Thursday, May 19, 2005

'Revenge' Review

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING

I felt like a kid again. What more can I say. The final episode in the 'Star Wars' saga is a surreal experience for any kid of the SW generation who spent years imaging what the seminal events of this story would look like - the birth of Vader, the birth of his children, the fall of Anakin and the Republic, and the purge of the Jedi - George Lucas apparently spent all those years doing the same, because Revenge of the Sith has a cinematic confidence neither of its predecessors do. The cinematography, set design, and simply the general application of the overwhelming CGI is light-years beyond Episodes 1 and 2, leaving you to wonder at various points who this guy directing it is and what did he do with Lucas.

It opens with a tracking shot over a minute long that follows a pair of fighters into the chaos of a space battle and the film never lets up, building a kinetic forward momentum that gobbles you up and won't let you go. The performances, the writing (for the most part) and the drama all exceed what's come before. Even Ewan McGregor, the most reliable thing about the prequels, somehow manages to find new spirit in Obi Wan. Ian McDermid steals the show as the galaxy's slimiest snake. The most captivating bit of the movie for me was when he shared with Anakin the 'tragedy of Darth Plaugis' (and the origin of Darth Sidious) in which he quietly slips in the biggest shocker since "Luke, I'm your father." Listen VERY CAREFULLY to Palpatine's talk of midichlorians and his use of them. His duels with Mace Windu and Yoda are spectacular, and he alternately displays his confidence in his power and what a wimp he is - obviously he's used to letting others do the fighting for him, and it costs him. He succeeds in destroying the Jedi but is left disfigured, and his long desired apprentice even more so.

Anakin's fall is heartbreaking. At the beginning he's the Jedi hero you always imagined he was - the space battle has a vintage 'SW' / 'Raiders' adventure vibe missing in the first two films - and then suddenly, he's a murderer. By the time Obi Wan leaves him for dead, you are ready to leave him to. He's pathetic. He creates his own misery, and his lust for power supercedes his honest concern for Padme, which ultimately kills them both. The ending is perfect. Some don't like the Frankenstein bit - I love it. He is in every way the project of Darth Sidious. The intercutting of the birth of Vader and the twins is mythic stuff, and the final shot, what can I say. I'm very glad it turned out so well. There's so much to say and consider. It surpassed my expectations, which had been whittled down to virtually nothing after the previous exciting but uninspired films. Nothing can ever top the estactic feeling the original Star Wars left you with, but ROTS achieves a dramatic transcendence impossible in the other films. It validates the entire saga, and it makes a kid who won't ever grow up very, very happy.

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