Revenge of the Sith Reviewed
Some thought on the coda to the saga.




Midnight picture show
I didn't plan it this way, but we actually saw Revenge of the Sith at 12:01am the first night it opened. No, really! I just went out to buy tickets for early next week in case there was a line.  We drove up to the theater downtown around 8:30 or so, and there was a line for the midnight showing. I didn't even think, hello, they did this for the last two movies (and probably the last couple before that), so I talked my significant-but-annoyed other into taking a disco nap and coming back to the theater a couple hours later.

Wow. It so rocked. I mean, I was kind of ambivalent about the last couple movies, but... man! Go see it. If you hurry, you'll get nerds with plastic battery-operated lightsabers a few rows ahead of you just like we had. If you think that's dumb, then you're probably in need of pharmacological assistance. Just sayin'.


My reaction
I used to just about live for new Star Wars movies, but the last couple had kind of inoculated me against any real enthusiasm. As it turned out, that was probably a good thing. I mean, I could have gone into Sith like I did with Matrix Revolutions (which almost made me leave vomiting on the street outside the theater afterward with all its wasted potential). Instead, this last Star Wars was just plain awesome. And if I sound like a 12 year-old saying that, it's because the movie had the desired effect of making me feel pre-pubescent.

I think I was in a state of shock right from the start of this one.  I honestly, didn't think this one was going to be very good.  There really wasn't any reason to think it would be after the last couple films.  This one isn't perfect, but it's really, really damned good.  If there's any sadness, it's that things are wrapping up when it looks like Lucas is finally getting things up and running on par with the best of the original trilogy.  Why stop now?  Especially when the Emperor is the single coolest character in all of cinema right now!  I would love to see another trilogy that brings him back, but Lucas is back to the iconoclasticism that made him a gazillionaire to begin with, and he's saying this is it for the saga.  Even the diehard fans are starting to accept this.

The new movie doesn't have as singularly a dramatic a moment as, say, Luke hanging over the bottomless chasm in Empire, but I have to admit I could have used some beta blockers during the climax this time around. It just rocked.  I couldn't wait to go see it again... and I'm the guy who never watches the same movie twice (except for Contact and Fight Club).


Sithtacular!
[I posted this to MySpace.com as a bulletin a few weeks after the movie opened]

It has come to my attention that some of you have not seen Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith yet.  That is just unfortunate.

Not that George Lucas is going to have trouble putting his kids through college if you don't go, but I'm in a kind of Jesus-freaky mood where I've had a euphoric experience (albeit complete fantasy, hence the Jesus-freak analogy) and I just have to share it with people who frankly couldn't give a damn.

Fine.  But you're going to read want to read this anyway.  Mostly because I'm kind of a car wreck, and you can't help but slow down long enough to gawk.

I realize that, coming from me, a good review of a Star Wars movie might seem about as objective as Fox News covering cross burnings at the Republican National Convention, but I have to tell you in all seriousness, the movie rocks.  And it shouldn't work at all.

I mean, the protagonist turns out to be the bad guy, the romantic lead is pregnant through the whole thing, and everyone dies before it's over.  Oh, did I give too much away?  You've known what happens next since the "sequel" came out in 1977.  If you are shocked by the revelation that Darth Vader's gal give birth to twins, then you must be living in a galaxy far, far away.

So what's so great this time, you ask?  (Or, as you put it, Get on with things already, fanboy!)

Well, the opening sequence is the best of any Star Wars movie.  In fact, it's better than most movies in their entirely.  About five minutes into is I thought, "Holy shit!  It's cool to like Star Wars again."  That hasn't been the case since May of 1983 or thereabouts.

And there are so many lightsaber battles that anyone with a Freudian bent will be convinced George Lucas just discovered Viagra.  Also, I'm sure everyone who found Hayden Christensen as annoying as I did will be looking forward to the immolation scene.  Still, I have to warn you, it's pretty freaky when you do get to it.  (I saw it with Kristi, and she had her hands to her face through most of it.)

Most importantly (well, for me), John William's score this time is across the board the best thing he's written since The Empire Strikes Back (which is only the greatest soundtrack of all time, in my "expert" opinion).  Honestly, if you are the music lover you claim to be (those Stone Temple Pilots cds in your collection not withstanding), then you will be there straight on through the credits to hear every note.  This score has more new themes and better arrangements of and variations on the original themes than anything in the saga.  I canNOT stop listening this soundtrack.  Or making sound effects in the background while it plays.

If I sound like a 12-year old saying any or all of this, then the movie had the desired effect.

Unless you're from the future, I'm guessing that none of you gets the opportunity to time-travel that often (I'm not counting drink specials), so I can't imagine why you would pass up a chance to watch a good Star Wars movie on the big screen.  Go see it.  Later, we can get a couple plastic lightsabers and go play in my yard.


The music
I saw it the second time with my friend Kristi (referenced in that bulletin), and she got up to leave as soon as the credits started.  I was like, "Hey!" and reminded her that this is just about the best music you're ever going to hear.  When the lights finally came up all the way we found that there was another couple with us, so we didn't feel too bad.  That score was incredible.  It blew away the last couple that only introduced two or three new themes, only one of which was memorable from each.  This one had some really surprising pieces that didn't sound like the usual things.  In particular, the music played under the scene between Palpatine and Anakin at the "opera" and the music during the scenes where Anakin is trying to decide whether to help Palpatine or not.  There's no dialogue, just a montage of one-shots of the relevant characters.  It's probably one of the best sequences in the movie.  And unusual for Lucas.  I don't think those statements are mutually exclusive.

Looking back...
I think this trilogy was made not for the fans but rather to please one person: Lucas' son, Jett.  When the first movie came out, Jett was maybe 6 or 7.  When George was writing it, he put in things that were age-appropriate for that time in his kid's life, Jar Jar being the stand-out example.  The second movie matured a little, but was still pretty juvenile.  This last one finally was appropriate for a PG-13 audience (which his kid was a member of by the time of the release).  Incidentally, Jett plays the Jedi kid who gets killed trying to escape the temp when Bail Organa shows up.

What if...?
There were a lot of tangents that didn't get explored this time around.  For example, Han Solo was in the early drafts.  I bought the "Making of" book for this one, and it's really fun to read.  It is written in chronological order as the production progressed, so you see the evolution.  I haven't gotten very far in it yet though, but Han was supposed to be 10 years old in this movie.  He just didn't fit in though.  There honestly wasn't any room for him.  Originally, there were a lot of scenes with him and Yoda together. WTF?  I have no idea how they were supposed to have known one another, and that didn't gel with the secular character we all know and love from the original trilogy.

What Lucas did right this time was to streamline the story to deal with only what was relevant.  No indulgent "comedic" scenes, no irrelevant action sequences, just the story.  There was more than enough backbone here deliver a great film without unnecessary asides, and this approach left room for the all-important sequences between Anakin and Palpatine.  Those made this movie work.


Copyright 2005 Ale[X]-wing fighter.
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