Film Reviews


By • May 19th, 2005 •

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20th Century Fox / A Lucasfilm Ltd. production
MPAA rating PG-13 / Running time — 140 minutes

“A special effect is a tool, a means of telling a story. A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing.” – George Lucas.

Star Wars fans, and varied movie buffs can forget the previous two STAR WARS films ever existed. STAR WARS, EPISODE III, REVENGE OF THE SITH not only takes up the slack in the six film STAR WARS saga, but it wraps it into a tight, emotional and highly visual package. Simply, EPISODE III is such a cinematic thrill-ride, its 140-minute running time feels more like 70.

The film bagins with not quite a bang, but a stunning fireworks display. Annakin Skywalker and General Obi-Wan, using their combative skills, intuition and binding friendship, defeat Count Dooku and General Grievous in the Clone Wars. Annakin returns to his home planet, and his loving, pregnant wife Padme. Annakin’s ambitious plans to rise amongst his peers backfire, sparking the brewing bitterness within him. It’s “Macbeth” flung dangerously off course, onto darker and more violent ground. Annakin embracing the dark side costs him his marriage to Padme and his friendship with Obi-Wan. I won’t go into more, and spoil
this movie for anybody. Annakin’s final transformation will leave you stunned. Also, what happens with his offspring will raise an eyebrow or two.

EPISODE III begins with one battle mounted on another. At times you do feel like you’re watching the world’s biggest video game. Hayden Christensen carries us seamlessly from the warm-hearted, courageous Annakin to the cold monster he is destined to be. Ewan
McGregor is the personification of charm and skill as the younger General Obi-Won. While it was great to see other STAR WAR alumni like Yoda, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Samuel Jackson and Natalie Portman move the story along, I had the most fun with Christopher Lee’s Count Dooku. It’s nice to know this no- 82-year-old horror film legend still oozes charm and venom. The STAR WARS saga dates back to the sixties, an idea hatched while young George Lucas was nursing severe injuries from a near fatal racing car accident. Even though he had an earlier success (his exciting 1972 gem AMERICAN GRAFITTI) it was a tough battle for Lucas to convince a studio to bankroll the first STAR WARS. (Apparently,
20th Century Fox gave him a bare-bones budget. Lucas had to beg Fox for another $10,000 to shoot the fabled Cantina scene.)

When I saw the first STAR WARS in the Summer of 1977, I knew film history was being made, that I was watching something like GONE WITH THE WIND, or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, a film that would alter the look, sound and business of movies. The first two sequels were expected, and welcome. PHANTOM MENACE, which came over a decade after the first trilogy, felt like a down-hill spin. The next film, ATTACK OF THE CLONES only fared slightly better. Lucas made a film here with mass entertainment in mind.
There are some neat Easter Eggs planted by old George. Jar-Jar Binks, that widely boo-ed, annoying reptile dude, is degraded to a non-speaking extra here. Another extra is GeorgeLucas himself, appearing as a blue faced count attending a bizarre space opera.
Lucas, in an interview, stated that the shape and body posture of the villainous General Grievous was based on a bathroom spray nozzle. Recent internet buzz and inner-industry chit-chat has leaked to the general public that EPISODE III is well worth the wait. At the
screening I attended, two weeks before the May 19th opening date, the security snagged my attention. Camera cell phones were not permitted in theatres, and FBI agents, with night-vision goggles surveyed the audience during the movie. A stern theatre employee came out to the awaiting crowd stating “A police car will be outside ready for any video
pirates we capture. Enjoy the show!” Don’t see EPISODE III on a crummy bootleg at home. Don’t wait for the DVD. Gather up your date, your buddies, and see it in the best possible theatre. Lucas has come back with a bang with this one.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Ewan McGregor
Padme: Natalie Portman
Anakin Skywalker: Hayden Christensen
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine: Ian McDiarmid
Mace Windu: Samuel L. Jackson
Sen. Organa: Jimmy Smits
Yoda (voice): Frank Oz
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
R2D2: Kenny Baker
Count Dooku: Christopher Lee
Queen of Naboo: Keisha Castle-Hughes

Writer-director: George Lucas
Producer: Rick McCallum
Executive producer: George Lucas
Director of photography: David Tattersall
Production designer: Gavin Bocquet
Music: John Williams
Costumes: Trisha Biggar
Editors: Roger Barton, Ben Burtt

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