last film is coming to an end and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) rescues Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who has been kidnapped by the evil Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). Everything looks dandy and Anakin is thrilled to learn that he and Padmé (Natalie Portman) are going to be parents. But no one in the Republic knows just how fast democracy is headed for destruction. Palpatine is preparing to create a dictatorship, a Galactic Empire, and he seizes every opportunity to take advantage of Anakin’s weak mind. The young man who was once thought of as the chosen one is taking a significant step closer to embracing the dark side of the Force and becoming Palpatine’s powerful right hand, Darth Vader.
Delivering on his promise
Lucas promised darkness for the third chapter and darkness is what he’s delivering. We see children getting slaughtered. We see Jedi knights being betrayed and murdered. We see one major character catch fire. In short, we see all the tragedy that must come before the original three films that portrayed the fall of the Empire. All this is pretty riveting stuff. There is also a new terrific villain with a bad cough, General Grievous, who has aligned himself with Dooku; he’s every bit as interesting as Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. McDiarmid is getting a lot of screen time and is truly enjoyable as the wicked senator who is evolving into the decrepit Emperor. McGregor is virtually delivering an impersonation of Alec Guinness; it’s really easy imagining him turn into the old Obi-Wan Kenobi that we know from the first Star Wars. But everything that was negative about the preceding two films in this series is present here as well. It’s not good when fine actors such as Samuel L. Jackson look uncomfortable in certain scenes because of the dialogue. It’s not good when the central romance, the one involving Portman and Christensen, is this uninvolving.
But I like how Lucas has taken care to bring the two series of Star Wars films together in this chapter; the look of the old and the look of the new are fused in perfect harmony. All questions are answered and that moment when Anakin gets the black helmet locked to his head and he takes his first breath inside it is pure magic. Now, the last thing I am going to say about this franchise is that it would be nothing without John Williams, composer extraordinaire. For this score he has borrowed from himself and all the previous five films and it’s a beauty, perfectly capturing the spirit of George Lucas’s vision.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 2005-U.S. 140 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Rick McCallum. Written and directed by George Lucas. Music: John Williams. Cast: Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi), Natalie Portman (Padmé Amidala), Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee… Jimmy Smits. Voices of Frank Oz, James Earl Jones. Cameo: George Lucas.
Trivia: Gary Oldman was allegedly the first choice to voice the character of General Grievous.
Razzie: Worst Supporting Actor (Christensen).
Last word: “There’s a huge group of people who were eight to 12 years old when ‘The Phantom Menace’ came out who don’t like the original trilogy at all – they only like the prequels. Then you have a large audience who are in their twenties and thirties, have a greater access to the Internet and other media and are more able to express their dissatisfaction with the prequels. George always knew, even back in 1990, that this was going to be a big issue for hardcore fans who had grown up with ‘Star Wars’. He was just more interested in tapping into a new audience who hadn’t seen the films in the theatres before. If you were eight when you saw ‘The Phantom Menace’, you’d be around 17 now and George knew ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ would be the one that would bring peace to both of these groups – and they are totally different groups.” (McCallum, Metro)