Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith Despite the last dying hopes of my inner ten-year-old, the final chapter in the Star Wars saga proved to be an even larger disappointment than my adult mind had realistically expected. Bad acting, a plot that seemed rushed in its effort to sew up loose ends of the overall story and even some surprisingly sub-par special effects culminate in a hastily-constructed, cut-me-a-check-so-I-can-move-on-now ‘swan song’ for director George Lucas.
Anakin Skywalker returns as the arrogant young Jedi who, in a train wreck of a performance by Hayden Christensen, casually decides to throw his life away for the power of the ‘dark side’ to become Sith Lord Darth Vader. Anakin goes from being slightly troubled to homicidal and megalomania-cal in the span of the average Pepsi commercial, and portrays what should have been an internal conflict of Mel Gibson proportions with all the passion and skill of an underwear model on Prozac. Near the end as he stumbles off of his operating table in a pathetically obvious Frankenstein theme, I was praying that he wouldn’t scream “Noooooo!,” but my prayers went unanswered. It was more heartbreaking than watching Lawrence Fishburne exclaim “Hear me, Zion!” in the second (or was it the third?) Matrix film.
Padme Amidala’s character, traditionally played with some level of talent by Natalie Portman, has been essentially written out of the script. Formerly a Queen, warrior/adventurer and important Senator, Padme has been reduced to a shallow, pining housewife who gets knocked up and apparently prefers lounging around the Coruscant penthouse playing Mah-Jong with C3PO to actually making a difference in the galactic conflict that’s going on all around her. Sadly, it’s a waste of Portman’s talents and a total evisceration of a pivotal character in the whole of the story.
There are a very few good points, including the obligatory light-saber battles with Obi-Wan and the four-sabered General Grievous, Yoda and Palpatine force-ing it out in the Senate chamber and some decent starship scenes. There is a tantalizing view of the wookie home planet, and the acting is kept from plunging into total negative-star ratings by the consistently decent abilities of Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi). It’s neat to see the last minutes of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s battle of egos, and the de-humanization of Darth Vader by having his limbs cut off and half-burning in lava, but these moments are few and far between.
For the most part, Episode III comes off as one of the most expensive hack-jobs in Hollywood history. Honestly, it seemed like everyone just couldn’t wait for Miller time on this one; from the writing to the acting to the directing, it really shows, and my inner ten-year-old is happy that the Star Wars horse has finally been beaten well beyond death and into a thin, marginal jelly.