Film review: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith


Star Wars Ep III

To paraphrase a friend, what a complete load of Sith. George Lucas fails utterly to pull a rabbit out of his hat for this, the third and last interminable, overblown, badly acted and scripted—and the worst crime of all, boring—episode in the Star Wars merchandising franchise. If this is the future of cinema, God help us. Have a brief look at the fan sites and you’ll discover such hysterical comments as “the best movie I’ve ever seen!” I can only hope that particular kid gets out and sees a few more movies.

I’m waiting for someone to sit through the last three ‘prequels’ and count how many times there is a scene where several of the actors walk through some endless city corridor, or board a spacecraft, while regurgitating the same old dialogue about senates and republics and votes to set up the next video-game-like action sequence. There are so many bad decisions being made here, but let’s start at the place where Lucas should have started, and stayed for a lot longer—the script. Rumour has it Tom Stoppard was drafted in this time around to help with the leaden dialogue; but if so then Tom was having several off days in a row, for there is little improvement. Some scenes, such as when Skywalker goes over to the Dark Side, are frankly laughable; bad writing, wooden acting and even cheesy special effects blending into something that looks like a first year high school film project. Proven professionals—McGregor, Portman, Jackson—are here forced to chew on hackneyed dialogue and work in front of blue screens, and come out looking like friends drafted in as the actors (only Ian McDiarmid manages to inject some much needed ham into his role). I’m not exaggerating that much; the recent fan film Star Wars: Revelations is on par in acting and script quality.

I think one of Lucas’ mistakes is to assume that we like these characters because of their relation to those in the original films. Skywalker, (the young) Kenobi and Padme are cardboard cutouts going through the motions. Unlike the vivid characters of Han Solo, Luke and Leia, with their chemistry, their verbal sparring, their triumphs and tragedies, there is no one here we care about.
But the action, you say, what about the action? Well, there’s plenty of it—plenty of sound and fury, to paraphrase the Bard, signifying nothing. Lucas paints his screen canvas so thickly with frantic detail that the eye isn’t given a moment’s rest. There is no light and shade, no focus or subject, to what is happening on screen. Lucas is like an spoilt kid showing us all his expensive toys; but what happened to the role of a director? A director should expertly control our eye and our emotions. What we here is nothing but a multi-million dollar headache.

I’m giving Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith one star in recognition of all the hard work that so many people lavished on the film, but this last episode is ultimately doomed by its creator’s overweening hubris. Go watch the A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back again; and dream of what could have been.

One faulty breathing apparatus out of five.

PS Give me the gritty, smartly written, well-acted sci-fi of the new Battlestar Galactica, or Firefly, anyday.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anaglyph
    May 23, 2005 @ 09:02:55

    Oh yes, right on Pete. What a mess this film is. It’s hard to understand the relatively mild reaction it has received, considering its monumental awfulness. All I can think is that the critical faculties of reviewers have been addled by the loud sounds and pretty lights.
    This movie is a true travesty. It is at once loud, gaudy and expensive, and epitomises all the things that are wrong with Hollywood. The irony is of course that people like Lucas were responsible for the revitalization of Tinseltown back in the ’70s with his new imaginings for the grand scale of cinema. To see the circle completed with this inept and lumbering dross is sad and disappointing.
    I can’t think of one good thing to say about this film. It fails comprehensively on every score.
    0 Light Sabres out of 5. And that’s how many I ever care to see again.

  2. Erica Tesla
    May 25, 2005 @ 20:44:34

    I wanted the film to be good. I really did. With all of my friends telling me how absolutely fantastic it was and how much better it was than I and II, I had hope.
    But around Kebobi’s line: “Anakin’s the father, isn’t he. I’m so sorry.” I had made up my mind that I would have been better off finding the nearest mugger and handing over the $8.50 I spent on the movie. The acting was so wooden, the production so storyboard-ish, the dialogue so contrived, the emotional responses either schizophrenic or entirely missing –
    Well, I’ll rant on my own time (and dime) instead of yours. Suffice it to say, I agree. I have to wonder what planet the people giving it good reviews are from.

  3. Universal Head
    May 25, 2005 @ 22:28:50

    Well, it’s nice to hear from someone (outside a few close friends) who shares my opinion—I was starting to think I’d sidestepped into some strange dimension where people live who completely overlook the most basic atrocities in film making …
    Another ‘killer’ line—”we have to take her to the medical centre”. I mean, derrrrh!! After that, I expected any moment a line like this (just in case we’d missed it): “do you mean to say, and let me get this right, you, my apprentice, who has at this point been on the side of good, have now gone over to the Dark Side and are the apprentice of Chancellor Palpatine, and are now called Darth Vader?”
    And let me, for the last time, say just one word … younglings.
    Rant away, that’s what we’re here for!