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Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

July 9, 2010

7/10 Change of Hearts

The best of the new trilogy even if that’s not saying a whole lot to begin with.

Revenge of the Sith takes place three years after the start of the Clone Wars with long-haired Anakin and scruffy Obi-Wan hunting down the leaders of the Separatist Army across the galaxy as Chancellor Palpatine plots to take over senate and reclaim galactic rule for the Sith with the help of a new padawan of his own.

When I first saw this back in ’05, sitting in a theater next to my friend who was dressed in a child’s Darth Vader costume, I thought this movie kicked all kinds of ass. I think I paid for admission another one or two times, all my friends followed suit and I’m pretty sure that at one point I made the regrettably idiotic statement of saying that it was “better than A New Hope and slightly worse than Empire.”

What can I say, you get to college, you think you’re hot shit for reasons unknown, so you say and do dumb crap that makes you feel shame when the time comes for you to pass along the fake ID. Live and learn, folks. Live and learn.

Anyway, watching it again five years later being the mature bastard that I am now, Episode III still stands as an improvement over George Lucas’ first two offerings, but once again, all the same problems are right there staring me in the face.

To his credit, it seems like all that hate mail finally got to Hayden Christensen and from the start it feels like he’s toned it down a bit as Anakin. Not as whiny, less of a hotshot even though his skills have vastly improved and he’s got a pretty badass mystery scar going on over his eye. Good start. But then the movie continues, Anakin starts to turn to the Dark Side, Christensen burns all the hate mail in a backyard bonfire and, whaddaya know, Anakin winds up being a total douche by the end ’cause Christensen can’t act for shit. God, listening to him belt out “I HATE-CHOO!” to Obi-Wan in that assclown voice of his while riggling around like the maimed freak he is made freakin’ skin crawl. Well, once a douche, always a douche, I guess.

Really wish that lava fire hadn’t gone out so fast.

And if that wasn’t enough, the same damn thing happens with Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine. For a while there, he was pretty damn good as Chancellor and he really brought that same sinister drawl that made him such an evil bastard in Jedi, but then he goes full-out Sith, he starts making the most laughable and bizarro facial expressions the second he pulls out his lightsaber and then he gets cornered by Mace and displays what might be the worst acting of the whole series. Embarrassingly bad performance and it is nothing short of flaming bullshit the way he nonchalantly offs those three Jedi when they’re trying place him under arrest. Just awful.

But on the other hand, Ewan McGregor is the bomb as Obi-Wan and does one hell of a job channeling Sir Alec Guinness throughout. It’s just nice to at least have one actor here who actually got better by the end of the trilogy instead of continually upping the suck, but after all, when does Ewan not kick ass? I rest my case.

And Yoda‘s pretty damn awesome, too. The way he walks into Palpatine’s chambers at the end and knocks out his guards with an effortless force push before they even knew what hit ’em, the brief scene where he chucks his lightsaber into a clone tooper’s chest, jumps on top of him, pulls it right back out and keeps on dicing, the double-decapitation backflip he pulls off when he’s about to be the next victim of “Order 66” – yeah, Yoda’s the man. Only problem is that he’s given some pretty annoying lines that don’t sound anywhere near as cool as they probably should thanks to his backwards grammar, but other than that, way to go, Yoda.

But let’s go back to the script, the one that still blows. Yeah, it’s still cool to see new places like Wookieville on Kashyyyk and Lavaland on Mustafar and it’s neat to see how everything connects between the trilogies, but it’s so hard to buy Anakin’s motivations for turning to the Dark Side because that love story between him and Padme is still absolutely horrendous. I don’t really know how Lucas could have fixed this problem since he essentially dug his own grave in Episode II in this regard, but since I could never buy their attraction from the get-go, it’s impossible for me to accept Anakin being so completely weak-willed, gullible and desperate over her survival as a result. And how about that ridiculous “She’s lost the will to live” excuse for killing off Padme during childbirth? What a hackjob plot device.

Like I said, new movie, same problems, but the whole “Order 66” sequence really was great. Man, talk about one of your all-time bummers. The Jedis really should have seen that coming once the clone army fell into their laps though.

And as for the epic, very well-choreographed final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin, it’s probably the best of the series, even better than Episode I. But can anyone explain to me why Jedis can predict and deflect lightsabers strikes like it’s nobody’s business but have apparently never received training in avoiding kicks to the face? Sounds like an awfully flawed way to train if you ask me.

Alright, I’ve rambled enough.

In short, going through the new trilogy again has been an interesting, if somewhat depressing experience. There are just so many snafus to count over the course of three movies, from Jar-Jar’s existence to horrendous casting calls to really, really unfortunate scripts and what might be the worst romantic arc I’ve ever come across that when push comes to shove, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by Lucas.

More often than not, I try my best to review movies on their own accord rather than compare them to a director’s past efforts, but, folks, this isn’t the works of Uwe Boll we’re dealing with, this is effing Star Wars. The trilogy as a whole isn’t bad and it definitely has its moments in terms of bringing the story full-circle and expanding the SW universe, but in light of knowing the kind of quality product that Lucas could have given us and the sixteen years he had between Episode VI and Episode I to put together something even better makes it feel that much more half-assed and fucked up for a franchise with so many eager, devoted fans.

Yes, Episode III is my favorite of the new trilogy, but now that I’m not of the “Holy crap, it’s the last Star Wars movie!” mindset like I was back in the day, it’s a pretty disillusioning ride. But, hey, what’s done is done and I’d still rather have this than nothing at all. Still think we all deserved better, but all’s not lost and it’s nice to have some closure, I suppose.

55 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 12:59 am

    This is easily the best of the prequels. I’ll agree that the acting soils a lot of the film, but there are just so many great sequences. The Order 66 scene sends chills down my spine every time I see it.

    I actually think that 3, 4 and 5 make for a pretty awesome trilogy. In fact, I kinda wish they were the only Star Wars films. I also wish for a lifetime supply of pizza and movie theaters that confiscate cell phones at the door.

    • July 9, 2010 8:34 am

      For me, there are only two scenes that really send it home in this one, and that’s Order 66 and Obi-Wan yelling at Anakin after he lopped off half his body. The rest is still good, but those scenes were the bomb. And while 3, 4 and 5 are pretty awesome, I feel like Jedi only gets remembered for the Ewoks, and that’s a bummer because I remember it being pretty damn good the last time I saw it. Eh, I’ll give you the whole scoop three weeks from now.

      • July 9, 2010 2:27 pm

        Obi-Wan’s last speech to Anakin is definitely an emotional catharsis that needed to be shown.

      • July 9, 2010 2:30 pm

        Yeah, that was great. My vote for the one trace of legitimately quality acting to be had in the whole new trilogy. Man, Anakin was such a fucking jerk…

  2. July 9, 2010 3:42 am

    Yeah, I’m gonna be a radical and jump on the bandwagon: EPISODE III is the best of the prequels. I actually think it’s the third best of the entire series, with NEW HOPE and EMPIRE slotting into second best and overall best, respectively!

    That “Order 66” scene is brilliant.

    You talk about how Jedi can’t see kicks to the face coming. I never realized how stupid that looks, but it made me realize something. These Jedi jump around, do acrobatics, and swing those swords around like they’re a character from DYNASTY WARRIORS, or something like that. So, and I realize the technology gap is to blame, but why are the lightsaber duels in the original trilogy so unflashy! I realize Jedi aren’t around, and Obi-Wan got OLD, but Yoda was still a BAMF, so why didn’t he teach Luke how to flip off the walls? And I don’t think that armor was that heavy, so what’s Vader’s deal? Just something to think about…

    Great review! You gonna do the original trilogy, or has everything already been said on that topic?

    • July 9, 2010 8:38 am

      Oh yeah, New Hope review is coming up next Friday. And I really have no explanation for the stiff lightsaber fights in the original trilogy (even though the final fight in Jedi is actually pretty badass), maybe people were too focused on how effing cool the lightsabers were to give a shit about the lame choreography. What can I say, it was the ’70s, everyone was on peyote back then.

      • July 9, 2010 11:23 pm

        I will agree that the final fight in RETURN OF THE JEDI is badass. I always get the chills when Luke goes insane at the end with his “NOOOOO” and proceeds to run train on Vader. Gets me every time!

      • July 16, 2010 12:28 am

        I don’t know about peyote, but I’d say “it was the 70s, before every action movie featuring people doing martial arts.”

        The choreography might’ve been a shitton better in the prequels, but it’s friggin’ weird when in the series’ past people are fighting using much more advanced techniques than they are in the “future.” There should have been a better transition/explanation for that, if you ask me.

      • July 16, 2010 8:10 am

        lol, any explanation they could have given would have been horse shit. i think people would have pretty damn disappointed if the new trilogy featured fight scenes along the lines of A New Hope is all.

  3. July 9, 2010 3:43 am

    That picture is full of win, by the way!

  4. Fred permalink
    July 9, 2010 10:31 am

    • July 9, 2010 10:34 am

      hahaha. opening night of Episode III, me sitting next ryan’s friend scott dressed as darth. i can only imagine the kind of points I’m scoring with you right now.

      • Fred permalink
        July 9, 2010 3:34 pm

        what is that tentacle-like thing on your shoulder? and why do you seem so happy about it? who ARE you?!

      • July 9, 2010 5:50 pm

        hahaha, pretty sure that’s darth vader’s thumb, and why wouldn’t I be happy about everything involved with that picture?

  5. Nick H permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:08 am

    Do you still own your signature Met’s hat?

    • July 9, 2010 11:13 am

      Negatory, passed it along to my brother since I was dead tired of getting asked Mets questions by passersby and just nodding politely since I didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. Great hat, too bad it made me feel like such a poser.

  6. Nick H permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:18 am

    Ahh that’s too bad, it was a classic. When is your Toy Story review coming up?

    • July 9, 2010 11:20 am

      Sometime next week hopefully, still haven’t gotten around to seeing it and I have to see Despicable Me this weekend before it. One of these days. You see it yet?

  7. Nick H permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:25 am

    Yeah, it was classic. My only complaint is that it plays off of a lot of the same stuff that happened in previous movies, but that’s ok, since they were both great movies to begin with. Basically I count the Toy Story trilogy right up there with the Godfather’s and the original Star Wars.

    • July 9, 2010 11:26 am

      Wow, quite a statment you just made there. Looks like I need to revisit the first two now.

  8. Nick H permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:34 am

    I think a marathon is in order. When is the next time youre coming up north?

  9. Nick H permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:47 am

    Alright. I’ll see about coming to visit soon.

  10. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    July 9, 2010 3:53 pm

    i gotta say, i wasn’t very impressed with the lightsaber duel in episode III. a) having them use the same color saber was a miscalculation. they should have had the emperor give annakin a red one or something… b) it goes on waaaaay too long and loses whatever momentum/emotional impact that it had going. c) some of the special effects in the sequence just weren’t very good.

    Empire Strikes Back still has the best lightsaber duel as far as i’m concerned. with episode I and VI tied for second best.

    • July 9, 2010 5:52 pm

      good point, man. I was pretty surprised to see them using the same color lightsaber as well, that was a bad call. didn’t think it was too long though, i think all of the movies are around the same length if i’m not mistaken. and the special effects are a little suspect throughout the trilogy, but i think they improved slightly with each entry.

      man, can’t wait to see empire again now. you talking about the luke/darth duel?

  11. Branden permalink
    July 9, 2010 5:47 pm

    I just wanted everyone to die. Most of them did. I was happy. This is the better film of the trilogy for me.

    • July 9, 2010 5:52 pm

      hahaha, definitely got your wish with this one.

      • Branden permalink
        July 9, 2010 9:59 pm

        Fuck yeah, I did.

  12. July 10, 2010 11:46 am

    I remember when I saw this at the 12 o’clock premiere, and I had the greatest time of my life. Never in my life have I seen so many 20 and 30 year olds, twirling lightsabers, and sporting jedi outfits. Priceless.

  13. July 10, 2010 4:04 pm

    Better than A New Hope? How could you! 😉

    If I was to choose one of the prequels, it would definitely be III. However, I would have preferred if Natalie Portman hadn’t featured in it and if they had maybe replaced her with a Jawa instead.

    • July 11, 2010 1:46 pm

      hahaha, this whole series would have been awesome if Anakin had kids with a Jawa instead of Padme, would have made more sense at least if it were a Jawa his age. Never really got around to mentioning Portman in any of these reviews, but yeah, she really doesn’t bring much to the table, huh?

      • July 11, 2010 5:28 pm

        At least I’m not the only one to forget she’s in these movies at all.

      • July 12, 2010 4:26 am

        Did you know there’s a Wookieepedia?

        If I had played Padme, I would have given her a Starbuck edge. A Padme that smoked cigars and punched people in the face if they looked at her in the wrong way 🙂
        I wouldn’t be all “Anakin you’re breaking my heart!” or “Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo”, I’d be like “Anakin, bring the balance to the motherfrakkin’ force”.
        Or something like that 😐

      • July 12, 2010 8:17 am

        I did know that! Stumbled upon it while doing these reviews, pretty awesome! And Padme totally could have used a Starbuck edge. God, that “Hold me, like you did by the lake on Naboo” line made my skin crawl. Serenity now.

      • July 12, 2010 8:39 am

        Oh maaaaan:

        If I didn’t drive a hatchback, I’d modify my car right now!

      • July 14, 2010 11:15 am

        hahahahaha. bet that thing kicks ass at outrunning the fuzz.

  14. July 12, 2010 7:20 am

    Hi Aiden

    Thought you’d fancy a butchers at this, if you haven’t seen it already.

    Only 3rd?! That said, numbers 2 and 1 are hard to argue with…

    • July 12, 2010 7:35 am

      I thought he was okay in Shattered Glass….well..compared to the Phantom Menace anyway 🙂

      • July 12, 2010 7:36 am

        Haven’t seen that movie in a long time. There’s no way he can be as bad as he was here though.

      • July 16, 2010 12:30 am

        Christensen was actually excellent in Shattered Glass. I’ve always stood up for him (somewhat) using that flick as an example, but methinks that was a fluke/good casting more than anything else.

      • July 16, 2010 8:11 am

        man, saw Shattered Glass ages ago, sounds like it’s about time I gave it a refresher run.

    • July 12, 2010 7:35 am

      Man, can’t believe Nic Cage was so far back on the list and that Keanu took #1. That shit is cold, he was Ted Theodore Logan for Chrissakes! Awesome article though, thanks for the heads up.

    • July 12, 2010 8:42 am

      Great link. Especially Kevin Costner – …passable but forgettable. Like porridge, with a mullet.

  15. July 12, 2010 7:40 am

    Surely saying ‘bogus’ a lot can only get you a free pass for so long though? Actually, maybe he should have tried that in all his films:

    Agent Smith: You hear that Mr. Anderson?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Anderson…

    The Reevester: Bogus…

    • July 12, 2010 7:40 am

      Hahahaha, that’s exactly what Reloaded and Revolutions needed.

      • July 12, 2010 7:51 am

        Dude, you reply so quickly – it must be about 7 in the morning there! It’s lunchtime here in Britishland (I think I might petition for the UK to go by that name from now on), and I’m sat looking out the window of my lame office at the lame weather, thankful that I have the epic image on your ‘about the critic’ page to help get me through the day.

      • July 12, 2010 8:01 am

        hahahahaha. just getting ready for work, can’t resist a morning conversation about hayden and keanu. Britishland, I think you’re on to something.

  16. July 12, 2010 7:40 am

    It’s been years since I’ve seen it either. I quite liked the look of that film where he was in a coma for most of it.

  17. Darren permalink
    July 12, 2010 7:42 am

    I’m with you on the not-being-too-mad-about-A-New-Hope-ness. Good film, but The Empire Strikes back is where it’s at (and, as someone noted above, has the best lightsabre battle of the original trilogy).

    I’m waiting for the BluRay boxsets, then I’m going to have me a six-film marathon one Saturday…

  18. July 12, 2010 8:45 am

    Six comments (now seven) on one post in one morning. Róisín, you really outdid yourself :\

  19. July 16, 2010 12:31 am

    “when does Ewan not kick ass”

    When he speaks with an American accent. Just sayin’.

    • July 16, 2010 8:11 am

      the only thing that’s coming to mind is The Island, I guess. what are the other culprits?

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