Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (**)

Posted on May 2nd, 2005 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

I don’t know what movie the critics have been seeing that is causing them to give positive reviews, but it’s not playing in Houston. George Lucas has finally completed his hexilogy, and it’s going out with a whimper. Actually, that’s not true, as a whimper would have more emotional depth than exhibited by Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman in total in all of their scenes in all of these films. I cannot believe the horrible woodenness of both performances. I cannot believe the horrible flatness of the script. Actually horrible. The scenes with Christensen and Portman are painful to watch…physically painful.

In fact, the only actors who acquit themselves well in this one are Ewan McGregor, Yoda, and the lizard that McGregor rides on one planet. Chewbacca isn’t bad, but he only has a couple of groans. Samuel L. Jackson has never looked comfortable for one second in his role as Mace Windu. The guy playing the Emperor isn’t bad, but his character is just too over the top to be actually scary.

The special effects are practically flawless, but in this film that’s like saying your accountant has figured your taxes precisely correct to the penny. Yes, his figure is very accurate, but it still doesn’t take the sting out of your tax bill. And this film is very taxing. There are a couple of good scenes, and they all are action-based. The scene where Yoda casually shrugs a couple of Imperial Guards (tall dudes in red outfits) away generated belly laughs, and his duel with the Emperor is suitably dramatic.

Also, the final showdown between Obi-Wan and Vader (he takes the name before he takes the mask) is not bad, but Obi-Wan suffers from the same fatal flaw of all good guys in all action movies in that when he has his arch-enemy down and defenseless he doesn’t kill him. He could have used his little toe to push Vader into a lava flow and end all the melodrama, but he doesn’t. Oh well, I guess they’re planning a sequel or something.

Speaking of the entire series, here is my ranking of the Star Wars movies, in order from best to worst:

  1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (the first one made)
  2. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (the third one made)
  3. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
  4. Spaceballs
  5. Troops
  6. Hardware Wars
  7. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (the subject of this review)
  8. Any random kid waving an empty cardboard wrapping paper tube or laser pointer while making noises like a light-saber and/or Vader breathing
  9. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
  10. A RoboSapien sitting in its box on the shelf at Toys R Us
  11. C-Span
  12. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

So, Episode III is better than I and II, but that’s like saying Kate Jackson was the best actress on the original Charlie’s Angels…it may be true, but so what?

All that being said, one must still see this movie. Lucas does have a grand vision in spite of the fact that he took his eye off the ball for these last three films. But the story itself is still grand and operatic, and we do get to see the birth of Darth Vader, black suit, mask, and tortured breathing. The fact that Lucas makes this birth unexciting should tell you everything you need to know. Yes, you need to see the birth of Vader, but it should have been done better. Much better.

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