Friday, February 24, 2012

Star Wars—Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

“Execute Order 66.” For Star Wars fans, these words recall the pivotal moment in Episode III when countless Jedi Knights are slaughtered, and the tides of the Force shift seismically. But to this film lover and modest fan of George Lucas’ opus, they represent the moment when the problematic prequel trilogy finally came to life. What follows is a gripping montage of surprising emotional breadth that no other Star Wars film has achieved. Bound together by mournful choral music, the scene depicts various worlds across the galaxy where troops are turning on and exterminating their leaders in the midst of battle. It is bared, visceral filmmaking, and it demonstrates why I find the prequel movies too endearing and interesting to dismiss. Certainly, Lucas deserves every shred of criticism he has received for shoddy storytelling throughout the films, which includes but is not limited to flat dialogue and convoluted plotting. Revenge of the Sith notably contains a similar dose of these flaws. And yet, to its maker’s credit, it crystallizes a compelling story arc with sincerity and vision. To be sure, Episode III is best remembered for its portrayal of Anakin Skywalker’s descent into darkness. However, for all the fuss about the emergence of Darth Vader, Sith belongs to the shadowy emperor (Ian McDiarmid), who subtly preys on every weakness of the political system to gain unfettered power. When he outstretches his hands and basks in rousing applause after announcing the birth of the Empire, the effect is chilling. It’s the kind of moment that caused me to realize through all the hyper-activity of the prequel films—and this entry in particular, with its non-stop jump-cutting, sword-waving, and noise—that George Lucas really has something to say. It may not be terribly profound and I wish he delivered it with more clarity, confidence, and skill, but it has real weight. Revenge of the Sith may be a hot mess of the visually poetic and the plain bad, but this saga-completing entry is elevated beyond its weaknesses by the scale its ambition. (George Lucas, 2005) ***

No comments: