Lucasfilm, Ltd./20the Century Fox
Written and Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Rick McCallum
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by David Tattersall
Edited by Roger Barton/Ben Burtt
Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching STAR WARS movies one right after the other for the first time, thanks to the miracle of Blu-Ray as I now have all of them except for THE LAST JEDI. And the only reason I haven’t bought that one it is because I’ve been watching it on Netflix. But I digress. Watching STAR WARS movies one right after the other I’m picking up on a lot of things I never noticed before. Such as in the majority of these movies, it’s the Bad Guys who actually win most of the time.
THE REVENGE OF THE SITH really bangs the gavel on this notion as we see the slaughter of The Jedi Order, the collapse of The Galactic Republic, the birth of The Empire and realize for the first time just how much of a long game that Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid),who is revealed at last as Darth Sidious, the Sith Lord has been playing. He’s been engaged in a grand game of galactic chess with living beings as his pieces for decades.
Think about it. The time period between THE PHANTOM MENACE and THE REVENGE OF THE SITH is about, what, fifteen years? In all that time Palpatine/Darth Sidious has been patiently maneuvering, plotting and planning, subtly influencing people and events to achieve his ultimate goal and all the while successfully concealing his true Sith nature from the entire Jedi Order. I mean, okay, I can see him fooling Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) for so long because Anakin is a self-centered whiny brat. But he also managed to fool supposedly all-powerful and all-knowing Jedi Masters such as Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Let’s face it, this cat wins Big Bad of The Century, no doubt about it.
Which also brings to my mind something else I noticed while watching these movies back to back: The Jedi Order has to accept a large part of the blame for the fall of The Republic. These are guys who long ago starting believing their own legend and as a result became supremely arrogant, downright complacent and sinfully prideful in their estimation of their power.
THE REVENGE OF THE SITH begins with one of the best action sequences of any movie I can think of in that it is pure action. Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and R2-D2 race to save Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of the psychotic cyborg Commander of the Droid Army General Grievous (Matthew Wood). One of the reasons I like this sequence so much is that Anakin and Obi-Wan treat R2 like an equal member of the rescue party with his own talents and skills to bring to the mission. Like I’ve always said in these reviews, R2-D2 isn’t a sidekick in the STAR WARS saga. He’s just as much a hero as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Han Solo or Lando Calrissian.
Anakin Skywalker becomes increasingly obsessed with his visions of his wife Padme (Natalie Portman) dying in childbirth and Palpatine plays upon those fears to seduce Anakin to the Dark Side of The Force, telling him that by only learning of The Dark Side can he hope to save Padme. And Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) only push him further into the arms of Palpatine by opening expressing their distrust and downright dislike of Anakin. So why wouldn’t Anakin turn to The Dark Side since every effort he has made to show his loyalty to The Jedi Order been rebuffed?
And so things go as we have been told; Anakin Skywalker turns to The Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. And actually, that’s that the most interesting part of the movie that has to do with Anakin Skywalker. This epic romance between him and Padme is embarrassing at this point. There’s nothing interesting about it and if George Lucas is wanting to give a majestic rise and fall to the story of Anakin Skywalker then he lost it big time with this movie with the revelation that Anakin Skywalker killed innocent children.
I do like the lightsaber duel between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi as it’s a duel that is part of STAR WARS history and if we’ve been through three movies then we deserve to see it. And as always, Ewan McGregor delivers. He’s the guy who anchors THE REVENGE OF THE SITH much as he did the previous two STAR WARS movies. I really loved his ongoing feud with General Grievous, one of my favorite STAR WARS Bad Guys. And the battle between Master Yoda and The Emperor is worth the price of admission by its ownself.
I love how General Grievous doesn’t have a bit of shame in owning being a coward. This is a cat who has no problem at all turning and running if he’s losing a fight. He doesn’t have a problem cheating. He’s a refreshingly honest Bad Guy in that he revels in the notion that this is what Bad Guys DO! And the best rivalry of the movie is the Obi-Wan Kenobi/General Grievous rivalry. I mean, Obi-Wan Kenobi gets to ride into battle against Grievous on a giant feathered lizard. How in Asgard do you get more BadAss than THAT?
There’s a lot I don’t like about REVENGE OF THE SITH. Such as everything having to do with Anakin Skywalker and Padme. But everything else is a damn good movie that could have done with George Lucas turning over his story to an actual writer. But those lightsaber fights are kickass, aren’t they? And the General Grievous/Obi-Wan Kenobi sequences are also worth the price of admission, as far as I’m concerned.
If I had written The Prequel Trilogy? It would have been The Adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn & Obi-Wan Kenobi and in the last ten minutes of the last movie of The Trilogy they and we would have met Anakin Skywalker and we’d have left the rest all up to our imagination.
But that isn’t what happened. So what do I think and feel about THE REVENGE OF THE SITH?
It’s not a satisfying STAR WARS for me but it is a STAR WARS movie. It’ll never be my favorite and let’s leave it at that. I don’t like the entire characterization of Anakin Skywalker (he’s presented way better as a character in the animated “Clone Wars” series) in the entire trilogy. I like a lot of the supporting characters much better than the guy I’m supposed to be rooting for. But I enjoy it for the Flash Gordon-ish sequences with Obi-Wan Kenobi as well as the kickass Jedi/Sith battles between Yoda/Palpatine and Kenobi/Skywalker.
Let’s just say I found it a disappointing movie trilogy on some levels and leave it at that, okay?