Sith Happens

On Friday night, Jen and I accompanied Tom and Audra to a viewing of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Contains spoilers.

I’ve read some reviews about EP3 and its predecessors. Many of them refer to George Lucas ripping up their childhoods. Such phrases are, of course, complete drivel. What many geeks of my generation fail to realize is that Lucas’s target audience has always been boys around the age of 10. It just so happens that many of us were around that age when the “classic trilogy” of episodes IV, V, and VI was released. Lucas hasn’t changed much; we’ve all grown up. In the intervening years, many of have to come to idealize the original Star Wars trilogy and esteem as one of the great myths of our time.

Frankly, Star Wars is, indeed, one of the great myths of our time, along with such creations as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. But the movies were still aimed at little kids. Kids who buy toys and cereal.

With that in mind, I hereby declare Revenge of the Sith to be a great movie. I do not feel that George Lucas has crapped on my childhood or any such nonsense. In fact, if I had to pick one thing about which to be angry at Lucas, it would be his newfound resolve against creating episodes VII, VIII, and IX. He says now that he never said there would be nine movies, which is utter nonsense. Everybody knows that were supposed to be nine. But I digress.

Anakin's SeductionIt was the best of the six Star Wars movies, in my opinion. Seeing Anakin Skywalker’s descent into madness, as Mike so aptly described it, was heartbreaking. Having seen the backstory on the big screen gives much more depth to the classic trilogy. Knowing why and how Anakin fell for what should have been seen as an obvious ploy makes the whole story that much more tragic, and his ultimate redemption all the more meaningful. The tale of Anakin’s fall is very cautionary; it warns us all how easy it is for good people to fall into darkness. His reasons were noble enough: he wanted to protect his wife. And after losing his mother, who could blame him? But, as does every tragic hero, he went too far. It wasn’t enough to protect her: he wanted to make her immortal. That was his undoing. It was his refusal to settle for anything less than the absolute that made him such easy prey for Darth Sidious. Several people have commented that Anakin’s conversion to Darth Vader was too quick to be believable, but I disagree. It was very believable, which is precisely what makes it so very frightening.

The opening sequence was astonishing, from the vast batallion of ships to the Chancellor’s rescue. Right from the start, the movie establishes that Anakin’s relationship with Obi-Wan has changed significantly. Obi-Wan now treats his apprentice with more respect, and Anakin seems to have matured quite a bit, which is a nice change from his whiny petulance in Attack of the Clones. But their relationship is strained when Padme, Anakin’s secret wife (the Jedi are forbidden to marry) reveals to him that she is pregnant.

Anakin begins to have nightmares about Padme dying in childbirth, and he begins to be obsessed with preventing her death. He visits Yoda seeking advice, of course without revealing any information that would get him into trouble with the Jedi Council. Yoda tells him to learn to let go of anything he’s afraid to lose. Sage advice on any account.

Darth VaderLong story short, Palpatine, who is of course secretly Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, convinces Anakin that only he can teach Anakin how to save Padme. And Anakin, consumed with the thought of protecting his wife, gives in. Sidious names him Darth Vader, and a new villian is born.

Vader travels to the volcanic planet of Mustafar to kill Nute Gunray, Viceroy of the Trade Federation. In doing so, he made me very happy. Gunray was absolutely the dumbest character in the prequel trilogy, from his lousy costume to his ridiculous pseudo-Asian accent. Obi-Wan tracks Vader to Mustafar and what follows is one of the coolest lightsaber duels in the Star Wars franchise. It ends with Vader in defeat, and Obi-Wan walking away, leaving him for dead, mangled, crippled, and burning.

But we know it doesn’t end there, because we’ve already seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, right? Palpatine/Sidious finds what’s left of Vader’s body and has him turned into the twisted cyborg we see in the classic trilogy. As Vader assumes his new costume (or old costume, depending on how you look at it), we hear the faints strains of Imperial March. And then, in a very nice touch, we hear the voice of James Earl Jones coming from behind the helmet.

All in all, it was a good time and a good movie. Do I think Lucas has redeemed himself? Not a question for me to answer, as I didn’t feel personally offended by the first two episodes of the prequel trilogy. I never felt that Lucas had betrayed me or my childhood memories, nor was I offended by Ewoks in 1983. And I thought Boba Fett was the coolest guy ever when I was a kid.

No, in the end, I just think it’s a good series of movies, and that this one was the best of them. Personally, I hold out hope for episodes VII, VIII, and IX. I’d love to see more.

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