Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith review by The Grim Ringler

Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith

I dunno know quite where to begin. With the hype? The backlash? The beginning? How about I start with this – once upon a time a young filmmaker named George Lucas, a brash young indie director with a head of clouds and ideas, made a small science fiction film about a big universe. It was a simple story about a complex issue and it was just what America, and the world was looking for – a new myth. A new legend. And through three films he captivated American audiences and became a Hollywood power-player. But alas, the films began in the middle, a nod to the idea of a bigger story, and that sometimes you don’t get all of the legend, but just the parts that are worth remembering. But as time passed, the notion that perhaps the telling of how someone could become the greatest evil in the galaxy, when he had begun, like his son, as an innocent boy on a distant planet, began to gain credence with him. The fans, rabid and fanatical, demanded it, and perhaps, perhaps… So it was that three more films, the first story of the family Skywalker, and the tale of how a good man can fall into evil causes, just as a republic fails, came to be. The first of them new films was greatly flawed, by weak dialogue, spotty acting, and a story that was too much politics for the hardcore fans and newcomers alike. The second was better, more of the action and scope the fans had come to expect, but again there was the spotty dialogue and the strange balance of politics and war. But it was closer to what the fans had always wanted. And now, for good or ill, the cycle is complete. The tale of the rise, and fall of both the Galactic Republic, of the Jedi, and finally of Anakin Skywalker, the chosen one, is complete. And with this film, Lucas has finally proven that he is still both a powerful director and storyteller. He has created a film that is easily among the most powerful of the series, and perhaps the best. It has scope, depth, and despite some flaws, has a sadness to it that we only get brief glimpses of in the rest of the series. Finally, after all these years, the story of the Skywalker family is told, and with this last story, Lucas has made his masterpiece.

The story picks up in space, with a feverish battle, and an attempt to rescue the capture Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of the Sith Dooku and his second in command General Grievous. But in saving Palpatine young Anakin Skywalker, brash and immature despite his growing powers as a Jedi, takes another step down the path of the dark side, urged on by Palpatine as Obi Wan, the young man’s mentor lies unconscious nearby. And it is this act, and many to follow it that begins to haunt Anakin. That he wants so badly to be a Jedi, and a great one, but that he is held back by the need to play by rules he doesn’t always believe in. The war of the clone troops and the separatist droids is raging, and unless General Grievous is captured, it will continue to rage. The Jedi need this war to end for they fear that the powers of the Chancellor are becoming too great and the question of whether he will willingly step down from power, as was promised, arises. Young Anakin is put by the two sides – Palpatine, and the Jedi council – in between them, as a tool, in the hopes of finding what he is made of, and what the other side wants. He is given too much power, too quickly – to be on the Jedi council at such a young age is unheard of, and when he is not made Master, as is customary, Anakin takes this as a deep insult – and it is here that Anakin will rise or fall. Making matters more complicated are dreams of the death of Padme, his young wife he had married in secret and has a hidden life with. She is pregnant, and this is not news he wants, not at first, but slowly he begins to warm to the idea, though you can never tell if it is love that is in his heart, or greed. Greed for love, or the love itself. When the true intentions of Palpatine are revealed, and Anakin must again make a choice as to which side he will serve, the Jedi order, or the rising dark Sith Lord who has come to him and promised the power to save his wife should the dreams of death come true, Anakin falls. And in falling, destroys all he has learned, and all that has been loved and cherished in the Republic. Feeling betrayed and alone, he betrays all those that had cared for him, and everyone who loved him, until finally, it is himself betrayed, and he is alone. This is not the end of one war, but the last battle of the beginning of the greatest war that this galaxy has seen, and one in which Anakin is about to play the largest part in…for the forces of the dark side.

Surely not a perfect film, this is, for me, the best. There is some hokey dialogue – mostly with the romance. There is some hokey acting – mostly from Natalie Portman, already too bored with her role to really bring enough depth to it. And there is almost too much action in the beginning of the film. There are moments in the film when you wish Lucas would take a step back and let you see what is happening instead of making you a part of things. I appreciate his goal – to bring the immediacy of war, and of battle, to the viewer, but sometimes it got to be too much. There are a few questions that go unanswered, but generally the big ones are explained. And there are characters and moments that, if you never saw the Clone Wars series on the Cartoon Network or DVD, you will miss out on – like who the hell General Grievous is and why he is such a badass. But I suppose the biggest flaw is – why couldn’t he have done this sooner? Why couldn’t he create this kind of film the first two times? Now, I love Attack of the Clones and really like Phantom Menace for what they are, but they are flawed. And this film makes me wish he had had the strength of conviction and storytelling that he shows here. Oh well.

What is good is the film itself. The sadness, the loss, and the great betrayal. To see that Anakin falls, not because of rage, but because of love, is heartbreaking. To see this once great republic willingly fall into slavery is fascinating. To witness the fall of the Jedi, and how very dark this film gets, is numbing. And in the end, you leave drained, and desperate to see the entire series as one work. It will have its jaunts and jumps, but it’s a hell of a tale.

I love this film not for the special effects, which are dazzling. Nor the darkness of the story. Or even because we finally see how it all plays out. I love this film because of the risks Lucas took. Just as things are ramping up he slows the film down for a good two minutes to show the confusion and pain of Padme and Anakin, as they separately deal with what is playing out for them. Apart when they should be together. I love that this same theme plays out at the end. I love that he goes to the dark places we always knew were in the scourging of the Jedi but never really, really considered. I love that the Jedi fall, not because of some great evil rebellion against them, but because they were blind to the obvious, and to their own weaknesses. And finally, because it is an adult science fiction/fantasy film, and it is a mature story, and it shows that the series, as the young kids who grew up with it so long ago, has grown up. The fall and redemption of Anakin, as well as the redemption of two other characters later in the trilogy, are powerful themes. Lucas for all is failings – arrogant, isolated, out of touch, and foolish for turning his back on the original versions of his films – nails this one. He fires on all cylinders. And if this is the end of the film saga, then I go away from it happy. Ecstatic. Proud. Proud to be a fan and to have been rewarded for hanging in there. This one is for us nerds, who bought the toys, and all the other crap. This is the film that says – I listened.

This is not just a great entry in this series, the greatest if you asked me, but is a great science fiction/fantasy film. With a depth we had only glimpsed earlier in the series, this is the film that shows that beneath the laser swords and aliens, there is a human heart, and in this film, we get to see it break. For now.

9 out of 10 Jackasses
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