Saturday, 21 May 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was easily the most anticipated movie of this year, especially by Star Wars fans. It was also probaby the most dreaded movie of this year, especially by Star Wars fans. Why the most dreaded? Well, a look at the first two movies in this trilogy provides the answer. The Phantom Menace was a major disappointment which provided us with the most annoying Star Wars character of all time (Jar Jar Binks). Attack of the Clones was better over all, but was hampered by stilted love scenes that were bereft of emotion and full of wooden dialogue. While Star Wars fans eagerly awaited Revenge of the Sith, there was also the nagging thought--what if it was no better than the first two Star Wars episodes?

Fortunately, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is better than the first two episodes. Indeed, George Lucas has finally brought a sense of the epic back to Star Wars. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a Star Wars movie not seen since The Empire Strikes Back was released twenty five years ago. It seems that George Lucas has not lost his touch after all.

Indeed, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith has one of the strongest screenplays of any of the Star Wars movies. Sometimes the dialogue is a bit clunky here and there, but for the most part each scene plays out perfectly. Here the characters are not simply going through the motions demanded of them by the plot. Each and every character has his or her own motivations which dictate his or her actions throughout the film. Indeed, even the love scenes between Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) seem genuine and from the heart, a far cry from the stiff romance seen in Attack of the Clones. Furthermore, in a movie that would seem to hold few surprises (we all knew Anakin was going to go over to the Dark Side, after all...), Lucas actually delivers a few. This is a movie that draws one inside its particular world and doesn't let one go.

The screenplay for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is greatly enhanced by something the previous two prequels lacked, some truly great performances. Ian McDiarmid delivers what could be the best performance of his career, raising Sentaor Palpatine/Darth Sidious to the ranks of the truly great screen villains. Ewan McGregor gives Kenobi the sort of depth not seen in the role since he was played by Sir Alec Guiness in A New Hope. As to the star of the film, Hayden Christensen proves that he has the makings of a great actor. He effectively portrays Anakin as a young man on the edge, a young man who ultimately makes the wrong choices for the right reasons. With Revenge of the Sith, Darth Vader has truly become a tragic figure.

As a director, Lucas has proven that he is still at the top of his game with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The movie features some of the most moving scenes of any of the Star Wars movies. The scenes between Anakin and Obi-Wan are touching as they should be. The scenes between Anakin and Sidious are chilling as they should be. The battle and fight scenes are simply amazing. In fact, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith features what may be the greatest fight scenes in either of the two Star Wars trilogies (I imagine the reader can guess what one of them is....).

And it is here that I must add a word of warning. with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Lucas pulls no punches. This is an intense film with a fair amount of violence (alhtough not graphic) and a lot of emotional angst. It may not be particularly suitable for younger children. I can honestly say it earned its PG-13 rating (it is the first Star Wars to be so rated).

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is not a perfect movie. At times so much is going on that the film does seem a bit rushed and a bit crowded. And as I said earlier, there are those moments of clunky dialogue. Still, despite its few faults, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is, as I also said, a movie that draws one in and does not let him or her go. At long last, George Lucas has produced a Star Wars film that is also great cinema.

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