The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, May 23, 2005

Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Just wanted to finish up on my thoughts about the Star Wars cycle.  I've already praised it: yes, I loved SITH.  Now let's take a look at how it could have been better.  Understand that I'm not saying I can think of another filmmaker who could have done a better job.  Much has been made (and justifiably so) about Peter Jackon and LOTR.  (I mean--who could have watched MEET THE FEEBLES or DEAD ALIVE and seen THAT coming?).  But you have to factor in the reality that Jackson didn't create the story. He adapted probably the most popular fantasy ever, but in that sense, he has to be compared to other adaptations, NOT original work like Star Wars.  Also, Lucas sustained his efforts over 30 years and six films.  That has to be entered in as well.  Wow.
So...complaints, given that I loved it.  SOME LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD.
1)  Weak female characters.  My sister noticed this.  Padme is sidelined for much of the film, being seriously preggers and all.  The introduction of a female character for the girls in the audience to identify with would have been nice.  She is almost completely reactive.
2)  the feminine "energy" of the movie is out of balance.  It is almost all bang, bang, bang.  We visit several planets and really don't get to know the aliens at all.  Even the vaunted Wookie planet depends on our preexisting affection for Chewbacca.  They would have had a stronger effect by slowing down, letting us know these folks better, and then hitting us with killer action.  Even the frantic (and in my mind, inferior) Return of the Jedi let us know the Ewoks a bit before the action clicked in.
3)  A single line of dialogue explaining that the Emperor's mental powers drive people a bit bonkers would be nice.  Some were confused about whether Anakin's decisions were motivated by logic or emotion.  I believe that he THOUGHT they were logical, that the emperor was seductive as hell.
4) There are certain questions about Anakin's origins that aren't answered directly.  I felt this was a cheat, as we'll never have another film to answer them.
5)  Anakin slaughters the "younglings."  Well, o.k.--but I would have liked it better if he'd killed a couple of other Jedi first, to get warmed up.  That seemed like quite a leap.  But as nastiness goes, I liked it.
6) The rescue of the Emperor.  You know, in the early part of the film Anakin and Obi-Wan rescue the Emperor.  And the emotions just aren't there--partially because we don't like the Emperor, and partially because the actor is playing it so cold.  The same sequences would have been SO much more exciting if there had been a character there we gave a damn about, and who might have been at risk. In fact, this was exactly the type of scene where a female character would have pumped up the juice.  Where was Princess Leia when we needed her?  If we could conceivably have had a pregnant Padme also at risk...WOW!  And if she had done something brilliant and brave and good here in addition?  DOUBLE WOW!
That's all for now.  And I'm sure there's other stuff.  Some of the dialogue is still wooden, some of the performances still stiff.  Lucas was definitely keeping to a Saturday Morning Serial tone, and it grates a bit.  But overall, Well Done George.  May the Force Be With You.  Now, go out and make little, intimate films.  Grow up and get on with your life.  If there are any more Star Wars movies to be made, let someone else make 'em.  You, and we, deserve a rest.

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