Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: Revenge Of The Sith [Week 3]

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Shit

Bore!

The Cerebral Cortex is crumbling under attacks by two hapless Star Wars prequels. There are headaches on both sides. Crud is everywhere. In a stunning move, the wily writer, Brad, has swept back into the blogosphere and sets out to wrap up what he half-heartedly began… 

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“This is where the fun begins” – Anakin Skywalker.  

And so, my young padawan, we return to those most perplexing mysteries of the Force: the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Having had two crap episodes in a row, was it to be three in a row?

By jiminy, yes! Of course! Well, hurrah for consistency…

Meh…

Hang on, though, rather than dismiss Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith completely, it does at least try to produce more memorable fare. Admittedly, there is a copy of this in my VCD collection, but a considerable layer of dust will have to be removed from it first…

After eleven years, can the few decent scenes enjoyed at the cinema withstand the test of hindsight? 

What Works:

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“You ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagus the Wise? …I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you” – Senator Palpatine.  

  • The Opera Scene:

Finally, this trilogy receives a slow and moody scene with some fantastic atmospheric music. And some intriguing lines for a change. It is greatly enhanced by Iain McDiarmid’s acting, and as a precursor to Anakin’s descent to the Dark Side, it carries the underlying menace required. Other scenes that Palpatine shares with Anakin are equally watchable, made compelling only by McDiarmid’s sinister performancearguably the best of this trilogy. 

In addition, when Anakin saves Palpatine from Mace Windu, isn’t it interesting that as soon as Samuel L. Jackson gets blasted out of that window, this movie suddenly becomes watchable…?

  • The Wookies on Kashyyyk: what we should have had in Episode VI…?

It was great to see a war party of Wookies at long last. The location photography for this segment was taken around the Andaman Islands near Phuket, South Thailand. As Southeast Asia has been my base for the last fourteen years, those islands looked sooo familiar!

  • Order 66: Not a dry eye in the auditorium… 

If anything, the systematic execution of the Jedi was going to up the ante quite considerably, and help give this episode its dark edge. This trilogy was crying out for some gravitas, but we had to wait until about halfway through the third part to get it. Again, a triumph for the musical genius of Williams as Anakin leads a clone army up the steps of the Jedi Temple. Tissues at the ready as one knight after another meets their unexpected doom at the hands of the clone troopers they thought they could trust.

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“You will not stop me! Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us!” – Darth Sidious.

  • Anakin becomes Vader: mean, moody… magnificent. 

When Obi-Wan watches as Anakin is consumed by fire following their duel on Mustafar, there is a tender, moving moment; as Obi-Wan wanders away, he cries: “You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.” A contender for McGregor’s best scene? 

A rare powerful moment: we glimpse Anakin’s metal hand as he tries to crawl away from the lava stream; the silhouette of Sidious’ shuttle passing overhead, accompanied by an excellent creepy score from Williams, followed by the creation of Darth Vader as we know him, intercut with the births of Luke and Leia, makes you wonder why some of the earlier scenes couldn’t have been as haunting.

But let’s not dwell on that James Earl Jones scream, thank you… 

Especially praiseworthy is the way in which the proceedings then take on a most-welcome nostalgic nod to the original trilogy: a look at the interior of the Blockade Runner (to be pursued in the classic opening shot of Episode IV); and that binary sunset on Tatooine which – oh yes – did leave a lump in my throat.

Most chillingly, the two Sith Lords aboard a Star Destroyer survey the construction of the first Death Star. Great to see Grand Moff Tarkin again!

But listen to the music. It’s something bittersweet. With only a slight trace of the Imperial March inserted. Touching. Resonant. Brilliant. 

This scene below – the final shot from the trailer – single-handedly got me into the cinema: 

Vader_Sidious

As for my fave outstanding scene?

During the horror that was Order 66, it’s brief, but brilliant. It’s this: 

What Doesn’t Work:

Star-Wars-3-Revenge-of-the-Sith-Obi-Wan-Kenobi-vs-General-Grievous

“I can’t watch any more” – Obi-Wan Kenobi. 

Well, same as before, there’s a lot to get through so let’s begin at the beginning (if you can call it that): 

  • The opening space battle: 

After that always-rousing theme score, this time we were treated to action! A battle scene in space, no less! And as a big fan of battle scenes in space my overall reaction was: WAHEY!!

But, oh no. Talk about underwhelming: “as dramatically weightless as the movement of tropical fish in an aquarium” said one review. It couldn’t be summed up any better. 

  • The Death of Dooku: By far the best asset of Episode II is wasted within the opening ten minutes!

Certainly the demise of Dooku was integral to the main story arc of this episode, but it is such a shame to see Christopher Lee have so little to do. 

  • General bloody Grievous: The second most irritating SW figure after that bloody Gungan. 

Rather than create another Darth Maul, Episode III opts instead to get stuck with another forgettable figure, and don’t tell me to stretch out with my feelings! There is no way you can convince me that GiGi is a class character; sure, you are most welcome to launch a tactical argument in the Comments section below, but don’t think so…

A droid with a bad cough – how can anyone pitch such shit? When he reveals his four arms, all you can think is: ho hum, more limbs to cut off… 

“Trained in the Jedi arts”: hands spinning at great velocity? Not even Obi-Wan could do that. Not that he would want to, of course… 

  • Obi-Wan riding a giant lizard. Chasing Grievous, who is escaping. Inside a giant hamster wheel. 

Now, surely this description alone puts anyone off. As daft scenes go, surely this takes some beating. Remember squirming in my cinema seat when this came on. The sound of that lizard is annoying – we have a couple of geckos living inside our gable – even they don’t sound like that. Couldn’t bear to watch this scene again now. And please don’t tell me the lizard’s name! This scene only solidifies my longheld antipathy towards SF heroes riding giant lizards…

YodaPalpsduel

“At an end your rule is, and not short enough was it”  – Yoda. 

  • The duel between Yoda and Darth Sidious: 

Really wanted to enjoy this. Supposedly a bitter confrontation, this should have been epic, but it just… isn’t. When Sidious gets forcibly removed(?) from one side of the set to the other by Yoda, shrieks of laughter echoed around the cinema. Reviewing this scene now, it’s all rather hilarious: a long shot of green and red sabres locked in battle as they rise up into the empty Senate. Then Sidious hurls those pod-things at Yoda who, in turn, makes one swivel and hurtles it back at the Sith Lord. 

Halfway through, Yoda loses his grip and falls to the senate floor; he is one of the greatest Jedi – why does he fall at all?! And he just gives up and drops out. For no reason. Whatsoever. 

“Into exile I must go. Failed, I have.”

How, “Master” Yoda? Why?! You looked well in control to us…

At least this duel didn’t drag on, unlike: 

  • The duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  

“He is like my brother,” Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi mutters in his constant monotone drone. “I cannot do it.” His lacklustre performance fails to incite the dramatic tension required. Besides, we never got the impression from wading through Episode II (with all those uneasy exchanges between them) that he is “like a brother”.

However, in a later scene, when Obi-Wan says to Padme: “Anakin is the father, isn’t he? …I am so sorry,” and struts off to one of John Williams‘ most heart-rending themes, you think this is quite a tremendous build-up to what should be one of the monumental scenes of the complete saga!  

But, nah… 

After an uninspiring exchange of words, the former master and apprentice go at each other with sabers blazing furiously, in a battle that takes place involving numerous unbelievable settings, but it just goes on and on.

And – yawn – on! 

Never contemplated the notion that lightsaber fights could actually be quite boring. 

  • Hayden Christensen scowls at the camera and – whoa – we’re supposed to believe he has turned to the Dark Side…

Good grief, this was meant to be the darkest episode of this trilogy. How can this be achieved with such a dull, charmless “actor”? 

sw3-anakin-lady-diana

“If Princess Diana had gone to the Dark Side, she would have looked a lot like this” – Peter Bradshaw.

This line never fails to crack me up. When setting out to compile this Post, this had to be the first ingredient to include.

And Natalie Portman as Padme, naturally, completes him: 

  • Christensen and Portman grate together! Again! Especially on Mustafar:

If it’s broke (like it was – excruciatingly – in Episode II) don’t fix it…

Portman manages to be even more incorrigibly bad this time around, but that scene in which Padme confronts Anakin on Mustafar is tinged with dialogue as appalling as anything suffered from Attack of the Clones. This is supposed to be another poignant scene, but just makes you want to press Mute. Or Fast Forward.

  • “I have seen a security hologram of him… killing younglings”: 

With McGregor’s banal delivery, not helped by Portman’s inane delivery, any chance of compelling drama here is instantly killed off by this godawful line. Blessed are the younglings! The younglings are our future! etc. etc. Ha ha ha, stop it! Oh, my aching sides…

  • Obi-Wan hands baby Luke to Owen and Beru Lars on Tatooine:

Aha… the first place to look is the last place Vader will look… obviously. Works every time, doesn’t it? Yeah, you have to salute the ingenuity behind this bonkers train of thought. Always assumed the Son of Skywalker would have been whisked away to Dagobah, hence that moment in Episode V when Luke remarks: “There’s something familiar about this place.” 

With these unhelpful prequels, this and other bothersome quandaries from the original trilogy, annoyingly, remain unanswered. 

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So, that’s it.

If you would like to read a more favourable review, you can catch boxofficebuzz right here: 

We’ve made it through. This episode is generally regarded as the “best” of the prequels, although judging from the poor standard of its forebears, that’s not saying much. The sheer disappointment of these prequel movies lies in their total failure to tell – dramatically and/or compellingly – what is essentially a terrific story. 

All in all, a stupefying compendium of industrial light, and barely any magic. 

Just consider how many decent and enjoyable SF movies could have been made with the amount of money and resources wasted here?

Considering how reboots are all the rage at the moment, it would be great to see these prequels get the revision treatment they deserve. Perhaps not just yet, but eventually, with a good stock of characters, well flashed out with plenty of meaningful things to do; a talented collection of actors – with particular emphasis on the role of Anakin; plus awesome -not artificial – special visual effects; and deep, driving dialogue that any fan can quote any time, anywhere. 

Actually, there is one very good scriptwriter out there up for the task: reliable, available and knows the Star Wars galaxy inside and out.

Hey, if JJ Abrams can be allowed to run amok through this franchise, why can’t Brad? 

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“Obi-Wan… there… is good in him. I know there is… still…” – Padme.

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4 thoughts on “Star Wars Prequel Blog-a-thon: Revenge Of The Sith [Week 3]

  1. Nice write-up! I think I ultimately enjoyed this movie more than you did 😉 but you bring up some great points. I really do promise that if you read some of the EU novels and watch the Clone Wars, General Grievous comes across as a really cool character. 😉 It’s a shame you don’t get that backstory in the actual movie. It would be interesting to see a remake of these movies someday, because I really do think there’s a lot of potential here. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to “Rogue One,” where we’ll hopefully get to see Darth Vader in action!

    • Thanks, Ashley!
      Believe me, I really tried to get into this Episode III.
      Re th EU novels: was going to ask if u cld post a blog w some recommendations; I wld like to catch some of these but haven’t a clue where to start. Why go Google when we already have boxofficebuzz? 😉
      Don’t worry, Darth Vader is a certainty to appear in Rogue One, but as for th action, here’s hoping they don’t make James Earl Jones scream again! 😉
      Cheers!

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