Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Directed by George Lucas
Well, I saw the goddamn Star Wars movie. I was dragged, sort of. I wanted to see it, having seen the original in the theatres as a blissed-out sci-fi kid and then going to see each film ASAFP, all the way up until The Phantom Menace. After the disappointment of Return of the Jedi, Menace was the last straw. Lucas' return to the director's chair (kind of like if Reagan had made more films after his second term in office) was less than auspicious. More liker. T.S. Eliot's famous line about the way the world ends, "Not with a bang but a whimper." The Phantom Menace remains the most racist film ever made, worse than Birth of a Nation and without a trace of D.W. Griffith’s prowess and innovation. A terrible byproduct of marketing, long stoked ultra-hype and ridiculously dull plots delivered with laughable dialogue and the superfluous exposition of a story every light saber toting geek already could guess. Oh, and a terrible CGI creation named Jar Jar something. I vowed George would get no more of my money after that cinematic sack of shit.
Then came Attack of the Clones, and I stayed true to my word. Seeing previews was enough. It looked to be a cold and dispassionate green screen digital nightmare with a tacked on insipid love story. No thanks, I said. I'll stay home and watch The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover for the 13th time. Well, a few years evaporated and I found myself tempted by the favorable reviews and the lure of a dark end to the all ready overblown story. People claimed it was as good as the best of the series, The Empire Strikes Back. Negative endings, characters getting maimed, evil winning (albeit temporarily in the chronological sense), it sounded tolerable. Besides, I couldn't stand the idea of having to tell people I still had not seen it. "But you loved those films!" Yes, well…I was ten at the time.
Overall: not bad. An improvement over The Phantom Menace and the Return of the Jedi puppet show. It is pretty damn dark and yes, people get hurt and everything gets explained. But I must wonder, what was there to explain? How Luke and Leah are siblings? How is Vader their father? What was Obi Wan's relation to Vader? Interesting if you are a super fan, but these are hardly the brain puzzlers of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
And that's the problem.
I have no problem with the scores of people who wish to dress like Luke Skywalker and wait in line for days on end. I have no problem with any of the zealotry that Star Wars seems to generate. I can understand being a fan of an entertaining movie. Hell, I've watched Return of the Living Dead more times than I can recall. What I do have a problem with is the way people seem to equate the Star Wars films with intelligent, thought provoking cinema. Everyone, especially after Joseph Campbell said his piece, seems to think that these films somehow represent high art. They don't. They are entertaining at times, grating at others and always just an excuse for lasers, robots (pardon me--droids), and things blowing up. Nothing wrong with that, but let's be honest here. Ray Pride accused these films as the being responsible for the dumbing down of America. Hard to debate.
That being said, Revenge of the Sith works well on the level of entertaining sci-fi and somewhat justifies the previous lugubrious efforts. It has some flash, some spark, a lot of down moments and those oh so cool light saber duels. The love story continues and yes, it is as lifeless as Alec Guinness these days. The ending seems to wrap it all up but the idea of another one of these films is not impossible. I guess we'll have to wait and see. I can.
By the way, anyone ever hear of a "sith" before in the first three films? When did that word come about?