Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith [2005]

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith [2005] is writer/director George Lucas’ third and final attempt to recreate the magic of 1977. At the forefront of his adorably earnest efforts are Ewan McGregor as Jedi Master extraordinaire Obi-Wan Kenobi, Natalie Portman as trembling drywall senator Padmé Amidala, and Hayden Christensen, who, armed with badass facial scars (which are destined to be multiplied), a conflict of greater immediacy, and a much more flattering haircut. He performs Force leaps and Force bounds ahead of himself only three years before, as the fateful and disturbed warrior Anakin Skywalker. Which means he’s about halfway towards being good.

The final film… from a certain point of view. Praise Mickey, it is no longer the case, but at the time of this film’s release it was the encapsulation of a complete and contained saga, and the end of an era. Lucas brings together the full circle of a mythic cycle that he pretends he wrote all by himself, telling the story of a tragic monster in a swooping figure-eight narrative. For those who see Episode III as the sixth part of a longer saga, a moving fifteen-minute wrap-up sequence breaks free of the awkward tar pit that is the rest of the film, and effectively sends off the master narrative of the past thirty years.

You hyped-up fool! He’s using an old Hollywood mind trick! A heartbreaking montage of betrayal lacks the context to be truly haunting; a sinister figure rises from smoke with only partial potency; vast tracts of stunning special effects landscapes flicker into uncanny falseness even as they inspire awe. Mystical characters of unnerving psychology and sweeping philosophy disregard their own personalities to brawl like simple thugs, and the pain of two brothers who fight each other to the death is not enough for them to forget how fabulous their debonair swordsmanship is.

You couldn’t bring yourself to write good dialogue before and I don’t think you’ll do it now. Roughly half of this film sucks balls. The other half is truly wonderful, and its power and ambition have a louder voice than its timid ineptitude. The reason this film will never be destined for the schlock bargain bin is the sheer magnitude of Lucas’s vision. He has proven incapable of actually realizing that vision, but there remains, nevertheless, a grandeur: a proud majestic jungle cat of a film, drowning in a swamp of bafflingly half-assed verbal exchanges. I mean jeez Padmé, your husband tells you he loves you and you respond by accusing him of blindness? Like… what?

Now witness the power of this partially armed and operational narrative arc! If the entire Star Wars Prequel Trilogy was one single film, it would be this film, with minimal additions. Lucas pulls his classic story of a mad descent along with reasonable dramatic heft, but so established is the outcome in the cultural consciousness that Anakin’s tragedy seems to skip about 25% of its explanation to dive right into the cool stuff. Those watching on DVD might be inclined to wonder if the disc is scratched, as the story leaps to a characterized conclusion like a fender bender. This is the origin of a generation’s muse! And yet that pivotal moment happens so suddenly, so partially. The downfall of the entire galaxy occurs in about two (“standard” lol) days. Which I guess is scientifically likely.

I don’t know if this movie deserves this many stars… oh well!
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