With all the Star Wars Talk going on as of late I am seeing a resurgence of the bashing that follows the prequel trilogy, and for the record – yes they were bad, yes that had flaws, and yes they cursed us with the knowledge that Jar-Jar Binks is now part of our Star Wars collective consciousness – BUT IT IS STILL STAR WARS!!!
In the third and final part of this Series I tackle Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
Production budget: $113 million
Domestic Total Gross: $380,270,577
Domestic Lifetime Gross: $380,270,577
Flaws: Obi WTF Kenobi, Padme “Pregnancy makes me a sniveling little biatch” Amadala, Worst Jedi Duel ever, A completly Non-existant duel between Anakin and Mace Windu, an impotent Yoda, and the worst movie line of all time.
Strengths: To my surprise an excellent performance turned in by Hayden Christiansen as Anakin Skywalker, Ian McDermid as Emperor Palepatine, and Epic battle between Anakin and Obi Wan, Lack of droid memories explained, Lord Vader rises.
In my opinion this movie absolutely implodes in terms of performances. Ewan McGregor, who has conditioned us to expect a wonderful performance just absolutely phones it in in this movie. I CAN NOT STAND this depiction of Obi Wan Kenobi. “Wait a minute, how did this happen? We’re smarter than this!” That these words escaped Kenobi’s lips is something I’ll never be able to forgive Lucas for. I can’t blame Ewan McGregor for the for the lines he was given, but overall I think Kenobi should have been a different character in this film. He gets taken out by Dooku with a flick of the wrist, carried out of danger on Anakin’s shoulders, and repeatedly defers to Anakin as being a greater Jedi than he is. So when he has to face Anakin and come to terms with his betrayal, well I’ll get to that in a bit.
As for Padme – I’ll tell you how bade she was by telling you an unrelated story. A friend of mine works in the field of prenatal care. We once had a humorous conversation over drinks with respect the the effects that pregnancy has on the brain. Long story short, the brain shrinks. We all know brain size is directly associated to intelligence (how accurate that is, well that is a different conversation entirely). So when a woman goes through pregnancy and her brain shrinks one can argue that she may get “dumber.” They must of leaned on this line of thought heavily, because holy crap they made Padme out to be a hormonal, moronic and helpless woman. It was really nice to have a strong leading female character (by now you should know how much of a Buffy fan-boy I am), and in this episode the just throw that out the window. About a third of the way into the movie I was mourning Padme’s passing, as it appears she never made it into this film.
One of the biggest misses in this film is the showdown with Emperor Palepatine. This is by far the single worst light saber sequence of all time. Even the Star Wars Kid footage was better than this fight! You have four Jedi masters – Mace Windu of course, Kit Fisto and Agen Kolar, two major players in the battle of Geonosis and this dude – Saesee Tiin, whom we’ve never seen before. Palepatine has two of them killed before Mace even participated in the battle! We are talking four Jedi masters vs a powerful Sith Lord – This fight should have been EPIC! Instead we get this:
We see Agen Kolar go down without a single saber strike, Saesse Tiin goes down next in short order. Master Fisto at least puts up a bit of a fight but gets dispatched with relative ease leaving only Windu to face down Sidious.
I know we had a bit of a trade off in the casting of an McDermot and Sam Jackson in these roles as neither of the two were trained in stage combat, so in getting quality actors we lost some of the best fights that should have happened. Then there is the “Showdown” between Windu and Anakin. Again there should have been an epic battle here but instead we see the same old Lucas trope – Windu loses an arm, and then Sidious dispatches him with flashy lighting. here is how this fight Should have gone:
Kudos to the Game designers for recognizing that this should have been a great battle. At least I will always have my memories of the video games version of the fight. The truth is I wanted every saber Battle in this movie to be an epic one. I mean this is when the eradication of the Jedi occurs and frankly I would have like to have seen them go down with a bit more of a fight. The montage scene is SO WATERED DOWN that it’s hard to feel bad for these characters as they are dying. Even the battle between Yoda and the emperor ends in a way that does not make sense in my opinion. Yoda should not have lost to the emperor, the emperor should have defeated Yoda. Yoda loses a fight in which he appears to strike the final blow and then runs away! I was really unsatisfied with the end of that fight and the image below is one of my most hated memories in the trilogy.
In the Image above they portray Yoda as a scared child running for his life when the fact is he held his own against Sidious and for some reason gave up the fight. Based on this outcome he decides he has to go into exile. I don’t see how they came to this conclusion. It’s something that I will likely never be able to wrap my head around.
It occurs to me that they may have made these fights the way they did in order to keep from upstaging the final fight between Anakin and Obi Wan, which is an epic duel between master and Padawan – however even that had it’s flaws.
WHAT? Where have we ever been told that a Saber duel is over once someone has the high ground??? This just seemed like such an odd thing for Obi Wan to say at this point. “Don’t make me do this…” or “You can’t defeat me, Anakin!” Anything but “The geography decrees this fight is over!” It really took away from the moment. This is one of the single most important moments in all six movies, and they preface it with that? It was again, a great disappointment. Then we come to Obi Wan’s monologue once the fight is actually over:
Obi Wan: “You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them. You were to bring balance to the force, not leave it in darkness! You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.”
The words here were right on in my opinion – but the delivery wasn’t. Anakin betrayed the republic, he betrayed the Jedi Order, he betrayed Padme, but worst of all, he betrayed Obi Wan. Yes, Obi Wan would be hurt, but he really should have been angrier than he was. The gravity of this defeat was what I felt was in order for the defeat of Yoda. Obi Wan should have allowed himself a moment of anger, if for nothing else to express just how much the betrayal weighed on him. A betrayal that has Obi Wan momentarily losing control.
Now with all this said – I STILL LOVE THIS MOVIE. Hayden Christensen turns in the performance I thought was really appropriate, depicting the fall of a Jedi and the apprehensive transformation into Darth Vader. Ian McDermott again is great at portraying the Dark Lord of the Sith, and my only complaint is that we did not get to see more of him actively manipulating things around him. The Saber duel between Anakin and Obi Wan is delightful, if not choppy. They even take a moment to explain why C3PO doesn’t remember any of the events of the prequel trilogy, a classy move in my opinion. Finally, we get the moment the entire Trilogy is leading up to. The reveal of Darth Vader as the incarnation of evil that we have known for the previous thirty years.
What would I have done differently?
Lots of things, many of which I have already stated. I would have pretty much eliminated Padme’s character until she was absolutely necessary near the end. I would have made Yoda’s defeat brutal and unquestionable. I would have filled the film with tons of epic saber battles that would have had Klingons singing tales of their majesty even in a completely different universe. I would have made the eradication of the Jedi and brutal and disturbing image that would be difficult to forget. And I would have made sure that we all felt the scar that Anakin leaves on Obi Wan’s heart by his betrayal.
There you have it – my feelings on why these movies were not great – but you know what – it is still Star Wars. And Bad Star Wars is absolutely better than no Star Wars, in my opinion. now we look forward to the next Chapter in the films and hope that Mr. Abrams does a better job that this trilogy, but respects what has come before him over attempting to recreate the universe as a whole. Star Wars is ingrained in popular culture, in my childhood memories and in my heart of hearts. May the stories live on – and May the Force be with them.
If you missed parts I & II you can see them by clicking the links below: