Monday, June 22, 2015
Summer of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Written and directed by George Lucas, Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars: Episode III) is the third and final film of the prequels trilogy in which Anakin Skywalker is tasked to watch over Chancellor Palpatine during the final days of the Clone Wars where he would descend further into the dark side of the Force. The film plays into the events where the Jedi would finally learn the identity of the Sith Lord but also cope with his new apprentice which would change everything including the galaxy. Starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee, and the voice of Frank Oz. Revenge of the Sith is a stellar yet flawed film from George Lucas.
Set during the final days of the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and a separatist movement where the Republic is on its way to victory. The film revolves around Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and his growth as a respected Jedi but certain events relating to his own personal life, his sense of fear, and not being granted the rank of Jedi master would force him into a descent of darkness. Adding to this growing list of problems is when he is assigned by the Jedi council to watch over Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who has raised suspicion of the Jedi for his growing power. Once Anakin learns who Palpatine really is, he becomes conflicted until Palpatine claims that he can be the one to give him the powers to prevent death where things would unravel. It’s a film that does play to a classic rise-and-fall scenario but it is more about a young man whose good intentions to save those he loves from death only to descend further into fear and anguish.
George Lucas’ screenplay does start out on high note where Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) go on a mission to save Palpatine from Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) in a confrontation that would have a lot of foreshadowing while its aftermath would reveal some big news for Anakin and his secret wife Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) which would only drive Anakin’s fear of Padme dying. While the script does have a more linear storyline with a few subplots that relates to Kenobi chasing after one of the separatists’ generals in a droid named Grievous (the voice of Matthew Wood) while Yoda (the voice of Frank Oz) goes to another planet to aid the Wookies in a battle. Yet, the focus is on Anakin’s descent towards the dark side of the Force where it is his friendship with Palpatine that would become the catalyst into the decisions he made. All of which were driven by fear and desperation to save those he loves as its third act would force Anakin to be confronted by those who care for him.
Lucas’ direction is quite vast from the opening sequence where it features this unbroken shot that goes on for a few minutes to play into a battle in space where a lot is happening as the camera would follow two little spaceships flying through the battle. It’s a moment that does kick the film off in a high note where Lucas’ approach to wide and medium shots are thrilling as well some of the close-ups. There are also moments where the action and adventure are always engaging and thrilling though much of it is presented through visual effects which is overwhelming at times. Still, Lucas is able to keep things in focus while adding some suspense and intrigue as it relates to Anakin’s friendship with Palpatine with its usage of wide and medium shots to play into Anakin’s descent. Many of the scenes are very exciting and engaging which is a total contrast to the scenes involving Anakin and Padme as it’s not just that the love story between the two is bad but its horrific dialogue just makes it very uninteresting.
The direction would also include a lot of political commentary where some of it is handled very heavy-handedly such as a piece of dialogue that Padme says in response to the end of the Galactic Republic during a Senate meeting. It’s another of the flaws that is laid upon the film along with Anakin and Obi-Wan’s eventual confrontation as it is also hampered by some of its dialogue. Though it’s ending is sort of grim, it is filled with a bit of hope where Lucas is able to create something that is ambiguous that would set up the stories for the original trilogy. Overall, Lucas creates a thrilling though very messy film about a young man’s descent into darkness.
Cinematographer David Tattersal does excellent work with the cinematography to play into the looks of the different places along with some unique lighting schemes and moods to play into those worlds. Editors Ben Burtt and Roger Barton do brilliant work with the editing to capture the sense of energy in the action scenes while providing some stylish transition wipes that are actually fun to watch. Production designer Gavin Bocquet, with supervising art director Peter Russell and set decorators Piero Di Giovanni and Richard Roberts, does fantastic work with the design of some of the sets including Palpatine‘s office and the room where he was in during being captured by Count Dooku. Costume designer Trisha Biggar does nice work with the costumes from the lavish clothes of Padme to the robes of the men.
Makeup designers Dave Elsey and Nikki Gooley do superb work with the look of some of the alien characters as well as Palpatine in the film‘s second half. Visual effects supervisors Roger Guyett and John Knoll does incredible work with the visual effects to play into the look of the planets and its different locations along with the design of the creatures and droids. Sound designer Ben Burtt and sound editor Matthew Wood do superb work with the sound from the sound effects the droids make to the layer of sounds in the battle scenes along with eerie moments in other intense moments of conflict. The film’s music by John Williams is wonderful for not just its orchestral score with soaring strings and operatic choir arrangements but also in low-key moments to play into the drama and bombast of the story.
The casting by Christine King is very good as it features notable small roles from Silas Carson in a dual role as the voice of separatist leader Nute Gunray and Jedi master Ki-Adi-Mundi, Temuera Morrison as Clone leader Commander Cody and various clones, Matthew Wood as the voice of General Grievous, Joel Edgerton and Bonnie Piesse in their respective roles as Owen and Beru Lars, Christopher Lee as the Sith lord Count Dooku, Peter Mayhew as the Wookie Chewbacca whom Yoda is friendly with, and Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa as a friend of the Jedi who would witness the death of a young Padawan as he would rescue Yoda and Obi-Wan. Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker are fantastic in their respective roles as the droids C-3P0 and R2-D2 with the former providing some funny lines while the latter gets to do some scenes where he manages to take care of a few droids. Frank Oz is superb as the voice of Yoda as a Jedi master who is concerned with Palpatine’s growing power as well as its eventual outcome where he would eventually confront the man who is the leader of the Sith.
Samuel L. Jackson is excellent as Jedi master Mace Windu who becomes uneasy about the role Anakin is in with Palpatine where he would have a confrontation with Palpatine. Ian McDiarmid is brilliant as Palpatine as the Galactic Republic’s chancellor who is given more power as his meetings with Anakin show a much darker side to the man as it relates to his real identity. Natalie Portman is wonderful as Padme Amidala as Naboo’s representative who deals with her pregnancy as well as Anakin’s strange moods as she realizes what is happening to him. Hayden Christensen has some decent and good moments as Anakin Skywalker whenever the character is restrained but becomes very annoying and overwrought once he emotes as it’s a very messy performance. Finally, there’s Ewan McGregor in an amazing as Obi-Wan Kenobi who would be assigned to target General Grievous as he tries to help Anakin with issues over the Jedi council while later having to confront him for his actions.
Revenge of the Sith is a very good yet flawed film from George Lucas. While it does feature an excellent cast and some amazing visual effects, it’s a film that has a lot of moments that are good but elements that keep it from being great. Most notably in its writing as it is clear that Lucas should never involve himself with romance or politics. In the end, Revenge of the Sith is a terrific film from George Lucas.
Star Wars Films: Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - Return of the Jedi - The Phantom Menace - Attack of the Clones - The Force Awakens - The Last Jedi - (Episode IX)
Related: Holiday Special - Caravan of Courage - The Battle for Endor - The Clone Wars - Fanboys - The People vs. George Lucas
Star Wars Anthology Films: Rogue One - Solo - (Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film)
George Lucas Films: (THX 1138) - (American Graffiti)
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