Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi--You're My Only Hope...Karen Sees Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith on Opening Night!

by Karen Gsteiger

Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers--even spoilers for Lord of the Rings!

As it is currently 1:08 a.m., I hope that I can hammer this out without too much effort, especially since I am allowing myself only one more chocolate creme oreo to get me through the rest of the night.

I've been thinking for the past couple of days of something that I could passionately address in regards to Revenge of the Sith. Ultimately, though, I think it's just time for me to accept that Star Wars just really isn't My Trilogy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it, especially the OT, but this film--supposedly the last of all Star Wars films--certainly did not leave me with the utter emotional devastation I felt at the end of, say, LOTR: Return of the King (a two-pronged emotional devastation that hit me as Sam and Frodo were climbing Mount Doom, effecting the realization that a) there would be no more new Lord of the Rings movies to look forward to and b) Frodo was soon to leave Middle Earth forever and ever!)

But the newest Star Wars isn't a bad film either. It was without a doubt the best of the prequels, which have been plagued by plots burdened by intergalactic bureaucracy, wooden acting, painful dialogue (especially anything "romantic"), and an overabundance of superfluous CGI creatures. I have addressed a lot of the first two films' weaknesses in my May 11th blog entry. At least in this one, Lucas cuts to the chase, sparing us many council sessions and ad-hoc committee meetings. Ewan McGregor (my main reason for continuing to watch the new trilogy) is always a delight and seems to be more comfortable in his almost completely imaginary acting environment. And he has good hair in this one! Hayden Christensen fares much better as long as he is nowhere near Natalie Portman. Ian McDiarmid really steals the show as one of a handful of actors who seem at home in this universe. And yes, meesah praise the Lord! Jar-Jar does not speak.

I've read that Tom Stoppard was giving Lucas some assistance with the dialogue, but I can hardly see how this is possible. From what I heard, there was very little of Stoppard's razor-sharp wit and verbal play. The Anakin-Padme scenes were just as clunky and risable as ever: "You're so beautiful." "I'm beautiful because I'm so in love." "No, you're beautiful because I'm so in love with you." Good. Lord. This is supposed to be the dark Star Wars--it was difficult for me to accept so much unintentional hilarity.

I felt that the crux of George Lucas's problem is expressed with distinct clarity in the final, climactic scenes. Luke and Leia are being born, and their mother is dying in childbirth. Simultaneously, Darth Vader is being assembled Frankenstein-like out of the barbecued remaining fragments of Anakin (really just a torso and head at this point). These are powerful scenes--a worthy ending to the saga--until Lucas has some inane midwife droid coo inexplicably in a breathy voice something like, "oohbaaaah, oooohbaaah, oooobahhh..." He always has to ruin the human fucking moment with some kind of gee-whillikers gadgetry or droid or Gungan silliness. C-3P0 and R2-D2 can generate some pathos just because they are such beloved cultural icons. This birthing robot, however, is reminiscent of that female "booty, booty, booty" robot they had on that one episode of Buck Rogers. Please, George, don't make me think of Twiki and all his little robot friends while Luke and Leia and Vader are being born!!!

But there is one segment of Revenge of the Sith that is quite moving, and this short montage is the reason that I would be willing to watch it again while the first two prequels collect dust in our DVD collection. There is a series of scenes, after the Emperor initiates "Order 66," authorizing the assassination of all of the Jedis. We see Jedi after Jedi after Jedi get shot in the back and betrayed by the clone troops that they are leading. I was surprised at the poignancy of this sequence--probably the most powerful that Lucas has ever filmed. The film doesn't hold back when Anakin starts slaughtering the child Jedis-in-training, annoyingly referred to as "Younglings." As dark as it is, I think that this section of the movie, as well as the dazzling Anakin-Obi Wan showdown at the end, is what the Star Wars fans have been really longing to see.

In the end, I would recommend seeing Revenge of the Sith, although I can't claim that it's the best film I've ever seen. It goes without saying that the special effects are top-notch; also, the acting has improved, and there are even moments of subtlety. And a silent Jar-Jar!

Star Wars was an omnipresent facet of my childhood. I remember watching it on HBO over and over and over again shortly after my dad passed away. It did what all good science fiction should do--transport you to a galaxy far, far away where you can root for the good guys and see them triumph against seemingly insurmountable odds. Revenge of the Sith accomplishes what it's ultimately meant to do--make you hungry to watch the sequels all over again.