Tag Archives: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith



Hate leads to suffering.

At long last, we finally have it: the first genuinely good Star Wars prequel film. Not just good, but exceptional. Took them long enough. After grudging through two movies filled with stupid characters, incoherent writing and just plain bad acting, we finally get a film that delivers on all fronts: an exciting, thrilling parable that has a surprising amount of purpose and meaning behind it. Like its early predecessors, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith defies expectations and sets new standards narratively and visually for the science-fiction genre. I have no doubt that many passionate fans will watch this movie and have fevered discussions long after the film’s closing shot.

The final part in what is the mostly failed prequel trilogy, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith takes place where the second one left off, in the heat of the Clone Wars. At the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are on a mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmind) from the clutches of General Grievous (Matthew Wood), the commander of the droid army. In the aftermath of the mission, Anakin goes home to his beloved wife Padme (Natalie Portman), where she reveals to him that she is pregnant. While he’s excited at hearing that he will be a father, Anakin keeps having visions of a terrible future that haunts him day and night. As Anakin keeps seeing these visions over and over again, he soon resolves to stop this terrible future from happening, no matter what dark consequences may come of it.

A Star Wars fan for a long time now, one of the things I love most about the series is its mythology. The light and the dark side, the jedi, the force, all of it builds up very interesting ideas of good versus evil, moral philosophy, and the power of belief. The fact that Star Wars is an exciting, entertaining, and visually spectacular franchise is one achievement. The fact that it has added context behind it makes it all the more powerful.

But one topic that’s always evaded me is how exactly Anakin became Darth Vader. His backstory was mentioned in the original movies, but was never delved much further beyond dialogue.

Then we watched the prequel movies, and we desperately wished that his backstory was limited to only dialogue. 

The Phantom Menace was a boring, useless insight into Anakin’s childhood, and Attack of the Clones provided a whiny, bratty Anakin that seemed like he belonged on MTV more than he did in a Star Wars film. But the Anakin in Revenge of the Sith is a much more visceral, passionate, mature portrayal of the young jedi. He’s much more believable as a character and as a soon-to-be Darth Vader than he is in any of the previous movies.

This is praise for both Christensen and writer-director George Lucas, who is finally back to his A-game that he demonstrated having in A New Hope. The first thing that I love about this movie is the moral dilemma that it presents. In each of the Star Wars films, the main character was a do-gooding, courageously heroic archetype that fought for moral reasons rather than personal ones. Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace. Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. Shoot, even Anakin in Attack of the Clones felt more like a larger-than-life movie hero than he did as a grounded character. 

Here though, Anakin and his twisted arc is the central focus. There is no “light side” to his character. He’s not concerned about the ways of the force, the principles of the jedi, the balance of the universe, or anything like that. He is a very self-centered, arrogant, fearful character: one who desperately wants to change his future, but who ultimately feels powerless in doing so, no matter how hard he tries.

I am reminded of a quote from The Phantom Menace spoken by the wise Yoda (Frank Oz), one of the very few good lines in the film. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This film is, in many ways, the buildup and resolution of that dark path. Think of the scene in Attack of the Clones where Anakin lost his mother and lashed out in a fit of rage against the raiders who killed her. How powerless do you think he feels when he can see another loss like that coming, but he sees no real way of stopping it?

This makes Anakin much more relatable than just the movie protagonist: it makes him relatable as a human being, complete with his own needs, desires, and fears. Revenge of the Sith is, at its heart, a tragedy, a hero’s fall from grace not unlike what we see in Julius Caesar or The Godfather. The only difference between those tragedies and this one is that this movie has lightsaber duels, blaster fights, space battles, quirky droids, and John Williams, along with everything else you love about Star Wars.

There is only one other Star Wars film that I can think of that is better than Revenge of the Sith, and that is the iconic 1980 film The Empire Strikes Back. They are both masterful for similar reasons. Both are fiercely strong in understanding their mythology and message. Both are relentlessly exciting, climactic, and entertaining. And both show, very importantly, that the greatest enemy that we must overcome is not the Sith or the Dark Side. It is ourselves.

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SOURCE: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

J.J. Abrams: the spiritual successor to George Lucas.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a sheer blast of nostalgia, meaningful and joyous from it’s opening scroll credits to when John William’s score crescendos in the last shot. We’ve seen an updated Star Wars for a modern audience before, and that was in the lopsided and disappointing prequel trilogy. Now we have The Force Awakens, and it’s so good that it’s eligible to compete with the original.

It’s 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. A new sith named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has arisen and is bent on taking over the galaxy. His pursuits lead him towards a troup of misfits who have become acquainted almost by sheer chance. A scavenger named Rey (Daisy Ridley) lived on the desolate planet of Jakku before she got entangled into this conflict. Finn (John Boyega) was a Stormtrooper who defected for reasons unbeknown to us. BB-8 is a spherical droid who wants to get away from Kylo Ren for reasons also unknown. What is known is that these three figures have something that Kylo Ren wants, and he won’t stop at nothing until he has fulfilled his destiny.

It’s hard to talk about this movie without giving away any spoilers. One thing I will say without giving too much away is that the story is exemplary, and is reminiscent of the adventure and intrigue that made Star Wars iconic in the first place. The screenplay, written by Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Ardnt and polished up by Star Trek director J.J. Abrams and The Empire Strikes Back writer Lawrence Kasdan, is an active synergy of the old and new, incorporating elements that we are familiar with while at the same time introducing original content all their own. This is not just a strong Star Wars story. It’s a strong story, period.

For me, that was my biggest concern going into the theater, and the biggest relief coming out of it. This was the first Star Wars movie where its key subjects would not be featured. Yes, we have references to the older films, but we don’t have Darth Vader. We don’t have Yoda. We don’t have Obi-Wan. We don’t have any of the key figures that linked the whole series together, minus R2 and C-3PO. How would the movie hold up on its own?

Very well, as it turns out, and the new cast members do a great job servicing their roles and making them memorable on their own. Driver is menacing and malicious as Kylo Ren, an egotistical and maniacal presence that reflects both the chilling imposition of Darth Vader and the deepening paranoia of Episode III’s Anakin Skywalker. Boyega is both humorous and likable as Finn, a reformed spirit who is just trying to find new meaning and purpose in his life. Out of the entire cast, however, I am most impressed with newcomer Daisy Ridley. This is the first time she has acted in a feature film, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that based off of her performance. She is both heartbreaking and intriguing as Rey, equal parts fascinating, sympathetic, and compelling as this character whom is a complete mystery to us. Even by the end of the film, we still don’t understand everything about her, and that’s the point. We’re not supposed to understand her history; we’re supposed to understand her. Ridley did an amazing job at bringing this character to life, and out of anyone else from the cast, she made me most excited for her journey in the future installments.

Do I need to go into the film’s visual and sound effects? They were the groundbreaking features of the very first movies, and they’re stronger than ever in this motion picture. Part of that is because Abrams takes a note out of George Lucas’ old playbook, reverting to practical effects and detailed costuming to bring authenticity to this universe. He still uses CGI, but he doesn’t rely on it. He only uses it when he absolutely has to, when X-wings are firing at TIE Fighters or when lightsabers are clashing against each other. Everything else is created through elaborate art direction and set design, while the CGI is used to compliment the visuals rather than serve as them. The result is the most visually authentic out of any of the films yet.

I have one gripe, and one gripe alone, and that is that there are plot elements that eerily mimic the storyline of one of the original films. I won’t spoil it by saying which one. I will say that even in the face of that criticism, The Force Awakens still manages to make itself unique and special in a series that is already unique and special by itself. We said goodbye to this universe a long time ago. Rejoice as we are once again reunited with the galaxy from far, far away.

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