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"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"

Directed by George Lucas.
Written by George Lucas.
Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christiansen, Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  5/19/05

Folks--

Let me sum it up for you:  the final "Star Wars" film is the best movie, script-wise, of them all.  It's also maybe the best "wrap-up-every-loose-end-possible" sequel I've ever seen, and this will make the fans who spent most of the last six years bitching about the original trilogy Special Editions, "The Phantom Menace", and Jar-Jar Binks very, very satisfied.

"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" is the movie that I've been waiting for since about 1996, when I think I first started hearing rumblings that George Lucas was going to make the new trilogy.  It was going to be the film that was closest to the original threesome, the one that would set up where Darth Vader went bad and how the Republic got into all of this mess in the first place.  Who would have thunk that he would have knocked it out of the park like he does with this film?

Episode III starts off harmlessly--General Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), are out to try and rescue the Chancellor (Ian McDiarmid) from the general of the Droid Army, General Grievous.  After successfully doing so, everyone returns home to Coruscant, where the Chancellor offers to make Anakin a temporary member of the Jedi Council...leading the Council's braintrust, like Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson), to begin questioning what the Chancellor might be up to.  Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé (Natalie Portman) have continued their intergalactic love affair and are now pregnant with the kids that will become Luke and Leia...and, Anakin gets a little too curious about the Chancellor's knowledge of the Dark Side of the Force.

Since you know everything that's about to happen with Episode IV being the film that started it all back in 1977, it's fun watching "Revenge of the Sith" just to see how Lucas will tie everything together, and it is this aspect that makes the film just so damned good.  Okay, sure, we only get one shot with Chewbacca, but it's CHEWBACCA, for chrissakes!  It's just so damned cool seeing that all of the Republic's soldiers are based on Jango Fett, so every single Republic soldier has his likeness (played by Temuera Morrison).  It's cool seeing how the Emperor's skin got that way, you know?

Damn, it's just cool watching Yoda walk into a room and droppin' fools by just, you know, Force-in' them to the floor.

Lucas handles the added violence with real class; as you find out how revolt and sneaky dealings lead to the deaths of many innocents, I just loved the way Lucas made the film darker, more violent, more evil but does it with subtleties all over the place.  [SPOILER] When Anakin walks into the Council chambers and the Younglings are all hiding behind the furniture, I loved the way one child walks out thinking that Anakin is there to help them before you see the look in Anakin's eyes, he raises the lightsaber...and then Lucas cuts to another Jedi atrocity.  You're sitting there saying "Damn, this Anakin guy is evil" but you're then whisked away to another scene that makes you say the same thing...and, by the time it's over, all you can do is see Vader, through and through.  Loved that.

The action scenes in "Revenge of the Sith" still underwhelm to a degree; the space fighting, in particular, is either bad or non-existent here, which in some ways must be meant to keep the excellent sequences from "Star Wars" and "Return of the Jedi" free from criticism.  Also, the lightsaber fight scenes look fantastic but just didn't feel as cool as, say, the Darth Maul/Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan sequence from "The Phantom Menace"; overall, I would say that Maul is the new trilogy's coolest bad guy, but he was wasted many moons ago.  "Revenge of the Sith" is not really about action, though, since most of the time we are focused on the darker story elements that lead Anakin down his chosen path.

Yeah, the acting is often atrocious.  Yeah, I would say that the Darth Vader scream-to-the-sky moment near the end of this flick is on a shit par with the worst scene that Lucas has ever directed, where Padmé and Anakin kiss in that field in the middle of "Attack of the Clones."  Yeah, Portman (along with Jimmy Smits, for my money) look like they have never acted before in some of these scenes, although I will say that Christensen didn't seem as wooden this go-round as our evil lead character.

So, all that said, "Revenge of the Sith" has its weaknesses, particularly in terms of big-scale production.  But, I keep coming back to the story and how much I loved the little kitschy things about Lucas' desire to give the fanboys some cool tidbits as to how Darth ended up in that suit, or how R2-D2 always seems to be right around the action at just the right moment.  That's where it achieves its greatness and that is what is going to lead many people who aren't even the Wookiee-wearing lunatic types to see "Revenge of the Sith" in theaters twice.  I honestly do believe that the second half of "Episode II"--with the Obi-Wan/Jango Fett battles, the Jedi/Droid war, the Yoda/Dooku faceoff--and all of "Episode III" put together makes for a solid final run at the movies.

Good stuff, Mr. Lucas...now go off and spend your hard-earned billions on something else.

Rating:  $9.50 Show

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09