'Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith' 051905 ***
Theatrical Review (2005)

The Work = ***
So, first off my track record with these new 'Star Wars' flics’ is mixed at best. I enjoyed parts of 'Episode I'. Liam Neeson was solid, Ray Park made a good villain, Ewan McGregor fit the role of a young Obi-Wan Kenobie, the light saber fights were cool, as was the pod race but much of the rest of the movie didn’t work for me. I was only able to sit through 'Episode II' once and I’m not sure that I will ever be able to make it through the whole thing again in one sitting.

It just seemed boring and at times poorly made. Now, to be fair there are those that love the film and I will say I appreciate writer/ director George Lucas's ability to manage all of the special effects and actors. It’s just the film didn’t grab me. Certainly the film is better than anything I will ever make but I still can’t help that I didn’t enjoy it.

I also saw the first of 'Star Wars: Clone Wars' (the animated series.) I will admit that I may have gone a bit easy on it because of the limitations of its production (it was made in ten minute episodes.) Despite its limitation, the series ditched the juvenile humor often present in the new trilogy and managed to create some exciting scenes. The best of which involved Mace Windu who finally got to show off the skills he had not been able to previously display. (Except for one brief scene in 'Episode II'.)

I will say this, the main trailer for 'Episode I' and one of the trailers for 'Episode II' were very impressive. It may sound silly to say but they had a real energy and intensity to them. Using musical cues from the original trilogy as well as cues from the new trilogy they hooked me. I realize they are trailers but had the action sequences been made with the same engaging qualities as the trailers I may have been able to forgive the shortcomings of the film. I realize this is a huge intro but I wanted to let my thoughts on the series thus far be known.

So now sitting at 3am after having just come back from a midnight showing of 'Revenge of the Sith' I am trying to write my review of the final installment of the new 'Star Wars' trilogy. I enjoyed some of the film and as a whole liked it certainly more than 'Episode II'. That being said I still have qualms with things in the movie and have to admit that it still has many annoying moments. I am coming to the realization that maybe if I grew up with these new 'Star Wars' films I might enjoy them more. Hell, I used to love the Alf when I was little; sitting through that now seems like torture.

To Lucas's credit, he has removed many of the more trying elements from the first two movies. Jar-Jar Binks is only present in one scene. The federation traders no long sound embarrassingly like Charlie Chan. There is no really cheesy dialogue. Woops. Scratch that last one, there's still cheesy dialogue.

This episode finds the world of 'Star Wars' engaged in war. The film opens following two of the leading generals in the war Master Jedi Obi Wan and Jedi Anakin Skywalker. They are leading the fight to free the Chancellor from the clutches of General Grievous. The sequence is impressive in its look but not necessarily its excitement value.

Actually that summarizes my feelings for much of this film. Freeze frame virtually any sequence and you've got a beautiful painting. Many of the shots have such depth and scope to them that the truly are beautiful to see. The trouble is that is often where the attraction ends. Much of the action seems somehow flat, at least when it is concerning huge space battles. BEGINING OF SPOILER WARNING ::::::::::: SPOILERS BELOW::::::::::

What is strange is there were several moments when a sequences would become genuinely exciting and then Lucas would cut away and either not come back to them for awhile or ever at all. Take a scene involving the Wookiees doing battle on their home planet. The scene was surprisingly compelling as the Wookiees took on droids with the help of clone soldiers. Just as the sequence gets going Lucas cuts away and only returns to it briefly.

Another better example is the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Their fight drew me into the film, almost on the edge of my seat and then whoosh, the film cuts to Yoda entering a room. Yoda instantly takes down two guards, gets a laugh and says some dialogue. Bye Bye tension. It felt almost like Lucas didn't want the scene to be too intense. It's a shame because that was a really strong scene and the scene that develops between Yoda and Palpateen is also intense but the way it is cut in with the Anakin and Obi-Wan scene is too jarring to keep up the tension.

Lucas has always used cross cutting between two scenes even in the first 'Star Wars'. Many times it does work but here it does not. Still the fight is impressive especially in its look. The exploding lava in the background and the operatic score on the soundtrack give the scene a grand emotional feel that is missing from many other sequences. I just wish there had been more time spent on it and less time cutting back and forth from it to other scenes.

The weakest elements, outside of the dialogue are really just in the story. There is much talk about Anakin having been the "chosen one" and the "one from the prophesy." How much would you like to bet a certain 'Star Wars' filmmaker went to see 'The Matrix' one too many times? Between that and the damned midiclorens coming back into play it seemed almost as if this was a series other than 'Star Wars'. But those are brief moments. ::::::::::::: END OF SPOILERS ::::::::::

So there is still bad dialogue. There are still slow stretches and there are still huge battle sequences that are while aesthetically a sight to see, are still not that exciting. Lucas has tremendous skill and has created arguably one of the most influential series in cinema and beyond. If space battles have become mundane it may be because the poor guy has filmed them so many times.

In the first 'Star Wars' he managed to make a sequence leaving a space port that is to me, even watching it today, really exciting. In the scene character, Han Solo tells a young Luke Skywalker: "Flying through space ain't like dusting crops, boy!" Maybe that is what it has become to Lucas. He's just doing it again. The new things are the ones that shine; the ability to show the Jedi in full tilt action and the Dark Side take effect are what he does best here. It was enough for me to over look the rest of my qualms with the film and recommend it.


PS. For some cheesy animated 'Star Wars' humor, check out Episodes 2 & 3 of 'Real Political Face Talk'.

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