Revenge of the Sith (2005)
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Review Date: May 17, 2005
Director: George Lucas
Writer: George Lucas
Producers: Rick McCallum
Hayden Christensen as Anakin
Natalie Portman as Padme
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan
In part 3 of this six-part series, things are about to get a whole lot darker for rising Jedi Anakin Skywalker, who up until recently, was an all-around good guy, with a touch of negative tendencies. In this go-around, his mind is played upon even further by the dark side’s Lord Sidious, who showcases Anakin some of the cooler bits that he might not have known about the dark side, confusing the young man even more. Or does it? It is in this installment that Anakin finally makes up his mind about which side he wants to sleep with, and needless to say, a certain Darth Vader finally makes his appearance. The next part of this series was released in 1977, entitled STAR WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE.
My favorite of the three most recent STAR WARS movies, REVENGE OF THE SITH mixes all of the best elements from its predecessors, including impeccably integrated special effects, an astounding sci-fi vision and scope, awesome light-saber battles, a handful of fantastic action sequences – set both in space and on the ground – an epic storyline and fun characters, with a much darker umbrella of thoughts and images, as well as surprisingly potent emotional angles, all of which make this film one of the best all-around space adventures that I’ve seen in years. That said, it should be noted that I am definitely a STAR WARS “fanboy” and that I graded the generally-panned episodes I and II pretty high as well, so take that fanaticism into consideration when reading my overall review. That’s not to say that my critique is worthless, but I definitely don’t see how my thoughts would mean much to someone who is not from the “Star Wars generation” and who doesn’t feel that sense of nostalgia, belonging and to a certain extent, ownership, when discussing this world and its characters (yeah, it’s sad, but true).

In fact, this film was the most nostalgic of all, as it brought into play many of the characters that old-time STAR WARS geeks like myself grew up with, including Chewbacca, the introduction of Luke and Leia, and the man himself…Darth Vader. The rest of the gang is also here and accounted for, including C-3PO, R2-D2, Obi-Wan and Yoda-san. Another cool thing about this installment is that you pretty much know what to expect (that is, if you’re a connoisseur of the STAR WARS universe), so most of the time you’re sitting there, taking it all in, enjoying the moment and what’s to follow. The film starts with the traditional scroll about “A long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away…” and jumps right into a spectacular space battle that automatically converts your eyes into full wake-up, as a million good-looking images are thrown at you at once. Asses are kicked and the film then slows down into a more story-line approach as the aura around Anakin and his next steps in life, take center stage. I liked how Lucas took his time with Anakin and didn’t just toss him into the dark side at the drop of a hat. I actually felt like the kid was struggling with his emotions, and despite a few so-so moments from actor Hayden Christensen, bought it overall, and ultimately felt really sad and emotional for the guy.

His relationship with Padme is also taken to a more interesting level here, as the love between the two is obvious, but much like real-life relationships, going through changes as they struggle to find themselves within their changing world. The film doesn’t spend too much downtime on this, as action and CGI imagery is all around, keeping things moving and alive at all times. By the time the film plunges head-first into Anakin’s turn to the dark side (I don’t think I’m giving anything away here), I found myself relishing the darker side of the tale, as Christensen’s anger and burgeoning frustration could be felt sitting in the audience. It is right around this point that I actually started to get a little emotional as the struggle of “good vs evil” really took a major swing and shit started to fly across the universe. So by the time Obi-Wan and Padme confronted the changed Anakin, I was about as emotional as I’ve been in any STAR WARS movie (not counting the times I cry upon seeing Jar-Jar Binks in THE PHANTOM MENACE—that’s a different kind of crying), with lines like “I loved you like a brother” and “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart”…breaking my heart! Kudos to Lucas for being able to pull off both a darker (as required) installment to his fantastic sci-fi series, but also for mining it with the emotion needed to further invest audiences into his world of characters.

The film’s final 30 minutes or so are classic in so many senses, as Lucas even goes “poetic” with a sequence that collates Darth Vader’s rise with Padme’s pregnancy and birth. Beautiful. The light-saber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan is also a doozy, and its outcome, somewhat surprising to me (I kinda knew how it might end, but didn’t see what Lucas did, coming). Other than that, Chewbacca and his wookie clan were underused, but cool to see in the movie, the special effects were brilliant across the board, other than when characters had to jump around and looked like video-game figures, and the score and scene transitions were very cool, as usual. As for the addition of one General Grievous, yet another awesome move by Lucas, as the badass ‘bot truly inspired, particularly when he whipped out his own set of light-sabers and revved things up. A sight to behold. The film’s concluding scenes were also very well handled, and nifty to see for all true STAR WARS fans as Lucas tied things up rather nicely, to the next installment, A NEW HOPE. A lot of people will forgive Lucas for using the bank accounts of this series’ fans as his own personal withdrawal card, because he’s finally hit one of out the ballpark, but I’m not one of those people. I think it still stinks that he is one of the few major filmmakers out there who seems to drain his fans, as opposed to working with them, but that has nothing to do with the fact that the man has created, with this series, one of the best motion picture epics of all-time, and concluded it all (right?), with one of its best and darkest chapters.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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