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

QUOTE: Enthralling and stunning. So it comes down to this: Darth Vadar had a selfless good reason.

I was in Brazil for the early press screening of SW3. My second visit to Brazil, this time I spent ten fabulous days in Rio and Brasilia highlighted by a visit to Casa de Dom Inacio in Abadiania where the miracle surgeon Joao de Deus operates in trance on hopeless patients, many with incurable diseases. The Entities working through Joao de Deus have an overwhelming presence. The surgeries are both invisible and physical. On my next trip to Brazil I will participate in Quimbanda and Candomble religious ceremonies. I want to experience every aspect, both light and dark, of the miraculous.

Therefore, I understand Chancellor Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) philosophical approach to Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) regarding the two sides of The Force. My reasons are far less heroic than Skywalker’s.

As far as I am concerned, Skywalker betrayed the Jedis the moment he began a relationship with a woman. Marrying was against the Jedi code. Keeping this secret from the Jedi Council was an offense that would have summarily ended his career. He would be the only Jedi Knight with children.

Isn’t it strange that the Jedi Knights are always very sensitive to each other’s feelings and tiny disturbances in the Force but never catch on that The Chosen One is having sex with a woman? His loyalties lie elsewhere.

The thrust of SW3 is this: Why does Skywalker turn to the dark side? Because he was taken away from his mother at a young age? Because the Jedis left his mother a slave to die a vile death? Because he is plagued by guilt and resentment? Because the Jedi Council refused to give him the title of Master that he deserved? (Like young Alexander the Great, Skywalker’s faux-fathers were standing in his way!) No. No. No. Skywalker turns to the dark side out of selfless love!

Brilliant! George Lucas, you triumphed! Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler. If only they had blamed it all on love.

When a Dalai Lama dies, a group of lamas search the country’s villages for his reincarnation. The child who is chosen is taken away to be raised and trained. The chosen one’s family is honored. Their economic situation greatly improves. The Jedis are not interested in mothers. A mother is a secondary nuisance (as single parent Lucas can affirm.)

SW3 stands as a remarkable achievement. Every moment is enthralling. The special effects are dazzling and the finely crafted story unites all the dangling pieces. All the nagging questions are answered. This time, the dialogue is mature, insightful, and haunting. George Lucas delivered the goods!

But DV weeps.

SW3 opens without dialogue but in a thrilling space battle. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are engaging a Sith armada led by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and metal droid General Grievous (who suffers from emphysema). They capture the Republic’s Chancellor Palpatine. Palpatine “senses” Skywalker’s frustrations and entices him with a fantastic story of the power of the Dark Side. It would have turned me.

Palpatine (only Lucas knows what lurks in his childhood) gets Skywalker appointed to the Jedi Council though the Council members, headed by Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) are not happy. Obi-Wan wants Skywalker to spy on Palpatine, who has ambitions to become Emperor. Spying is against Jedi ethnics, though Skywalker, with a secret wife, shouldn’t balk. But it does put Obi-Wan’s own morals in question.

Skywalker keeps dreaming his politically savvy wife Padme (Natalie Portman) will die in childbirth. Palpatine uses his knowledge of this to turn Skywalker and makes him his protégé.

As far as what Skywalker does to earn his moniker DV, well, it is a well-known custom of monarchs and rulers throughout history. You must get rid of the potential competition. They grow up to lead armies. When Roman ruler Octavian conquered Cleopatra Vll’s empire, he killed her son by Julius Caesar, Caesarion.

A remark by Areius sums up the thinking: ‘It is bad to have too many Caesars.’

The Wookies are stay home. Jar Jar is an extra. While I know Yoda is everybody’s wise master, he’s just a flying rodent to me. I’m glad he’s gone into hiding where he can commune with fellow forest creatures.

The maturity of the structure of SW3 elevates it to the best film of the year. Every image is gorgeous. Every set meticulously designed. I especially liked the ground battle that recalled Ridley Scott’s GLADIATOR. With SW3, let us all hail Lucas for pleasing fans with an emotionally significant, and very clever, storyline. And, when DV suits up, what a glorious moment in film history!

Christensen holds the screen, ably supported by McGregor. Their relationship is frail, yet only Christensen allows youthful arrogance to show. Portman needed a personal acting coach to strengthen her character. Her Padme should have held her child’s future as a foremost priority. Lucas does give Padme the strongest dialogue via a political statement, but Portman’s weak, little girl voice flattens its impact.

I saw SW3 at Santa Fe Station’s new Century Theatres in Las Vegas. Santa Fe Station’s Director of Marketing, Carol Thompson, took a small group of us on an opening day tour and we watched the movie in the private VIP screening room. Santa Fe Station knows how to pamper their high rollers who want to spend some time away from the tables. Santa Fe Station’s Century Theatres is only one of two theaters showing a digital print of SW3.

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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One Response »

  1. You watched it in a private cinema?
    Wow that must have been really cool.
    I remember that cars were backed up outside of the cinema car park when I went to see SW1

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