Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith: and why I hated this piece of crap movie!
DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN THE FILM OR DON'T MIND SPOILERS. TO DISCUSS MY FEELINGS ON THE FILM I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO MENTION A FEW KEY THINGS THAT MAY SPOIL THE MOVIE FOR YOU. IF YOU WANT A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW...HERE IT IS: I HATED IT.
Also, because I'm so passionate about this...this post is very long. I apologize to those of you who don't wish to wade through it all, but I can't write my feelings on this movie in 500 words or less. If any fellow bloggers on the L&N are upset at the length of this post...I'm sorry. Really not trying to be a space hog (hey, I love that band)...just trying to do justice to the feelings I have following this film.
First, I am not a hater. I'd like to think that after a decade of heavy movie-watching that I have learned to be as fair as possible to a movie. Chris, you may have to vouch for me here. See, generally Chris and I agree on most movies. We just have very similar taste.
Second, I'm not the guy to dump on a movie because my expectations were too high. In fact, if I go in with expectations that aren't met...I'm more prone to overpraise the film. Example: Matrix Reloaded. Loved it when I saw it. Looking back now...when I'm more objective...and it's really inferior to the first one. I still like it a lot and still think it's better than most critics gave it credit for...but I wanted it to be so good that I couldn't see it's flaws when I first saw it--how sterile and detached and emotionless it all was.
Third, I love Star Wars. I love all three original trilogy films, and I think Empire is the best of the entire lot. I can see flaws in those films, for sure (Mark Hamil's acting, some dialogue problems, etc.), but I love them. I enjoyed Phantom Menace strictly for the fact that there was finally another Star Wars movie out. The duel with Maul at the end is awesome. But the movie is seriously boring in spots. And bad acting abounds. Then came Attack of the Clones. More boring. More bad acting. More bad dialogue. But again, the ending saves it somewhat with dozens of Jedi fighting side by side (wet dream) and Yoda in a lightsaber duel (I whooped and hollared).
And so that should get you caught up on my Star Wars background and frame of mind. I went in to Revenge of the Sith expecting some bad acting, some bad dialogue, and some boring-ness. But I knew going in that there would be more lightsaber duels than in all the other films combined. And I knew we'd see Yoda fight again. And I knew Obi Wan and Anakin had to fight at the end. So I fully expected to love this thing. I fully expected to go gaga. Afterall, the lightsaber duels are my personal favorite thing about the Star Wars films. I was expecting to hate some parts but love the whole.
Unfortunately, the opposite happened...I loved some parts, but I hated the whole. That's right. I didn't like Revenge of the Sith. I hated it, actually. I think it was crap. The first sentence I uttered (to my roommate) upon standing up as the end credits rolled, was "Man, I should've stayed home and slept."
Here I am a day and a half later and I still feel the same. And I'll now try and detail why without sounding like one of those critics who takes joy in bashing a film. Like I said, I love Star Wars, and even like the first two prequels overall. But this one did nothing for me. I do not enjoy what I'm about to say. I'm pissed that this movie misses the mark so badly for me. My surprise at my own reaction to the film is what has prompted me to even write this review and post it to L&N.
I do best with bulleted lists. We'll start with what I didn't like:
- As Chris mentioned...the Anakin and Padme dialogue was beyond annoying. "You are so beautiful." "That's because I love you." "No that's because I love you!" Gimmie a break. And the rumor is that Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz & Gildenstern Are Dead, & Shakespeare in Love) did an uncredited rewrite on the film's dialogue! I hope not. If he did, I know why he didn't want credit. At two points midway through the film I actually groaned out loud and rolled my head back on my seat at the awfulness of the lines. Just bad writing. "You're breaking my heart Anakin!"
- Horrible Acting. Okay, there's just no way for me to believe anything other than that George Lucas kills good performances with his directing. Maybe it's because there's so many scenes the actors shoot with a green screen, and they can't connect to the scene. Maybe it's because he's just a horrible communicator regarding what he wants (Gulager-ish). I happen to think the actors probably give great performances, but then George makes them do another take. I can just hear him now, on set, "Natalie, that was great...but can you do it more boring?" Look at the list of actors that come off badly in this film: Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smitts, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Stinking Christopher Lee. Great actors. I've even seen Hayden be great in non-Star Wars stuff.
There's also the possiblity that the performances are so bad because the actors are given such crappy dialogue to work through. (Padme to Anakin near the end of the movie....AFTER HE'S KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE..."You're a good person!!"). That's possible too. Honestly I don't know why most of the actors are so wooden. But Ian McDiarmid and Ewan McGregor are the only ones that come off with good performances in my book. I don't know why they can rise above the bad writing better than the others...but they do. Freaking Sam Jackson has been flat-out bore-me-to-death awful in all three prequels. I think he's going for "wise" but he comes off as "the most boring professor you ever had in school."
-Freaking Yoda's speech pattern. I understand that in the original trilogy (and since) Yoda has a way of speaking backwards. It's part of his charm. But that way of speaking is on acid in Revenge of the Sith. I'm not sure there's a single line Yoda says that isn't backwards. And it got severely annoying to me. I think I growled about it aloud near the end when Yoda tries his best Ahnold-type line delivery "Not if anything to do about it...I have." Holy crappy overuse of a once-neat speech pattern, Batman!!! I mean, that line is bad enough, but saying it backwards is just cheesy. Took me right out of the scene.
-Whack Lightsaber duels. Here's the deal...it just doesn't matter that you have five-times more lightsaber duels in the film...if they're all going to be mostly bland and non-emotional. They are almost all of them short duels. There's not a single move (save for Yoda during a non-duel scene) with the saber that made me go "Whoa!" There's not any Jedi jumps in the duels. There aren't really even turns and tides in the duels. Remember in Jedi when Vader and Luke go back and forth, at times each of them seeming to have the edge? Well that doesn't happen here. In fact, it's like the two actors just approach each other and twirl the blades super fast and that counts as a duel. There is only one moment in the Ani/Obi duel where one of them has an edge over the other one. The rest of that duel is just a bunch of walking backwards on platforms while swinging away.
I have to say that the Darth Maul duel from Episode 1 is by far the best duel of the entire prequel trilogy. It has emotion and characterization and Jedi jumps and turns in the battle's tide. The Ani/Obi duel has none of that. It should be the most emotinally charged duel of the entire six-film saga...but it's not. It's sterile. Emotionless (except when Obi shouts "You were the chosen one."). They just swing swords for a while. I mean if Anakin is the most powerful Jedi (as the film mentions several times) then he should not only be doing cool moves and tricks we've never seen but he should also be DOMINATING Obi Wan. But he doesn't. No one ever really leads in the fight. No one's ever really near death during the fight. It's just ten minutes of saber sound effects and flashes of blue light.
-Yoda's weak-ass duel. Well, you're not going to see anything from Yoda you didn't see in ATOC. Jumps fast and furiously. Nothing new added to his fighting style. And the duel between Yoda and Sidious is lame, really. It's short too.
-The Jedi that accompany Mace to arrest Sidious/Palpatine go out like complete chumps. Sidious just jumps up and they do nothing. They don't parry or block with their blades. They just stand there and literally watch Sidious run them through. I know the scene is supposed to end with Mace and Sidious dueling...but these guys are either Jedi or they're not. If you want them to go out like chumps..then make them droids instead of Jedi. But no...three seconds after walking in the office, three Jedi are dead without even defending themselves. Don't Jedi sense things?!
-In fact, during the Order 66 mess...almost all the Jedi go out like chumps. There's one Jedi that get's surrounded by 7 droids who shoot him dead with blasters. But in the film's opening scene we see Obi and Ani in a hanger surrounded by about 40 of the same droids, and they have no problem handling them. A couple Jedi get shot in the back by Clone troopers during Order 66. And yet all through the films we've seen Jedi that "sense" things and react a split second before they're attacked. Yoda does it on the Wookie planet, sensing the clones are about to get him. So how come all the other Jedi are chumps who can't "sense" a thing? I'll tell you why....'cause Lucas is a moron who reworks his mythology to fit the pre-determined digital effects shot he wants to shoot.
-I really think Anakin should have been the one to take out more Jedi. He really only took out the six year olds. Clones took out the rest.
-The clone army takes out the Jedi without a single twinge of thought or remorse. I know they�re soldiers�and ultimately they report to the chancellor. But they aren�t droids. They�re humans. Clones. And in one scene they even show the clone being friendly with Obi Wan right before he gets the order to kill Obi Wan. And he just says, �Okay.� Not one second thought?!?! I�d have believed it more if they were droids. Humans have feelings. And even humans that eventually follow evil orders will take a moment to contemplate whether or not they should. Lucas just needed it to be easy. He was trying to show how quickly the Empire/Republic turned on the Jedi�and I get that. But the individual clones would have had pause there after receiving that order. A shrug at least. Give me something.
-Padme "secretly" pregnant. In the film's opening, Anakin sees Padme and runs to her. They hug. A few seconds later she announces to him that she's pregnant. The VERY NEXT SCENE shows her belly to be at least 6 months pregnant. Now...you tell me...when Anakin runs to her and hugs her, does her big huge swelling belly not give something away to Anakin?! He certainly seemed shocked to hear her say she was with child. Did he just think she'd been eating tons of burgers while he was away at the Outer Rim? Stupid. It's a small thing, but it's stupid. She's freaking months and months pregnant!!!! He should be able to see it literally, if not sense it with the Force for Pete's sake!!
And at the film's end...Obi Wan says, "The child is Anakin's isn't it?" And he says it like he's wise for knowing that. Like that's some big revelation?! Who else does he think Padme was sleeping with?! I mean, they're living together for crying out loud! Ani and Padme talk of having kept the relationship a secret...but they're sharing a penthouse apartment with C3PO as their freaking butler! A small quibble, but when seen with all the other glaring script continuity errors...it's ridiculous.
-Wookies. Nice to see Chewie. Don't get me wrong. Nice to see him. But there's just no reason for them to be in this movie, other than for Lucas to up the hype and interest in the film. We're not even ever told what's going on with the Wookie planet....why they're under attack....or if they end up saved in the end. It's just a mindless excuse to see some Wookie, so they write in a battle scene on their home world. If you're going to go there....then show us the outcome. Not showing the outcome just prooves that it's not important to the story. So don't put it in. Totally shameless.
-The freaking retarded COUGHING robot!!! I cannot stress enough how retarded it is to have a coughing robot. I know they tried to show with at least one shot that there was some sort of living organ inside the Grevious shell...but that's not enough. Give Yoda two lines or something to explain that Grevious used to be human....and then I'll have less problems with the freaking coughing robot!!!
- While we're on the subject of Grevious. A bad guy who can weild four sabers at once and spin them like helicoptor blades....should be more of a badass in fighting. Obi Wan took him out WAY too easy.
-Vader screaming "Noooooooooooooooooooo" and the Force crushing things around him when he learns of Padme's death. Really silly. Took the weight of the moment away by referencing Frankenstien and a hundred other cheesy horror movies. He even stumbles when walking. It's clear George was trying to make a Frankenstien moment....but he shouldn't have. It was silly.
-R2D2 at one point says "Uh-Oh." Enough said.
-Logic gaffes. The next-to-last shot of the film is Vader, Sidious, & Tarkin watching the Death Star be built. So, it takes 20-25 years to build a Death Star?!?! I mean, Luke is a baby here and is at least 20 in A New Hope, so that's how long is must have taken them to build it. But how come it only takes them a few years from the end of New Hope to the end of Return of the Jedi to build another one?
Also, how the hell does Obi Wan go from a thirty-year-old to freakin 68-year-old Alec Guiness...all in only 20-25 years between trilogies?!?! And while we're at it...Anakin aged significantly between prequels one and two while no one else aged.
Lucas just got lazy with the timeline. He wanted to show the death star to further make you think there's a connection between the trilogies...but completely forgot how many years need to take place before A New Hope's timeline even begins. Outrageous. Lucas should have titled this film "How to Succeed in Filmmaking Without Really Trying."
Jedi can sense things sometimes...but not when the script calls for them to be ambushed. I mentioned it earlier, but it's a logic lapse in my book.
THE HIGH GROUND!!!!! So, Mr. Lucas, you mean to tell me that the entire Anakin/Obi Wan duel hinges on which one of them has the high ground? THE FREAKING HIGH GROUND?!?!?! Man, I was so freaking pissed when Obi Wan said, "Don't try it Anakin...I've got the high ground." First of all, he had about two more inches above sea level than Anakin had...which is hardly high ground in my book. Second of all, can't freaking Jedi jump about six stories high? Isn't Anakin the best Jedi ever? Is he really that disabled by a two inch height loss to Obi Wan? I mean, this is the logic gaffe to end all logic gaffes. Two of the most powerful Jedi ever have been fighting on a lava planet for fifteen minutes and what decides the outcome of the fight?! The high ground. What is this, the Civil War? I think Lucas just couldn't figure out how to have Obi Wan win in a duel with Anakin (who is supposed to be the best)...so he cooked up this lame-ass "high ground" stuff. Geez, I almost walked out right there. It's just insulting. And it flies in the face of everything we've ever been told about Jedi and their abilities. I mean, if high ground were an issue, then would Yoda ever even win a single fight? No. Because he's a short-ass little muppet who stands two feet hight. Everyone would have high ground on him!!
-Lack of emotion. I say this film suffers from Matrix Reloaded Syndrome. It has no emotional weight. It's sterile. It's like Lucas spent two years making sure everything looked great (and it does!) but then only spend three weeks on the script. The duels, the dialogue, the character arcs...they all fell flat for me. Very flat. I think Hayden did a better job in this movie than in the last...but it's not enough to make me feel anything. He's still mostly a whiney bitch. "The Council doesn't respect me! Wah!"
-Millions of other little things. Padme naming each kid as it comes out of the womb was strange and forced. (Thanks Lucas, for writing in a scene where we learn Padme�s kids are Luke and Leia�which we surely didn�t know already.)
Okay, okay. I'll stop now. Here's the brief rundown of what I liked:
-Yoda, entering Sidious's office, throwing the two red guards to the ground with a wave of his hand. That was great.
-Yoda, in the cool lightsaber move I referenced earlier, throws his saber javelin style into the chest of a robot�then jumps on the robot�s chest and rips his blade back out. Really cool!
-The silent (thankfully free of awful dialogue) scene with Padme and Anakin both contemplating things at the same time, and on opposite ends of the city. Nice moment.
-The burning Jedi Temple was cool too.
-Sidious is awesome...or rather Ian McDiarmid is awesome. He really kicks ass and chews up scenes in this movie. His lines drip with depth and he's the only character that really makes you care about or feel anything. Great job.
-Music. John Williams continues to rule. He is awesome. I've been singing Duel of the Fates for about 24 hours now.
-Hearing James Earl Jones do Vader again.
-The Twin Suns of Tatooine.
-R2D2's antics in the hanger. Felt like classic Star Wars...like classic R2. Great stuff...except for the "Uh-Oh" line he has later.
-Hearing Chewie growl again.
-No gay-ass lines from 3PO.
-No Jar Jar lines at all.
Man, you know it's a bad sign when your favorite things about a movie are the awful things they could have put in but didn't.
I'm sorry to dump on you if you feel the opposite of me. I'm sure Chris and I will have many a friendly debate about this movie. And I�m not trying to say he�s wrong�film is subjective, not objective. I know Chris well enough by now to know that he is fair in his assessments. I won�t be trying to convince him he�s wrong to love the movie because I know he has his good reasons why he liked it. But there are tons that will drool over it (Aint It Cool News, I�m looking in your direction) simply because their inner geek tells them they should.
But I hated it. I felt nothing during it and after watching it. I cannot add up the parts of this film and come up with anything that�s good. The bad is just too overwhelming. The story seems fine, but the filming of it took several wrong turns. Am I really so wrong for simply wanting the film to make sense? I just think it's total crap. And we'll never get another one. Thanks George, for insisting you direct and write these prequels. You're an idiot.