Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Of the three comparatively appalling Star Wars prequel films, Revenge Of The Sith tells the most interesting, cohesive tragedy.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Revenge of the Sith sees the once promising Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) forego all sense of loyalty in order to pursue misguided righteousness. It is a move so blind he does not foresee its consequences, particularly those surrounding his beloved Padmé (Natalie Portman). The sequence in which both husband and wife are simultaneously suffering on parallel gurneys has a kind of ingenuity about it.
Yes, Revenge Of The Sith has many plot threads to carefully weave together, but Anakin’s irrevocable descent into madness and hatred weaves the largest, darkest tapestry. It is wonderful to see Emperor Palpatine exercise more than just his vocal cords, and the obliteration of the mighty Jedi is heartbreaking, yet the overdrawn, sometimes ridiculous swordfight between Anakin and his master Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) carries the most weight, as we watch with melancholic interest the demise of a strong, albeit stilted partnership.
What Revenge lacks, however, is the presence of a master, the Alec Guinness mentor figure to elevate it from a mindless blockbuster. As it stands, the whole film seems rather goofy, as if a child scribbled over the final print, and cheekily sent it off to be published. The droids this time round sound like cheap wind-up action figures. General Grievous borders on the absurd. The overall quality of acting, even from Portman, lacks a convincing depth. I’ve said before that George Lucas writes good science-fiction and bad romance. He also manages to bring the worst out of his actors. Nevertheless, Revenge does its job without looking back.
Episode IV: A New Hope
It’s no secret! Episode IV: A New Hope is still the ultimate Star Wars film. Search your feelings; you know it to be true!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
As a 90’s baby, it is impossible for me to comprehend a world without the film that spearheaded one of the most successful franchises in cinema history. Envisioned by the Dark Lord of the Sith (George Lucas) as a Flash Gordon-esque B-movie space opera serial for the masses, Star Wars’ impact on popular culture was and is phenomenal. It’s packed with more iconic characters, lines and scenes than you can swing a lightsaber at.
The powerful imagination of an independent filmmaker eventually overcame major setbacks: monetary limitations, disastrous location shooting and actors (*cough-Alec Guiness-cough*) who wondered why on Aldaraan they were making a film in which a farmer meets a hermit, a homosexual robot and a dog-bear, then goes to rescue a princess from an artificial moon capable of destroying planets.
Mr. Guinness’s all-knowing Obi-Wan Kenobi has always been a personal highlight for me. As a well-established thespian, his portrayal of the world-weary Jedi added credence to a film that could have otherwise flopped like a dead Ewok.
That is not to underestimate just how great Star Wars as a film is – a melding of John Williams’ genius as a composer, ground-breaking special effects, the eclectic melting pot that seamlessly merged soap opera, fairy tale and sci-fi, and the then-fresh talents Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher owning their roles entirely. If all of these elements had not been in place, however, the movie could have crashed and burned like the charred corpses of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox & Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures