Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

To all the fans out there, it is time to rejoice. George Lucas has delivered in Revenge of the Sith. In my list of favourite Star Wars movie, it ranks up there with Empire Strikes Back in its emotional level, and action sequences.

It's natural that this review contains no spoilers, as most of you would already know of the plot, and of the ending, since it leads to A New Hope, and given the countless slew of marketing techniques used to promote this movie.

But the question is, what actually pushes Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. And this is the crux of the movie - if the delivery or narrative is poor and unconvincing, then this movie will sink. Fortunately, Revenge cuts to the chase, and to the point, elaborating without being boring, pacing kept consistent with breathtaking action in between serious dialogue.

The best scenes in this movie is however, not the action. They are each time Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker share a scene. After all, this movie is about the Sith, and everytime these two are together, there is an ominous sign hanging that Anakin gets closer to the Dark Side, waiting for the inevitable to happen. If you're with Palpatine, I'd bet you will be smittened by his subtle sweet talk of power. George has written all these scenes well, and you really feel the seduction.

But what really hit the spot was Hayden Christensen's performance. He brought out fear in Padme's death in his nightmares (which was actually a self fulfilling prophecy), arrogance of his knowing his Jedi powers being improved and unmatched, confusion of his dilemma of being in a corner, torn between the Jedi Order he belongs to and his confidante Palpatine. You feel Anakin's sadness and loss each time he makes a mistake when doing evil deeds - you feel his tears, every time he is torn in a world of political plotting, of being an unwilling double agent.

Which makes me ponder, being a child prodigy Anakin Skywalker is, it is without proper supervision that he is being seduced by false promises of unlimited Dark power. Yoda gets sent off for a mission, so does Obiwan, leaving Mace Windu (who doesn't like Anakin, and vice versa) looking after him. It is precisely this opportunity that Palpatine gets closer and pushes Anakin over the edge. In a way, the Jedi's arrogance (or probably Mace's) caused their downfall, and Anakin's love for Padme being the fuel that Palpatine openly exploits.

The Jedi Massacre, though short, is extremely painful to watch. You see the Jedis trying their utmost to survive in their respective warzones, yet being murdered in cold blood by hordes of "friendly fire" - Order 66. It is a sense of great loss and pity, and you'll be holding your breath to see how Yoda survives.

And yes, the lightsabre battles - this film sees the most duels in the series. Obi-wan and Anakin vs Count Dooku, Obi-wan vs General Grievious, Mace Windu vs Palpatine, Yoda vs Palpatine, and finally, Obi-wan vs Anakin. Amongst them, I would rank Obi-wan vs General Grievious the weakest of them all, despite the boast that Grievious can weld 4 sabres and fight with them simultaneously. The ones which packs a punch, are Mace vs Palpatine - the battle between the Jedi's best in the lightsabre swordsmanship, and the power of the Dark Side, Yoda vs Palpatine - masters of the Light and Dark side dueling, with one of them admitting failure and loss, and finally, the battle amongst brothers, Obi-wan vs Anakin. I like this one the most, as the speed and red fiery environment they do battle in, really bring out the blue glow of their lightsabres as they duke it out in fantastic speed. The only time when sabres of the same colour clash, and the best.

Fan favourites like R2D2 (don't we love this droid!) and even Chewbacca make appearances. Jar Jar Binks too, but without dialogue. C3PO however, got limited screen time. My only gripe, if any, will be Padme being reduced to Tears - from the tough cookie she is in the prequels, probably being an expectant mother has mellowed her a lot, and she is always so sad when she comes on screen.

John Williams, there seems to be no wrong he can do with his score, as his Battle of the Heroes track highlights the fight between good and evil, between the surviving Jedis and the emergence of Sith power.

I would be watching this movie again, to take in the fantastic seduction scenes of the Dark Side, the sense of loss, helplessness and confusion, and the agony of betrayal from those whom you trust. Powerful themes brought out in a tribute finale to the entire series, a fitting film that bridges the past films to the Original Trilogy loved by many.

May the Force be with you.

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