Thursday, May 19, 2005

Sith Impressions

Anakin SkywalkerBy "popular" demand, here are my comments on Revenge of the Sith. I will try to keep this relatively plot free, but it will contain comments on overall tone, plus references to certain aspects of the movie, so those who want to discover it all on their own should not read beyond this point.

It has been said before, but it bears repeating: Revenge of the Sith is a really dark movie. Most know going into this film that it will depict how and why Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, plus the downfall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. But it may come as a surprise to discover that George Lucas has no problem showing every bit of it in lurid detail. The anger, sadness, hopelessness, and agony of defeat are naked on screen for all to see, and it's disturbing to behold.

The question I get most often from people is, "Is it better than the last two movies?" This is a difficult question for me to answer because I actually like the last two movies. No, they weren't the stuff the first trilogy was made of (even Return of the Jedi), but how could they be? Those movies were a product of the time they came out of, and this cannot be duplicated. I enjoy The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones for what they are - a new glimpse into a universe that for whatever weird reason gives me great joy. I can deal with a little Jar-Jar and some childish humor and puns here and there.

Anyway, the answer to that question depends on why one doesn't like TPM and AotC. If it's due to stupid humor, silly characters, and prolonged discussions about intergalactic politics, than you should be happy with the new film. It dispenses with all that and concentrates on the fall of the Republic and the bad choices Anakin makes. This is rough business however, so while the beginning of the movie has some light moments (all done well, I might add), the majority of the film is very serious.

If, however, one is looking for Harrison Ford sparkle or witty dialog, you generally won't find it here. Ian McDiarmid gives a spellbinding performance, but his character is not as endearing as Han Solo (by design), so that type of fun is missing in this movie. This is, of course, the point. This film simply wouldn't benefit much from the razor sharp exchanges we get between Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back.

For me the highlight of the movie was getting all the rest of the pieces that come together to complete Darth Vader's character arc. Perhaps once Sith has been out for a while I will detail this arc, and why I feel Lucas shows genius in the way he depicts Vader. But to summarize, the arc is effectively: a young innocent boy is eager to please and selflessly wishes to spread good to others, chooses evil for misguided reasons (not necessarily for stereotypical uses of power), resigns himself to the fate that comes due to the repercussions of that choice, has renewed self-assurance when discovering he has a son, attempts to come to grips with the feelings that result from having a son (and the son's free will), and finally, his "rebirth" that comes from embracing those feelings rather than suppressing them.

The Star Wars movies have more to them than meets the eye. I thoroughly recommend watching all of them again: attempt to see beyond the 50's sci-fi/action veneer. There's heart and complex drama beneath the surface that is missing from so many current movies.

Stay tuned for more typical Band Chat pomp and fanfare.


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