Journey to ‘Star Wars’: ‘Revenge of the Sith’

The prequel trilogy’s third chapter was its best for all the wrong reasons.

Image via Lucasfilm


Image via Lucasfilm

Image via Lucasfilm

Revenge of the Sith released in a climate no other Star Wars had faced: a lukewarm one. While Star Wars will forever be Star Wars and generate buzz for simply being so, Revenge was the third film in a trilogy that had already burned hardcore fans twice over, and anticipation that this could finally be the one to buck the trend was pretty low. I mean, this is the film where Anakin Skywalker finally becomes Darth Vader, right? Maybe it could work. And, objectively, it’s probably the strongest of the infamous prequel trilogy. It’s greatly aided by having the focused narrative that The Phantom Menace lacked and the meaningful plot that caused Attack of the Clones to be a bore. However, having those things exposes the greatest weakness of both Revenge and the entire prequel trilogy; its plot and characters are no good.

Revenge of the Sith is a competently executed narrative that is forced to build upon the terrible foundation that came before it. Anakin Skywalker has somehow become even more insufferable as an entitled twenty-something, Padme has thrown any emotions besides “I love Anakin” to the wind and through it all, Obi-Wan, who should be the film’s heart, remains as stubborn and stoic as ever. The film tries so hard to make the relationship between Anakin and Padme the central focus from which all other things spring, but because the romance isn’t believable (and it was downright creepy in Attack of the Clones), the film falls apart and goes from epic space opera to CGI melodrama. (And it doesn’t help that Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have all the chemistry of a chair stacked on top of another chair.)

Everything that Anakin does in the film is motivated by Padme, from his desire to become a Jedi Master to his crusade against Obi-Wan for “betraying him,” and because of it, what should be a gut-punch of a journey to the dark side ends up ringing hollow at every turn. The entire film just feels so sterile and lifeless, with the human characters drowning in cliched plots and wall-to-wall CGI. Even the film’s big action centerpiece—a lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan on a lava planet—feels like it was far too choreographed to be interesting. There’s simply no danger to seeing Anakin and Obi-Wan prance around like they’re on a theme park ride, and since it’s all green screen, it lacks the physicality that made the original trilogy’s lightsabers so mesmerizing. Granted, it’s probably the film’s best sequence, but that is likely because you don’t have to hear any more cringe-inducing lines from Anakin. The scene in the film’s third act where Anakin has the suit put on and fully becomes Darth Vader exemplifies the way the film undermines itself best: what should be a terrifying moment where one of cinema’s most memorable villains awaken is instead a hissy fit thrown by a child who played too close to the fire.

Image via Lucasfilm

Image via Lucasfilm

What made the original trilogy such a joy to watch was not just the crazy space battles and engrossing world; the world was engrossing because the characters in it were engrossing as well. You wanted Luke Skywalker to succeed, and even see him redeem Darth Vader, because the original trilogy showed he was exactly the type of person who would not give up on someone. Anakin Skywalker never feels fully-formed as a character, and without being invested in him or his one-note relationship with Padme, he’s hard to root for. And when he does finally become Darth Vader, it’s hard to care. It’s the characters of Star Wars, the quips of Han Solo, the wisdom of Yoda and the determination of Leia that made them so beloved and memorable. It’s the way that everyone and everything in the galaxy feels so real and alive, that makes it the enduring classic it is. Revenge of the Sith is proof positive that you can use computers to make a film, but only the human element can make the film truly come alive. Thankfully, The Force Awakens seems to be avoiding this pitfall, with a much-welcomed use of practical effects and a generational story starring a cast of talented up-and-comers. May the Force be with it.

The Force Awakens is hitting theaters tomorrow(!), so stick with us as we reach the end of our long journey with its arrival and an accompanying review. Until then, why not go full circle and read our piece on A New Hope. Until then, may the Force be with you.

Which is worse: Anakin’s “Sand” or “Nooo!”? Is Hayden Christensen made of wood? Tweet me @MaxMielecki. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded.

About Max Mielecki (157 Articles)
Max Mielecki is a TV writer at YouNerded and does comedy for the interwebs. He knows Han shot first. For further ramblings follow him on Twitter @Maxmielecki.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Journey to ‘Star Wars’: ‘Attack of the Clones’ | YouNerded
  2. Top 5 Siths of All Time | YouNerded

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