betrayal, anguish, death. As Anakin says: “This is where the fun begins!” After midichlorians, taxes, jake, jar jar, and teen romance, star wars gets really fun with the sith. revenge is sweet indeed.
and yes, quite dark. wickedly though, for all the pain and suffering and amputated limbs, episode 3 is excellent summer fun. Galaxies Ahead Phantom Menace (Opens in a new tab) and Attack of the Clones (Opens in a new tab), replaces the drudgery of the early prequels with pace, passion, and purpose. What is the reason for this boom in storytelling? simple: this time, there is a story to tell. the chilling roll of the credits and the traditionally laughable shuffle start fade and we’re hit the ground running, with a swashbuckling space rescue that recaptures the spirit of the original trilogy’s matinee series, all the close encounters and cliffs. the balance catches the breath, the drama delivers; heck, even the droid slapstick comes out.
Soon, storm clouds form. Anakin’s conversion to the dark side is certain, but why would the “chosen one”, the man who is supposed to balance the force, turn so violently against his mentors? because, blame the damn intergalactic nhs, you can’t get a decent midwife for love or money. Plagued by nightmarish visions of Padmé (Natalie Portman) carrying him through childbirth, Ani has a compelling motivation: only Sith power, it is said, can bring loved ones back to life. his rush to hatred and outright wickedness slightly strains credibility, but the ease of seduction is offset by the cunning skill of the seducer. Sidelined in previous prequels, Ian McDiarmid revels in his moment in the spotlight. As Chancellor Palpatine, his insidious line readings enliven the seated scenes with suggestive menace. And when it comes time to party like it’s 1983, the hamming couldn’t be more succulent (“power! unlimited power!”).
As for Christensen, he manages to shrug off much of the clones’ preening smugness with a new, focused intensity. you feel sympathy for the devil: a moment of silent tears is as poignant as a binary sunset. involving work, too, from ewan mcgregor, more comfortable than ever.
Meanwhile, design johnnies have similar fun: a proto-x-wing fighter here, a lip gloss leia on padmé there. sadly there’s no going back to stop-motion – the film is maxed out in cgi like never before, the digital detail filling the frame making it hard to keep up with all the planet-hopping. And while we’re on the subtlety, what about the Wookiee world of blinking and you’ll miss it? and the multi-saber armed General Grievous, who turns out to be as malicious as a toaster? Also, no surprises, the dialogue stutters: Lucas can still write this shit, but the actors can’t say it yet. kudos to the bearded man, however, for injecting a tone of political relevance, with a handful of charged lines that resonate beyond the walls of the multiplex.
As always, it is the images that transmit all the strength of Lucas’ spinning: the final act sees him cut across with a style worthy of his former mentor Francis Ford Coppola. his jaw-dropping ending moves between two duels and then, with sheer poetry, from one pivotal childbirth scene to another. Yeah, Vader’s riiiiiise in a suit and boots is a bit camp, but it’s still something of awful beauty. it remains a myth-making moment worth waiting for, all these years after he entered our lives and changed cinema forever.
so here we are, at the end of the road, or rather back to the beginning. Sure, the journey wasn’t always easy, but the destination was worth it. First among the prequels by a powerful stretch, Revenge of the Sith brings back the magic of the franchise. tragedy, majesty, adventure, emotion: this is a good way to close the curtain on a pop cult phenomenon. It’s a star wars movie worthy of the name. and the icing on the cake? jar jar binks: seen but not heard.