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Movies: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Thursday, 2005 May 19 - 4:05 am
Yeah, I saw it. You probably should see it too.

So, I saw the midnight show of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith", along with 700 other geeks. Surprisingly, only a small percentage were costumed or sporting lightsabers. And NO, I was not one of them.

So now it's 3:30 a.m. and I'm writing a review for you. I don't think it'll have any major spoilers, partly because EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN ANYWAY, right? I mean, you do remember that you've already seen Episode IV, right?

Natalie Portman should be given some kind of medal for having to play the Worst Role Ever In A Star Wars Movie. Instead of being a powerful warrior queen as she was in Episode I and II, she has been reduced to a weepy, pregnant, kept woman. She would have seemed more appropriate if she were wearing cut-off jeans and living in a trailer on the outskirts of Mos Eisley, rather than living in a palace apartment in Coruscant.

She is given one clunky, cheesy line after another, particularly in the horrendous nearly-unwatchable romantic scenes with Hayden Christensen. My friend Ann and I were making gagging motions to each other as we listened to them. Fortunately, those scenes are a minimal part of this movie.

The worst offense to Natalie is the little "I'm A Pregnant Eighth-Grader" uniform that she has to wear near the end of the movie. Be sure to watch for her prancing about in THAT get-up.

Natalie is given precisely one decent line in this movie: "So that's how liberty dies... to thunderous applause". (This line earned a lot of attention in Cannes, because it was seen as a jibe at the Bush administration.)

Hayden is, thankfully, way better in this movie than in Episode II, but of course that's not saying that much. He's helped by the fact that's he's given fewer angsty dramatic moments to furrow his eyebrows through, and the fact that the personality of his character is written much more evenly this time. But still, he is utterly gag-worthy in those romantic scenes with Natalie. If you don't find yourself rolling your eyes, you've got a stronger stomach than I do.

But there's some good stuff in this movie.

The script is tight. It should answer every question you had, and tie up every loose end. It very nicely ties into Episode IV and the rest of the series, so Star Wars fans will not be disappointed. It almost got to be too tidy at some points, but that's partly just me; I was keeping score in my head of all the major plot points that needed to be covered.

The visual effects are, as expected, outstanding. The opening sequence is spectacular. The computer-generated characters are seamless and believable. (Actually, some of the best scenes are performed by animated characters... and R2D2 almost steals this movie.)

Ian Mcdiarmid gives us an appropriately over-the-top performance as the bad guy here. He's one actor that really seems to understand the role he's supposed to play. Samuel L. Jackson is fun to watch too, but we really would have liked him to say, "I will strike down upon thee with GREAT VENGEANCE and FURIOUS ANGER..." Ewan McGregor is adequate in the role of Obi-Wan, though the role isn't particularly challenging or deep. At least he doesn't have to suffer through any love scenes. George Lucas should be forbidden from putting love scenes in movies after this.

If you don't normally pay attention to the music in a movie, pay attention this time, because it's grand. Of course there are a lot of the same Star Wars themes that we've heard in the past, but there's some new stuff in there too, and they've really done a good job setting the mood with the musical score.

From a directing and staging point of view, I have two complaints. One is, it's a little cheesy the way guys circle around each other continuously as they're confronting each other. You'll notice this especially in a scene with Anakin and Senator Palpatine. The circling goes on WAY too long. Second, there's a very cliché shot that's used a couple of times: "Walk away from the camera, look out over the scenery in the background, then turn around dramatically."

Still, the one-on-one battle scenes (there are several) more than make up for these gaffes. Fans will appreciate the really good lightsaber-play in this movie.

All in all, I still think "The Empire Strikes Back" was the best movie of the series, though this one really isn't bad. It did what I wanted: it redeemed the series from the joke that was Episode I and II.

Rating: 3.5 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews


Comment #1 from Speaker (Guest)
2005 May 19 - 8:44 am : #
i don't have any star wars costumes, but I dont' want to go without i think i'll bring my towel again, like i did with hitchhiker's....
Comment #2 from Nicholas (Guest)
2005 May 19 - 9:05 am : #
So, is this one better than the 2 most recent ones? But still worse than the first 3 made?
Comment #3 from Ken (realkato)
2005 May 19 - 12:04 pm : #
I'd say it's about on par with Return of the Jedi, quality-wise, and certainly better than Episode I and II.

By the way, some folks have asked about this: I slapped together the above graphic in Photoshop in about ten minutes, after I got home last night, based on a suggestion from Ann. I thought about making this entire entry into a movie with the text scrolling off into the distance, but that would have required more time than I was willing to spend.
Comment #4 from MonoCerdo (Guest)
2005 May 19 - 1:42 pm : #
The graphic is fantastic. Is that a Stephanie Tanner reference? IS IT???

I really don't have anything else to add to this discussion, since I'm one of those horrible people who sometimes confuse Star Wars with Star Trek, offending everyone in the room without even knowing what I said wrong.
Comment #5 from Ken (realkato)
2005 May 19 - 1:51 pm : #
While I can see how you might get Stephanie Tanner there... sorry, it's not. Unless George Lucas purposely had Jar-Jar Binks emulating Jodie Sweetin. "Pin a rose on yousa nose!"

I can't imagine how many Full House and Star Wars fans we might be offending right now. :)
Comment #6 from Crouching Hamster (Guest)
2005 May 19 - 7:36 pm : #
I'm very confused. I only saw one Star Wars - when I was a senior in high school. I was bored. I don't remember it - except I think Yoda died.

But I do remember "Tess," which I saw at about the same time.

Does this make me un-American?
Comment #7 from MonoCerdo (Guest)
2005 May 19 - 9:04 pm : #
I'm so blasphemous it's making me want to dance! Just think how many Star Wars fans (see, I almost called them "Trekkies") would choke on their light sabres if they knew I was confounding their beloved series and FULL HOUSE. HA!
Comment #8 from olafandyjon (Guest)
2005 May 20 - 10:07 am : #
I'm still disappointed that Lawrence Kasdan turned down Lucas's request to help him with the scripts of these prequels. They could have been on par with Empire. Really! But that damn Kasdan...grrr...
Comment #9 from Travis Tidmore (Guest)
2005 May 26 - 4:59 pm : #
Truthfully I wasn't sure if I liked the movie after I saw it. I loved the experience, but it was so much to take in I wasn't sure, until last saturday I sat down and watch Star Wars....I'm sorry A New Hope (It'll always be Star Wars to me!) and I was impressed at how well III & IV flow together. It's really amazing how good two films that are almost 30 years apart can compliment each other.

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