Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith by George Lucas (Review)

I really feel nothing but an ambivalence towards this, the final Star Wars prequel.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - George Lucas

Well, I just got back from seeing Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith and I can honestly say that, well, I’ve now seen Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith. It’s one more thing I can tick off my “to do” list, one more task accomplished and now I can go onto other things. I came, I sat in a theatre seat for two and a half hours watching a video game, and I left.

I didn’t dislike the movie as much as some did, though Heaven knows it’s definitely not a good movie, what with all of the groan-inducing dialog, awkward direction, and stilted acting. However, I certainly didn’t like it too much. In fact, I really feel nothing but an ambivalence. I mean, my brain knows I stared at a movie screen for two and a half hours, I can remember the plot’s details, etc. But I really don’t feel anything — disappointment, elation, etc.

I think this is primarily because George Lucas places so much emphasis on BIG VISUAL SPECTACLES and BIG EPIC SCENES — there’s really nothing else in the movie — that you just sort of sit back, smile and nod, and tick off the plot points as they happen.

Big space battle? Check.

Lots of lightsaber duels? Check.

Anakin pouting and moaning? Check.

Inevitable reveal of the villain, to the surprise of no one? Check.

There’s one moment of subtlety in the entire film, one scene where the film’s pace slows down and doesn’t try to overwhelm the viewer with scenes that scream “epic.” It’s when Anakin is told to wait in the Jedi Council chambers as Mace Windu and some other Jedi go to arrest Palpatine. The film cuts between scenes of Anakin brooding and Padme worrying, and the pace of the film actually slows down enough to allow some tension to be built. This is the point of no return. Will Anakin cross it?

In any other movie, such a scene would feel completely tossed off and forgettable. But in a movie like Revenge of the Sith, I guess this it what passes off as subtlety, and I actually sensed something approaching drama unfolding on the screen. Other than that, I really registered no emotional impact from the film, aside from the couple — okay, several — times that I practically laughed out loud at some of the awful dialog, or when I got a little pumped up at some of the bad-ass things Yoda did.

There are plenty of things that should bother me. There’s the aforementioned issues with dialog, direction, and acting (which is incredible considering some of the actors and actresses involved). There’s the clumsy manner in which Lucas tries to tie the two trilogies together, from the awkward cameos (Chewbacca, Captain Antilles, Beru and Owen Lars) to the old-school wipes and transitions (which felt even more out of place considering all of the digital scenery). There’s the over-reliance on CGI and special effects, which lends the entire film a plastic sheen, almost like you’re watching action figures rather than actors. And of course, there’s the wasted potential of what could’ve been a good, compelling story.

But like I said, even these issues, which should have me hopping mad, register barely more than a blip. I guess I gave up on the movies long ago, the prequels anyway. If I want a real Star Wars fix nowadays, I’ll fire up Knights of the Old Republic or read some of the Expanded Universe material. And of course, there’s the original trilogy (as uncut as possible, thank you very much) which have none of the special effects and technology (and midi-chlorians, for that matter), but all of the heart, zeal, naiveté, and wonder.

Now… bring on Serenity!