Right, Revenge of the Sith, the film that marked the end of the prequels and the beginning of Luke Skywalker’s story, finally bringing George Lucas’ “vision” to a close.
It’s pretty ok. It wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that good; it’s just pretty ok.
Trust me, even if Revenge of the Sith is just pretty ok, that’s a hell of an improvement on the previous two entries in the prequel trilogy. It’s a slightly disappointing finale to this amazing franchise, but it’s probably the best we could have hoped for with George Lucas writing and directing again. Then again, with the new films arriving shortly, this is no longer the finale. So is it disappointing? Hmmmm…
Let’s move onto the compliment cracker part of this ramble.
- To kick off, let’s talk about the script again. Now listen, I know that I just said that this is an improvement compared to The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, but that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly a return to form. All it means is that it’s a little less shitty compared to two really shitty films. One thing I will say, is that the overall pacing and storyline is actually pretty damn good. Sure, it drags in the middle slightly, and I think the calamity of Order 66 should’ve happened earlier, just so that the story could explore it in more depth than it did, but overall it’s a pretty solid structure. However, the dialogue is still awkward and unrealistic. I honestly can’t understand how George Lucas can write like that. Does he actually speak to people? Does he know how people have conversations?
“Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!”
“From my point of view the Jedi are evil”
Wow, hold the fucking applause. I’m glad you were there to hold my hand through that complex character development, George… I mean COME ON!
- Next, the poor usage of Christopher Lee, and the unnecessary addition of General Grevious. What a waste of such an incredible talent, and what a pointless addition. I would be completely happy if the character of Count Dooku was the main adversary all the way through the prequels, and I think if he had been the one to kill Qui-Gon, his old apprentice, there would’ve have been a superb Obi-Wan revenge sub-plot running through these films. He was wasted. As for Grevious, I have no issue with him as a character, but he should’ve just been a General of the Droid Army, not some Jedi wannabe. Hey, you could even let him keep those lightsabers as trophies, that was a kinda cool idea, just don’t let him use them.
- The development of Anakin and his turn is another thing that bugs me quite a lot about this film. In Attack of the Clones, we were treated to a whiny, teenaged character with no real substance, and then in Revenge of the Sith, we’re given a fairly level-headed but arrogant version of Anakin who very quickly becomes a child-murdering psychopath. Again, this is just bad writing. I know that the slaughter of the Jedi is supposed to mirror his slaughter of the sand-people, but that incident is quickly cast-aside until right at the start of the film. Palpatine is like “Hey, do you remember when you killed all those sand-people? That was pretty fucked up right? You can lose your temper pretty easily, ey? Wink, wink, nudge, bloody-nudge”
It’s just clumsy.
Anyway, I just think that his turn to the dark-side was very poorly handled, and all it came down to was a case of severe immaturity and teenage angst.
- The banter is not strong with this one. I know that Lucas actually put in some effort to try and characterise the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin this time, and yes some parts do feel like we’re back to the old wit of the original trilogy, but most of the time the jokes back-and-forth fall very flat. I feel like this might be due to the charisma vacuum that is Hayden Christiansen, but honestly, the writing isn’t great. That guy is not the kind of actor who can joke around, he’s just too dull to do it (Sorry Hayden).
- Finally, we have another goddamn Yoda fight, which is even cheesier than the last one! The CGI is slightly better, and the whole throwing seating-sections at each other is a little better than boulders, but still, it’s a god-awful sequence. Yoda isn’t the kind of character to stand around throwing tough-guy bravado up in Palpatine’s face; that’s Palpatine’s job. Yoda should be above that kind of crap. No matter what Palpatine says, no matter what kind of insults he sends Yoda’s way, Yoda should not be rising to them; he’s above it. And also, don’t you think he’s a little too flippant about this whole affair considering thousands of his friends have just been slaughtered? I know he’s a Jedi and they’re very stoic and all, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to just shrug it off and then call Arnie for some tips about one-liners. It’s just bad.
Riiiiiggghhhhhht. Onto the good stuff! I know you probably wouldn’t think that I like this film after what I’ve just written in the bad section; but honestly, there are some really good bits.
- The overall tone of this film is pretty dark. Amidst the questionable banter and dinosaur riding, we see a lot of death, and a lot of war, which definitely makes for some interesting viewing. From the moment we see Anakin Skywalker slice off Christopher Lee’s hands, before decapitating him with only a little encouragement from Palpatine, we know that this is going to be a very different Star Wars indeed. Despite this difference, I love the tone of this film. Considering the subject matter, and the events that we know have to happen in order to link the two trilogies, I think this shift towards the dark-side of things (you get it? I made a reference) was a very wise decision on Lucas’ part. Bloody hell, I don’t think I’ve ever said that about the prequels before… It just works in the context of the storyline, and makes for a fairly compelling and occasionally emotional watch.
- Leading on from talking about the darker tone, the portrayal of the Clone Wars in this film is a vast improvement on the few minutes of crap they give us in Attack of the Clones. We actually get to see fairly grim, realistic battles between the droid army and the clones, instead of watching them slowly walk towards each other over open ground in perhaps the most ridiculous battle sequence I’ve ever laid eyes on. Maybe you did that when you had to literally stand two feet away from someone and stab them through the chest, but with guns? Give me a break. I also like the slight characterisation of the clones, even if it does only apply to the commanders. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more of that, but hey-ho, you can’t win ‘em all.
- Possibly one of the saddest scenes in Star Wars is definitely at home in this film. To see the Jedi’s comrades-in-arms turn upon them and execute an order over which they have no free will is pretty damn tragic. I like the fact that, even though the clones have fought with these people for years and often owe their lives to the Jedi’s skills, they are willing to accept this order with no hesitation. It really emphasises that they are no more than an army for hire, and their latest order has to be obeyed no matter what. I know that in the Clone Wars TV show they explain that all clones have chips inside them that ensure obedience, but honestly, I’ve never really liked that explanation, and it’s not in the film. It was obviously just a way to make the clones’ betrayal not really their fault; especially when kids start asking their parents why the clones repeatedly shot their friends in the back. I can imagine that would be awkward.
- Again, John Williams never lets a film down. Out of all the prequels, his score for Revenge of the Sith is possibly the most affecting, and definitely the most memorable (except for “Duel of the Fates” of course, which makes a brief appearance in the track “Obi-wan vs Anakin”). The reason for this, in my mind, is that this film has more emotional weight, and I can imagine that as a composer this really helps you to write a good piece of stirring music. I honestly can’t really say much more about it; it’s one of the highlights of the film for me.
- And now, my final point is probably a very obvious choice, but for many people this is one of the most iconic moments in the entire Star Wars franchise. Obi-Wan vs Anakin was the lightsaber duel we’d been waiting for ever since The Phantom Menace set these two characters off on their journey together. We finally get to see a lightsaber duel with some goddamn emotional content. Sure, it still falls victim to the over-choreography that plagues these films, but throughout the entire sequence you really get a sense that Anakin is trying to murder Obi-Wan, and that Obi-Wan is doing all he can not to get any of his limbs sliced off. It really is a ferocious fight, and it’s the highlight of the film… right up until they go paddling down the molten-rock river. That fight should’ve finished about 5 minutes before it actually did, and I think a pretty sweet place to end it would have been when they’re battling it out on that antenna before it falls into the lava. The fight up until that point had been brutal and fast paced, but it then turns into something that resembles a goddamn dream sequence. Eventually though, we do get a really, really great finish. This scene is easily the most powerfully emotional part of any of these prequel films. This whole sequence is saved by the incredible performances of McGregor and Christiansen (who seems to be only able to act well when he’s writhing in pain).
Well there you go, the good and the bad of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. I actually really enjoy this film, and even if it does fall into some of the pitfalls of the prequels trilogy, it’s definitely a unique part of the Star Wars franchise and a great film to bridge the gap between the two stories of the trilogies.