Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith

  • George Lucas
  • 2005

When Star Wars first opened in 1977 it took the world by storm. Despite the hammy dialogue and event based narrative, the once state of the art special effects combined with George Lucas’ epic sci-fi vision re-established and revitalised the sci-fi genre.

Thirty years on all the elements that made Star Wars a hit are evident in Revenge of the Sith — the hammy dialogue, the event based ‘chase’ narrative and the state of the art special effects. But does it cut the mustard in today’s action packed, special effects laden blockbuster climate.

At the heart of the ‘the Sith’ is the birth of Vader, and the film essentially revolves around a simplistic political debate, seemingly written in crayon by four-year old children, of whether to take the side of good or evil. For fans of the previous films the answer to this is a foregone conclusion. So is it any good?

…even Yoda’s once amusing backwards dialogue, becomes incredibly irritating by the end of the film

Harrison Ford famously said about the script during the shooting of Episode 4, “George, you can write this shit, but you can’t say it.” This rings horrifically true for Episode 3. Hayden Christiansen (Anakin/Vader) tries his best to inject some life into the lines but the diabolical dialogue makes this an impossible task, and Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan) seems like he just doesn’t care. Even Yoda’s once amusing backwards dialogue, becomes incredibly irritating by the end of the film. The only redeeming feature is Ian McDiarmid (The Emperor/Chancellor Palpatine), who manages a super-hammy performance that works surprisingly well with the limited script. But Lucas himself originally commented that he was making the films for kids, and the special effects and mixture of swashbuckler, western and space flight genres made the film appeal to a broad audience:

“I’m an advocate of pure cinema. I’m not that interested in narrative. The dialogue doesn’t have much meaning in any of my movies. I’m very much a visual filmmaker, and very much a filmmaker who is going for emotions over ideas.”

Episode 3 is no exception to the rule. The film begins with an epic space battle consisting of effects that would make most techno-geeks cream their pants, and Lucas continues his special effects laden visual onslaught throughout the entire film. There are five lightsaber fights and practically two hours of action and scenes extended peril. However, despite the high-gloss special effects the action scenes remain pretty un-engrossing. Although the lightsaber fights are much darker and more angry, few match up to the Ray Park choreographed battle with Darth Maul, which was the highlight of Episode 1. I also felt that nothing quite matched up to the epic battle at the end of Episode 2. For example, the invasion of the Wookie planet consists of some of the best special effects and visual design commited to film in recent years, but it last for just three minutes as Lucas chops in scenes for other battles occurring simultaneously. One can’t help but wonder if a quarter of as much time was spent developing the writing of the script as working on the special effects, how much better the film could be.

…the special effects are obviously top of the range

Bu that isn’t the point of Star Wars, and to his credit, Lucas does limit the dialogue as much as possible, so nothing is quite as excruciating as the love scene between Anakin and Padme in Episode 2. The special effects are obviously top of the range, and the birth of Darth Vader is set up very nicely to fit in consistently with the rest of the series, making a coherent saga. It is also much darker that any of the previous films, supposedly bringing more for the old, now grown-up fans, but this unfortunately occurs at the expense of any humour that characters like Han Solo crucially brought to the first trilogy. And given that it is still essentially a kid’s film, much of the darkness will also seem wasted on an adult audience.

As far as family adventure films go, Episode 3 provides just enough eye candy to keep the adults watching, and I have no doubt that the kids will absolutely love it. However, for the discerning movie-goer this is high gloss toss for infants and techno geeks.

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