by Mike Shea on 24 May 2005
Last night ended the twenty eight year wait for the last Star Wars movie and it ended on a sour note. Saying Revenge of the Sith is better than Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones is like saying diabetes is better than heart disease and cancer. Yes, it's better than the last two but not by much.
While everyone is quick to point out that the acting and writing in the original movies left much to be desired, they are leaps and bounds better than Episodes 1, 2, and 3. Take a look at Han, Leia, and Old Ben Kenobi. Watch how the relationship between Han and Leia forms over the three movies and then compare it to the relationship of Anakin and Padme. It's a world of difference.
It is very clear that Lucas spent 99% of his time sitting in a lab figuring out new ways to make lizards on a computer than he did on the story or the dialog. I have seen Ewen McGregor act in Trainspotting. I have seen Natelie Portman act in Leon. I don't blame them, I blame Lucas. Computers ruined this movie. It was clear that Lucas was more concerned with visuals than he was a good story. Say what you will about the focus of the originals but we don't watch it today for the special effects, we watch it for the story.
And what about that story? It's a mess. If you're going to mostly skip a story for action or special effects, than skip it. Don't overwrite it. The storyline of Palpatine twisting two armies against one another so that he can take over isn't so terrible until it is spread across three movies and peppered with holes. Why would Palpatine kidnap himself and then put himself on a ship crashing into Coruscant? The story is long and convoluted and filled with subplots that obviously the writers, lucas, or the actors didn't care about.
Less is more. If you're going to skip the script anyway, cut it down. The best scenes in Sith is the silent montage between Padme and Anakin during Mace Windu's arrest of Palpatine and the final scenes of Luke and Leia. Neither scene has any dialog. Every line that comes out of the mouth of Anakin and Padme is painful to listen to for nearly three whole movies. The script is overwritten. It should have focused exclusivly on the turning of Darth Vader.
The final turning of Darth Vader, after three movies of set up, is ridiculous. "You killed her" could so easily have been "Obi Wan and the rebels killed her in response to your treachery". It would have built motivation in him for the next three movies. Instead the audience laughs at his Frankenstein stumblings.
The fight scenes in Sith come no where close to the excellent fight scenes with Darth Maul in Phantom Menace - the only good reason to watch that movie. Lucas should have stuck to wire-based kung fu as Tarrantino did with Kill Bill. Instead its a mess of blue light and loud crashes. A day after watching Sith I can't think of one memorable action moment except Obi Wan leaping out of his exploding ship with a lightsabre in his hand.
So now lets nitpick about details. General Grevious is an idiotic robot with bad lungs. How can robots cough? How could even cyborgs cough? While he could have been a great early model Darth Vader instead he looks ridiculous.
While we waited six movies to watch the final destruction of the original Jedi, the whole cleansing of the Jedi ends up taking about two minutes of screen time. Yes, it's brutal, but its far too short and glossed over. What is a monumental turning point of the movie gets far less screen time than the stupid lizard chase scene.
There was a perfect opportunity to flash back a couple of thousand years to Darth Sidius and his old master during Palpatine's opera discussion with Anakin, Lucas chooses to simply tell us about it. How cool would it have been to actually SEE some of the original Sith lords even for no more than a minute or two?
Anakin's attitude shifts from brooding and angry to happy prancing loverboy gaits. The final dialog between he and Obi Wan "you were the chosen one!" made me check for the theater exits. I know I harp a lot on dialog but it deserves a lot of harping. It's really bad.
Now it is over. While no one would be surprised to see more movies come out later on, for now our wait for the original story of Star Wars is over. It's probably a pretty good movie for little kids, but for a fan of the original - the original you can no longer see considering the only DVD version is the Greedo shooting first version - I am very disappointed.
Revenge of the Sith is a bad movie.