www.derf.net / movies / 20050524_Star_Wars_Episode_III__Revenge_of_the_Sith /
<< prev in "movie reviews" movie reviews next in "movie reviews" >>

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith   ...   movie reviews
tue 2005-may-24 11:07:33 pdt   ...   permalink

Last Thursday I went to see Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Now, before I give my review, I should first explain my relationship with the whole "Star Wars" phenomenon.

As a kid, I somehow managed to not see any of the Star Wars films. Like, at all. I think around 1985 or so, when you probably needed to rent a VCR along with some videos, Empire was shown at a sleep-over birthday party of a friend of mine. I remember at the part where they show Darth Vader's mask being put on, and there's like a fraction of a second during which you can kind of see his head, we rewound and watched that part over a few times, tried to pause it at just the right moment. But I think I must have been in another room doing something else through most of the movie, because that's literally the only thing I remember from it.

The only other "Star Wars"-related thing that I remember from my childhood is the simple fact that I always liked the G.I. Joe action figures much better than the Star Wars action figures because they bent at the elbows and knees. Plus (on the G.I. Joes) there was the rubber band in the waist which allowed you to twist the torso relative to the legs several times and then let go, which was kind of fun. I don't think I personally had any of either brand of action figures, but some of my friends did.

Anyway, the point is that, among the myriad aspects of mainstream popular culture that never played any real part in my childhood, the original Star Wars trilogy is perhaps the quintessential example. By the time I was in high school, on those occasions when the subject of Star Wars came up, I wore my cultural illiteracy as some kind of badge of pride. And as more people told me how important it was that I see them, I obstinately became more convinced that I shouldn't ever see them.

But then when the digitally remastered original trilogy played in theaters my senior year of college, I guess I decided it would be okay to go back on that promise (which wasn't really ever a promise), and I suppose I allowed myself to be swept up in the excitement, or something. With my geek suite-mates and some other geek friends, I went to see each of the three films on opening night. I wasn't any more excited about the second one due to really enjoying the first one, or anything like that; to me, the whole thing was always more just about being excited about this thing for the sake of being excited about this thing. I dunno. I remember at the time after finally seeing these films for the first time, not really understanding what the big deal was, why these movies were considered so great and important. I did cognitively understand that in 1977 this was ground-breaking stuff. But I felt that in 1997, really they were only good for either nostalgia reasons or on a more meta level, for cultural/anthropological reasons -- the former for basically everyone but me, the latter for me and probably some other people.

So then when Phantom Menace came out, I didn't really have any particular expectations one way or another. It was still just this peculiar phenomenon to me -- something a lot of people for some strange reason seemed to care a lot about. It seemed to me that a lot of people were disappointed by it simply because they were now evaluating relative to current standards. In other words, if people could really look at the original trilogy in a modern context (the way I did when I finally saw them), they would see that those weren't all that amazingly great either. I think people (around my age, give or take) have this fondness for the originals that comes in large part from the fact that they were kids when they first saw them, and so were less discriminating. Of course, I don't mean to downplay the ground-breaking-ness of them, as certainly that was a huge part of it as well -- not only were we as individuals younger back then, but also the film industry was younger then, and so it took less to impress. But my point is that to me, Phantom Menace really seemed to be of roughly equal quality to the originals, it's just that we of course have to evaluate it in the context in which it came out.

Then when Attack of the Clones came out, everyone seemed to expect it to suck, and so they were less disappointed by it. Again it felt to me of a similar caliber.

So now I must say that Revenge of the Sith is again what I've come to expect of the Star Wars franchise, and nothing more. This time, the thing that was noteworthy was that it had a very specific job to do: it had to connect the dots from point A to point B (i.e. Episode II to Episode IV). And it did successfully accomplish what it needed to accomplish, which was all I really expected it to do.

Good movies make me forget that I'm sitting in a movie theater (or on my couch) watching a movie; they suck me into their story. And really, it doesn't take much to suck me in. But here, I was pretty much sitting in a theater watching Star Wars the whole time.

On the other hand, that may be less to do with the quality of the writing or acting or directing, and more to do with the fact that, well, I don't totally remember the storyline established by the earlier movies all that well. I mean, I've got the basics (like, Palpatine is the bad guy), but I couldn't remember who all these different factions are and what they're fighting for, and so on... And it is a somewhat complex story -- which I see as a good thing. They could have really dumbed things down for children a lot more than they did. But it means that I didn't necessarily follow some of the nuances, and that may have contributed to its failure to suck me in.

So anyway, you know, ehh.

mail me

reader comments on this entry:

wed 2005-may-25 02:20:45 pdt
posted by iphy

So, I disagree. I don't have supreme nostalgia for the original Star Wars movie and I nevertheless think it is one of the great historical films. It's got a great epic story and it was the first movie to introduce the Wagnerian 'individual theme music for different people/conncepts' into mainstream modern culture. The soundtrack still stands out as one of the great soundtracks of all-time and, even before Lucas went crazy with the adding in new effects and digital crap the special effects hold up pretty well today. The worst part about the whole film is the acting and the general cinematography and directing more than make up for that.

I feel pretty "meh" about the second one. Thought the third one had active stink. And have felt about the fourth and fifth ones about like the third. Haven't seen the sixth yet.

wed 2005-may-25 09:04:27 pdt
posted by

I figured some folks would disagree. But note that I'm not at all contesting that the original Star Wars was the first film to do various particular things -- again, I certainly acknowledge that it was ground-breaking at the time. I'm talking about evaluating it in a modern context.

I don't remember it well enough to say whether the cinematography got worse in the subsequent ones. But I guess it seems familiar that the story was less compelling in Empire and especially Jedi...

wed 2005-may-25 12:36:45 pdt
posted by fling93

I think people...have this fondness for the originals that comes in large part from the fact that they were kids when they first saw them...

I totally agree with that. It's like comfort food. Everyone harps on the dialogue especially, but it was just as cheesy in the old films because Lucas was emulating cheesy serials -- which are targeted towards kids.

The plot isn't all that complicated. The only "tricky" part is that Palpatine's the one who instigates the separatist movement so that he can use the public's reaction to increase his power. Kinda like how some conspiracy nuts think Dubya was behind 9/11.

It's not the reason you didn't get sucked in, because none of these films are about plot (the earlier films were much more linear, and they all have gaping plot holes that you could pilot a Star Destroyer through). It's probably the lack of nostalgia, as you said.

wed 2005-may-25 14:59:15 pdt
posted by Rick

it was just as cheesy in the old films because Lucas was emulating cheesy serials

I have my doubts about this. I strongly suspect Lucas just isn't a very good writer/director.

wed 2005-may-25 16:50:49 pdt
posted by fling93

Well, I think it's both, and perhaps his choice of cheesiness stems in part from his limitations as a writer/director. Or maybe it's his failure to realize that the cheesiness wasn't the actual intent of the original serials (it's just how they turned out because they were so bad). But I'd have thought his pal Spielberg would have clued him in on that.

But yeah, anybody who can make Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson look like bad actors is a pretty bad writer/director (and I heard even Hayden Christenson did well in Shattered Glass).

tue 2005-jul-12 04:16:24 pdt
posted by Creford

There were extremely excellent and the best scenes in the movie "Revenge of the Sith". Good originality and great imagination, great story in this movie! Here's Photo gallery for Hayden Christensen(Anakin) of this movie. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0159789/photogallery-ss-0 I love Star Wars series the most!

tue 2005-jul-12 11:09:54 pdt
posted by ersigh

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels like that. I've received quite a bit of teasing and general shocked reactions because I'll say I don't really care for Star Wars. I didn't really care for it when I was a kid either (although i think that makes me an exception).

I love Sci-Fi stuff and the story line for Star Wars, I think is quite good. It's just how it's implementing in the films has always bothered me. The special effects did indeed seem special when I was a kid.

However, when the remakes came out with added more modern specialness, I got totally pissed off because Jurassic Park, made many years earlier, looked FAR better. So I had to sit through the movies AGAIN.

I actually had some sort of hope when the most recent 3 were coming out that somehow they'd be better, that they'd put the good story line to use in fashion more indepth than one of those children's golden books.

I was irritable after the first film because the acting was terrible (painful) as well as dialogue the actors had to work with (natalie portman is not a good actor anyway but many of the others are). Jar Jar Binks made me want to stab people. I somehow got dragged into seeing the second but all I can remember from it was "is it over yet, holy crap this movie is long" (similiar reaction as to the Lord of the Rings trilogy only LotR actually would pull me in on occasion).

I went and saw the third because it looked "dark", because it touched on what would be the more interesting part of the current story line put to film. I think perhaps it was better than the other two because R2D2 was so sooped up. However, it seemed to me that the dialogue was even worse (and how could Natalie Portman's character sleep in the dress w/the beads on it... ouch!) but I gave it credit that perhaps I am blocked out how bad the dialogue was in the others. I just don't understand how such an angry, whiney guy came from that little kid who was brought up around trained jedi's. There's no real basis for that character trait (except perhaps ADHD).

I actually thought for a moment that the acting was better in the initial 3 but I saw one of them the other day and whenever Luke Skywalker openned his mouth I'd start twitching.

My son loves Starwars. I let him. It's a good story ... even if it's not that well told.

tue 2005-jul-12 11:49:17 pdt
posted by fling93

natalie portman is not a good actor anyway

Take that back! TAKE THAT BACK!

wed 2005-jul-13 14:28:21 pdt
posted by leigh

Take that back! TAKE THAT BACK!

Not likely to happen. She was given far too much credit for her role in "The Professional". The movie was good but there are far better child actors out there.

I'm willing to guess that her acting is better in films other than Starwars but within the trilogy ... ugh ... however, the acting of others also seemed a bit off (like samuel jackson ... outside of it seeming highly inappropriate for him to the play the role he was, his acting was also pretty bad) so maybe it's just the movie.

I honestly have not seen her in anything else, I've intentionally avoided films w/her in them. However, with her new shaved head ... I may reconsider. :)

wed 2005-jul-27 10:12:59 pdt
posted by Daniel

Revenge of the sith was basically the movie we all have been waiting 4. Like all movies it had it's ups and downs. The plot was amazing as well as how he tied everything together in such a way that people will remember his story for generations. Not many people understand the true quality and genious it takes to make a movie like that. The only reason this movie had it's down sides his bad acting. Lucas had everything in his line except good acting. For instance padme didn't show enthusiasim in her role at all. The mace windu character was completely pointless in this series. Also Senator organa didn't have abig enough role in this story. The one who saved the movie was Obi Wan. He played such a deep character and he played it well. His connection and devotion towards anakin was nothing short of spectactular. My ultimate fav scene was when anakin put on the helmet. It was great to hear james url jones voice again. Overall it was a good movie and im glad lucas ended the saga with such deliberation worthy of an academy award.

post a comment on this entry

NeilFred Picciotto drawing of neilfred
  • derf content, blog-style
  • derf's comics
  • elsewhere on the web
  • 100% true stories
  • what i learned today
  • random thoughts
  • movie reviews
  • . . . more . . .
  • In Good Company
  • The American Astronaut
  • Lost in La Mancha
  • The Iron Giant
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • In America
  • Split Second
  • Sideways
  • . . . more . . .
  • phone photos
  • blog-on-blog action
  • tags
  • RSS feed
  • XFN links
  • recent comments
  • 2008-sep-22
  • Britt Lyons on food handler
  • Conrad Pate on singing nuns
  • Suzy on people live in West Virginia?
  • Quinn Rutledge on chickens
  • Jacquline Gamble on garlic rabbit
  • 2008-sep-21
  • Lenora Gomez on garlic rabbit
  • 2008-sep-20
  • Jonas Bailey on food handler
  • Lenny Ayers on chickens
  • random phone photo random phone photo
  • non-bloggy content
  • the derf himself
  • the derf FAQ
  • other derfs
  • what's new?
  • the derfnet portal
  • derf's comics
    blogs and such
  • Q
  • entropy
  • girlhacker
  • ambiguous
  • oblomovka
  • sem101
  • badgerbag
  • zephoria
  • pith, jcn
  • jvg
  • unlikely words
  • mjr
  • jessajune
  • heaneyland
  • dommah
  • unwellness
  • livejournalers
  • ...  all derf.net blog content and underlying code owned by NeilFred Picciotto  ...
    mail me