Star Wars Episode III:
Revenge of the Sith
Well, it’s a bit late coming, I know, but here’s my review of George Lucas’ final instalment (in movie form at least) of the Star Wars saga…
I’ll run through the plot details first and get down and dirty afterwards. Here goes:
The Clone War has raged for three years with wins and losses on both sides. The Separatists have undertaken a bold gamble and sent a large fleet to the Republic’s capital, Coruscant. Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped by the evil General Grievous, a cybernetic warrior trained in Jedi combat. Indeed, he has a nice collection of lightsabres, gleaned during his campaign of terror against the guardians of galactic peace. He has spirited the leader of the Republic to the ship of Darth Sidious’ apprentice, Count Dooku.
A huge battle rages over Coruscant and we follow two weaving Jedi starfighters as they lead a squadron of clone trooper pilots towards Dooku’s starship. Before we know it, the troopers’ ships are all destroyed, leaving only those of General Obi Wan Kenobi and his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker. After sorting out a minor hitch with some buzz droids, small robots designed to tear apart a spacecraft from the outside, they crash-land into Dooku’s hangar bay.
After some fun and games in an elevator shaft, they reach Dooku’s lair where they find a bound Palpatine sitting in a chair eerily reminiscent of the one used by the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.
The two Jedi engage the count in battle and Kenobi is knocked unconscious. Anakin defeats and kills Dooku, on the orders of Palpatine.
Meanwhile, the starship has suffered terrible damage from the Republic fleet and begins to lose orbit. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Dooku attempt to escape, but are captured by Grievous. Yet another lightsabre fight ensues, with the Jedi being victorious, but Grievous escapes.
Anakin attempts to control the ship’s descent into the atmosphere, but matters take a turn for the worse when the huge vessel suddenly breaks in two!
Thankfully, Anakin’s piloting skills are up to the challenge and he brings the ship down, only destroying a control tower with an unknown number of fatalities in the process. But, hey, Palpatine is safe and that’s all that matters!
Later, Anakin meets up with his secret wife, Padme, and finds out he’s going to be a dad. Obviously everybody in the Senate just thinks Padme is piling on the pounds, no doubt due to the tender care she receives from a now shiny and golden See Threepio. Oh, Anakin tells Padme she’s going to die, by the way…
Later still, Anakin has a chinwag with Palpatine and learns that the Chancellor wants Skywalker to be his representative on the Jedi Council. Anakin is speechless. Unfortunately for him, the Council grants him a seat, but not the rank of Master. Anakin sulks…
Meanwhile, Yoda heads to the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk and Obi-Wan gets shipped off with a destroyer full of clone troopers led by Kenobi’s clone buddy, Commander Cody, to the planet Utapau, where Grievous’ forces are said to be laying low. With Anakin still sulking, he meets up with Palpatine again only to discover that his friend is none other than Darth Sidious! Shock! Horror!
Anakin rushes to grass up the Chancellor to Mace Windu, who tells Anakin to keep out of it while he and his chums go to sort out Palpatine. Of course Anakin can’t obey orders to save his life and gets to Palpatine’s offices just as Windu is about to despatch a cowering chancellor. He obviously didn’t notice the corpses of the other Jedi whom Palpatine killed with ease prior to his arrival.
Anakin tries to dissuade Mace from killing Palpatine, but his pleas fall on deaf ears and Anakin makes the choice that will shape his life forever. He chops off Windu’s hand and Palpatine Force-zaps the Jedi through the window to his death (we presume).
Hideously disfigured by the Force energy he channelled, Palpatine persuades Anakin to join him as a Sith. It is the only way the young Jedi can save Padme, he explains. Anakin accepts and Darth Vader is born. Obviously, Palpatine makes these names up on the spot!
Meanwhile, on Utapau, Obi Wan sorts out Grievous, killing him with a blaster, much to his own annoyance. The Clone War is over!
Palpatine decides it is time for his final play. He sends Anakin to kill all the Jedi in the Temple, after which he must travel to the remote world of Mustafar to ‘take care’ of the Separatist leaders that he has sent there. At the same time, the Chancellor contacts all of the Clone commanders across the galaxy and instructs them to execute Order 66.
Almost simultaneously, on numerous worlds, Clone Troopers turn on their Jedi generals, murdering them with ruthless efficiency. On Utapau, Kenobi manages to escape from his troopers, while on Kashyyyk, Yoda senses something is amiss and beheads the two clones that are about to kill him, much to the Wookiee Chewbacca and Tarfful’s surprise.
On Coruscant, Anakin has a good old time murdering the Jedi (including the kids as well, but we all knew he was capable of this, as he did the same to the Tusken Raiders in Attack of the Clones) and then drops by Padme before his jaunt to Mustafar. He promises that everything is going to be hunky-dory; it’s just that the Jedi have become traitors – blah blah. Padme looks confused and hurt – as you would.
Meanwhile, Senator Bail Organa’s starship, the Tantive IV, picks up Master Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi and they head back to Coruscant to have a word in Palpatine’s ear.
On arriving at the capital, they sneak into the Jedi Temple and do some technical jiggery-pokery that might allow some of the Jedi still alive to evade capture and execution. It is then that they discover that Anakin is now Vader and was responsible for the carnage around them. Obi Wan decides to call on Padme while Yoda heads for the Senate building and an appointment with the newly self-appointed Emperor Palpatine.
Padme cannot believe that Anakin has done what Obi Wan claims and lies to him that she does not know where his friend has gone. She hops into her starship and zips away to Mustafar. Unbeknownst to her, but knownst to us (to use a Spaceballs reference), Obi Wan has stowed away in what looks like the toilet, probably desperately hoping Padme doesn’t need the loo on the trip – she is pregnant after all!
On Mustafar, Darth Vader murders the Separatist leaders, including the Trade Federation viceroy, Nute Gunray. Padme arrives and tries to talk sense into him, but when he sees Obi Wan, Vader loses control and throttles his wife. She slumps to the ground and a biiiiiiiig lightsabre battle ensues between Kenobi and Vader amid the boiling lava of this turbulent world.
Back in the Senate on Coruscant, Yoda and Palpatine partake in a bout of action for themselves, lobbing senate paraphernalia all over the shop in their efforts to destroy each other. Yoda comes off the worst and is forced to retreat, saved by Bail Organa. He explains that he has failed and must go into exile. Gives up a bit easy, eh?
Vader and Kenobi seem evenly matched, each unable to gain the upper hand. Only when Vader’s anger and hatred gets the better of him does Kenobi bring him down, lopping off both legs and Vader’s good arm. Wracked with guilt, Obi Wan sobs that Anakin was supposed to be the chosen one. He was his best friend. Then he walks off, leaving him to burn to death in agony! Oh, and picking up the lightsabre of his former friend. He obviously thinks it will come in handy one day! Sheesh!
Kenobi escapes Mustafar in Padme’s ship. Threepio had somehow managed to get her back on board – maybe Artoo helped him?! They rendezvous with the Tantive IV and find a safe haven on an asteroid somewhere.
Palpatine arrives at Mustafar and finds the near-dead form of Darth Vader. He has his apprentice returned to Coruscant, where his limbs are replaced (longer legs, obviously) and the famous breath mask is added.
As the new Vader is reborn, Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia. Then she dies for no real reason. Oh yeah, a broken heart. And here we were thinking she was strong-willed!
On awakening, Vader asks Palpatine what has become of Padme and the emperor lies that she is dead, killed by Vader’s own hands. Vader gets a bit upset at this and overacts tremendously.
Now, what to do with these two kids of Skywalker’s…
Bail Organa decides to take Leia, giving her a new identity on Alderaan, a place where Anakin has not been as far as we know. He gets to keep the droids too, ordering that Threepio’s memory gets wiped.
Kenobi takes Luke to Anakin’s home planet of Tatooine, where he hands him to Vader’s step-brother and wife, whom he knows, and they decide not to change his name or anything (!!). Just to be safe, Kenobi decides to hang around to keep an eye on things, eluding the authorities by changing his first name to Ben. What a disguise!
Meanwhile, Vader and Palpatine drop by a new project – the building of a big, round battle station thingy that might come in handy in twenty years.
That’s about it, folks - the end of the Star Wars movie saga. Good wasn’t it?
Okay, Episode Three was a great adventure movie and I suppose George Lucas did his best to tie up what loose ends he could, but he made a bit of a hash of it, to be honest. Come on, admit it, he did!
Now we have a twenty year gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. In that time, everybody must sit on their hands until the kids grow up and do their thing. Hmm, not very well thought out, George. So now, he has to create a Star Wars TV series to deal with those ‘missing’ two decades. Hopefully, he’ll get good writers in and not botch it for himself.
Anyway, while Revenge was probably the best of the prequel trilogy, there are some things that need addressing:
You might say I'm being something of a nitpicker, but fans of the Star Wars films notice stuff like this, yet George Lucas does nothing about it. It’s his baby, after all. I’ve said it before, though, and I’ll say it again: Star Wars has grown bigger than the man. Unfortunately, Lucas has held onto the reins of his creation and, basically, made a pig’s ear of it. You get the feeling he’s rattled off a first draft script and nobody in his private empire dare pick it to pieces (watch the documentaries on the DVDs for examples of how his subordinates tip-toe around him).
Lucas goes to great lengths to get things ‘just right’ visually (see the Yoda ‘Widowmaker’ section on the Attack of the Clones DVD for example), but his scripts throw all that attention to detail out of the window. Instead of thinking through what has happened in the original trilogy (which really should be his scriptwriting benchmark – everything that happens in the prequels should lead directly to Episode Four), he has cobbled together what he thinks is a complex, political saga set in a galaxy far, far away.
While I admire his attempts to flesh out the story using the political machinations of those that were present at the fall of the Republic, I'm sure the kids (whom he claims the films are made for!) who see the films only want to see the baddies be bad and the goodies be good. And lots of space battles – which were remarkably thin on the ground in the prequel trilogy, when you think about it. Sure, there were some, but they were over in the blink of an eye. Compared to the Endor space battle of Return of the Jedi, which was a masterful example of action helping the story, each segment of the battle had a purpose and led to the next bit, the battles in the prequels were just a mess of laser bolts and spinning space ships. Sure, war is confusing and chaotic and makes little sense at the time, but Star Wars isn’t reality, no matter how hard you want to shoehorn today’s society into its framework.
So now we have the TV series to look forward to. I truly hope it bridges that unnecessary gap between Revenge and Hope. It would be nice to see Boba Fett again and maybe even young Luke and Leia’s adventures as they grow up. It might also be nice for us to see how the Empire tightens its grip on the galaxy, mopping up the remaining Jedi and the Alliance struggling to stay one step ahead of them. Maybe we’ll see the old rebel base on Dantooine?
Anyway, that’s a while off. In the meantime, we have the films to enjoy on DVD, no doubt with more tinkering by George in future releases. No doubt he’ll have the Death Star shooting first as Luke releases his proton torpedo… heh heh!