STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH review
I have watched my last new STAR WARS film.
Really don’t know what to say. I’ve wanted to see Obi-Wan fight Vader on that Lava Planet since that issue of Starlog in 1978. My 6 year old reading comprehension grasping for every word of every article I could get my grubby little hands on. For me, the origin of Vader has been the Holy Grail of my geek soul. That story most coveted, but yet untold. I’m 33 years old now. 27 years lay between me and that boy that dreamt of that fight – but right now, he’s on my shoulders and we’re slapping high-fives.
The imagery in REVENGE OF THE SITH -- The turning of Anakin, the annihilation of the Jedi, the expulsion of Yoda, Obi-Wan vs Anakin, Palpatine revealed, the birth of the twins, Alderran, the adoption of Luke, what became of the droids… These are all near religious iconography in the minds of children raised in the ways of the Force. I’ve spent a quarter of a century discussing these things, speculating on what it’d look like, how it’d play out… I’ve seen it in countless dreams, but never with my eyes open. Never George’s dream of what it was. Till now.
As I sat at the Regal Metropolitan Theater in South Austin watching the film – I couldn’t help but get caught up in it. Dad was there with me, we’ve spent countless years talking STAR WARS – through STAR WARS – I learnt of the source material George was smashing and grabbing from – B serials, Pulp sci-fantasy adventure romances, Asian cinema – all of it. Before STAR WARS – I was well on my way – after STAR WARS the road was poured. I would be a geek for the rest of my life.
That would mean, I’d be primed to openly weep as Yoda crawled through that damn crawlspace to escape, during the whole of Obi-Wan and Anakin’s fight and the death of Luke & Leia’s mother. It is a very powerful thing to see the dreams one has spent a quarter of a century pondering. It might be cheese ball of me, but dammit – this is exactly what I wanted out of this last STAR WARS film… closure.
I’m having a really hard time writing about this one. It’s just so damn big. So full of literally everything that I wanted to see in all the prequels – but crammed all into this one. This really is the big Michael Corleone episode of STAR WARS… It’s where all the traps are sprung, all the cards are laid on the table, where everybody dies, all is lost and evil rules the galaxy.
That’s what makes the film so damn hard to talk about, at least off a first viewing. Let me see if I can explain this.
We all know how dark this film is intended to be. We all know how incredibly dire things will turn out in this film. However, the first 40 minutes are so light… as to be completely disconcerting. There’s just a feeling that THEY shouldn’t be having fun. Don’t they know this is the last smiles they’ll share? That when Obi Wan goes on that last mission and Anakin wishes him well… that that’s the last time they would be friends… Don’t they know that? WE DO, why can’t they see what’s coming? WAKE UP!
The film makes you powerless to change things. It’s like sitting still for a fucking tragedy right from the get go, but unlike TITANIC, you don’t have it all spelt out yet. Unless you’ve read all the spoilers – and I don’t really know what you spoiler-lovers will think. Just because for me… I knew, basically, what was going to happen. The broad strokes. I’ve gone out of my way to ignore as many spoilers as possible – which is a near impossible thing to do when you’re being emailed by everyone on Earth 300 images a day, 40 reviews a day now and were sent all the books, comics, score, everything from Publicity firms… shit… I bought that Talking Yoda toy – and next thing I know the little Green Bastard is trying to tell me the story of REVENGE OF THE SITH. It’s so hard to be pure on this – there’s just so much information out there. Everywhere.
The most shocking or surprising emotion I felt during this film experience is that… I don’t want Anakin to become Darth Vader. I just… Despite 27 years to the contrary, as I sat in that theater watching the last act of a good Jedi that turned evil… I just found myself wanting to scream at him to stop. I wanted desperately to send him on that mission with Obi Wan. I wanted Mace Windu to put his hand on Anakin’s shoulder and say, “Come on Kid, Let’s finish this!” and march off as brother Jedi to kill the fucking Emperor. I wanted Anakin to let go of his hate, fear, ambition, jealousy and self-centered egotism and just be the knight in shining armor… FOR THE GOOD GUYS!
You can tell… Anakin so wants to do what is right. He even does the right things, it’s just everyone around him doesn’t treat him as an equal… save for Palpatine. That when push comes to shove, the only fucking rat bastard in the galaxy that is going to call him son, tell him ‘fairy tales’ and really listen to his problems enough to find out what is REALLY troubling him is the bad guy!
Because the whole damn galaxy is at war, because to everyone else, Anakin’s existential crisis doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, they’ve got bigger fish to fry. They’ve got to Protect Wookies and the mushroom people and Hellraiser’s home planet and kill lots of robots and General Grievous and police the fucking universe… and… and… well, their damn domestic policy sucks!
The Bad Guy has his priorities right. He’s controlling the robots, the clones and to a large extent the Jedi… yet still manages to multi-task enough to listen to Anakin and help him deal with his premonitions of personal tragedy. He'll take the time, to ignore an amazing science fiction zero G Esther Williams number, to tell young Skywalker a SITH LEGEND. A story, an anecdote. And he tells it, like a father would to a son. And the story is directly related to the problem Anakin is facing, it gives him hope, direction and the first glimmer of a happy ending to his concern. He doesn’t tell Anakin bullshit like… learn to not give a shit, detachment is the key to inner peace… What sort of bullshit is that? Ignore your problems, betray those you love, watch everyone you care about die – and just be happy cuz they’re food for the force, which you manipulate… and everyone’s death will just make you more powerful. WHAT SORT OF FUCKING JEDI WISDOM IS THAT SHIT YODA??? THAT'S NOT REALLY HELPFUL YOU NEGATIVE GREEN TURD!
My god. The Jedi really are a bunch of goody two shoe clueless fucks. They’re so concerned with fixing the galaxy’s problems that they don’t have time for their own… and due to their unrealistic and inhumane rules about not loving or caring about anything other than the almighty “force” they created an air of fear for Skywalker. How could he level with them? How could he share with them? By the time Obi Wan finds out Anakin and Padme have kids on the way… it’s too late. That ship has sailed. Everyone is so busy being good little soldiers, that they just are not communicating.
Obi Wan never takes Anakin out for drinks and just levels with him. Sits him down and explains fascist totalitarianism. He doesn’t explain why sacrificing the most marginal freedoms to create a false sense of security enables those taking on those additional powers to create a greater evil than that which they fear. Hell, nobody really explains to Anakin why Democracy is better than Absolute Rule. Instead it is all this, “Search your feelings” bullshit. Turn to your ancient religion. This is why ultimately Luke Skywalker kicks ass. Because he doesn’t have all this dogmatic bullshit. Because he’s got a buddy like Han Solo that’d be willing to bust ass across the galaxy to save his ass. Somebody that has his back. FRIENDS! Because when the Sith hits the fan, it’s the love of your friends that’ll help you push through and kick ass. Because Luke believes in twin sunsets, the good guys and saving his dad.
What does Anakin have? Who cares about Anakin? Well Obi Wan, but he doesn’t know how to show it. Yoda? He’s too busy being disturbed about the cosmic meaning of shit to even form a no bullshit non fortune cookie sentence. Mace Windu? He’s got his head so far up his ass it ain’t funny. Padme? She’s more concerned with her hair, her image, everybody’s standing and well being. And then Anakin himself? He’s told he’s the chosen one, the key that will make the galaxy unified. Yet, the only one empowering him to do that is the fucking Emperor.
I love how together Palpatine is. He’s just one of the greatest bad guys in the history of bad guys. He absolutely must be Karl Rove’s hero. Look at this. Palpatine has engineered so many things. The creation of the Droid armies, the creation of the Clone armies, his various Sith apprentices, Fall guys for Fall guys… all with the direct purpose of spreading his enemy so thin, that no matter their powers, when he calls ORDER 66… they’ll never see it coming. It’s like inviting your friends over for an all night session of game play and spreading cyanide on the fucking pizza. They’re all gonna eat it, cuz… dude… it’s what you do when you play games. The Jedi are fighting their war, doing Jedi shit. Kill the droids, tons of them. This shit is fun for them. They eat it up. This is their Frosted Flakes with Bananas. They finally got their Holy Crusade, woo hoo, a sense of purpose. They never think twice about all them fucking Boba Fetts watching their backs.
It’s so beautifully laid out. It’s fucking immaculate. This is literally how you rule the universe. It is to be admired. And learnt from. Cuz as Padme says, “This is how Democracy ends, with Thunderous Applause.” Exactly. Distractions, a clear and concise innocent front and cutthroat evil behind the scenes.
REVENGE OF THE SITH is a masterpiece. The final piece of the puzzle Lucas first presented me at age 6. 27 years later, the Jigsaw is complete and damn if it isn't just damn near the most tragically cool thing I’ve ever seen put to film. We won’t see another like this. This is it.
We’ll see enormous sci-fantasy told, with more focus and even grander visions in our lifetime… but we’ll never care as much about a story like this one. For our generation, Star Wars is our mythology. The big story we lived to see told the first time. For those of you that were kids in lines in 1977 through to the coming weeks… I have to say, it has been an absolute fucking honor to do this with y’all.
We all know where we each were at the opening of all these films. In two weeks… this is your last story. I’ll never see a new Star Wars movie with my father again. I’ll see many more movies – but this is the last Star Wars, I’ll ever see for the first time with my dad. I’ve seen all 6 with him. All on either the first day – or before. It’s the mythology he’s grown old with and helped me grow up with. This one counts, this one is beautiful. This is the last one.
I can’t possibly express how profoundly odd that is to type. How weird it makes me feel. I went out after the film – I went to find a toy to sit on my desk to look at while I typed this. I went through aisle after aisle of Star Wars stuff, and I couldn’t pick something out. I think the one I most thought was cool – was this Lego play set of Anakin and Obi Wan on Mustafa. You pressed down the Lego character’s head and the light sabers lit up. Gosh that’s cool. I’ll probably buy it for my nephew… Instead I came home, played the score to REVENGE OF THE SITH and wrote this.
Remember – this isn’t a Star Wars movie to cheer for, to erupt into applause and call cool. If you really love STAR WARS – this one is heart ache. Not only is it the end of a nearly 30 year journey for us… It really is the story of how things got so bad, that the good guys had to be a rebellion, where the Jedi had to hide and how evil ruled the galaxy. Wow, I’ve seen my last new Star Wars film. Fuck.