Star Wars Binge Week 2020: Revenge of the Sith

When Revenge of the Sith first came out, I remember being awestruck by it. I saw it three times in the theatre and I played all the video games. I was delighted by the conclusion to the Star Wars prequel trilogy. And yet, I question whether that impression will hold up. Revenge of the Sith is the only one of the three that I’ve not fallen asleep to every time I’ve tried to watch the blu-ray (prior to this week of course), and yet I cannot name a single thing that I really like about it outside of the opening shot where we pan over the side of a Star Destroyer to see an epic space battle. We all know that a single impressive shot is not enough to hold up an entire film. So I guess we may as well just go ahead and get started…

  • Right off the bat, this is a text crawl written to set up an exciting action movie.
  • As in my memories, the opening shot follows two Jedi Starfighters over a rather quiet Star Destroyer and then pans down to reveal a massive space battle ensuing below. I still thing it’s one of the best shots in the whole saga.
  • The aforementioned space battle and rescue mission are a great way to open the movie. Typically space battles are saved for the climax, so I like that they flipped the script here.
  • Obi-Wan’s distaste for flying spacecraft is a fun character trait.
  • In any other story, Anakin’s royal whooping by Dooku in Attack of the Clones would have taught him some humility. But Anakin Skywalker’s ego remains an unflappable force.
  • The cheesy quips are much better here than in the two previous films.
  • The first twenty-five minutes or so is perfect Star Wars.
  • If Anakin has been away for such a long time, how exactly did Padme become pregnant?
  • I understand Anakin’s motivations – protecting a loved one, not wanting to betray a friend – but the way he deals with his issues is indefensible.
  • Anakin is happy breaking the Jedi Code as long as it benefits him, but as soon as it involves as assignment that he doesn’t like, he finds the notion preposterous.
  • Anakin is also completely unwilling to step back and take a critical look at the system that he’s so ingrained in. Even when his wife, who is even more a part of it than he is, suggests that maybe it’s more than a little corrupt.
  • Anakin has clearly never watched a movie before, because Palpatine is so unquestionably a villain.
  • I mean, he’s telling Sith legends. Dude is obviously bad news.
  • The Jedi Council is concerned about Anakin, but nobody ever takes the time to sit down with him and talk about whatever issues he’s struggling with. Yoda gives him a lecture when Anakin goes to him for help, and Obi-Wan just vaguely reassures him without actually addressing any real problems.
  • I think Anakin could have truly benefited from-and maybe even been saved by-taking a little time to talk to a professional therapist.
  • Grievous’ organ sac appears to contain only a heart. So then why is he constantly coughing? And how?
  • Palpatine’s howl when he attacks Mace Windu and company is haunting.
  • If I hadn’t made it clear enough, ANAKIN IS A BIG OLD HYPOCRITE.
  • “What have I done?” he asks after getting Mace Windu killed, then sits down to cry. Kill Palpatine and fix it, you dumb-dumb.
  • “I can’t live without her,” he whines. Bro, let me tell you from experience: Yes, you can. It’s hard, but you can.
  • The scene where Anakin assaults the Jedi Temple is grim. I knew it happened, but I forgot how horrifying it is.
  • And everyone in the Senate except for the Naboo applaud for Palpatine’s takeover. Wut?
  • As if Padme is really that unwilling to believe that Anakin went Dark. She should know better than anyone how emotionally unstable he is.
  • Yoda Force Pushing the imperial guards like it ain’t no thang.
  • I really like the final duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Bringing the climax down to a tense, personal face-off is filmmaking 101, but that’s because it works. But how does Obi-Wan manage to chop off both of Anakin’s legs and one arm in a single slice? I just can’t figure out the angle of it.
  • Also, man, that finale is heartwrenching. Having to watch someone maim a loved one and leave them for dead is rough. Big feels for Obi-Wan. I don’t think it’s said enough how great Ewan MacGregor’s work in these films is.
  • They should have cut off the “rebuilding Vader” scene after attaching the helmet and hearing that iconic breathing for the first time. That would have been super powerful. But then they ruined it by letting it go on and on into that awful “NOOOOOO!”

I came away from my revisit of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones with a new appreciation for both. Not that I really think they’re great films, but because it found them more entertaining than their reputations would suggest. The major problem with both is that they’re very unevenly paced, and had multiple points where I got bored and didn’t care for what was happening on-screen. Revenge of the Sith is a completely different beast, because I went in knowing that it was a film that I at least used to really like. And after re-watching it, yeah, I still really like it. I’m not going to say that it’s necessarily a better film than the other two, because it’s still got its share of problems. But this one I felt at least kept me fully engaged from start to finish. Maybe that’s because it’s a near-constant stream of action sequences, but that’s fine! Nobody but George Lucas is going into Star Wars expecting high art.

I think it goes without question that Revenge of the Sith retains its place as my favourite of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Anakin continues to be a frustrating, self-absorbed brat, but it kind of had to be that way. If he had been more mature and rational, he never would have made the turn to the Dark Side and become the Darth Vader that we know and love. It’s just too bad to see such an iconic character portrayed as such an insufferable weenie. Still, it’s a really fun movie and I could see myself re-watching it outside the context of revisiting the entire saga. Plus it really makes me want to play the PS2 tie-in game again to see if it’s anywhere near as good as I remember it being.

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