I went and saw Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith yesterday, and… wow. It was by far the best of the three prequel films, and the first one of the three that actually felt, I don’t know, epic in the sense that it’s carrying the weight of Star Wars history that fleshed out the first three movies. It was good, I’d go see it again, if I get the chance.
This is going to turn into a larger review, and some general observations on Star Wars in general, and there will be spoilers, so only click through if you’ve already seen it (or don’t mind reading spoilers).
First of all, this is definitely a darker movie, as promised. And violent—not just by Star Wars standards, but by general standards. It’s definitely not a movie to take the kids to, despite the Star Wars moniker. It’s pretty surprising the number of people getting chopped up and killed via lightsaber, yet—and I suppose this reflects how dark I’m being—it’s the sort of thing I would expect from people running around waving indestructible laser swords.
The visuals and the effects were great. Most of the film is digitally rendered, and for the most part it’s pretty seamless. With a few exceptions: First, the CGI of Count Dooku (Christopher Lee, who’s no spring chicken) flipping from the balcony to confront the Jedi was awkward—it looked weird, didn’t really mesh. (Christopher Lee in a lightsaber duel doesn’t really work, either, he has to be almost all digital—or in extreme close-up—which is the weak point of the duel in “Attack of the Clones.”) Next, the lizard-thing Obi-Wan was riding around in the crater still had the obvious computer generated look. And finally, I noticed an awkward shift when the medical droid handed baby Luke to Obi-Wan—there was just an odd shift as the transition from CGI baby to real baby occurred.
The story was better than the previous films—it has a point this time: to tell the story of the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Darth Vader. The previous prequels were much more nebulous. I found this movie to be more consistent, logical, and better paced that the previous two. It’s not perfect—it still suffers from Lucas-itis—but it gets the job done.
Speaking of Lucas-itis, what is it exactly with his tendency especially in these last three prequels to present characters with overly simplistic, naively obvious names? The bad guys, in particular, suffer from having such unfortunately non-subtle names like “Maul,” “Sidious,” “Tyranus” and “Grievous.” Does he not trust the ability of the audience to otherwise figure out who the villains are?
Sorry, had to vent there for a moment.
Things I really liked: Mace Windu kicking Darth Sidious’ ass. That’s the kind of Samuel L. Jackson action we’ve been expecting
:). Though I do wish we could’ve seen a lot more of that. And Yoda kicking ass—that little green sucker is brutal. I mean, he impaled a guard on his lightsager, javelin-style. That’s rough. I liked the Wookies, though I have to admit I didn’t see the point of having them—more on that in a bit. I liked the dialogue a lot better than in the previous two movies (I wonder if Lucas got someone to polish that up for him?).
Things I thought were really weak: Hayden Christensen‘s acting. He’s much better than in “Clones,” but still—it was weak. Having Padme die in childbirth of nothing more than, what, a broken heart? That’s even more weak. Or how about the cameo of Chewbacca? That was weak because there was no point to it other that the “wink wink, nudge nudge, look how clever we are” factor. Not just Chewbacca, but the droids, too: C-3PO and R2-D2. That just stretches the credibility too thin: you really trying to tell me that Darth Vader (in the original movies) doesn’t recognize the droid he flew missions with, or the droid he created? Uhm, sorry, nope. It just doesn’t fly. Should’ve skipped the cutesy factor of including these particular droids—stick to better storytelling instead.
One thing I would have really liked to see was more of the Wookies—and I’m thinking of something in particular that would have been very cool if they’d done it. Remember, I didn’t really see the point of having the Wookies in the movie—they just showed Yet Another Battle Scene without really advancing the story. But when Order 66 came in, and the clones were moving on Yoda to try to surprise him (and failing), I was hoping the Wookies would go nuts over the attempt on Yoda’s life (since they were supposed to be tight) and their army would turn on the clones, allowing Yoda to escape and extracting some vengeance. That wouldn’t have added any to the story, I admit, but it would have been way cooler to show how badass the Wookies really are by having them get medieval on the proto-Stormtroopers.
Ah, well. One of these days maybe I’ll do a fan fiction rewrite of the prequel movies just because it seems there’s obvious ways of fixing them that wouldn’t have messed things up. Heh.
I nitpick, but I dug it. And I’d go see it again. I guess that’s what really counts, right?