Episode III: The Geek's Opinion
I was instantly amazed when stepping into my local UCI this evening. It was like a different universe entirely - the cinema had hired a gaggle of Star Wars lookalikes; dressed in either Jedi or Sith regalia. There was even the odd Stormtrooper strewn about the place - taking tickets from over-excited fans. In fact, it was a perfect example of just how powerful the SW brand has become, since its mythical origins in 1977. It seems to bring out the child in most adults, and the geek in everyone else.
I fall into the latter category.
Despite my over-riding hatred of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, I slowly became ever-so interested in Revenge of the Sith (but it took an age to kick-in). With the TV commercials and trailers hitting me everywhere I went; and the positive reviews popping up online, I suddenly gave in to a Star Wars frenzy. It was largely fuelled by viewing the original trilogy on DVD - I dare many viewers not to feel twangs of nostalgia; the very reason these films continue to do roaring business. To fans, they mean more than just "entertainment". George Lucas has stumbled along the way, but he's created a universe that will live on long after he's gone...
So, does Sith redeem Lucas as a filmmaker? In my opinion, it does. Trekking through Episodes I and II no longer seems like time mispent - the bigger picture is pretty impressive. Opening with a battle that lives up to the term "spectacular", Sith is a full-throttle onslaught of eye candy. Lucas has never failed in this area, and Episode III is easily the most engaging in terms of visual splendour. But that's pretty much a given.
A film needs more than surface gloss, and thankfully, there's an emotional vale that gives Episode III more bite. The characters are much better here, even if their dialogue sometimes feels forced (a flaw in these films that Sith largely avoids). McGregor is finally having fun as Obi-Wan - he seems much more confident; as does Christensen. He really gets into Anakin this time, and his slow turn to the Dark Side is played with real pathos. Once again, Lucas' script is a slight let down, but his sense of structure is much better. There's a natural progression to the film, and the plot is golden.
The constant nods to later instalments help to increase the enjoyment factor, as later plotlines are established. The birth of Luke and Leia; the exile of the existing Jedi's; the bith of Vader. And the latter is what gives this film a pulse, not to mention its purpose. The sequence in which the black mask is applied to a wounded Anakin is wonderful. It got an applause from the hyperactive audience. While Sith has its fair share of flaws, I won't discuss them here. I'll leave that for Kevin's up-coming review.
Everything we ever needed or wanted to know is in this one film. In fact, there's so much to digest here, it helps to signal just how redundant Episodes I and II are. At least Lucas has finally given the fans what they want - a great Star Wars film for the 21st Century. It took a while to get to this point, but I'm glad I waited...