Revenge of the Sith Review

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.


9 responses to “Revenge of the Sith Review”

  1. Brian Avatar

    Yeah dude, I went and saw it today at the Uptown. First off, I have to know if everyone applauded in the theater when Yoda did something I guess was considered cool when you saw it. For some reason, everyone felt compelled to do it at the showing I went to. Overall, it was pretty entertaining.

    I’m in total agreement with you on the scene with Windu, Sidious, and Anakin. I get the idea that his intention to save Padme was probably supposed to take over his being, but he did switch over awfully quick. I do think the setup was pretty good, though…he was miffed at the Jedi Council for a bunch of different reasons, he was having those Padme premonitions, and his whole maverick streak we’ve seen throughout the other movies helped push the whole thing forward. During the movie I kept thinking, “Man, if the Jedis kept jerking me around like that, I guess I’d consider the Dark Side too….” That was pretty well put togther.

    I also agree that Padme’s death would’ve been a lot more believable if something other than losing the will to live had been attached to it. So she’s got names picked out for the kids, but she can’t muster enough strength to keep going for them…..even if their dad is Darth Vader? Hell, Darth Sidious flew all the way out to that molten lava planet, retrieved Anakin/Darth Vader, had an awesome custom cyberonic suit made for him and you couldn’t pull it together for your kids?

    And on a final note: young Aunt Beru is pretty cute.

  2. “First off, I have to know if everyone applauded in the theater when Yoda did something I guess was considered cool when you saw it.”

    In our showing it was when Yoda did his “talk to the hand” move to the Emperor’s guards.

  3. Aunt Beru was effing HOT!!

    And on Ben’s remark, my theater cheered when Yoda said hi to those guards, too.

  4. Quoth The Ben:

    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.

    You’re saying he tried to impersonate himself.

  5. Brian Avatar

    Yeah, they did when he did that, and that was a cool moment. But the other times were when there was a closeup of his face and he had a real mean look going….and just about anytime he said something.

  6. JohnS Avatar

    You hit on so many points on Sith which got me thinking too, though I’m really not sure HC improved much at all as an actor. If he just could have “emoted” a bit in that scene where he gives over to Palpatine it would have been believable, because he is facing a real dilemma. Such a good classic good/evil story. It might have gotten some great reviews if they would have shot some of those scenes, “once more with feeling.” But alas, not Lucas’s strongpoint. I guess he just had some fortuitous casting the first time around.

  7. JoanneG Avatar

    “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?”

    hahahhahahahahhahah, that’s almost as funny as, “she’s a little girl and she fits in your pants…”

  8. Yeah, I totally forgot he played the emperor in Return of the Jedi.

  9. Good review, Ben. I’d like to chime in. Thanks for the place to talk with spoilers, by the way.

    I’ll start with special effects. They were great except for the clones. There’s one scene in particular. Obi-Wan is leaving for the planet with the sinkhole city where he is ambushed and he’s talking to Commander Cody with a bunch of other clones standing around. They are very fake looking, as opposed to the opening sequence where there are two clones in one fighter and it could very well be twins they look so real. As far as I know the actor doesn’t have a twin, so this is amazing to me. I don’t know what happened in the other scene though.

    By the way, Ben, I agree about the lightsaber dueling being easier to follow than films like Gladiator. I thought I was just getting old and having a hard time following the editing. Either it’s not my advanced age or I have company in old age. Either way I’m glad to be in such good company.

    I see what you mean about the chemistry, or lack there of, between Hayden and Natalie. I thought about that myself. I’ve thought about it a lot since Attack of the Clones and what I think is really going on is they aren’t relating well to George Lucas’s strange idea of “romance”. Han and Leia, now that was romance. Somewhere since the early 80’s George has come to believe that obsession equals romance, apparently. At least in one interview he said Episode II was to be the most romantic of all the movies, so I assume he thinks that’s real romance. The whole Anakin and Padme thing just isn’t a healthy relationship. He didn’t see her for a whole 10 years, but thought of her every day since he was, what, 8. Granted they went through an ordeal together. Buy they really only knew each other for a couple of weeks at the most, right?

    Furthermore, Padme, having been Queen of Naboo, and now Senator of Naboo, ignores the red flags that surely must have been there when Anakin starts talking about Obi-Wan holding him back and how when you really think about it he is mandated by the Jedi Code to love. Not only didn’t she have Anakin arrested when he told her (with not enough remorse in his voice, I might add), that he slaughtered an entire village of Sand People, but she didn’t even think that maybe it was time to end the relationship. I think I’d want my world leader to have a little more wisdom. So, Anakin is the obsessed stalker type, who happens to be the most powerful Jedi who ever lived, and Padme is clearly co-dependent. I’m sure she was thinking, “I can help him.” Not romantic. Han and Leia accepting each other’s differences while remaining true to themselves, and finding love in a war-torn galaxy…that’s romantic.

    That and the notoriously bad Star Wars dialogue contribute to what can easily be considered lack of chemistry between Hayden and Natalie. Let’s face it, we’ve become accustom to a more realistic portrayal of people and dialogue since 1977. I don’t think SW has kept up with that, but how can it and remain true to the feel of the original trilogy? It’s a dilemma.

    As for Hayden and Natalie, themselves, Hayden, I think, is great at playing dark, brooding, and angry (see Life as a House). He’s not so good at light-hearted humor and casual dialogue. I’m thinking of the scene where Anakin and Obi-Wan come back with Palpatine and Obi-Wan is breaking it to Anakin that he’ll be reporting to the politicians all by himself. Ewan has a twinkle in his eye. He’s bantering. He’s charming. Hayden seems to have a completely different concept of the conversation they’re having. He’s definitely Manakin Skywalker in scenes like this one, and any scene with Padme in which he’s not in a rage.

    Natalie always plays eccentric characters with great dialogue. I think her natural speech pattern is kind of monotone but her great characters (see Where the Heart Is, Closer) have always compensated. Or maybe her delivery of those lines added to the eccentricity of the characters, I don’t know which. But here she is playing Padme, who is a reserved politician who should be playing things close to the vest. Her bad dialogue (So love has blinded you?) combined with her natural voice, and the chemistry/disconnect with the romantic plot/whatever all add up to make it look like bad acting, which is unfortunate because neither of them is a bad actor.

    I’m not sure how I feel about Padme losing the will to live either. In the book she mentions to Bail Organa during that mandatory Senate session that she won’t live much longer. I think knowing the strong prophetic nature of Anakin’s dreams (he has a long history of these according to the book), she just knew she would die in childbirth. It sounds to me like the power of suggestion. Lost the will to live…Yeah, I wouldn’t be happy to know that if I were Luke or Leia.

    I had long thought Padme would play a role in Anakin’s turn to the dark side. I guessed that Anakin would be tricked in to killing her. I was sort of right, but not exactly. It was a nice surprise for me. I, for one, liked the “What have I done?” line. It was one of his better lines in this movie. Yes, it might seem rather abrupt that he immediately swears fealty to Darth Sidious, but look at it this way. He’s still desperate to save Padme, and you can do a whole lot of thinking in 6 seconds. His mind has to be racing from “What have I done?” to “Sith Spawn! How am I going to explain saving a Sith Lord from a Council member and helping to kill the council member in the process? I have no choice, not if I want to stay alive long enough to save Padme!” It’s all self-defense and defense of a loved one from there, not to mention looking at things from a certain point of view.

    Besides, there is that pesky prophecy. The Force does need to be balanced. Right you are. There have only been 2 Sith at a time for centuries. So we end up with two Jedi to balance the two Sith. In Return of the Jedi Obi-Wan’s been dead a while, and Luke did fill his place on the Light Side. As forshadowed in The Empire Strikes Back, he turned to the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi, though. So when Yoda, Palpatine, and Vader are all dead, leaving Luke all alone, what you’re really left with is one force wielder who has the potential to be both good and evil. Indeed, the books that come after Return of the Jedi put Luke in a number of situations that remind him that the Dark Side will forever dominate his destiny. Basically the whole balancing of the Force goes on for about the next 30 years. After the fall of the Empire, Luke becomes more monkish and tries to teach as Yoda did. Things always seem to point to the old ways of the Jedi not being quite right or being obsolete, and then Luke’s nephew Jacen takes it a step further and it is truly balanced. At least that’s how I read it.

    Someone asked if he audienced cheered when Yoda did that awesome thing…yes, in all 5 showings I’ve been to the audience cheered. Well, more laughed than cheered.

    So after seeing Revenge of the Sith 5 times, how would I rank it? The initial buzz has worn off, so it’s not as favorable as it once was.

    6. Attack of the Clones
    5. Return of the Jedi
    4. The Phantom Menace
    3. Revenge of the Sith
    2. A New Hope (maybe tied with Revenge of the Sith)
    1. The Empire Strikes Back

    One last thing. I think it’s good that Anakin ends up burned to a cinder and in need of a mask after turning to the Dark Side. It wouldn’t do to be know as Darth Vader, the Sith Who Weeps.