Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) – Best of the Prequels But Still an Idea Not Fully Realized

Revenge of the Sith

  “Revenge of the Sith” is the best of the Prequels and this isn’t just because episode I and II are so terrible. “Revenge of the Sith” at least has a focus and mission, which can’t be said for “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” which were muddled messes each in different ways. “Revenge of the Sith” is also the only film you need to see to understand “The Original Trilogy,” The Clone Wars and Anakin’s fall are the focus of this story and George Lucas actually does an okay job…though the ending is bad, the middle is really strong and for a moment Lucas seems to understand that you show events, don’t tell events. I’ll get into more of what I mean further down.

     The film was directed and written by George Lucas and produced by Rick McCallum.

     The story involves the end of the Clone Wars as General Grievous does a last ditch effort with Dooku (Christopher Lee) to capture Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Things soon go wrong for them when Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) arrive though all is not as it appears to be as after the battle Anakin finds himself being isolated around him and being offered a path to save the woman he loves through his friend and mentor Palpatine.

The Pros: The Action – The action in this is actually really good. Whether it is the battle to save Chancellor Palpatine or the attack on Grievous’s base we see that George Lucas does know how to shoot an action sequence when he is up for it, even the weaker battles like that between Dooku and Anakin.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan shows why he was made Jedi Master in this as we see him walk the line between supporting his apprentice and trying to look out for the well being of the galaxy. Ewan McGregor does a wonderful job and I felt for him at the end as the pain in his eyes at leaving his friend who had turned to the dark side felt real and had much more love in the acting than any scene between Anakin and Padme.

Yoda – Yoda has some great Jedi Master moments too as he forces Anakin to give up his attachments or to face losing them (which is the Jedi Way, much like Buddhism) and we see how the deaths around the galaxy touch him. Thankfully he doesn’t fight with a lightsaber that much (he like Sidious should be beyond using swords whether they are lazer swords or not) and him losing was after a tough fight. He was stupid in that he went alone. Palpatine could not have taken on Obi-Wan and Yoda together. I do like that he figured out how to train to immortality too via communion with Qui-Gon, that was a nice touch.

Anakin’s Choice – This is a great scene, the music is beautiful and we see Anakin thinking of Padme and dealing with the fact that Palpatine has been right about the Jedi so far, but how they are also his friends and he knows whatever choice he makes there is no going back. There is no dialogue and the scene is all the more powerful for it.

Anakin’s Fall – Anakin’s fall is a pro as we establish he’s already a bit of a sociopath (hello the Tuscan Raider massacre) and he has major anger and ego problems tied to the fact that I don’t think he loves Padme, not really. She represents his mother as she is safety and freedom which are two things he’s never had his entire life. She is a closeness and familiarity and he chooses that for understandable reasons as he would do anything not to lose her and he is a sociopath, so killing the Jedi though it would be hard. Anakin is already an established fascist so killing those going against the order (Palpatine) he supports is a tough call but in the end one he would make.

Order 66 – This was really well done. From Anakin’s march on the Jedi Temple and slaughtering the Younglings (Jedi Children and going to call them that from now on), which by the way is his second time doing this so he’s been a messed up murdering soldier for sometime. We see the Jedi fall on each of their operations as Palpatine had manipulated the war so well that there were so few to stand against him.

Palpatine/Darth Sidious – This guy is wonderfully evil and brilliant in a world where no one asks questions (no one does, not Anakin, the Jedi Order or even the Senate). So given this fact of course he rises to power and in the end helps the Sith reign supreme. The only scenes to watch in the Prequels prior are the Palpatine ones as he never stops being an interesting character and you get an idea of just how powerful of a Sith he is. He is one of the greatest if not thee greatest Sith for a reason and this film is his victory.

The Cons: Padme and the “love” story – The love story didn’t work unless they are both super co-dependent. Hayden and Padme’s acting doesn’t work either and the love story only works as an idea to bring about the fall. It’s more believable in both of the “Clone Wars” shows but for this film the crappy dialogue and sadly horrible acting more so coming from Natalie Portman is what brings it down. Her no longer having a will to live after Anakin turns on her doesn’t help matters either. She just feels more like a plot device meant to be fridged to finished Anakin’s fall.

Tone – There are still moments where slapstick is in with intense war scenes and it took me out of it in those moments. Lucas reeled it in at least and it doesn’t get as bad as past films.

General Grievous – What a joke. This is supposed to be our big bad? He is just bad as he is in the 3D Clone Wars. I never felt threatened by this guy and didn’t understand why anyone would make him a general.

Non-Characters – Dooku’s death felt meaningless and I feel bad for Christopher Lee because of it. Mace Windu also felt invisible. There characters never felt like characters, just ideas and plot devices for Anakin’s fall…like Padme and Anakin’s love in this film which wasn’t real but had to be there due to plot.

Excess – This really comes out in the final fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin…the fight lasts 20 minutes and there is no reason for any one on one fight to go on that long. It took me out of the moment and emotion behind the characters and made only pointless action. The only symbolism we had was the fact that Mustafar looked like hell. The tell not show dialogue didn’t help matters either in these scenes.

The Dialogue – The dialogue is still bad, especially at the end. At least there are moments where Lucas remembers to show and not tell us so that’s a win! Sadly his dialogue he has Vader makes the ending worse.

No!!!!!! – This scene. Vader should not say “Padme” it sounds weird and all it would have taken was a simple “No.” There was no reason to ham it up at all. It made no sense and I don’t understand why it was there. We already know Anakin is broken we don’t need it turned up to 11 to see that.

    I actually listed quite a few pros this time around as this isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t an especially good one. There are moments where Lucas actually knows how to write! Sadly rather than just showing the story he continues to tell us it, especially at the end. After I finish rewatching all the films I’ll do a write-up on the Prequels as a whole and a comparison with the Original Trilogy. Much of this film was made better for me because I got to see a lot of the show in both “Clone Wars” tv shows and that made the story here stronger as characters actually mattered, Jedi weren’t just faceless blank slates who used the force, they were people and monks who had ideals they were fighting for. I would probably have not enjoyed this film as much as I did without that context because it does make scenes stronger.

Final Score: 7.3 / 10

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 1, Episodes 2-4 – The Malevolence Arc – Grievous is a Terrible Antagonist

Rising_Malevolence

     I’m not reviewing the three episodes that make up this arc individually because it is a terrible arc and doesn’t deserve the time investment that would entail. One can only ran about how terrible Grievous is a villain so many times before it’s too much. He is the weakest part of this episode for so many reasons and doesn’t deserve the title General. This is a shame as he was pretty awesome in the 2D “Clone Wars,” sadly the Grievous we get here is like the one in Episode III, a coward who can’t even win against opponents who have less troops and resources.

     The episodes in question are “Rise of Malevolence,” Shadow of Malevolence” and “Destroy Malevolence.”

     The story involves the plot to destroy the new Separatist Supership called Malevolence as Dooku puts Grievous in charge of testing it. When Plo Koon and his men stumble on the ship and lose their fleet they are rescued by Anakin and Ahsoka who had been found by Master Plo Koon when she was child and together they must find a way to destroy the ship before it returns to Separist space.

The Pros: The Funny Moment – After the ship is destroyed Dooku calls Grievous to check in on the weapon and Grievous just turns it off. It’s actually a hilarious and a great middle finger to Dooku who probably felt like a fool for trusting Grievous in the first place.

The Battles – The battle to destroy Malevolence is wonderful, even though the dialogue is pretty terrible. You can pretty much predict every Trooper death before it happens.

Okay: The Jedi Knights and Masters – Anakin, Obi-Wan and Plo Koon aren’t bad but they are kind of interchangeable. I can’t think of anything memorable that was done that wasn’t predictable. Anakin and Ahsoka were going to find Plo Koon, that was never a question, all we saw was that Anakin trusts Palpatine when Palpatine calls in asking Anakin to retreat given that the council is displeased with his doing his own thing.

Count Dooku – The guy never let up on Grievous but we never saw him propose any solutions either. He was mostly there just as a threat and not active.

The Cons: Ahsoka – Says Artooy a whole bunch, gives nothing to the battle and only saves Plo Koon based on her belief that she’ll find him. She is a plot device this episode and feels like she was the “cute” anime trope played to the fullest and not an actual character. She was super annoying, though Grievous was worse.

General Grievous – Stupid cough, punching his own men who act like jokes and assuming he’ll win no matter what rather than concentrating on protecting the ship. The guy fell for simple traps and only survived the battle because he went into a fighter to join it. He was great in the fighter but he was embarrassment prior and I could not take him seriously as a villain. Really hope he gets better, right now he’s worse than Episode III and he was terrible in that. Also, he targets Clone Hospitals…and loses. This guy is an embarrassment to the Separatists, why did they make him a general?

   Don’t watch this arc. It doesn’t give you any new information, the characters don’t feel like complete characters, the villains are wasted and nothing of any significance matters. These episodes are only 20 minutes long but they felt so much longer. There is nothing good to be gained from them.

Final Score: 1 / 10