Star Wars: Episode 3 - Revenge Of The Sith

****

Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Revenge Of The Sith
"Full speed ahead and over the top."

I'll get the bad news out of the way first. For all those of us who cringed through Episodes I and II, at the bad acting, the godawful scripts and the nonsensical plot, I have to warn you to expect more of the same from Episode III.

Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman's performances stink up the film worse than a Tupperware container full of egg sandwiches. But it's hard to blame these two, given that they have to deliver lines so clunky they sound like someone falling over a bag of spanners. Elsewhere in the film Ewan McGregor does little better with a George Lucas script, laden down with foreshadowing as obvious as a fart in a tin bath.

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However, there is good news. A lot of it. Somehow, despite all this, Episode III manages to be fantastic, from the action-packed, push-you-into-the-back-of-your-seat space battle that opens the movie, to the dramatic climax we've been waiting for all this time. "Rise, Lord Vader." Brrrr...

Revenge Of The Sith continues the adventures of Annakin (Christensen) and Obi-Wan (McGregor) as they try to mop up the remnants of the droid army, led by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and General Grievous (an asthmatic, armour-plated slug). Despite their near-victory, the Jedi council is worried that the ambitious Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) will not give up his emergency powers when the conflict ends. Consequently, they ask Annakin to spy on the Chancellor, but the Chancellor has plans of his own for the young Jedi. Annakin, meanwhile, is plagued by visions of the death of his new wife Padme (Portman). Will love lead him to the Dark Side? (Cue ominous music).

Lucas promised that this film would explain how Anakin falls from grace. Well, sort of. His motivation isn't entirely plausible, with his experiencing moral doubt in one scene, then happily skipping off to murder Jedi trainees in the next with no qualms. Oh, well.

The action is so full speed ahead and over the top, I doubt that anyone will stop to worry about it, too busy thrilling to the set-piece battles - Annakin and Obi-Wan taking on Count Dooku; Obi-Wan fighting General Grievous, who is armed with four light sabres; a battle between an army of droids and wookiees; a wonderful chase sequence with Obi-Wan riding a huge iguana. Then there are all the fabulous ships, gadgets, special effects and more Temuera Morrisons (as the clone army) than you can shake a stick at. Lucas has thrown everything he can at this last film. All that's missing is the kitchen sink and a dog on the pitch.

Of course, the climax is the face-off between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader that we've been waiting for since Episode I, and it will meet every one of your expectations. It's a jaw-dropping duel that rivals the operatic drama of the Luke/Darth fight in Empire. It takes place on a volcanic planet, with the two battling it out while surfing over lava and itcross cuts with fabulous scenes of Palpatine tearing the senate apart while trying to kill Yoda. It was at this point I forgave George for parts I and II, although not for Caravan Of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.

There is something Hollywood Liberal-ish about the proceedings. "So this is how liberty dies," comments Padme, as Palpatine gives himself extra emergency powers, "to thunderous applause." How homeland security is that? Then, Darth Vader announces, "You're either with me, or you're my enemy," which sounds awfully like something George Dubya said. Or am I reading too much into a kid's film? I am, aren't I? Okay, I'll stop. Episode III bookends nicely with Episode IV. Lucas cares enough about his fans to tie up the loose ends and leave Revenge Of The Sith at the point where the original movie took off all those years ago. It's a shame this new trilogy never matched Episodes IV-VI for charm, energy and sheer fun. Unfortunately, it's been weighed down with self-important mythologising, but Episode III comes damn close.

If you had sworn off Star Wars movies after the lamentable Episodes I and II, this film will have you wanting to dive into the original trilogy all over again.

Reviewed on: 20 May 2005
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Anakin's personal struggle against the Dark Side becomes more difficult as rebellious robots and an enemy within threaten to topple the Republic.
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