Welcome to Star Wars week. On Friday, Episode VII: The Force Awakens opens in theatres around the world. In anticipation of this historic event, I’ve decided to rewatch the original six and review them here, with a new review coming out every day this week.
Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the dark side comes full circle in Revenge of the Sith, a strong conclusion to the prequel trilogy. While not without it’s flaws, this film does a good job of connecting the trilogies together, which is really all it was required to do.
The premise of the film sees Anakin being asked to spy on both the Chancellor and the Jedi Council, and being conflicted about which side to trust. That combined with the fear of losing his wife in childbirth drives Anakin to madness in a way that seems completely reasonable. None of the other characters’ care about him, they just are using him and the result is Darth Vader.
The political take over by the Chancellor was actually more interesting on a repeated viewing than I remembered. Slowly throughout the trilogy, Palpatine has been giving himself more and more power, to the point where he creates the Empire to the cheers of Senators. It’s a long drawn plan by the Emperor but it’s very effective.
Finally on his third try, Lucas has succeed at making interesting CGI battles and characters. The final battle on Mustafar is proof of this, as are the scenes where the Clones turn on the Jedi. It is nice to see Lucas finally succeed at making animation look nice.
The dialogue is still cheesy in parts, especially the scenes involving Padmé. George Lucas should never write a romantic comedy. The wrap up of Padmé’s story was very weak overall. In the first two films, she’s an important leader who can hold her own against anyone. In this movie, she stays in her apartment the whole time, and then “loses the will to live” and dies. I would have expected her to be more involved and to get a more realistic ending to her arc.
My other major complaint is about how pointless of a villain General Grievous is. In every movie they introduce a new henchman to the Emperor, and Grievous is the biggest joke of them all. It’s as if Lucas designed him to sell toys, a transformer-type character with almost nothing interesting to add to the movie. I much would have preferred if Darth Maul had just been the henchman for the whole trilogy. He was a much cooler and mysterious villain.
Considering the large expectations this movie had on connecting the two trilogies, it could have been much worse. The first half is very slow but the massive third act, with all of it’s action, is well executed.
But is massive action what Star Wars is all about?
The original trilogy is hard to compare to the prequels. The movies come from a different time, with different filmmaking technology and budgets. What makes the original Star Wars great is the stories and the characters, not fitting as many explosions as possible into a movie. For that reason, these movies feel less like Star Wars movies and more like superhero movies. It will be interesting to see which path Episode VII goes down.