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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:54 PM   #1
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Big Grin Trilogist Dissects Sith

Jedinet Review

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the final piece to a 6 part saga. After multiple viewings, I have finally sat down and put pen to paper. What follows is a collection of thoughts and observations that will serve as a review of the film, but also share some of my thinking while watching it and discussing it afterwards.

I loved the film very much. At this point, I’m comfortable in saying it rivals Empire Strikes Back, but I’m not ready to say it’s better than. However with each subsequent viewing my appreciation deepens and I like it just a little more every time. I’m satisfied with the way it bridged the two trilogies together. Most of all, this film “feels” like Star Wars, more so than Attack of the Clones.

VISUAL

As always, the production standard was very high. As far as looks goes, Sith was beautiful. The special effects were spectacular, especially in the opening battle sequence. The dueling seemed to have more detailed choreography than in Clones, and that may have been due to the focused one-on-one fighting; less Jedi means more focus on training and designing for Nick Gillard.

SOUNDTRACK

Nothing in particular stood out to me about the soundtrack. The music fit the action, added depth, but for the most part it took a back seat to the story. There was a good composition for the Obi-wan/Anakin duel and I did listen to it on the soundtrack CD. While watching the duel at the theater, however, I didn’t notice it; my attention was totally absorbed by the fighting.

WRITING

The writing was improved. It was less abrupt, more natural and believable. At times it was a little strained, but it certainly wasn’t distracting. Believe it or not, even some of the “questionable” dialog was covered up by good acting. For example, when Padme confronts Anakin on Mustafar, the emotion she shows makes up for such lines as “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!” Another example: when Anakin and Padme talk at their apartment, the first night upon returning to Coruscant, their delivery transforms the speech from awkward to playful banter. Some great lines from the film: “So uncivilized.” – Obi-wan Kenobi, upon killing Grievous with a blaster; “You must learn to let go that which you fear to lose.” – Yoda to Anakin; “So this is how liberty dies. With thunderous applause.” – Padme to Senator Bail Organa at the Senate chamber, upon Palpatine declaring himself Emperor.

CHARACTERS

Character development was good, in my opinion. But that may depend on who your favorite characters are, or who you felt needed to be in the limelight. The fact of the matter is, the prequels have created a large ensemble of characters, and it would be impossible to give sufficient screen time to all. The film focused on a few major characters and only briefly referenced others. I think that was a good thing, so much needed to be explained about Anakin, Obi-wan and Palpatine.

Take Bail Organa, for example. His part in the movie was well done, but the feeling is there wasn’t enough of him. His character was a victim of the film’s purpose. Sith was about the fall of Anakin, not about the formation of the Rebel Alliance. Certainly clues are shown to us: we see Organa secretly aiding the Jedi, we see him mourning the death of democracy with Padme, and we even see him early on assuring Anakin he’ll do everything in he can in the Senate to end the war (the intent being to end Palpatine’s overextended term, as well as laying down his emergency executive powers). Personally I would have liked to see more of Bail Organa, but I can see why his character was limited.

Jar Jar has a very, very small part. And this too is a good thing.

For those who haven’t watched the Clone Wars animated series, like me, General Grievous comes out of nowhere. Essentially he’s a cyborg, part flesh and blood, part machine. He’s a secondary bad guy, the latest out of the prequel villain revolving door. But it works. He doesn’t dominate the story line, and is an effective enough bad guy. His purpose is to be the leader of the Separatists after Dooku, who is defeated by Anakin early in the film. Also, his presence demonstrates the technology that will be needed to keep Anakin alive as Darth Vader. The man-machine concept of Grievous foreshadows Vader’s.

The main character development of Sith is Anakin and his relationships, both with Obi-wan Kenobi and Chancellor Palpatine (Darth Sideous). In Clones, Obi-wan was more of a father figure to Anakin; in Sith, they are like brothers. They work well together, and clearly there is mutual respect and friendship in the first half of the film. Palpatine is the fatherly one to Anakin this time, and clearly he’s tugging at Anakin’s strings the entire time, setting him up to be his next apprentice. He’s very clever, very duplicitous. When he was finally revealed, however, he took on a new personage. He was drunk with power, monstrous, he had an animalistic quality. Using the dark side was like a narcotic to him. Anakin’s turn was believable as well. He was doing the wrong things for the right reasons. He was so intent on saving Padme that he was willing to do whatever it took to acquire that power. Once the Jedi were purged and she was dead, he had nothing left but newfound power and his own personal take on politics, which was closely aligned with the Emperor’s.

STORY

The conversion of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side is told convincingly in Sith. Most of the scenes are efficient; they have a purpose and tell part of the story. The opening act, the rescue of Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of General Grievous, serves not only to show the relationship of Anakin with his mentor, but especially to reveal how much Anakin has improved his skills. He has surpassed Obi-wan, and even Dooku.

There is a definite wartime motif in the film. From the opening crawl and throughout, I was reminded of World War II, for some reason. The world was at war. Young men had to grow up very fast and face the harsh realities of life. They had to make hard decisions and carried great responsibilities for their age. The war had forever skewed their view of the world. Anakin certainly fit that mold. When he ran to Padme on Coruscant after saving Palpatine, I was reminded of young soldiers reuniting with their loved ones upon returning home. Anakin had great ability, tremendous power, but he was still learning how to master it. It was easy to see how impressionable he was, how his life was still taking shape, still molding. Where the Jedi failed, Palpatine succeeded in shaping Anakin.

One of my many observations: in the opera scene, Palpatine shares with Anakin the Sith legend of Darth Plagueus the Wise. This was a very interesting and thought provoking moment. He says Darth Plagueus had become very powerful. So powerful, that he could keep the ones he loved from dying. He used the allure of this power to tempt Anakin, who was worried about Padme. He later referred to this as the power to cheat death. After some thought, I concluded this power was the ability of foresight. Not scary dreams that come true, but clear detailed foresight that only Palpatine seemed to possess (not even Yoda could clearly see the future). If you can foresee the future, you could protect those you love, to some extent. Of course, such power can also be abused, as Palpatine evidenced throughout his reign as Emperor. If the power to cheat death was indeed foresight, then there was absolutely no way Palpatine would ever teach Anakin this ability. He would keep him ignorant for his own benefit. Not that it mattered as much to Anakin after Padme’s death.

Stay tuned for Part II ...
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Old June 6th, 2005, 06:55 PM   #2
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Part II. The review was too long to fit in one post, which is unusual for me. What can I say, I've been writing this for a while! :LOL

Was Palpatine faking it during his battle with Mace Windu? At first I was convinced that Master Windu proved his greatness by defeating the powerful Sith Lord in one on one battle. But after some thought – and some well placed glances by Palpatine while Anakin was reasoning with Mace – I now wonder if this was all part of his manipulation of Anakin. If he could somehow appear as the victim, then Anakin would side with him. This could also be his foresight at play, he allowed himself to come within inches of the purple blade, knowing Anakin was going to intervene.

One of my favorite moments in the film was when Anakin sat alone in the Jedi Council. This was after he told Mace Windu everything he knew, that Palpatine was a Sith. It was a silent moment, with cuts between him and Padme looking out towards each other. We see a tear running down Anakin’s face, just before he runs out to his speeder. This was, in my opinion, that fateful moment when Darth Vader was truly born. Here, alone in the Jedi Council, was when Anakin made the decision to betray his brothers.

During the epic confrontation of Palpatine and Yoda, I was reminded of the ages old struggle between the Jedi and Sith orders. At one point, Palpatine said Yoda had failed and conceded that Anakin would become “more powerful than either of us.” Was Palpatine content with the knowledge that he had turned Anakin? Was he willing to sacrifice himself for the glory of the Sith? Palpatine had taken great personal risks to spite the Jedi by turning the Chosen One to the dark side, instead of simply killing him when he was young. Now that Anakin was a Sith, the Jedi failure was complete. He must have known that Anakin would one day be more powerful and would undoubtedly seek an apprentice of his own, killing Palpatine off in traditional Sith fashion. Perhaps that is why he so feared Anakin’s offspring in later years.

I was impressed with the battle between Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. It was fast, intense and dramatic. We see Anakin’s hatred forged in the molten planet. We also see Obi-wan’s sad but determined effort to do his duty. Before seeing the film, I was most concerned with this moment, the scene when Obi-wan defeats his apprentice. I wanted it to be very good, the finest moment of the prequels, since this was the most anticipated moment in the prequel trilogy, at least for me. The way it played out seemed a little too quick and easy for me. They were locked in battle for a long time, with neither one gaining the advantage. Then Anakin’s demise was swift and sudden. I can see how it was likely symbolic, Obi-wan having the “high ground.” The goodness and purity of the Force prevails over the darkness, the Dark Side. I can understand that, but I would have liked to see more.

BRIDGING THE TWO TRILOGIES

Sith does a decent job of bridging the prequel trilogy with the OT, although much of it seems rushed, and there was one missing scene at least that needed to be included. I found myself nodding my head several times in understanding, seeing how the pieces were coming together to form a familiar state of the galaxy: the beginning of A New Hope.

The birth of the Skywalker twins was a great moment. I got chills when watching Luke’s birth, knowing Luke as we do in the OT. Seeing the circumstances of his birth adds to the tragedy. I enjoyed the little musical touch when Leia was presented to Bail Organa’s wife on Alderaan, we hear the familiar melody of Leia’s theme.

The film adage “don’t say it, show it” definitely applied to the Qui-gon reference near the end of Sith. Yoda mentioned that Qui-gon had found the path to immortality, and he had prepared some training for Obi-wan to commune with him. I realize this was meant to explain the Force ghost phenomenon in the OT, and why we didn’t see it in the PT. That certainly ties up loose ends, but I was dying to see Qui-gon’s ghost. If ever there was a scene that needs to be in the DVD, this is it. Please, let’s see Qui-gon! It would be nice if it were elaborated on. A quick reference is not enough.

Who founded the Rebellion against the Empire? I always believed it began with a secret alliance between Senators Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and others. But seeing Sith, I now wonder if it began with the Jedi. At one point we see the Jedi Council deliberate about what to do with Palpatine once General Grievous was captured or killed, effectively ending the war. What they considered amounted to rebellion, a coup. They concluded if Palpatine did not lay down his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, they would have to remove Palpatine forcibly. They would also have to “take control of the Senate to secure a peaceful transition.” Yoda remarked that “a dark place, this line of thought can take us” and that they must take “great care.” When Mace Windu leads a team of Jedi to arrest Palpatine, he remarks “it is treason, then.” After disarming him in battle, Mace considers killing Palpatine because “he’s too dangerous,” foregoing a trial by the Senate. After Palpatine proclaims himself Emperor and outlaws all Jedi, we see Obi-wan and Yoda (aided by Bail Organa, interestingly enough) take violent action against the Empire, killing off several troops and attempting to kill the Emperor as well as Anakin. I believe the Rebellion was born in the Jedi Council.

We also hear familiar logic: Yoda observes that the Emperor needs the Senate to maintain control of the thousands of star systems. Near the end of the film, we see the construction of the Death Star. When completed, the Senate will not be needed; and destroying the home planet of a prominent Senator will become possible.

The parallels with ROTJ are fairly obvious. Jedi begins with the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba’s clutches; Sith begins with the rescue of Palpatine from General Grievous. Palpatine executes an elaborate plan to tempt and win over a new apprentice in both films. Then there is the difficult choice Anakin has to make. In Jedi, he watches Palpatine zapping Luke with Force lightning, and chooses to save his son. In Sith, it’s Mace Windu and Palpatine locked in a similar situation. Anakin chooses to intervene in Palpatine’s behalf.

Overall, I found Revenge of the Sith to be entertaining, deserving of the Star Wars name. Where it isn’t great, it’s good. Where it isn’t good, it’s forgivable. And that’s about the worst I can say about it. Definitely worthy of multiple viewings, and the DVD cannot be released soon enough.
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Old June 7th, 2005, 01:57 AM   #3
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Very Intresting site I think I will join it and have a look around.
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Old June 9th, 2005, 04:50 PM   #4
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You are welcome to visit. It's a good site, the original Star Wars fan site on the net.
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Old June 10th, 2005, 01:43 PM   #5
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I joined the other day
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Old June 11th, 2005, 01:52 AM   #6
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There is a scene that was cut from the movie that showed Mon Mothma, Bail and Padme discussing the making of the Rebellion. But they cut it from the movie... grrrrrrrr They also cut the scene in the senate of an arguement between Mon Mothma and Tarkin.

I truly loved that scene where Anakin and Padme looked out the windows at each other. It makes one want to know what was being said between them if anything. Just that was a powerful scene in my opinion.

I also liked the way they kept with the OT by having Owen "ignore" Obi-wan when he rode up with Luke. Owen never approved of Obi-wan. I, too, liked the way they played Leia's song and then Luke's theme when the babies were placed with their new homes.

I do think that Natalie could have been more convincing of her "choke" scene. I mean you look at the scenes in the OT and then hers... all she's doing is just holding her neck. Atleast she could have acted like she was getting choked... that scene is hard to believe or swallow...my opinion.

But I liked your review!! It was very well done and it kept me reading for more!
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Old June 11th, 2005, 01:08 PM   #7
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Thanks! ^_^
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Old June 11th, 2005, 02:50 PM   #8
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Well said Darkjedi, I also enjoyed your review Viper.
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