most consequential moments in "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" for
those already familiar with how the movie will end is its final 10 minutes, when
the film deftly bridges the three prequels with the three originals. Before
that, however, "Sith" is two hours plus of non-stop CGI, stilted
acting, atrocious dialogue, and good actors doing bad work. How bad? It's the
kind of bad that had Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, and Jimmy Smits been
nobodies, they would never, ever voluntarily put "Star Wars" on their
resume. Yeah, it's that bad.
Taking place sometime after the end of "Attack
of the Clones", "Revenge of the Sith" opens with the
robot army of hulking rebel droid General Grievous (who, curiously,
seems to be coughing when we first see him; a first for a robot?) in
possession of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), the
villainous Sith Lord who no one in the movie knows is a Sith Lord,
although everyone in the audience already knows ever since the events of
Phantom Menace". It's up to Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan
McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) to save the day.
The opening battle is just one battle of many,
because "Sith" is filled with the same types of high-flying,
CGI-filled scenes of ships and soldiers shooting at each other for what
seems like an eternity. All this action easily makes "Sith"
the most action-packed installment of the three prequels. Soon Palpatine
has convinced an anxious Anakin to betray the Jedi on the young man's
inevitable road to becoming Darth Vader, and it's up to Obi-Wan to end
his former apprentice's murderous rampage.
Truthfully, there really isn't any more of
"Sith" other than those simple plot points. Despite its
unnecessarily long running time (well over two hours), the film has
little plot to justify such a length, and as such the bulk of the film
is padded up with pointless CGI battles between Jedi knights and droids,
droids and Wookies, Jedis versus Jedis, and Jedis versus Sith Lords,
etc. Although it wouldn't be entirely correct to call "Sith"
one long battle scene, it really does seem to have little meat to its
story. Perhaps realizing just how little actual plot he has created for
himself, Lucas resorts to repeating plot exposition, not to mention same
lines of dialogue, over multiple times.
In-between bright color lasers firing endlessly at
CGI objects, or Jedi knights whirling different color lightsabers
against bright color lasers (George Lucas loves bright color things, if
you haven't noticed), we bear witness to some of the most wince-inducing
dialogue since, well, the last two prequels. Amusingly, it seems as if
Lucas has decided to turn the series into a state of pure cheese with
each subsequent prequel. This wouldn't be so bad had Lucas not believed
we needed to understand what lengths Anakin would go to to save his
beloved Padme (a clearly embarrassed Natalie Portman). It's all very
nice pathos, to be sure, except the acting is borderline atrocious. How
bad is it? Yoda, who is all CGI, shows greater range than Portman and
Samuel L. Jackson combined.
Of the dumbfounded cast (dumbfounded by Lucas' idea
of dialogue, no doubt), only a few actors survive "Revenge of the
Sith" unscathed. Of those, Ian McDiarmid, as the evil Palpatine,
has perhaps the best role in the entire movie. With his snarling,
guttural voice and sly, reptilian glances, McDiarmid dominates the movie
with pure talent. Ewan McGregor is also forgivable, since it's obvious
the British actor has stopped bothering to act ever since "Attack
of the Clones", and has shifted easily into Han Solo mode via
the Jedi" -- that is, he's simply there to crack wise and be
charming, knowing full well no acting is required of him.
Not surprisingly, "Sith" is technically
accomplished, but that's to be expected from a movie created with a
budget that could feed an entire continent for years. Although one
suspects that the reason Lucas has crammed every single scene with
layers and layers of CGI ships, color lasers, and CGI creatures,
soldiers, and droids is from a false reasoning that the more he puts in,
the more people will think there is to a given scene. The sad fact is
that there isn't. What's there is there, and everything else, brightly
colored or not, are just distractions. You could watch "Sith"
three or four more times, and there wouldn't be anything more
substantive than what you gleaned in the first viewing.
nitpicks involve those rebel droids. Not only does their rebellion seem
rather poorly thought out, but also the actions of Grievous et al just
isn't very interesting. The droids also prove to be stupid. In the first
10 minutes alone, the droids get the drop on the Jedis more than once,
but never bothers to pull the trigger. This is silly, as all the Jedis
have to do to extricate themselves is to spin, buzz their lightsabers,
and slaughter the droids. Stupid robots. And let me get this straight:
everyone is flying around in groovy little spaceships, but apparently
medical science is still in the Dark Ages, because no one knows Padme is
carrying twins until she gives birth? Speaking of which, the
Jedis can sense the presence of friends who are in trouble a galaxy
away, but can't sense that the pregnant girl standing next to them is
Faithfuls of the Temple of Jedi will no doubt
considered "Sith" to be the best of the prequels, and perhaps
it is, if just by a little bit, but considering the quality of the
previous two, that's not saying very much. While it does convincingly
bridge the two trilogies in the series, one does wish that there were
more to "Sith" than the pedestrian movement of Anakin from
Point A (good Jedi) to Point B (Darth Vader). As it stands, converted
followers of all things Lucas will love "Revenge of the Sith";
the rest of us will continue to wonder what all the fuss is about.