Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 1:02 PM | Posted in

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Film Analysis written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 5/10

Film Review & Analysis: Plot Holes and Writing [SPOILER ALERT]

There are three intriguing ways to begin a film:

1. Begin with an initiating incident to get the plot going
2. Begin with a mystery, something that gets the audience to ask a question that will eventually be answered later on
3. Begin with a long single take that shows more than it tells

George Lucas shamefully tries to use Method #3 to kick off Revenge of the Sith. The drawback here is that the long single take is flooded with big ships and little ships shooting at each other with nothing but tiny and large explosions, all while the camera is following Anakin and Obi-Wan's ships. During that one long single take, which side is who? They all look the same, and the red and blue bullets go zig-zag all over the place so quickly that it is virtually impossible to tell where they came from. As a result, I am already baffled in the first shot.

Instead of portraying the beginning of the Clone War, Revenge of the Sith begins in the middle of the war, and starts with Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) flying to an enemy ship to rescue Chancellor Palpatine, who has been kidnapped by the notorious General Grievous.

Before I continue on, I want to first start by saying that every question that I will ask from this point on were honestly questions that I asked when I saw Revenge of the Sith for the first time, in the year it was released. At the time, I was eleven years old, and I was not a filmmaker nor a critic but already a young movie-devoted viewer. You may choose to not believe me, but here I am being completely honest with you, the reader.

As Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive on Grievous' ship, fight through some droids, and eventually come across Chancellor Palpatine in a room that appears to be a heavy ripoff of the Emperor's throne in Return of the Jedi, they are encountered by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) once again. Again, just like in Attack of the Clones, Dooku defeats Obi-Wan quickly and knocks him out unconsciously on the side. As the individual fight between Anakin and Dooku continues, Anakin eventually defeats him by cutting off both of his hands, and putting him in the situation where Anakin is about to decapitate him. At this point, Palpatine laughs and, with a smile, orders Anakin to "kill Dooku." Although originally hesitant, Anakin complies and kills Dooku.

If I was Anakin at that spot, I would think to myself. "Why would the Chancellor, a man who is thought to be an efficient and uncorrupt leader who loves democracy, suddenly order me to kill Dooku? On top of that, order me while laughing?" To me, that was the most odd event ever to occur. Furthermore, knowing that Palpatine is actually Sidious, does this mean Palpatine intentionally wanted himself kidnapped? Did he plan this out with Grievous? Based on my observations, Dooku does not know of this plan because he makes a surprised face when Palpatine tells Anakin to kill him. Feeling betrayed, shouldn't Dooku just spill the beans right now that Palpatine is Sidious all along? What if Anakin still follows the Jedi way and spares Dooku's life? What would happen then? In other words, Dooku was disposed of without a satisfactory nor logical wrap-up.

After freeing Palpatine, Anakin runs over to Obi-Wan and is determined to carry him on his back. Here, Palpatine tells Anakin that "there's no time" in addition to telling him to "leave [Obi-Wan], or we'll never make it." Hold on, you're telling Anakin to leave behind his master? A Jedi who the Council and Republic has trusted for so many years? And what is with this sudden hurry of time that was never mentioned earlier? Within five minutes, the Chancellor has already displayed two signs of superstition, yet Anakin is still blind and stupid enough to not notice.

Later on, Anakin and Obi-Wan successfully rescues the Chancellor and brings him back to Coruscant. However, Grievous escaped before he was able to be killed or get captured. It is here where we learn that the war will continue as long as Grievous is alive. It is also here where we learn that Sidious orders Grievous to send Gunroy and the other separatist leaders to the Mustafar system, somehow grouping all of those leaders together at one place, an easy target if anyone knows where they are.

Soon enough, Grievous' location is finally tracked, and the Council assigns Obi-Wan to fly to the planet Utupau to find the cyborg, while in parallel assigns Anakin to spy on the Chancellor. However, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) himself does not like the presence of Anakin and the Chancellor together. Then why did you put them together yourself? If you really wanted to spy on him, why can't you just use the security holograms like Obi-Wan used later on to discover that Anakin is working for Palpatine? Again, just like in Attack of the Clones, this is a perfect example of a character dumbing himself down in order to let the plot continue.

As Anakin reunites with Padme and learns that she is pregnant, he has a nightmare that she dies in childbirth. At the same time, the Chancellor starts telling Anakin stories about how the Sith can create life with the Force. If I was Anakin, I would ask myself: "Why does the Chancellor know so much about the dark side of the Force? Especially for a guy who hates the Jedi?" Again, a character dumbing himself down. 

Finally realizing that Palpatine is indeed Sidious, Anakin reveals this disturbing truth to Master Windu in a scene where they are both calmly walking in a large room that builds no tension whatsoever. In response, Windu leads a group of Jedi Masters to arrest Chancellor Palpatine. First of all, this is a Sith Lord. As a Jedi who can sense the Force, why were you unable to sense the dark side of the Force residing in Palpatine for all these years? Why can't you put him in a more vulnerable spot to see if this is true? Do something in public instead. For example, ask for a vote of no confidence, similar to what Padme did in The Phantom Menace to vote out Chancellor Valorum. Why not do a midichlorian count like Qui-Gon did on Anakin in The Phantom Menace? Or, why not just confront him in front of everyone in public? Confronting him in secret in his room only gives him a chance to fight back without anyone knowing. As a result, Windu loses three Jedi Masters as well as himself later on, due to Anakin.

Quickly and illogically, Anakin then pledges himself to the Palpatine's teachings. However, he does this under the condition that Palpatine helps to save Padme's life, saying that he can't live without her. Palpatine then says how if they work together, he knows that they can discover the secret. In all honesty, I thought he already knew how to do it, otherwise I wouldn't join him. Palpatine then orders Anakin, now renamed Darth Vader, to not only kill off all the younglings, I mean children, in the Jedi Temple, but also to wipe out all the separatist leaders on the Mustafar system. In parallel, Palpatine executes Order 66 to all of the clones, which is probably the best and most redeeming scene in the entire film. Not only was this scene done well with terrific music from John Williams, but it also does great explanation as to why a Jedi is so rare in the original trilogy. However, the failure of logic comes back to haunt us.

Within the Senate, Palpatine, now the Emperor, speaks to everyone that the Jedi Council has attempted to overthrow the Republic. Do you expect the people to really believe him? You're telling me that the Jedi, which has protected peace and justice for over a thousand generations, would suddenly just want overthrow a monstrous-looking old man like you? At the same time, the Emperor yells about how he is now converting the Republic into the first and only Galactic Empire. Really now, do the people legitimately trust this person or is everyone seriously mind-wiped? Don't mind his hood and his creepy yellow eyes and creepy voice. By the way, this just boggles my mind that a Jedi as wise as Master Yoda could have not foreseen this somewhere. This only tells me one thing, that everyone in the story is plain stupid.

With only Yoda and Obi-Wan left as the remaining Jedi, Obi-Wan flies to Mustafar along with Padme to confront Anakin, while Yoda faces the Emperor himself. On Mustafar, we get one of the most poorly written scenes of dialogue in the entire Star Wars franchise. Once again, instead of showing us things, the dialogue just tells it to us, as if we are kids. Well, the prequels are indeed made for a younger audience. After Padme is put aside, it all comes down to the final conclusive saber fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan, which did not need to run that long. I would agree that it is the fight with the best substance out of the prequels, but again, the fight is nothing but fancy choreography with Lucas finding what is the coolest location to put the fighters in. Grabbing onto a rope and hitting sabers while swinging on them? Why not just cut the rope? Besides, the point of this fight is to have Obi-Wan win and have Anakin lose, eventually becoming Vader in the physical form. However, this did not need to run so long. Because of its bloated length and extreme settings, everything becomes so unreal that we are already pulled out from the fight. As a result, the fight even becomes boring at some point. Seriously, there are moments where it does not look like anyone is winning. They are equivalently good. So why is this still going? However, the editing of the fight scene is very satisfying, especially when it parallels Obi-Wan's fight with Anakin to Yoda's fight with the Emperor. Anyways, how do we end the fight? By putting Obi-Wan on "the high ground." Honestly now, the distance between the platform that Anakin's standing on to the point where the ground comes out of the lava is seriously five feet. He can just pull a human jump and get onto the hill. What is so special about having a "high ground?" Looks like George Lucas has underestimated our intelligence as thinkers.

In the end, Anakin physically becomes Darth Vader, but finds out that he has "killed Padme due to his anger." So now that he has nothing left for him, why is he still continuing his allegiance to the Emperor? By now, he has realized that he has wronged the one he loves, wronged himself, and he did not get what he wanted when he joined the dark side. So why is he still in it? To contradict Obi-Wan's statement in A New Hope, Anakin was not "seduced by the dark side." He was "tricked."

Once again, the entire purpose of the prequel trilogy is to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and how he became Darth Vader. Though I have already stated that this plot line is unnecessary, if you want to do it, then do it right. Talking about how Anakin turned to the dark side is simply a character study. At the same time, this is a tragedy too. He should have been someone who the Jedi Council trusted so much and we as an audience trusted so much. None of that exists in Revenge of the Sith simply because of poor writing and storytelling. We still never got to learn what kind of person Anakin is. In Empire Strikes Back, the film took a lot of productive time to let us know the full personality of Luke as he is training under Yoda. In Revenge of the Sith and the predecessor Attack of the Clones, we never saw how Anakin trained under Obi-Wan. In fact, watching him train under Obi-Wan could have solved two problems. 1. Let us know more about Anakin as a person, and 2. Show that Anakin and Obi-Wan are friends, instead of telling us through things we have never seen.

When looking at the basis of filmmaking, one would find that there is very little done properly in Revenge of the Sith. Do a little challenge for yourself. I want you to rewatch the film and count how many conversation scenes there are where two or more characters talk on a couch or while standing, and the camera does the cliche shot jumps. There is no skill or talent of direction here. It is as if George Lucas wanted to get them over with so that he can get back to the action scenes. When Anakin talks about his frustration with the Council, he and Padme are sitting in a couch. When Obi-Wan reveals that Anakin has turned to the dark side to Padme, they are also sitting in a couch. Soon enough, one of the characters would stand up, walk a few paces, then turn around again to resume the conversation. Nothing organic, no true emotions, and nothing connecting to us. As a result, half of the film is plain dull and lifeless.

Fortunately for Revenge of the Sith, the film ends with the explanation of how Luke and Leia parted ways after they were born, and really does a good job at demonstrating the phrase of "a new hope." I would say, yes the film does a nice transition to A New Hope, but there is nothing good in Revenge of the Sith that was not seen done better in the original trilogy, or even The Phantom Menace. For what it needed to do, Revenge of the Sith did have some moments that I desired to see (for example, Order 66). However, in its technicality, it suffers from the same flaws that plagued Attack of the Clones. If it was not for better visual effects and a more consistent atmosphere throughout its narrative, Revenge of the Sith would have been just as bad as its predecessor, if not worse.

In conclusion, Revenge of the Sith is yet another disappointment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. You can say that it is entertaining still with all the eye candy to watch, but not even those can save the storytelling aspect of this film. This is why The Phantom Menace is the best film in the prequels, because it never needed a heavy emphasis and attention on storytelling and character analysisIt is a mediocre film that never wanted to be a piece of filmmaking that is done in an entertaining and enjoyable fashion. For what it is worth, I got what I wanted from The Phantom Menace. For a film that is meant to have the largest transition in the plot, the deepest themes in the characters, and a large tragedy that is meant to break our hearts, we are instead heartbroken by how little attention Lucas paid to those important filmmaking elements in Revenge of the Sith.

Now, on a minor note. Many people ask the question about what order should they watch the Star Wars franchise. All the fans would say to watch Episodes 4-6 and completely trash the first three, while some others would indeed say to watch all six films in chronological order. For me, it is hard to decide. Despite Episode 2 and 3 being utterly disappointing, they still need to be seen at least once. Yet, I would not want viewers to watch the prequels first, because they really devalue many elements in the original trilogy. As a result, I would say, watch Episodes 4-6 first, and if you really want to watch the prequel trilogy, go ahead. Then, if you have the time and are still interested, rewatch all six in chronological order if you want to understand it all. But by then, you would have already sensed a disturbance in the Force.

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