REVENGE OF THE LUCAS
So this is it. Finally after so many years of geeks and nerds waiting for the final installment of the Star Wars saga, "Revenge of the Sith" is here, and coming from a critic who never drank the Kool-Aid or rode the band wagon: it's pretty damn good.
The movie opens with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and his master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) flying through the galaxy each in a one-man spacecraft attempting to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the custody of General Grievous (Matthew Woods) and the feared Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).
Anakin and Obi-Wan board Grievous' ship with the utmost of ease as the good guys usually do in the Star Wars movies, and attempt to rescue the good chancellor. Palpatine, who's the leader of the Senate has been in power much longer than what the term limits allow for. The fight with Dooku is weak, suggesting a lot of ground has to be covered before the next episode.
The rescue mission is a success, needless to say, but the boorishly arrogant Jedi Council fails to elevate Anakin to the rank of Jedi Master. They believe he's too close to Palpatine, whom they don't trust (I think the black cape, looming eyes and ominous voice have something to do with it) and ask Anakin to spy on him rather than accept the greatest honor the Council has to offer.
This tasks feels unorthodox to Anakin and as the film progresses he grows more impatient with a Council that has the tendency to break their own rules and keeps him on the sidelines when he is needed most.
Back at home things aren't any better as his secret wife Padme (Natalie Portman) informs him that she's pregnant with his child - to which he reacts with the conviction of the characters from House of Wax.
It's hard to fathom such stale performances from actors who were wonderful in films like "Shattered Glass" (Christensen) and "Closter" (Portman), but that's what you get from George Lucas who has the ability to pen one of the most fascinating science fiction epics of all time, but can't write a decent script and get his actors to convincingly execute what he's mustered up.
The film is completely sanitized in its CGI world which is a mixed bag. The special effects have improved, of course, and the dazzling imagery is worth taking note of. Still, I think we'd rather pass on the overloaded locations created on an IMac for the simple but effective Dagobah Swamp from "Empire Strikes Back" and Tatooine from both "A New Hope" and "Return of the Jedi" many decades ago.
As we all know, Anakin soon transforms into Darth Vader, and to Lucas' credit, the transition is done wonderfully. I actually felt sad for a moment, just for a moment, that the Chosen One is alas slated to be the true savior's greatest enemy in "The Empire Strikes Back." I also pondered for a moment how great the younglings could have been had they not been slaughtered as children. Huh, so maybe Lucas has created characters worth caring about.
A fight breaks out between Anakin and his former master Obi-Wan, and the short dialogue exchange bears a striking resemblance to a line once read by a certain president a few years ago. Barking, "either you're with me or you're my enemy," Obi-Wan shoots back at his apprentice, "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."
The political reference will certainly be buzzing once the entire country gets to see the film, and nerdy liberals will giddily rejoice at the quip even though I personally believe the Siths are made out to be the cool ones whereas the Jedis come off as arrogant and self-righteous.
The Dark Side totally rules in this film.
Being the first PG-13 installment of the series, many characters will have to die. Some too soon, and some only because in movies like Star Wars characters often die not because he's injured or ailing, but just because it's "his time." A hospital scene that had me chuckling involved a robotic nurse telling friends: "Medically she's perfectly healthy, but, I just don't understand it. She's lost the will to live!" 'At-a-boy Lucas!
The best performance award goes to Ian McDiarmid for his wonderful portrayal of the evil Lord Palpatine and whom I believe is the best villain in the series. When he's not asked to recite love lines Christensen is rather convincing as well, especially when he finally dons the brown robes and turns to the Dark Side.
The greatest accomplishment about "Revenge of the Sith" is how it neatly ties all of the films together after so many doubts following "Attack of the Clones." This is my favorite of the series, having not seen the original trilogy until late into the nineties. Those who were raised on these films will most likely disagree with me.
And you can't blame Lucas for it, either. No matter how much better he could have made it, he wasn't going to get a better reaction from the fans than: "This was movie was awesome, the best Stars Wars film ever..............since Empire Strikes Back."