Alright get ready for this…
I. Love. This. Movie.
I mean it.
We begin with a battle above Coruscant, with the most epic opening score we’ve ever heard in this saga. We see the starfighters piloted by our main heroes, Anakin and Obi-Wan, and…wait…
What is happening? What is this camera work in a Star Wars movie that I’m witnessing? I’m not saying the camera work in previous movies were bad. I’m saying that a lot of it was just very basic. All of a sudden, it’s as if Lucas got extra creative with the movements of everything. The camera work of the originals were very 80’s, so there’s nothing to really criticize. But that camera work remained the same for Episodes I and II. It didn’t evolve. It wasn’t modernized.
The movements in Episode III, are just ever so slightly better though. It’s like having a cheeseburger, and then having a cheeseburger with bacon. Or like having french fries with ketchup, then upgrading to french fries with gravy. All scenarios are terrific, but one is just a bit better and is a natural progression.
‘The Phantom Menace’ worked as a prototype for many of George Lucas’s new visuals. ‘Attack of the Clones’ was his test run. ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was were he had all of this under control finally, and just let loose!
And with having all of these technical things under control, Lucas was able to take more time to fix the main issue of both Episodes I and II: The emotional storytelling.
It’s all here, and it’s done incredibly well. Do I wish that Lucas used more practical sets and effects while I’m watching this? Absolutely I do. However, without comparing to the originals, I must admit that he was able to use his amazing visual effects to tell a compelling story this time. That is all that matters to me at the end of the day.
The acting is even a huge step up from the other two. Even Hayden Christensen has some fantastic moments in this. Yes, there are still a couple of cringe-worthy moments of dialogue in this. But we’re talking about 1-3 short scenes compared to the many dragged out SECTIONS of Episode II. Things flow in this movie, and Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side is executed very well in my opinion.
I honestly can’t stand when people say his fall to the dark side is rushed. It might feel that way when you watch Episode III entirely on its own, but in the context of the other movies, you understand that falling to the dark side is like a domino effect. This almost happened with Luke because of his “betrayed” feelings in ‘Return of the Jedi’. In his case however, it was his resistance to fight that kept that domino from falling. The dark side is like black magic on the mind of anyone, no matter how strong they are. Anakin’s weakness was his fear of loss, and the fact that he couldn’t resist his urge to fight. His slow journey towards the Dark Side began when he was a child, and it was actually his Jedi mentors that failed to help this weakness he had. But the domino that actually fell, was his visions of Padmé. And it’s apparent the Sith Lord himself put these visions in Anakin’s head, because he knew perfectly well where his emotions would lead.
What I love is that Obi-Wan and Yoda admit to their failures not only in this film, but subtly in the originals as well. This is just something not many people catch. There are more characters to blame for the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire, than just Anakin and the Emperor. Sure, the Jedi were blinded in many areas (the Clone Wars), but they made some honest mistakes as well.
In my opinion, the story telling in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ is AS GOOD as it is in the original trilogy. I think that there is just as much emotional weight in this, as there is in both ‘Empire’ and ‘Jedi’. While many complain that the lightsaber duels in the prequels feel like choreographed dances without anything to feel invested in, I have to disagree with that case, in regards to Episode III. Yes, every action sequence feels choreographed. But I have a reason to care for the action that I’m seeing. So with that said, these fights (with their visuals and music) support the story HEAVILY.
The Jedi Purge scene (Execute Order 66) forms a lump in my throat every time, and the ultimate fights between Vader and Obi-Wan, and Palpatine and Yoda are beyond amazing.
Perhaps my most favorite scene though, is when Palpatine is explaining the myth of Darth Plagueis to Anakin at the opera. Normally scenes like this in the Star Wars movies are served for unnecessary exposition. However, this scene (much like when Obi-Wan tells Luke about the Force in the original) opens up the Star Wars mythology SO MUCH. It’s very interesting, and raises many questions and theories for the series that I probably shouldn’t get into.
A lot happens in this movie, and it could have been so rushed and convoluted. But it all flows so incredibly well, and I have to give George Lucas credit for finally getting it right again. The pacing is actually excellent.
‘Revenge of the Sith’ is the most under rated movie in the saga. People who hate on the prequels always seem to mesh this one in with the rest when saying that the prequel trilogy is bad. But to me, this film SAVES them.
There are some minor issues for sure, and the one that stands out to me is just the over-reliance of CGI. I don’t think it hurts the movie itself, but it does affect the visual continuity of the series. I prefer my Star Wars movies to look and feel more authentic.
There’s really not much else for me to say about Episode III. It’s a movie that really entertains me and I hold it in high regards. I think that as a Star Wars movie, it does (almost) everything right. Amazing music, very good visuals, decent acting, and a whole load of lightsaber duels. As far as what prequels are supposed to do, this does its job well. It executes an amazing story that is worth telling, and sets right into the story of the original trilogy.
***Just as a bonus to this post, I’d like to share something that another person on Reddit shared with me after reading my ‘Phantom Menace’ review.
He said that I opened up a lot of points dealing with the prequels in general, and that maybe he was always a bit too hard on them himself. It was great to hear that my shared thoughts didn’t necessarily affect his over-all opinion directly, but that it maybe brought more light into other areas so that they can be enjoyed in a different way.
This same person sent me a link that pertains to George Lucas’s visual style. What I find most interesting about this article is that it really goes into detail of how Lucas approaches film-making. It’s very unorthodox, in the sense that most film-makers center their films around a script; whereas Lucas developed his visual ideas first. This ideology of film-making is perhaps the very reason for why many people don’t appreciate the prequels. When you watch them, it’s almost like the script was an afterthought. But when looking at these films from the artistic stand-point that Lucas did, it all makes sense, and maybe there’s something more to appreciate. After all, he did use this same approach with the originals, it’s just that we seem to be more forgiving of cheesy scripts and acting when it comes to 80’s movies.
(But that doesn’t forgive some of the wooden acting in the prequels)
The story of Star Wars as a whole is very Shakespearean and delves deep into the roots of ancient myths featuring tragic heroes, rescuing princesses, and overcoming large forces of evil. The action/adventure-style is inspired heavily from the old serials that Lucas grew up watching as a kid. Knowing this, it’s apparent that the story of Star Wars was always meant to be kept simple to George Lucas. As he knew the story he would tell would be oddly familiar to the average person, his main goal was to give the audience something astounding to see and hear. And at the end of the day, these visuals, sound effects, and musical score, would work together to emphasize the story and characters, and take it all to new places.
In my point of view, that’s exactly what Star Wars accomplishes. It tells a great, yet simple story, and takes us to great new worlds, and a universe that we always want to keep returning to.
Please read this article on ‘Why George Lucas is the Greatest Artist of Our Time‘. It seems long at first, but don’t worry, it gets to the main points quickly and half of the page itself is comments.
I hope you enjoyed this review, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the original films next!
We’re only a few short weeks away from ‘The Force Awakens’!!!