Friday, June 7, 2013

May the 4th: Revenge of the Sith

(Originally Written for Jedi News)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…


Episode III

War! The Republic is crumbling
under attacks by the ruthless
Sith Lord, Count Dooku.
There are heroes on both sides.
Evil is everywhere.

In a stunning move, the
fiendish droid leader, General
Grievous, has swept into the
Republic capital and kidnapped
Chancellor Palpatine, leader of
the Galactic Senate.

As the Separatist Droid Army
attempts to flee the besieged
capital with their valuable
hostage, two Jedi Knights lead a
desperate mission to rescue the
captive Chancellor....


From hints and notes George Lucas has been sharing since the 70’s, everybody knew pretty much how the story would go from here. Palpatine seduces Anakin to the dark side, the Jedi are killed save Kenobi and Yoda, the Republic becomes an Empire, Kenobi fights Anakin in some sort of volcano and leaves him in such disarray that he requires the Darth Vader suit, the twins are born. All it needed was to be shot and delivered, right?

Apparently not. The devil, as they say, is in the details, and Lucas didn’t have them. One of his talents has always been making up details on the fly and fitting them into his story perfectly. In this case, however, he had a rough time. His mind changed all too frequently. No doubt as a result of the critical and fan venom upheaved on Phantom and Clones every second, at least partially, Lucas kept procrastinating with the script and even made several more story changes, shortenings, and edits before Revenge of the Sith hit theatres in 2005.

And I’d be lying if I said it’s not obvious in hindsight. If you look at the film critically, it’s clear everyone involved had a lot to get across in a short amount of time, both in terms of running time and time given to make the film in the first place. Between its narrative issues and the fact that the effects, while still very good, were no longer groundbreaking and showing more of their seams…gee, I’m having this weirdest feeling of déjà vu

Yes, Revenge of the Sith has a lot more in common with Return of the Jedi than simply a nod to Jedi’s rejected title. It shares the same kinds of narrative and technical weaknesses, though to its credit at a far smaller scale. It’s a much better-made film than Jedi, though its minor issues are too noticeable to be objectively better than the other four.

And they would be subtle, quick fixes too. It’s almost there but it trips at the finish. Exhibit A: Anakin going from “What have I done?!” to “I will do whatever you ask” is literally – LITERALLY – just two seconds too fast. Literally. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, and it would have been perfect. As it is, it feels ever so slightly rushed and it’s easy to be taken out of the picture at that second.

Exhibit B: Padmé’s death. I understand and actually like the poetic nature of her essentially dying from a broken heart (in addition to residual Force trauma to the trachea), as I have firsthand experience how physically deadly emotional stress can be. However, having the medical droid announce “She’s lost the will to live” seconds before showing her smiling at her babies makes it ring rather hollow. If the droid had put it another way, or if Padmé had been in deep depression throughout the birthing scene, it would have been perfect. As it is, it comes off as contrived.

Exhibit C: Qui-Gon Jinn reappearing as a Force Ghost is crucial not only to Qui-Gon’s character arc, but also what we know about how the Force works. Why some people become Force Ghosts and some don’t. But Qui-Gon doesn’t appear, he’s merely mentioned very quickly to try and tie things in. Now, as much as I understand they tried to get Liam Neeson but Neeson’s schedule wouldn’t allow it, it still hurts the film. Not to be presumptuous, but if it were me, I would not have released the film without that scene, whether that means delaying the film another year or shooting Neeson’s side of the scene during wrap-ups for Phantom Menace. Whatever it took. Had Lucas and the crew been able to go these lengths, it would have been perfect. As it is, it feels anticlimactic and undermining.

Exhibit D: This is the most I will ever nitpick any of these movies, and I feel horrible even deigning to pick this nit, but there’s a face Palpatine makes at about 1:12:45 that is just so hilariously goofy it does take me out of the picture for a moment.

I’m also personally upset that Jar Jar’s role was reduced to little more than a cameo, including the deletion of a scene scripted that would bring everything home on the poor Gungan. But, the film flows fine without it so I can’t count it as an objective flaw. Also, a small handful of the bluescreen effects in this one aren’t integrated quite as well as in other Episodes, but if we can forgive the rest for worse technical failures we can sure as hell forgive this one.

It’s easy to forgive because while Sith follows in Jedi’s footprints as far as noticeable mistakes, it also not only copies Jedi’s strengths but beats it at its own game. Sith is, without a doubt, the most emotionally gripping and enthralling entry in the Star Wars Saga, period. It takes your feelings on an unforgiving roller coaster and doesn’t let up until halfway through the opening credits. It’s easy to get invested in the intensity to the point where you’re just physically exhausted in the best way.

This is helped along by the fact that every performer is at their prime here. Everyone has stepped up their game admirably, which is saying something given that the majority of the performances have been pretty memorable anyway thus far. I know I’ve been harping on Watto as the best actor in the Saga (he’s sadly absent here, but there’s no real place for him anyway), but if I had to pick a human actor it would hands down be Ian McDiarmid. His Palpatine has electrified (no pun intended) every scene he’s been in up to this point, but he outdoes himself here so much that I consider it a travesty that he didn’t at least get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (the above face notwithstanding).

There are many other areas where when Sith does it well, it does it better than any other. The Battle of Coruscant may just arguably beat out the classic Blockade Runner vs. Star Destroyer as the best opening sequence to any Star Wars film. I’ve been tight-lipped on the fight choreography thus far, but both Phantom and Clones had some of the better swordfights I’ve seen on film. Sith blows them right out of the water with its duels, especially the climactic one. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, trading lightning-fast blows while traversing the volatile molten landscape of Mustafar to my personal all-time favorite John Williams tune, is arguably the most intense, engaging, impressive, meaningful, EPIC swordfight ever committed to celluloid. And yes, I know it was shot digitally, I still stand by that statement.

Finally, it is dark. It is hands-down the darkest of the Saga, and is the first and to date only Star Wars film to receive a PG-13 rating, even retroactively. The final third of the film is just utterly depressing. And yet, it still manages to avoid falling into Empire’s trap. The first half at least is loaded with great Star Wars gags that still manage to fit into the tone.

That’s really the tragedy of Sith. If it had just taken a little more time to avoid those narrative crunches, everything else about it would easily have made it the best Star Wars film by a country mile. Unfortunately, the tighter narratives of all its brothers save Jedi drag it down on a relative scale. Still, its strengths do make it a phenomenal motion picture. It remains my personal third favorite of the films, and an extremely close third at that.

And, amazingly, the third time was the charm. While critical and fan reactions were still mixed, it managed to lean decidedly positive this time. Even the haters, while changing their tunes a few years down the road, were willing to begrudgingly admit that they enjoyed this one.

And George Lucas was happy because finally, after a total of 28 years, the Star Wars Saga was finally complete. All the pieces were in place, and they all lived happily ever after…

…or did they? Yes, after a while, Lucas seemed to remember there were three more stories lurking in his brain and notebooks. But that’s a tale for another time, namely next week’s epilogue…

Favorite Lines:
·         “Lock onto ‘em, R2…Master, General Grievous’ ship is straight ahead. The one crawling with vulture droids.” “Oh, I see it…Oh, this is going to be easy…”
·         “This is where the fun begins…”
·         “Alright, R4. No…nononono, nothing too fancy…”
·         “In the name of…! Hold your fire, you’re not helping here!” “I agree. Bad idea.”
·         “Oh, I have a BAD feeling about this!”
·         “I sense Count Dooku…” “I sense a trap.” “Next move?” “Spring the trap.”
·         “What’s the situation, Captain?”
·         “*sigh* Always on the move…”
·         “What was that all about?” “Well, R2 has been – “ “Eh, eh, eh, no loose wire jokes,” “Did I say anything?” “He’s trying.” “I didn’t say anything!”
·         “Get help, you’re no match for him, he’s a Sith Lord.” “Chancellor Palpatine, Sith Lords are our speciality.” “Your swords, please. We don’t want to make a mess of things in front of the Chancellor.”
·         “I’ve been looking forward to this…” “My powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count.” “Good. Twice the pride, double the fall.”
·         “Good, Anakin, good! Kill him. Kill him now.” “…I shouldn’t…” “Do it!” “…*slice*…” “You did well, Anakin. He was too dangerous to be kept alive.” “Yes…but he was an unarmed prisoner. I shouldn’t have done that. It’s not the Jedi way.” “It is only natural. He cut off your arm, and you wanted revenge. It wasn’t the first time, Anakin. Remember what you told me about your mother and the sand people?”
·         “Leave him, or we’ll never make it!” “His fate will be the same as ours.”
·         “Ray shields…” “Wait a minute?! How did this happen! We’re smarter than this!” “Apparently not…I say patience.” “Patience.” “Yes. R2 will be along in a few moments, and then he’ll release the ray shields.”
·         “Ahh yes…the Negotiator. General Kenobi, we’ve been waiting for you.” “’Scuse me…” “That wasn’t much of a rescue.” “You’re welcome!” “And *cough!* Anakin Skywalker! I was expecting someone with your reputation to be a little…older *wheeze*.” “General Grievous…you’re shorter than I expected.” “*cough*…Jedi Scum!” “We have a job to do, Anakin. Try not to upset him.”
·         “Hehehehe…time to abandon ship…”
·         “All the escape pods have been launched.” “Grievous…can you fly a cruiser like this?” “You mean, do I know how to land what’s left of this thing?” “Well?” “Well, under the circumstances, I’d say the ability to pilot this thing is irrelevant. Strap yourselves in.”
·         “…we lost something…”
·         “Another happy landing…”
·         “Are you coming, Master?” “Oh no, I’m not brave enough for politics. I have to report to the council. Besides, someone needs to be the poster boy.” “Hold on! This whole operation was your idea!” “Let us not forget, Anakin, that you rescued me from the buzz droids. And you killed Count Dooku, AND you rescued the Chancellor carrying me unconscious on your back.” “All because of your training!” “Anakin, let’s be fair. Today, you are the hero. And you deserve your glorious day with the politicians.” “All right…But you owe me one, and not for saving your skin for the tenth time.” “Ninth time. That business on Cato Nemoidia doesn’t…doesn’t count…I’ll see you at the briefing.”
·         “You’re trembling…what’s going on?” “Something wonderful has happened…Ani…I’m pregnant…” “…hahh…that’s…ah…that’s w…that’s won...that’s wonderful!” “What are we gonna do?” “We’re not gonna worry about anything right now, alright? This is a happy moment! The happiest moment of my life!”
·         “The end of the war is near, General.” “But, the loss of Count Dooku …!” “His death was…a necessary loss. Soon I will have a new apprentice. One far younger and more powerful…”
·         “You’re so…beautiful…” “It’s only because I’m so in love.” “No, heh…no, it’s because I’m so in love with you!” “So love has blinded you?” “Aheheh…well, that’s not exactly what I meant…” “It’s probably true.”
·         “Careful you must be when sensing the future, Anakin. The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.” “I won’t let these visions come true, Master Yoda.” “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who have transformed into the Force. Mourn them do not, miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is.”
·         “Go I will. Good relations with the Wookiees I have.”
·         “What kind of nonsense is this?! Put me on the Council and not make me a master?! It’s never been done in the history of the Jedi, it’s insulting!” “Oh calm down, Anakin, you’ve been given a great honor. To be on the Council at your age, it’s never happened before! The fact of the matter is you are too close to the Chancellor. The Council doesn’t like it when he interferes with Jedi affairs.” “I swear to you, I didn’t ask to be put on the Council.” “But it’s what you wanted. Your friendship with Chancellor Palpatine seems to have paid off.” “That has nothing to do with this…” “The only reason the Council has approved your appointment is because the Chancellor trusts you.” “And?” “…Anakin, I am on your side, I didn’t want to put you in this situation…” “What situation?” “…the Council wants you to report on all the Chancellor’s dealings. They want to know what he’s up to.” “…they want me to spy on the Chancellor?! That’s treason!” “We are at war, Anakin…” “Why didn’t the Council give me this assignment when we were in session?” “This assignment is not to be on record.” “The Chancellor is not a bad man, Obi-Wan. He befriended me, he’s watched over me ever since I arrived here.” “That is why you must help us. Anakin, our allegiance is to the Senate, not to its leader who has managed to stay in office long after his term has expired.” “The Senate demanded that he stay longer.” “Yes, but use your feelings, Anakin, something is out of place!” “You’re asking me to do something against the Jedi code. Against the Republic. Against a mentor and a friend. That’s what’s out of place here! Why are you asking this of me?” “…The Council is asking you…”
·         “Anakin did not take to his new assignment with much enthusiasm…” “It’s very dangerous, putting them together. I don’t think the boy can handle it. I don’t trust him.” “With all due respect, Master, is he not the Chosen One? Is he not to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force?” “So the prophecy says.” “A prophecy that misread could have been…” “He will not let me down. He never has.” “I hope right you are.”
·         “…Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side?” “What do you mean?” “What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we’ve been fighting to destroy?” “I don’t believe that…and you’re sounding like a Separatist!”
·         “Don’t do this…don’t shut me out, let me help you…hold me? Like you did by the lake on Naboo, so long ago when there was nothing but our love…no politics, no plotting, no war…”
·         “You wanted to see me, Chancellor?” “Yes, Anakin, come close, I have good news: Our Clone intelligence units have discovered the location of General Grievous. He’s hiding in the Utapau system.” “At last! We’ll be able to capture that monster and end this war!” “I would worry about the collective wisdom of the Council if it didn’t select you for this assignment. You’re the best choice by far…Hmm…sit down (leave us)…Anakin…you know I’m not able to rely on the Jedi Council. If they haven’t included you in their plot, they soon will.” “I’m not sure I understand…” “You must sense what I have come to suspect: the Jedi Council want control of the Republic. They’re planning to betray me.” “I don’t think – “ “Anakin…search your feelings. You know, don’t you?” “…I know they don’t trust you.” “Hmm. Or the Senate. Or the Republic. Or democracy for that matter.” “I have to admit, my…trust in them has been shaken.” “Why? They asked you to do something that made you feel dishonest, didn’t they? They asked you to spy on me, didn’t they?” “…I don’t…ah…I don’t know what to say…” “Remember back to your early teachings. All who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi.” “The Jedi use their power for good.” “’Good’ is a point of view, Anakin. The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way. Including their quest for greater power.” “The Sith rely on their passion for their strength. They think inwards, only about themselves.” “And the Jedi don’t?” “The Jedi are selfless. They only care about others.” “…Did you ever hear ‘The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise’?” “…No…” “I thought not. It’s not a story the Jedi would tell you. It’s a Sith legend. Darth Plagueis was a Dark Lord of the Sith so powerful and so wise he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians to create…life. He had such a knowledge of the dark side, he could even keep the ones he cared about…from dying.” “He could actually…save people from death?” “The dark side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” “What happened to him?” “He became so powerful , the only thing he was afraid of was: losing his power. Which, eventually of course, he did. Unfortunately, he taught his apprentice everything he knew…then his apprentice killed him in his sleep. Ironic…he could save others from death…but not himself…” “Is it possible to learn this power?” “…not from a Jedi…”
·         [Another Wookiee roar that sounds suspiciously like the Tarzan call]
·         “Master…I’ve disappointed you. I haven’t been very appreciative of your training. I’ve been arrogant, and I apologize. I’ve just been so frustrated with the Council.” “You are strong and wise, Anakin, and I am very proud of you. I have trained you since you were a small boy. I have taught you everything you know. And you have become a far greater Jedi than I could ever hope to be. But be patient, Anakin. It will not be long before the Council makes you a Jedi Master.”
·         “Come on, when have I ever let you down?” “Haha, Very well. The burden is on me not to destroy all the droids until you arrive.”
·         “I feel lost…” “Lost? What do you mean?” “Obi-Wan and the Council don’t trust me…” “They trust you with their lives.” “Something’s happening…I’m not the Jedi I should be…I want more, and I know I shouldn’t…” “You expect too much of yourself.”
·         “Greetings, young Jedi. What brings you to our remote sanctuary?” “Unfortunately, the war.” “There’s no war here, unless you’ve brought it with you.” “With your kind permission, I should like some fuel, and to use your city as a base as I search nearby systems for General Grievous.” “[untranslated]…he is here…we are being held hostage…they are watching us…” “I understand.” “Tenth level…thousands of battle droids…” “Tell your people to take shelter. If you have warriors, now is the time.”
·         “Is he bringing additional warriors?” “He didn’t say…”
·         “Hello there!” “General Kenobi, muahahaha, you are a bold one, hehehe…kill him.”
·         “Back away! I will deal with this Jedi slime myself!” “Your move.” “You fool! I’ve been trained in your Jedi arts by Count Dooku! Attack, Kenobi!”
·         “Army or not, you must realize…You. Are. Doomed!”
·         “…I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force surrounds the Chancellor…” “If he does not give up his emergency powers after the destruction of Grievous, then he should be removed from office.” “The Jedi Council would have to take control of the Senate in order to secure a peaceful transition.” “To a dark place this line of thought will carry us…hmmm….great care we must take…”
·         “They don’t trust you, Anakin. They see your future. They know your power will be too strong to control. You must break through the fog of lies the Jedi have created around you. Let me help you to know the subtleties of the Force.” “How do you know the ways of the Force?” “My mentor taught me everything about the Force…even the nature of the dark side…” “…You know the dark side?” “Anakin…if one is to understand the great mystery, one must study all its aspects, not just the dogmatic narrow view of the Jedi. If you wish to become a complete and wise leader you must embrace a larger view of the Force. Be careful of the Jedi, Anakin. Only through me, can you achieve a power greater than any Jedi. Learn to know the dark side of the Force, and you will be able to save your wife from certain death.” “…what did you say?!” “Use my knowledge. I beg you!” “YOU’RE the Sith Lord!” “I know what’s been troubling you. Listen to me, don’t continue to be a pawn of the Jedi Council! Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve been searching for a life greater than that of an ordinary Jedi. A life of significance. Of conscience…are you going to kill me?” “I would certainly like to!” “I know you would…I can feel your anger…it gives you focus…makes you stronger…” “…I’m going to turn you over to the Jedi Council.” “Of course, you should. But you’re not sure of their intentions, are you?” “I will quickly discover the truth of all this.” “You have great wisdom, Anakin. Know the power of the dark side, the power to save Padmé…”
·         “So uncivilized…
·         “Master Windu! I take it General Grievous has been destroyed then. I must say you’re here sooner than expected.” “In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest, Chancellor!” “…Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?” “The Senate will decide your fate.” “I AM the Senate!” “Not yet!” “It’s treason, then…”
·         “The oppression of the Sith will never return! You have lost!” “No….no…NO…YOU WILL DIE!”
·         “I can’t hold it any longer…I-I-I can’t…weak…too weak…”
·         “I’m going to end this once and for all!” “You can’t! He must stand trial!” “He has control of the Senate and the courts! He’s too dangerous to be left alive!”
·         “POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
·         “…Just help me save Padmé’s life…I can’t live without her…” “…To cheat death is a power only one has achieved, but if we work together, I know we can discover the secret…” “I pledge myself…to your teachings…” “Good…good…the Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth…Vader!” “Thank you…my Master…”
·         “Once more, the Sith will rule the galaxy…and…we…shall…have…peace!”
·         “Commander Cody, the time has come. Execute Order 66.” “Yes, my Lord.”
·         “Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?”
·         “The Chancellor’s office indicated that Master Anakin returned to the Jedi Temple. Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll be all right!”
·         “I’m sorry, sir. It’s time for you to leave.” “…and so it is…”
·         “Goodbye, Tarfful. Goodbye, Chewbacca.” “[roar]” “ Miss you I will.”
·         “Did you find Kenobi?” “Sir, no one could have survived that fall!”
·         “I will not betray the Republic…my loyalties lie with the Chancellor. And with the Senate. And with you.”
·         “My Lady, is there anything I might do?” “No thank you, 3PO…” “Oh…I…I feel so…helpless…:
·         “You have done well, Viceroy. When my new apprentice, Darth Vader, arrives, he will…take care of you.”
·         “Not even the younglings survived…” “Killed not by clones. This…padawan…by a lightsaber he was…”
·         “The attempt on my life has left me scarred and deformed. But I assure you, my resolve has never been stronger!”
·         “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause…”
·         “The war is over! Lord Sidious promised us peace! We only wan-AHHHH!”
·         “If into the security recordings you go, only pain will you find.”
·         “He was deceived by a lie…we all were.”
·         “Padmé…I must find him.” “You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?!” “…he has become a very great threat…” “…I can’t…” “…Anakin is the father, isn’t he? I’m so sorry…”
·         “M’Lady, let me come with you.” “There’s no danger. The fighting’s over. And this is personal.” “As you wish, M’Lady, but I strongly disagree!” “I’ll be all right, captain. This is something I must do myself. Besides, 3PO will look after me.” “Oh dear…”
·         “I saw your ship. What are you doing out here?” “I was so worried about you! Obi-Wan…he told me terrible things!” “...What things?” “He said…you’ve turned to the dark side! That you…killed younglings!” “Obi-Wan is trying to turn you against me.” “He cares about us.” “Us?” “He knows. He wants to help you…Anakin, all I want is your love.” “Love won’t save you, Padmé. Only my new powers can do that.” “But at what cost? You’re a good person, don’t do this!” “I won’t lose you the way I lost my mother. I am becoming more powerful than any Jedi has ever dreamed of, and I’m doing it for you. To protect you.” “…Come away with me…help me raise our child…leave everything else behind while we still can!” “Don’t you see? We don’t have to run away anymore! I have brought peace to the Republic! I am more powerful than the Chancellor; I can overthrow him! And together, you and I can rule the galaxy! Make things the way we want them to be!” “…I don’t believe what I’m hearing…Obi-Wan was right! You’ve changed!” “I don’t want to hear any more about Obi-Wan. The Jedi turned against me, don’t you turn against me!” “I don’t know you anymore! Anakin…you’re breaking my heart! You’re going down a path I can’t follow!” “…Because of Obi-Wan?” “Because of what you’ve done! What you plan to do! Stop! Stop now, come back! I love you!” “LIAR!!!”
·         “YOU TURNED HER AGAINST ME!” “You have done that yourself!” “YOU WILL NOT TAKE HER FROM ME!” “Your anger and your lust for power have already done that! You have allowed this Dark Lord to twist your mind until now…until now you have become the very thing you swore to destroy.” “Don’t lecture me, Obi-Wan! I see through the lies of the Jedi! I do not fear the dark side as you do! I have brought peace, freedom, JUSTICE, and security to my new Empire!” “YOUR new Empire?!” “Don’t make me kill you…” “Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic! To DEMOCRACY!” “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy…” “Only a Sith deals in absolutes…I will do what I must.” “You will try…”
·         “I hear a new apprentice you have, Emperor. Or should I call you Darth Sidious?” “Master Yoda…you survived…” “Surprised?” “Your arrogance blinds you, Master Yoda. Now you will experience the full power of the dark side!”
·         “Ehahaha! I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend! Ahahahahaha!”
·         “At an end your rule is, and not short enough it was! If so powerful you are, why leave?” “You will not stop me. Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us!” “Faith in your new apprentice misplaced may be, as is your faith in the dark side of the Force!”
·         “There’s no sign of his body, sir!” “Then he’s not dead!”
·         “I have failed you, Anakin…I have failed you…” “I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over!” “Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is evil!” “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!” “WELL THEN YOU ARE LOST!”
·         “It’s over Anakin! I have the high ground!” “You underestimate my power!” “Don’t try it!”
·         “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE! It was said that you would DESTROY the Sith, not JOIN them! Bring BALANCE to the Force, not leave it in DARKNESS!” “I HATE YOU!!!!!” “…You were my brother Anakin! I loved you…”
·         “We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.” “Babies?!” “She’s carrying twins.”
·         “Obi-Wan…there’s good in him…I know…I know there’s…still…”
·         “Lord Vader…can you hear me?” “…Yes, Master…where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she…all right?” “It seems…in your anger…you killed her.” “I…I couldn’t have! She was alive! I felt it! GrrrrrrrrrrraaaHHHNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
·         “My wife and I will take the girl. We’ve always talked of adopting a baby girl. She will be loved with us.” “And what of the boy?” “To Tatooine, to his family send him.” “I will take the child and watch over him.” “Until the time is right, disappear we will.”

Biggest “What Do You Mean It’s For Kids?!” Moment:
The beheading of Count Dooku and pretty much the entire third act.

(on a scale of 1-6 where 1 is the best)
Personal: 3/6
As a film: 5/6


  1. Pretty good review but here are a couple of counter arguments to your narrative issues.

    With Padme's death, even positive emotions can induce harmfull stress. This happens to Shimi when Anakin shows up at the Sand People's camp. So Padme being happy about her babies is piling more stress on her. Because of this I don't see it as contrived.

    As for Qui-Gon Jinn reappearing as a Force Ghost. We have to remember Obi-Wan didn't reapper as a force ghost until TESB. In ANH and even scenes in TESB Obi-Wan was only a voice like Oui-Gon with Yoda in AOTC and ROTS. While I agree it would have been cool to see Qui-Gon come back as a force ghost, I don't think it was needed since the other films showed they can also comeback as a force voice. Also if you are a first time viewer, this perserves the surprise of Obi-Wan reappearing as a ghost.

    1. I don't see it as happening to Shmi. Shmi saws her baby again and felt able to let go finally. She was at peace. With Padme, again, I do understand, but I can't help but raise an eyebrow at that line knowing what comes after. I can quickly forget it, I can get wrapped up in the incredible parallel "birthing" scenes and get invested. But for that split second, it takes me out. Even though I know for a fact it is not at all a cop-out, the final edit still sort of feels that way. At least to me; if you can honestly say you've never felt that way at any point, then I'll concede to it being little more than a nitpick.

      Qui-Gon died in Phantom, we hear him in Clones very briefly, we were supposed to see him here. I know that was the plan, but things got in the way. Obi-Wan as a ghost was never that surprising anyway, at least to me.

      Let me be clear: it's still a really good movie. I still love it, it still does more things right than wrong. Jedi was worse, and Jedi is still an incredible movie. It's just...these things do take away from it. Not a lot, not enough to say it's anything remotely approaching "bad", easily forgivable, but technically they are a flaw.

  2. "Sith is, without a doubt, the most emotionally gripping and enthralling entry in the Star Wars Saga, period."

    ...Mm, dunno about that, at least personally. Revenge is the one film in the saga that I feel *does* cross the line as to what's "okay" in a Star Wars film. Anakin being seduced by the Dark Side, even killing Padme? That I can handle. Beheading Dooku and killing children? That's taking it a step too far for me (and yes, I fully acknowledge they're meant to be that shocking. The issue for me is that's really all they are- shock turns that don't actually do anything except make the audience feel uncomfortable). I'm interested you didn't bring up the tone issue you had with Empire, since I find it far more prevalent here.

    I'd also have to disagree with the Coruscant battle and the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight. The former for me is just too busy...there's a willful simplicity to (since you brought it up) the Star Destroyer attack on the Blockade Runner, and what's most impressive about it is that the entire scene is devoid of any dialogue (apart from the droids, but they don't add much aside from "the Princess"), but the entire story is set up through the visuals- the strength of the Empire vs. the meager rebels, the dominance and long reach of the Empire, etc. I freely admit I'm pirating from RLM's analysis of the scene, but he's dead on- the scene is told and structured entirely visually.

    The Coruscant attack, as great as the effects are, doesn't quite manage that. It's not immediately clear throughout the battle who the good guys and bad guys are in a visual sense and most of it's too cluttered to really make a difference. Put simply- we need the opening crawl and character dialogue in the Coruscant battle to understand what's going on. We don't in the Star Destroyer attack.

    As for the Anakin/Obi-Wan fight, it'd be great if it was chopped in half and relegated to the first thrust of the battle...once they get out into the lava and start swinging on cords or whatever it just gets swallowed up by the effects and loses focus of the immensely personal battle at stake. Which is a shame, because the first part is very good, Bush references and "only Siths deal in absolutes" aside.

    1. Just to clarify, I know Anakin doesn't actually kill Padme. I'm just saying that's a line that *could* conceivably be crossed.

    2. RLM is not dead on about anything. The same amount of time passes between the end of the crawl and the first line of dialogue in both cases. In fact, New Hope might just have its first line sooner. And in both cases, the opening crawl at least IS required to understand what's going on. I wouldn't naturally assume the little ship is good and the big ship is bad without knowing that a small band of rebels was fighting an evil empire. Likewise, knowing that two lone Jedi are on a mission to rescue a kidnapped leader, I know it's the two small ships zooming across the battlefield carrying our intrepid heroes. I did warn you about spreading this kind of stuff here. This is your last warning.

      As for the rest, to each their own.I did mention the tone, and find that Sith doesn't fall into Empire's trap because it has more fun with itself at least in the first half. It may be darker, but it doesn't feel like it's trying to be something it's not.

      I do understand where you're coming from on crossing certain lines, but I would argue that if there's any point in the story where that line had to be crossed, it's here. To sugarcoat how far Anakin fell here would be a disservice to his story arc. It would undermine the nature of the dark side. Again, I understand how someone could be uncomfortable with it, and I would not show a child Sith that I might otherwise show any of the others, but for some reason it doesn't bother me here. Outside of how the act is naturally meant to bother, off course.

      As for the duel, watch it again. The cord swinging only happens very briefly towards the end, and it is a very telling part. Obi-Wan is trying to get out of dodge at this point and away from the magma, but Anakin is relentless because he cares more about getting his kill than self-preservation. Again, that's only a tiny part near the end. Also, I don't think the line was meant to be a direct attack on W, but I would have absolutely no problem if it was.

    3. "I did warn you about spreading this kind of stuff here. This is your last warning."

      Wait, I'm sorry- what kind of stuff am I spreading? I swear I'm not trying to provoke a fight or any kind of thing like that- I'm just trying to post my opinion and/or critical judgement where it applies.

      And you're misunderstanding what I'm saying about the scenes visually- it's not just a matter of visual comprehension (though actually the way the shot is framed and scored you actually would guess which ship was the rebels', opening crawl or not) but how the visuals *enhance* our comprehension of the scene by utilizing tricks and techniques to guide our emotions and thoughts. Stuff like the low angle of the Star Destroyer implying dominance and the incredibly large stretch of the ship implying the sheer size and stretch of the Empire- that's the kind of stuff RLM has absolutely right and is a fundamental part of visual composition and technique. And watching the Coruscant battle, there's nothing like that in the visual language of the scene to make those sorts of implications- who's on what side, each side's position and standing in the war, etc.

    4. First off, RLM is not welcome here in any regard. We've heard him, he's wrong, we don't need him thrown at us. If you come to these opinions on your own, fine, but don't ever take cues from that hack and call it fact.

      Second, we needed the crawl or at least some dialogue to tell us there WAS a Rebellion or an Empire.

      As for Coruscant, the whole point is that the Clone Wars was a quagmire. A clusterscrew of immense proportion. But we know the two lone fighters are important. We know who has to be in there if we've been paying any sort of attention.

    5. I could tell the difference between the Republic and CIS ships pretty easilly. The Republic ships had the classic 70s Star Wars style with Red markings, the color of the Republic. Most of the Republic ships since TPM has either Red paint jobs or at least some Red markings. The CIS ships have dark blue markings and most have very alien or skeletal designs. The two sides (Republic and CIS) have very distinct and opposing styles, much more so than the Empire and the Rebels did.

    6. That's another very good point. There are distinct differences between the ships. I'm always more focused on the fighters.

      On a personal note, I've always loved shots and sequences that follow a character or object flying/falling/sliding at high speed through a series of environments.

    7. I've said it before, but you're being massively unfair in flat-out calling him "wrong" and "a hack" when you haven't even seen most of his reviews- from memory you stopped watching at some point in TPM, meaning you haven't even seen enough of his work to make those kinds of judgments.

      You can disagree with him on the prequels, but watch any of his other work and it should be pretty clear he's one of the most insightful and knowledgeable reviewers on the internet- I'd place him just below Hulk Critic as "reviewers who clearly know their stuff when it comes to film".

      And again- I'm not talking mere *visual comprehension*, I'm talking visual enhancement (though, again- even without the crawl in the original film it's still pretty clear at least who the good guys and bad guys are).

    8. Again: not at that point in the film. If you went in knowing nothing about the plot or film in general, there's no reason to assume either way. Who's to say the blockade runner wasn't a ship of evil pirates, and that the Star Destroyer wasn't containing the heroes hoping to stop the bad guys? We assume the opposite because the CRAWL sets up Rebellion = Good and Empire = Bad. Once we know that, we see the size difference as reinforcing what we already know. And since Hope used it, it's become clearer visual shorthand since.

      The ships in Sith are clearly defined as well, but there's more going on because not only is it a war, but it's a war where the lines are purposely blurred.

      One more time. We've had all the arguments thrown at us since the reviews went up. We've disproved them time and again. He. Is. A. Hack. Mention him again, and you are gone.

    9. The clone wars was more even sided than the Civil war in the OT films was. Heck any internet pseudo critic can easilly argue that the OT was way too one sided with it's war between the Empire and Rebels. I like how the clone wars was a more even fight between the Republic and the CIS which helps make that war more bulrred. I am glad GL just didn't rehash the OT. Just very different wars.

    10. I'm not asking for a rehash or anything like point is merely that I don't feel the visuals in the direction (not the visual effects, mind you- I rarely care about those) help to expand and guide the various beats of the scene.

      And I've never felt the line in the prequels was ever really blurred- the Republic are the good guys, the Federation the bad guys. Even Palpatine being in control of it all just made him the out-and-out bad instead of there being any moral ambiguity.

      As for the original opening- the way the battle is shot and composed actually does inform you of the sides, with or without the crawl. The meager ship flying away from a hugely massive ship (shot from a low angle)- our minds instinctively know which is good and which is bad. It's part of the magic of cinema.

    11. No, no, and no. I explained why before and I'm not repeating myself here. Maybe in a full article, but not here.

    12. You are wrong there Flynn. The Republic started out good, but rotted and decayed, and then was twisted by Palps into the evil Empire. By the end of AOTC, neither side was 100% "good" anymore and things become even more grey in ROTS. Hence the line, There are Heros on both sides, evil is everywhere.

    13. That's certainly the intention, but we're still unequivocally on the side of the Jedi and Padme, and though it's clear the senate and to a lesser extent the council are rather backwards, they're generally portrayed as at least the "more right" side.

      I mean, the issue with that argument is that there's never a moment where the Federation is portrayed as anything other than evil- 'heroes are on both sides', but do we ever actually see any of those Federation heroes?

    14. (Also, wait, how did you know I'm Flynn? I haven't used that handle here in ages)

    15. They are fighting for what they believe will be a better government that will allow free trade. Corporate big shots have long believed in "the invisible hand". A belif that that high ranking members in society in pursuit of their own goals and desires will help and improve society as a by-product. The irony is they are only aiding the man (Palps)who will end free trade. (There is a deleted scene in ANH where Biggs tells Luke how the Empire has nationalized all trade.)

      While the TF and the rest of the CIS were not picky about what means to reach their goal, the Republic and even the Jedi were the same. The Republic didn't allow the Seps to leave peacefully in the first place, imposed taxes that started the chain reaction to war. Serving special interests instead of the common good, and even the Jedi for agreeing to use clone troops.

      As for as visuals go for the beginning of ROTS, we see by the huge size of the two fleets and of the battle itself, it is a great war between two powerful and even matched fractions. A war where either side is struggling to gain the upper hand over the other, but are too well matched causing the war to only drag on more and prolonging the suffering and devastation. The CIS's seige of Coruscant is both a daring and despite move to win a very costly war that has dragged on for way too long. I imagined the "Time War" from Doctor Who must have been quite similar with the Time Lords and Daleks locked in a endless war that neither side can win. Unlike the Time war, the Clones Wars was also a shame war, it's purpose was a power grap for the Sith. By the time the two sides figured it out it was too late.

    16. Yes, exactly! I'll admit I've never heard the term "Invisible Hand"...except as the name of Grievous' flagship! The one where all the action in the first act takes place! Brilliant!

    17. How much of that do we actually see in the movies themselves, though? The Federation are from the start termed as "greedy" and power-hungry and portrayed as devious, sniveling cowards who would sooner stab you in the back than risk something going wrong. Remember that our main look into the Federation (and later the Separatists) is via Nute Gunray, who's played as despicable and cowardly as they come (it's only in his very final moments we ever get a hint of sympathy for him, and it's played rather offhandedly).

      Even when we get to the Separatists themselves we never really delve into their motives for leaving other than being dissatisfied with the Republic in a general sense. Again, we are told there are heroes on each side...but do we ever see them?

      My issue with the war as portrayed in the prequels is that it's very much an issue of telling and not showing- we're told of these massive and many battles, but we see precious little of them, we're told of heroes and evil on each side, but don't actually see them, and we're told that the war has ravaged and devastated the galaxy, but don't actually see the consequences of this (Coruscant, for instance, looks as lively as ever despite the massive war going on). The war and causes exist mostly out of characters telling us what they are...not as much us actually seeing the motives, reasoning, and complexity.

  3. One thing you forgot to mention is that John Williams score for Revenge of the Sith is one of the best in the saga.

    1. I wouldn't say the entire score is the best, but I did mention "Battle of the Heroes" was my personal favorite piece in the Saga scores. I get goosebumps just thinking about it, I love it so much.

  4. Sith is my number 2 on my list after ANH. It's very gripping for me. I like the opening sequence - the war drums at the beginning rock it. I don't agree with the Anakin/Obiwan duel however. It was passionate and fast but I felt like it had no power. And Anakin is the personification of Dark Power in the Force. I like the Phantom Menace duel the most in all the movies. There should've been a moment where Anakin hammers on Obiwan like Luke did at the end of ROTJ. Except Obiwan bounces back and eventually does what he did. I also agree with you that Palpatine is amazing in this. McDiarmid is a master and deserves some accolades for that performance. As for the effects, I didn't notice anything, but I don't watch these films for technical perfection but for enjoyment for the nine-year-old in me that saw 'Star Wars' in 1977. That's how I approach all these movies. With the mind of a child. That's why I like them ALL.

    1. Awesome. You get it. It's always heartening to see someone who does.

  5. I'm glad you don't like RLM. His "reviews" (and the hateboys who promote them)take all the fun away from the Star Wars experencie.

    On a more posticive note. Revenge of the Sith will always be a favorite of mine and I always have a good time watching it.

    1. I take issue with a guy who claims the Trade Federation makes no sense when the opening crawl spells it out clear as day. I was 13 when I saw Phantom, and taxes confuse me to this day, and I STILL understood them perfectly from day 1.