Movies That Hate You: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Anakin and Obi-Wan rescue Chancellor Palpatine from Count Dooku, and General Grievous escapes.  Anakin prevents the General’s command cruiser from crashing into the surface of Coruscant, and they all meet with the Jedi Council afterwards.  Obi-Wan is sent on a mission to destroy Grievous, and Anakin is becomes the Chancellor’s Aide.  Padme informs Anakin that she is pregnant, and now Anakin is haunted by dreams of her dying during the birth of their child.  Unable to cope with this nightmare, he turns to Yoda, who offers him little advice to work with.  Seeking guidance, he turns to Palpatine, who uses this to tempt Anakin further into the Dark Side.

Fearing the worst, Anakin tells Mace that Palpatine is the Sith Lord, and is ordered by the Jedi Council to remain inside.  Mace takes a strike force and confronts Palpatine, but Palpatine kills them all and fights Mace to a standstill for a time.  Mace emerges victorious, but Anakin intervenes, allowing Palpatine to kill Mace once and for all.  Anakin decides to give himself to the Dark Side and is rechristened Darth Vader.  He goes to the Jedi Temple and kills all the Jedi.  Palpatine orders all the clone troops to betray their Jedi commanders and kills all of them, save Obi-Wan and Yoda.

Palpatine calls for a special session of the Senate, where he announces that he will name himself Supreme Chancellor in light of the “betrayal” by the Jedi Council.  Yoda and Obi-Wan view the security files and learn the truth.  Yoda goes after Palpatine and Obi-Wan talks to Padme.  Anakin, on the other hand, has gone to the Trade Federation and killed all of its leaders.

Yoda confronts Palpatine and they have a fierce sword fight.  Anakin is confronted by Padme about his deeds and he chokes her.  Obi-Wan intervenes and the two of them have a sword fight.  Yoda finds that he cannot win against Palpatine, so he retreats and escapes with Bail Organa.  Obi-Wan defeats Anakin and takes his lightsaber.  Obi-Wan rescues Padme and takes her to a hospital.  Palpatine finds an amputated Anakin and takes him to a workshop.  Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia, but dies shortly thereafter.  Anakin is given machine implants and is reborn as a man encased in armor.  He is informed that his wife is killed and he has a tantrum.  Obi-Wan delivers Luke to the Lars Family, and Leia is taken to Alderaan by Bail Organa.

Review and Comments:

When I wrote the first review, I had written a treatise on many of the flaws of the movie, and how much of the prequels fail to reconcile with the first 3 released movies of the series.

Then I did the world a favor and erased it all.  This review can be summed up in a single sentence:

This movie sucks on toast.

We’re talking Matrix-level orbital bombardment levels of craptacular idiocy.  For the Attack of the Clones review, I noted the dangers of allowing any one person complete creative control, especially if the only thing they can do best is marketing.  For Mr. Lucas, however, you can see his focus coming from a mile down the road, as the levels of annoyance with characters you don’t care for or about dance across the screen, as the level of enjoyment for those beyond the age of 9 seems to be all but forgotten with this franchise.

Which would explain why two of the most charismatic (and popular) characters, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, aren’t even anywhere in the series.

The Flaw of Star Wars Storytelling:

When the opening of a movie looks like a modern day video game, don't expect the audience to pay much attention to it.

Consider, the First 5 minutes of every Star Wars film begins in space.  Only in Clones and Empire does something then land on the planet and we spend time there.  In four of the movies, a Star Destroyer is in the first scene.  In two of the movies, there is a space battle in the beginning.  But, in all of them, it turns out to be nothing but a demonstration of ILM’s technical capability.  With every successive movie release, beginning with the first Star Wars, the amount of visual effects in the first minutes of the film increased dramatically.

By the time The Phantom Menace would be released, the amount of VFX and CGI used in the prologue and first act would increase exponentially with every new film.  This would all culminate in Revenge of the Sith, where the first 20 minutes of the film is nothing but a veritable fest of CGI ships and rotoscoping bands of light for their laser swords.

And with each successive movie release, the wow factor declined in inverse proportion to the amount of the visual effects budget expended for the Star Wars movie in question.

Dark Premonition Storytelling…Again:

You need a better actor and a better editor to pull this off successfully.

I railed against the idea of Dark Premonition Storytelling in my review of Attack of the Clones, and Lucas uses it again here.  We get a vague line of dialogue from Ian McDarmid echoing through Anakin’s mind as he looks across the city to where Padme is staying.  Padme, apparently, feels this “connection” and looks across to the building that Anakin is looking out of.  I suppose that this was supposed to endear both of them to us, and serve as a harbinger for something realy bad coming down the tube.

Either way, this scene, thanks to Hayden and Natalie’s limited talent, ends up wasting too much time on…pondering.  With the bland music that is supposed to be the “something is wrong and something bad is about to happen” music.  It just becomes the “this is boring and I’m going to fall to sleep” moment.

The Second Act of Nothing:

That's right, kid. I am YOUR father!

After attempting to put the fanbase on a roller-coaster ride with the “big battle” at the beginning of the film, we spend Act 2 with Ian McDarmid seducing Hayden Christensen to join him for cookies and milk.  Yoda and Mace stand around, sensing something bad will happen (which is necessary for Dark Premonition Storytelling), until Yoda goes to the Wookie planet so we can be pandered to by seeing Chewbacca.

By the time Obi-Wan strikes this pose, most of the audience is either asleep or sending phone texts.

Obi-Wan is sent off to a planet to fight General Grievous, who is the worst swordsman since Monty Python’s Black Knight, and we’re supposed to believe that he is a threat to the Galaxy?

Coming to the realization that her film career is toast.

Natalie Portman, on the other hand, after being nothing more than eye candy in the last 20 minutes in Attack of the Clones, is stuck in the Star Wars equivalent of being barefoot and pregnant for nearly the entire movie until she gets choked by her husband.

From a Certain Point of View?

Obi-Wan says this line when Lucas is stuck performing damage control regarding the Skywalker family.  The way the story was told in 1977, Luke’s father was once a Jedi who was partnered with Obi-Wan until Darth Vader comes along and kills him.  In Empire, unfortunately, to get the most dramatic line possible, that story had to be chucked.

Or, we tell TWO lies, to cover each other.  Thus, we get “So what I said was true, from a certain point of view.”

Well, Sith takes this line to levels of absurdity once only reserved for the realm of crappy 1990s “dark storyline” comics:

From MY POINT OF VIEW, the Jedi Are Evil!

This was supposed to be another attempt at pandering, where the viewer is supposed to harken back to Obi-Wan’s line in Return of the Jedi. Unfortunately, this was something that most casual fans would have rather left deep in the recesses of happy memories of watching Star Wars movies, so this was the equivalent of breaking a sewage water main and watching is spill all over the downtown shopping district.

Thief, liar, and con artist. He could give Han Solo and Lando Calrissian lessons.

So, in the End:

Anakin is the result of a Dark Force rape/Dark Force Unwanted Pregnancy, if Palpatine’s story is to be believed.  He tells Anakin that the mitochlrolians in the hands of a Dark Force master can be used to “stimulate” life.  Does this make Palpatine his Dark Force Dad?  If so, Shmi then is pregnant with a kid against her will.  Ordained by the Force or not…this is creepy.

I don’t like where this leads to, so let’s leave it be.

However, Anakin joins the Dark Side because his mother died and he believed his wife was going to die.  So he joins the Dark Side…and kills her anyhow.

Anakin is not strong enough to handle grief.  And he has been gifted with power nearly beyond imagination.  So, he kills Padawans who are not only unable to defend themselves, but also trusted him with their lives.  He kills other Jedi.  He kills others who stand in his way.  He shares responsibility for the destruction of Alderaan.  He’s also tortured those he’s chosen not to kill, and has led troops into battle to kill others.

All because he doesn’t know how to grow up, mature, and move on.

This guy had the same problem. Result: Another big and expensive comic crossover event.

Obi-Wan apparently likes the whole “certain point of view” business.  He tells Luke that Anakin would have wanted him to have his old lightsaber…except that Anakin says no such thing.  In fact, Obi-Wan reduces himself to a petty thief by stealing Anakin’s lightsaber after cutting off his arms and legs.  Palpatine, on the other hand, having become the Paddishaw Emperor of the Known Universe, gives Vader his own lightsaber.

Do Women Serve Any Purpose in Star Wars?

Three movies, no name given, not a single line of dialogue. In fact, none of the female Jedi have names or dialogue within the movies.

Most of the time, I focus on Women of Color, mostly because outside of the occasional Asian female, Women of Color are non-existent in any capacity.  If there are, they usually end up being one of the five Sci-Fi tropes listed here, or one of the seven general Hollywood tropes described in this PDF.  In a more general sense, however, women in science fiction and speculative fantasy are rarely nothing more than prizes to be won, or incompetent eye candy.  Or, in the rarest of circumstances, cannon fodder impetus for the rugged heroes.

Padme confronts her husband on a planet of lava. Not barefoot, but still pregnant. And can someone tell me what she does for the entire time in the movie, other than die at the end?

In the Star Wars prequels, there were only 2 women with any extended part to play in the movie.  Anakin’s mother Shmi, and Anakin’s girlfriend/wife Padme.  We learn very little about Shmi, except that she get sold a few times, and then she gets dead pretty quickly.  Padme, on the other hand, is nothing more than Anakin’s nursemaid when all is said and done.  And when she has to confront Anakin about his descent into the Dark Side, she is soon reduced to nothing more than a crying mess.  Then again, with the exception of her introductory scene, Padme spends the majority of her time being nothing but a crying mess.

All of the female Jedi introduced in the first 2 movies?  Dead.  In fact, unlike male Jedi, the female Jedi don’t even get a chance to defend themselves.  Even more embarrassing, a young male Padawan who we never even knew existed manages to kill more soldiers saving Bail Organa than any of the female Jedi ever get a chance to.

Being a Jedi is great...if you happen to be a boy.

No other female Senators with any prominent role whatsoever.  Naboo apparently had the only co-ed defense force, because there have not been any other female pilots for the Republic…anywhere (Padme doesn’t count).

No women of color to found, anywhere.

And, once again…no Black women, either.

Oh, and that Choir Again:

Most of the music from the double sword battle is recycled from The Phantom Menace, particular when Yoda is battling Palpatine.  Again, the movie is trying desperately to get the audience to pay close attention to the big fight that is happening on the screen. But since the choir does not meet the exceptions listed in my review of the Phantom Menace, the fights and the movie sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor.

In Conclusion:

The circle is now complete.  And after 6 movies, the storied franchise of Star Wars, which was once considered “cool” to be associated with (unlike that nerdy “Star Trek”) has now sunk to the same depths of space fantasy mediocrity that other so-called sci-fi inhabits.

At best, Star Wars was a story about boys playing with toy guns and laser swords and magic tricks to save the princess from the Black Knight and the Evil King.  Women are props, or used as an impetus for evil deeds (a distaff’d story of Adam and Eve, maybe, except that the serpent seduces Adam to kill Eve, instead).

Does anyone really believe that either Ian McDermott or Hayden Christensen could take Samuel Jackson in a fight, magic tricks and laser swords or not?

Par for the course gets you Return of the Jedi level nonsense.  But these three “prequel” movies prove once and for all that charismatic and likeable actors (and actresses) can make people gloss over the fact that the story is completely farcical.  When your best actors are Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) and Ian McDarmid (Palpatine) and they are the only ones that seem to have any fun in their roles, you have a problem.  Especially since the story is supposed to be about Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), who makes Mark Hamill look like Sir Alec Guiness in comparison.

And, finally, there is the visual effects.  It’s like using prescribed medication:  Too much of it could lead to addiction or chemical dependency.  And the waning influence of Star Wars by this time seems to have been a self-fulfilling prophecy; with the Star Trek franchise having gasped its final breath with Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Nemesis, Star Wars stood alone.  And thus, all of its flaws were also exposed.  Since computer technology had advanced to the point where entire movies could be generated on computers staffed by graphic artists, it allowed Lucas to pursue his own vision.  Unfortunately, because of it, scenes that were impossible (or prohibitively expensive) in 1977 were possible by this time.  Ironically, this limited the imagination of other areas, including story and music.  Which is where Star Wars stands right now.

Revenge of the Sith was misspelled.  And the movie needs to be flushed.  Or ejected.

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6 Responses to Movies That Hate You: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

  1. Mike says:

    Both Natalie and Hayden are terrific actors. The directing is what was limited. Look at Sam Jackson and Jimmy Smits, leaden as a 19th century pencil.

    • Heavy Armor says:

      Watch Hayden in “Jumper,” “Shattered Glass,” and “New York I Love You.” Hayden’s flat performance in Clones and now Sith is pretty much indicative of just how limited his actual talent is.

      Natalie is the same way. Limited range and an inability to rise above the source material.

      Both were ill-served with Lucas serving as Producer, Director, and Writer, as well as primary bankroller of the prequel franchise. In other words, six degrees of mediocrity no matter which way you go.

  2. excerpt book says:

    Great Blog here!! Take care up the passable work. I drink set it to be very educational, Thanks an eye to all the help

  3. anonanother says:

    Some acting was wooden, but most of your claims were baseless. There were white people, blue people, black people, green people, furry people, and just about every color imaginable in both male and female varieties. Has it occured to you that most of ROS was in a wartime setting, using robots and (non white skinned, I might add) clones? Out of the two main characters, one was female, and they both never stopped whining. How is that sexist?

    • Heavy Armor says:

      I don’t know what’s funnier:

      Would it be your equating actual male actors of color to CGI wookies and other aliens who appear for a few seconds and then leave – because there were NO women of color in this movie; OR how about you spewing your chauvinist screed about war – because this shows the world your blind ignorance to history. Lucas would never have dared to feature anyone like the Night Witches in any of the Star Wars films. Or, since you went there, you realize, of course, that all of the non-white skinned clones you so rushed to praise were all faceless and nameless BAD guys, like they would be in the majority of Hollywood film productions?

      Oh, and one more thing. Out of the main cast, ONLY one was female; not only did she whine, but she spent most of the movie barefoot and pregnant. Then she was killed by her husband. And that is OK with you?

      Face facts: Star Wars, as I have said before, is nothing but a fantasy about boys playing with swords, toy guns, and magic tricks to save the princess from the black knight and the evil king. It’s obvious that you like Star Wars, and that’s fine. But if your first response to a review like this which lists the racial and gender issues of movies like RotS is to leave your kind of reply, then its time for you to re-examine your fandom, because you are too invested in believing in the egalitarianism of space fantasy, which Star Wars never purported to have, BTW.

  4. Gorilla Film Magazine says:

    Great post, it did feel like George Lucas just hates his fans.

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