Sunday, 13 December 2015

The Sith Hits the Fan: Revenge of the Sith

Imagine trying to explain to someone who has only seen the prequels why you're a Star Wars fan. Must be tough. Where do you begin? I guess a lot of fans would argue that this is not a conversation worth having. Unless the person you're speaking to has seen the original trilogy, there's really no use trying to convince them of the wonders, the magic and the potency of Star Wars as a saga.

Now I've watched Revenge of the Sith, it has become incredibly clear to me that the prequel trilogy just should have been one film. If you'd asked any Star Wars fan exactly what they wanted to see in the prequel trilogy before it had come to pass, I bet they would have said something along the lines of 'I'd like to see the first time Obi Wan and Anakin faced off against each other'. Maybe some would have said they'd like to see Obi Wan training Anakin. Maybe some would have said that they'd even enjoy a bit of younger Yoda getting into lightsaber fights with people three times his size. 

No one would have said that they'd like to see Anakin as a little boy. NO ONE would have said that they'd like to see half a fucking film of Darth Vader falling in love and smooching and sitting in pretty countryside. Good Christ. If you haven't read my recaps of Episode 1 and 2, here they are below. It's not big, clever or pretty.

The Highs and Lows of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Attacking Star Wars: Attack of the Clones 

If Revenge of the Sith had been basically the only prequel film to the original trilogy, I think that George Lucas and everyone else would now be a lot happier. This is what it's all about. We've suffered through some pretty unspeakable shit to get here, but once it gets down to Anakin turning on Obi Wan, it all suddenly and astonishingly becomes almost worthwhile. 

Even Lucas sounds excited, starting the film with a full-on exclamation of 'War!' in the opening crawl As in violence! As in action! As in NOT SITTING IN A FIELD FUCKING SMOOCHING! Thanks be to the Gods! I breathed a sigh of relief when I read this. No more tax, no more trade routes. Looking good.

Ewan McGregor seems less bored with the whole shebang. Then he gets thrown through the air by Dooku, and it looks like shit. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! How come some special effects just don't work? At least McGregor isn't stuck talking to tennis ball after tennis ball.

Padme is preggers! There's a few scenes of the pair together, but luckily not enough to get me proper wound up. It's suddenly all so dark. Luke and Leia are just little innocent fetuses growing inside of her. Hopefully Luke isn't coming on to Leia in the womb or anything. I wouldn't put it past him. Anyway, after enduring Attack of the Clones I just can't wait to see these two pretty people torn apart. Stop hugging and do something dastardly Darth! I'm getting ahead of myself again. This is the eternal problems with prequels.

I'm guessing if you've seen The Clone Wars series, then General Grievous is more exciting to you than he is to me. I spent a good ten minutes wondering why a droid would be coughing before eventually finding out, he isn't a droid, but some kind of creature in droid armour. Anyway, he seems to only exist so that Lucas can stuff the frame with more lightsabers. Look! He's wielding four at a time! He must be terribly badass. Nope, Obi Wan makes fairly short work of him and for the record, more lightsabers does not a better lightsaber battle make! I suspect J.J. Abrams has made a note of this and is taking us back to basics in The Force Awakens.

Speaking of baddies, what a difference a hood makes. No wonder people worry about 'hoodies' in the UK. Doesn't everyone look more badass with their hood up? Palpatine finally turns real nasty and has a decent fight with Mace Windu. It looks to me in this fight that Ian McDiarmid didn't do a huge amount of training and therefore, he's barely involved. It's all stunt doubles and CGI bobbins. I'm not even sure Sam Jackson is there for much of it either. And then before you know it, Palpatine has a face like a Klingon and you're just desperate for him to put his hood up to save him from any more embarrassment. Forget moisturizer. This calls for a hood to get that silly forehead covered as quickly as possible!

Finally! Finally! After something like seven hours of suffering (us, not him), Darth Vader is born. And then... wow does it escalate quickly. Kids are culled and suddenly Hayden Christensen looks the part. It's the hood. Must be the hood.

The final fight between Obi Wan and Anakin is stunning. It's got a fantastic location that somehow avoids looking too fake (mostly). And these two characters that we care about are suddenly determined to kill each other. The full tragedy of the situation is abundantly clear. It really is bloody sad. Meanwhile, cutting to Padme dying while giving birth is a decent decision and you almost start to think that Lucas can be forgiven for everything that came before. These were the secenes he wanted to write. This is the backstory he had in mind when writing the original trilogy. If the fat had been trimmed, and all that Padme/Anakin stuff could have been cut right back to a bare minimum, maybe, this prequel trilogy could have been one great film. Shame Peter Jackson didn't get the memo in time for The Hobbit.

And it's absolutely horrifying seeing Anakin die. How they got away with a 12 rating for this is beyond me. It's brutal. I've seen Irreversible, Human Centipede, You name it. If it's sick, I've probably watched it. But people burning is always hard to handle. Anakin burns slowly and painfully after having his legs lopped off. And Obi Wan just leaves him to suffer. It seems like a particularly nasty thing to do, even after Anakin has slayed a bunch of Jedi kids. And if Obi Wan had just finished the job, well then there'd be no original trilogy so maybe that's not the best idea. Thanks Obi Wan for just watching him burn before walking off. Bastard.

After three films, Lucas seems to have finally found his mojo. It's almost like even he didn't care about all the stuff that came before. Once Anakin turns, it all goes so damn well. McGregor reminds us he can act. And Christensen has never been better. And then this...

Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. I know how you feel Darth. What a laughably awful moment. It had been going so brilliantly for a little while and then Lucas fucks up the birth of Darth Vader as we know and love him. Couldn't he have fallen to his knees? Punched a hole in a wall? Anything but this raising his hands and head to the sky crap! Oh dear. Well, never mind. Lucas kind of manages to pull it back from the brink with the Tatooine double sun shot below:

If you're not excited to dive into the original trilogy after this, you may not have a pulse. I'm writing this with three days to go until The Force Awakens. Revenge of the Sith has given me A New Hope! Let's do this!

The Highs and Lows of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Attacking Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars: The Original and Still the Best?