Review of Revenge of the Sith:
Posted By Joshua on May 6, 2005
(SPOILER WARNING: review contains many spoilers)
I'm not sure if the tear I shed was because this is the last Star Wars movie, or if it was really that good. And to be honest, I don't really care either way.
For the longest time, people have felt the story of Star Wars was about Luke Skywalker. Until now. This is Anakin’s story, hands down. Episode I set up the innocence of a little boy filled with the Force. The story must start there, despite many wanting it to begin further down the road. Innocence is celebrated in this first film, then tested and tried in the second prequel, Attack of the Clones. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the culmination of that loss of innocence with the complete giving in to the Dark Side. Anakin’s downfall is absolute and he will become Darth Vader.
It is certainly a tall order for the final movie in Star Wars history. The Phantom Menace introduced the dominoes, Attack of the Clones set them up, and now Revenge of the Sith comes in to knock them all down, break them in half and light them on fire.
Earlier today two of my good friends and I got the chance to attend the press screening of Revenge of the Sith at Mann Village here in Los Angeles, California. Several celebrities were there and plenty of people to nearly fill the 1000+ seats in the digital theater.
It is perhaps paced awkwardly in places and has the now infamous cheesy lines now and again, but this is clearly the part of the story Lucas was most anxious to share. Unmistakably this is the meat of the back-story we now get to see it in all of its glory. It is made more powerful by the set up of the earlier films, for many they will find redemption here.
Why You’ll Love This Film
I’ve got a whole checklist of all that has to happen in this film – so this truly is an action movie. Deception, lies and lightsabers fill this story up to the top. Aside from a weak second act, this film delivers non-stop action that will delight fans.
The opening battle was fantastic; visually this film is near perfect. From the opening sequence to the very end, there is precious little that may look off. In fact, with all of the new worlds, characters and vehicles I think it is safe to say ILM has gone next level. This does have a visual effects nomination … and win, written all over it.
The lightsaber battles are second to none, and there are plenty of them to go around. Obi-Wan vs. Grievous was great, even if the droid general did lose his extra hands a bit fast. The Duel is amazing, plenty of action with between former friends and interaction with the environment as well. You’ll finally get to see the Emperor take out Jedi, feign his own weakness to lure Anakin in to help and then fully unleash hell on Yoda. I love.
Ian McDiarmid in this film is incredible. I felt his character was a bit too happy and eager in the opening moments, but it is corrected quickly and he goes the other way especially fast. I have nothing but pure joy over his addition to the saga. He nearly steals the show from Anakin and does an amazing job. Once you get to about the Opera scene, prepare yourself to be blown away.
Other notable standouts are from Ewan McGregor - especially in the last half of the film. He truly believes the ways of the Jedi are the right path, and is willing to even take out his apprentice who has betrayed them. After the romantic scenes I began to really dig Hayden Christensen, too. He delivers some powerful emotions later in the film that bring added depth to the character. When he opens the door to the Youngling’s room and they ask for help, you will be moved.
The Clone Wars montage was awesome; it was so great to see some other worlds to show the epic campaign and galactic conquest. All of the visuals here were great, and it is for certain that the Jedi are all alone at this point.
The sound was good but felt a bit too familiar with the exception of the wheel bike and Boga sequence. Quite a risk they took having Obi-Wan ride a lizard after the other mounted sequences in the prequels, but this one is picture perfect. And the cries from that other worldly creature fit flawlessly. I wish that the new Jedi starfighters had more of a Tie fighter sound and that the aliens had voices that had to be translated or subtitled, but it works. Just timid and safe, I think.
The featured score isn’t nearly as memorable as even Across the Stars. I’m glad Duel of the Fates makes a reprise and there are some great ambient tracks at key moments that add to the tension. And let’s not forget about one lengthy scene that has no music at all – very nice. Listen for it and see if you agree. And it's always great to hear elements from the early John Williams' work as well.
Some other favorite moments? I think Obi-Wan standing at the top of the spaceship ramp on Mustafar is commanding. I love Anakin closing the doors on the Separatists then killing them off one by one. Tarkin quickly shuffling off-screen to make way for Vader to survey the Death Star. The dozens of new clonetrooper designs and vehicles. Palpatine’s face … Anakin bursting into flames.
The end of the movie was satisfying, wrapping up many lose ends and bridging the prequel-classic divide nicely. I love Vader crushing stuff and the twins being handed over to their respective surrogates. I do wish Yoda landing on Dagobah was included on the digital print, and the pan to sunset closing shot should have been sans-Lars.
Stuff You May Not Love As Much
Natalie Portman isn’t brilliant in this film. She just can’t seem to pull off her character. I have to say though her funeral scene is done perfectly, and the Jappor snippet actually got to me. C-3PO is basically non-existent, he even gives a “helpless” line and that’s exactly how I felt about his character. Where is Jar Jar? You see him maybe twice, and except for background noise he doesn’t even have a single line.
The Kashyyyk battle is way too short. If you saw all of the trailers and the Episode III footage that Rick McCallum showed at the Celebration then unfortunately you’ve seen much of it. It was so stunning; too bad we didn’t see more of it. And the Jedi swinging on wires with lightsabers? It is a 2 second clip.
The voice acting of the Nemoidians and other aliens is again terribly weak, with the exception of Tion Meddon. Of course, he is relegated to a cameo as well, albeit a cool one. Another oddity was that droids talk so much in the opening few minutes of the movie. And there were just a couple of moments I was disconcerted by the effects work. The clonetroopers without helmets never didn’t look quite right, and in one shot baby Luke in Obi-Wan’s arms looked like it was rotoscoped awkwardly.
A few other interesting moments - the suited Vader says “Padme,” the droid memory wipe felt like an afterthought and the whole Qui-Gon holds the key to the Forcefelt very forced. Anakin choking Padme should have been more over the top and did she really die of a broken heart? Ugh. Anakin’s final move in The Duel makes no sense to me either. Still though, minor squabbles when looked at as a whole.
This is a great Star Wars film – the best of the prequels without question. In many fans minds this will fall under Empire and A New Hope, and I think that is a fair analysis. A powerful movie that you’ll not want to miss, weakened by one vulnerable act and a few nitpicky problems. I saw it once today, and I’m already anxious to see it again. You will be, too.
May the Force be with you.
One week and five days people!!!