Revenge of the Sith

June 19, 2005

Finally, I’m catching up with my backlog of writing. I’ll start with the third film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. My reaction to the film was, in a word, relief. Finally, after so many years of hopes and letdowns, the trilogy is over. I don’t have to think about what Lucas might or might not do, and I can sit back and enjoy the extended universe as it spins out of control into a big pile of money intended for LucasFilm’s pockets. My hope is that LucasArts continues the good work they’ve done in the last few years with titles like Star Wars Commando.

In any case, Revenge of the Sith caps off the prequel trilogy to the original films with a bang. The entire film is a quickmoving action piece that builds towards a momentous climax as Obi-Wan and Anakin fight it out on fiery Mustafar. Thankfully, Lucas sticks to his strengths in this film. For the most part he stays away from the relationship between Padme and Anakin, and peppers the flim with space battles, saber duels, and pitched gunfights. Unlike the last film, his pacing is terse and my interest was maintained throughout the movie.

As for the actual plot…well…yeah. There are some pretty big gaps. Anakin’s fall and the pathetic feebleness of Padme were very frustrating. Going from grunt work for the Emperor to killing little kids was a pretty big leap. Similarly, the sad existence of Padme Amidala during this film was hard to swallow. The vibrant, forceful woman that we saw in Phantom Menace was nothing more than a whiney shell in Sith. A lot of folks have been complaining about percieved inconsistencies between Obi-Wan’s statements during the original trilogy and what happens in Episode III. That, I don’t have a problem with. Obi-Wan was, by Episode IV, a bitter old man. Episode III reveals him to be, in light of the original trilogy, a man who saw the salvation of the Empire in the slaying of Darth Vader. Any differences in what he said and what actually happened, I see as nothing more than lies told to ‘clarify’ the opinions of the young Luke Skywalker.

Overall, my opinions on Lucas and his life’s work have not changed. The story of the fall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire is a fascinating one, and over the course of three movies has been well told. The politics, the battles, and the manipulation of events on many different levels by Palpatine was wonderful to behold, and wove the upheaval and chaos of the original trilogy into a broader tapestry.

On a more personal level, Lucas’ ability to tell the story of individuals is crap. Anakin and Padme’s relationship was a house of cards from the get go, and it wasn’t until the third film that Obi-Wan and Anakin had any sort of raparte. Anakin’s angst and pitiful moralizing over the possibility of Padme’s death was just sad. Instead of a fall from grace, the birth of Darth Vader was a whiny descent into self-serving cynicism.

In my mind, the original films stand out as the ultimate blend of film-making. The time, the place, the people involved, and the enthusiasm for the project all combined to make something special and, in the end, unreproducible.

With plans for more games, books, and television shows in the works, Star Wars will be with us for many years to come. And indeed, more movies are almost inevitable. Though Lucas himself has no plans for more films, one day the man himself will be gone. His empire (no joke intended) will live on without him, and his mini-onions are sure to one day return to the medium of movies in order to perpetuate the Star Wars mythology.

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