Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Jim; see Frank's review below Release date: May 19, 2005 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox
George Lucas' space opera sage is now complete with Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. And those disappointed with the previous two entries in this prequel - The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, will think that The Force is strong with Lucas in this final outing.
There's a compelling aspect that storytelling and film making converge upon with a rather enthralling urgency even if Lucas doesn't always create the best environment for his actors. How Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker searches his feelings to choose a path that upsets the balance of the force makes for more character development amid some dynamic action sequences. And though most realize how the story turns out, the last of this trilogy makes the apprehension and confrontations important.
The first 20 or so minutes is artistry with dazzling stratospheric battles over Coruscant with Jedis Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) fighting their way through a myriad of explosions. They're trying to get their small spacecrafts to rescue a kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the hands of the nefarious alien droid General Grievous, one of the Separatist leaders.
The climax of Attack of the Clones had Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin secretly married and she divulges to her beloved that she's with child. Lucas keeps the scenes between Christensen and Portman relative short as they've settled admirably into their roles, but their scenes show how Lucas doesn't quite achieve the desired result like he did with Luke, Leia and Han Solo.
Much effort is put into the division of the Republic, supported by the Jedi council, and the Chancellor. The conflict with the Separatists has elevated his status and the political schism helps fuel the larger story of Anakin. The council, including Master Jedi Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) denies him high position, and internal strife builds with feelings of Obi-Wan having trained him so well and visions of his wife loosing her life in childbirth. Palpatine puts doubt in the mind of Anakin about the Jedi and takes him under his wing. He can achieve more power from the dark side that could enable him to save his wife.
MacGregor gets to ride a giant lizard as Obi-Wan goes against General Grievous and Windu takes on the Chancellor who becomes more cloaked in evil as Sith Lord Darth Sidious, the Emperor of the forming Galactic Empire. Revenge of the Sith gets more tragic and apocalyptic as the devious Emperor has him eradicate the young Jedis and have him distance Padme and Obi-Wan as Anakin takes on the title of Sith Lord Darth Vader.
The climax includes a lengthy lightsaber duel amid molten lava stunningly shot during an eruption of Mt. Etna in Sicily. The combat between Anakin and Obi-Wan will lead to what earns the movie a PG-13 rating and is smoothly segued with others like the Emperor and Yoda, an expressive CGI creation, voiced with mystic aplomb by Frank Oz.
The crafting of this tale of a young man seduced by evil is neatly wrapped up and a digital wonder on many levels with digital grandeur that enhance this sweeping fantasy scored wonderfully with choral, percussive lamentations by John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra.
When Anakin finally transforms with the heavy black hood and cape into a presence not seen since the first trilogy and transitions to Naboo and Tatooine complete the circle, it's hard not to be stirred by the dark and light sides into a new hope on the horizon.
Reviewed by: Frank
I remember back in 1977 taking in Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope with my son, who was a kid; he is now nearly forty and I hope we will have the opportunity to view this Episode III Revenge of the Sith together. This series of films has significantly impacted movies as a shared entertainment.
As Episode III opens and "STAR WARS" appears on the screen with the John Williams score on the sound track we can't help but breath a little fast. It is time to revisit the vivid characters and that other galaxy from a long long time ago.
The opening scene is quite like an old broadway musical opening with a spectacular large chorus belting out memorable music; here it is a traditional Star Wars battle scene filled with complex twists and turns and hundreds of vehicles battling above Coruscant. The detail and action is brilliant.
In the battle we are reintroduced to the two main Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) who maneuver their way through the battle field to rescue Chancellor Palpatine who is captured by the alien droid General Grievous, a separatist leader.
In typical over the top fashion the CGI and action are paramount in this George Lucas spectacular space opera. We see a beautiful city which will have twin towers in smoke before the battles end, a stunning apartment on the city scape with a launching platform in which Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin share life and have conceived children which she is carrying. We get to see Yoda, more of a hero than ever, slam back guards who interfere with his progress and battle the enemy even though he looks like Tinker Bell battling Captain Hook as his light saber flashes with each strike. In keeping with past episodes Obi-Wan rides on a giant green lizard that has spectacular mobility and the Senate physically begins to fall as it falls politically. As the power of the Senate is taken over "for the safety of the people," the dictators take over and the Empire begins to form.
But all that spectacular stuff is background, this Episode could be called the conversion of Anakin. Its purpose is to determine how and why Anakin has moved from a kid named Annie to Anakin and now to Darth Vader. As the film begins Anakin and Obi-Wan continue as friends and colleagues, but Chancellor Palpatine uses his dark force power to convince Anakin he must move to the dark side to protect his lover and their future children.
The actual conversion takes little time on the screen and is a weak point. We are expected to believe that in a short period of minutes Anakin completely changes his outlook, his eyes acquire a new color, he jumps to a level 9 Jedi (Obi-Was is an 8), he kills when unnecessary, puts on a dark robe with a hood and slaughters the future Jedi. Lucas doesn't give us enough time to accept the change. It is sudden and the new character is upon us with little time for us to absorb the change.
The story then moves to what everyone knows will happen. The main characters are prepared to mesh with the first film, Episode IV. Before that Anakin who is now Vader must endure an apocalyptic light saber battle with Obi-Wan on a volcanic planet as molten lava sprays up and around the two former friends. Vader's condition following the battle is gruesome and difficult to view, but as we know he is repaired and housed in his gleaming black outfit for the future. His first breath in the new uniform is both telling and emotional.
While Vader battles Obi-Wan, Padme Amidala produces Luke and Leia who travel to different planets with new parents, Yoda heads off to his sanctuary and Obi-Wan goes into exile. Vader is allied with Palpatine, and after Luke and Leia grow up with their stepparents, the original Episode IV begins and it's May 25, 1977.
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