Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Twenty-eight years after its debut, the Star Wars saga ends, right back where it began. The two most recent films, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were a bit uneven, but Revenge of the Sith manages to take things a step in the right direction. All of this, for better or worse, is because of George Lucas. All of this strengths and weaknesses are on display again, with visual wonders accompanied by horrible dialogue and weak acting. There is a lot of plot to run through, and to his credit, Lucas (Attack of the Clones, The Phantom Menace) paces things so quickly that the time flies by, and one can overlook some of the film's deficiencies.

The other interesting fact about this film is that everybody knows what is going to happen. All but two of the Jedi will die. Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, Attack of the Clones, Sleepy Hollow) will become the Emperor, and seduce Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen, Shattered Glass, Attack of the Clones) to the Dark Side, and he will become Darth Vader. Skywalker's secret bride Padme (Natalie Portman, Closer, Garden State) will give birth to twins, and one will be adopted by Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits, Attack of the Clones, Bless the Child). But even with a known story, people can still watch all the pieces come into place. This is where Revenge of the Sith works best - it reminds people of the original trilogy. Especially as the film winds down, and familiar elements of John Williams' (The Terminal, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) begin filling the soundtrack. The highlight, of course, is when the transformation from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader finally occurs.

Revenge of the Sith begins with Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor, Robots, Big Fish) leading an attack on General Grievous (voiced by Matthew Wood, The Phantom Menace). Grievous works for Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, The Two Towers, Attack of the Clones), and they have kidnapped Palpatine. After rescuing Palpatine, Skywalker begins having nightmares of Padme dying during childbirth. This is his greatest fear, and Palpatine uses this against him. Palpatine is jockeying for power, and successfully wraps Skywalker around his finger. The Jedi Council is wary, especially when Palpatine appoints Skywalker to the council. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, xXx: State of the Union, Coach Carter) refuses to grant him the rank of Skywalker, causing more resentment and anger in Skywalker. Palpatine finally unveils his plans to takeover the Republic, eventually changing it into the Empire.

Revenge of the Sith is darker than the other films, mainly because of Skywalker's transformation. Yet, the reasons for this do not seem too plausible. Okay, his wife may die, and he feels slighted. But is this enough to make a man turn against all he stood for? Again, Lucas wrote the story, and worse, uses his wooden direction to 'guide' the actors. As a result, Christensen plays Anakin like a spoiled child who frowns a lot. Any scenes, especially emotional ones between Portman and Christensen fall flat on their face. This is especially bad considering both have shown they can act very well. The best actors here are Lee (who probably could care less) and McDiarmid, who uses a low-voiced growl for the duration of the film. McGregor and Jackson fare passably well. It almost takes effort in order to make sure good actors seem so lifeless. And everybody is saddled with cornball dialogue.

In the meantime, the special effects look better than ever. Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz, Attack of the Clones, Monsters Inc.) and Grievous (who gets to wield four lightsabers simultaneously) look extremely lifelike, although other efforts, like Kenobi on a lizard-like creature and the climactic duel between Anakin and Kenobi look very much like computer-generated people. The effects are at their best when showing grand vistas, like the opening assault on Grievous' ship or wide shots of Republic homeworld, where thousands of vehicles fly around towering buildings. And all of this sprung from Lucas' mind. He made it a point to do whatever he wanted, much to the detriment of the first two films. Thankfully, things were different this time.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Good.
2 hours, 26 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images.

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