The quick, spoiler free review: It’s awesome, despite the obvious flaws and annoyances we’re all used to with the Star Wars prequels.
The extended, spoiler free review: Bad dialogue and mediocre acting can’t derail Anakin’s train to the dark side. Hayden Christensen still comes off a little stiff, but he’s definitely improved since his awful performance in Attack of the Clones. His chemistry with Natalie Portman is so unconvincing you end up laughing at the wrong times. Actually, if there are any laughs built into this movie I had a hard time finding them. Revenge of the Sith is as dark as everyone says it is and I felt like I watched the second half with my stomach on the floor. The only rescuing you’ll see is the plot defeating the actors to make it a good movie.
Read on for discussion of the movie (with spoilers)
It’s hard to talk about the movie without mentioning the bad acting, because in a few scenes it’s so glaringly bad you wish Lucas had hired an army of British playwrights instead of just one. I actually thought Hayden Christensen did pretty well as long as Natalie Portman wasn’t around (“You’re so beautiful,” “No, you are!,” “No you are!,” “I know you are by what am I?”, etc.). It has to be Lucas’s fault, too, because we’ve seen actors like Portman and Samuel L Jackson many times and they never perform as poorly as they do in Revenge of the Sith. Jackson would have been better cast as a Sith lord or at least someone who gets to be pissed off once in a while. Ewan McGregor and Ian McDermid (Palpatine) were decent because they were the only actors not required to say exactly what they were thinking at every moment. McDermid goes over the top occasionally near the end of the film, but I think he was just trying to impersonate the guy who plays the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.
The special effects were great, but the action sequences were far above the earlier films. Anakin’s fight with Count Dooku, Obi-Wan’s battle with General Grevious, and of course, Anakin’s fight against Obi-Wan, were all entertaining. The cuts and edits were done well and I could always keep track of what was going on unlike other modern sword fighting films like Gladiator.
But we all know what the interesting part of this film was: Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The idea that Anakin would turn to the darkside to save Padme is absolutely believable. My only only problem was that it seemed to come too quickly after he kills Mace Windu. Only a minute before he was turning Palpatine in. After he kills Windu and screams “What have I done?” he immediately bows down to Palpatine. If his conscience tells him that chopping up Windu might have been bad, where the hell is Jiminey Cricket when Anakin mows down the Jedi Kindercare? A better way to handle this would have been for Anakin to look distressed, but not come right out and say, “What have I done?” (See my comment above about McGregor and McDermid). On a related note, the scene with Anakin and the Jedi kids was really shocking. I would have never guessed Lucas would go there and I’m glad that part didn’t get spoiled for me.
When Palpatine activates Order 66, which I predict will enter the lexicon, he does it at a time when you’re almost used to thinking of the clone/storm troopers as good guys. As odd as it seemed in Attack of the Clones, seeing the troopers fighting along side Jedi didn’t seem strange at all. I felt as blindsided as they did. Of course, Yoda sees that shit coming from a mile away and heads back to fight the Emperor.
Padme’s death seemed a little strange. They should have just made Anakin choke her to death (or brain death), but instead they say she lost the will to live. Hmmmm… I’m sure Luke and Leia really appreciate that one. They turned Padme into a total wuss and a quitter. Also, do they have to tell us the names of the kids? Come on, who doesn’t know that? I’m more curious to where Obi-Wan got the name Ben.
Finally, I think an important idea in the film that is easy to miss is the prophecy everyone keeps talking about. Yoda’s green brain finally lights up and realizes that the Jedi have been on top for a thousand years and the last thing they want is balance in the Force. Good thinking guys! In the end of Revenge of the Sith we’re left with Darth Sidious, Darth Vader, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi and the force is nicely balanced out. As soon as Obi-Wan dies in episode IV, Luke steps up to take his place. Anakin eventually gets around to destroying the Sith by tossing Palpatine into the center of the Death Star in Return of the Jedi, leaving Luke as the only force wielder in the galaxy.
Isn’t that unbalanced? I rewatched the original movies and Luke is not like any of the old Jedi Knights except Anakin. Yoda tells both Luke and Anakin that they must let go of their attachments and forget everything they care about. That is the shittiest advice since somebody told Andy Richter to leave Late Night and get his own TV show. Anakin succombs to the temptation and falls into the dark side. Luke risks everything for his friends and his father and in the process, shows that you can be both a Jedi and a human. It’s possible to tap into the dark side and not fall in. That’s a balanced approach to the force and I bet that’s how Luke will instruct his students after episode VI.