Thursday, May 19, 2005

Revenge of the Sith: In-Freakin'-Credible

With less than 24 hours in the rear-view mirror, and still riding an emotional high from the experience, it will be interesting to see if I hold the same opinion of this film in the upcoming weeks, months and years.

For now, my personal hexology ranking is:

1. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
2. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
3. Episode IV: A New Hope
4. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
5. Episode II: Attack of the Clones
6. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

For me, the gap between V and I is not as great as for other SW fans. However, Ep. I suffered from too much focus on Jar-Jar and the pod race, when some of that time could / should have been devoted to Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul. It should not have taken 45 minutes to convey the point that Anakin was an excellent pilot.

As for Ep. V vs. Ep. III - a dead heat at the line. IMO, had Ep. III focused more attention on the Wookiees and given the viewer a cameo of Qui-Gon near the end, Ep. III would be numero uno.

Ep. III was spectacular. The acting was less wooden than normal, although occasional snicker moments did arise. Ian McDiarmid as Palpatine / Sidious / Emperor gave an Oscar-worthy performance, and I'm not exaggerating. The recent garbage out of Hollywood, and peddled as great peformances reinforces my belief that McDiarmid is entirely underrated as an actor, as well as Ewan McGregor. In the scenes with McDiarmid, the audience nearly forgets the trademark campiness and somewhat banal language used by Lucas through the saga.

The light-saber battles were generally more subdued than I expected (I expected Obi-Wan and Anakin to battle for twenty minutes), and for the most part, the less-is-more worked well. The battle between Dooku and Anakin should have lasted a bit longer, but it is hard to complain. The battle between Yoda and the Emperor is quite impressive - I'm always impressed with Yoda's skills, since he moves at glacial pace when not engaged in battle.

The Obi-Anakin duel is visually impressive. Obi-Wan's final swings are delivered somewhat painfully, as he is destroying his friend and pupil. This scene is quite grisly. Obi-Wan exits, believing that Anakin is dead or will soon die. However, the Emperor sweeps in to save Anakin / Vader from sure death. The viewer gets to see Anakin on the operating table, with arms and legs severed and severe burns over the rest of his body. The famous Vader mask, helmet, suit and cape are placed onto Anakin, and the transformation to Vader is nearly complete.

When the helmet is vapor locked onto Anakin's head, and he breathes his first breath via artificial support, and that familiar "quooh" is heard, it IS 1977 once again. Vader has replaced Anakin.

In a parallel fashion, Padme is giving birth to the twins (Luke and Leia), and is quickly dying (apparently she lacks the will to live). The scene is rushed, and the choppiness of Padme's naming of the children is forced. It is a sad scene, but is so rushed, the impact of the moment quickly passes.

Bail Organa, Obi-Wan and Yoda decide to separate the twins and to hide them far away from the Empire, until the time is right. Thus, Organa adopts Leia, and Obi-Wan takes Luke to Tatooine to join his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.

In the final scene, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru receive Luke from Obi-Wan, and cradle him as they look at the setting suns in the distance, reminescent of Luke peering at a similar sunset in Episode IV.

Cue the brilliant John Williams.

IMO, Lucas clearly redeemed his name and the series, and interestingly raised additional questions that could evolve into ancillary series (perhaps a pre-prequel??) involving Palpatine and his mentor, Darth Plegius (sp?).

My name is Olen - and I AM a Star Wars junkie.


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