Friday, June 11, 2010

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

"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005)
Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman
Written and directed by George Lucas

There are bad movies, and then there are bad movies.  There are movies I've disliked, for various reasons; perhaps they were poorly made, or the cast wasn't up to snuff or whatever.

I've even hated movies, maybe it was because they were huge let-downs ("The Phantom Menace") or because they were outright offensive ("Attack of the Clones").

But I have never, ever hated a movie as much as I hate "Revenge of the Sith."  It is a movie so foul, so inconceivably idiotic, that it has become the only movie in my 28 years on this Earth that I have openly heckled in the theatre.  It is two and a half hours of missed opportunities, juvenile humor, terrible performances and outright, godawful dialogue and storytelling.

"But Ben!" you say.  "You said those things about the previous movies, too!"

That's right, I did.  But here's the truth: Everything the first two movies did wrong, this third one does again... only worse.

"Revenge of the Sith" begins its pattern of utter disappointment early on when it begins with a spectacular battle over the skies of the planet Coruscant.  Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped by Separatist forces led by General Grievous.  Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are charged with his rescue.  The film's opening moments are rife with the promise of the greatest space battle ever put down on screen.  The number of ships is incredible, the chaos we witness is entrancing.

And two minutes later, it's all gone to shit.  Instead of a harrowing battle sequence, we're treated to a ridiculous scene where Anakin and Obi-Wan bicker while bug droids scurry about on top of their ships.  The rest of the scene is wasted in this manner, and we move immediately to Anakin and Obi-Wan infiltrating Grievious' ship to find the Chancellor.  Here, things pick up again and we get to watch the Jedi slice through droids and Count Dooku to rescue Palpatine.

And two minutes later, it's all gone to shit... again.  For every moment there's something decent happening with the Jedi, we have to sit through R2-D2's silly, bullshit adventures making battle droids slip in a puddle of oil or some shit.

The rest of the movie continues on in this manner, teasing you by being kinda cool for a few minutes and then totally blowing it and going off in some idiotically absurd new direction for no reason.  The movie literally jumps the shark every five or ten minutes, over and over and over again until by the time you get to the frustratingly bad ending, the movie just feels like a frantic, trapped animal that can't get out of its own way.

There are moments of pure greatness in this film, and that's why I hate it so much.  I hate it because it should have been so much better, and easily could have... but instead, it hands me a few great scenes and then pisses all over them (and me).  It's like someone gives you a treat, then slaps it out of your hand as you go to eat it.

The scenes of Jedi being slaughtered after Palpatine and Anakin's betrayal are excellent, and John Williams' incredible score puts it over the top awesome.  (That man really delivers in this one, and it's his finest score in quite some time.)

But so much of the film is fucking stupid.  At one point, Obi-Wan undertakes a stealth mission to locate General Grievous... by riding on a giant, shrieking space salamander.  This thing makes more noise than a Mack truck, but no one seems to notice.  Beyond that, we're told that Obi-Wan will be leading a 'campaign' to capture Grievious, but he ends up going by himself and takes on the entire droid army alone until reinforcements somehow catch up to him.  He also manages to make short handiwork of Grievious by himself (after he and Anakin are unable to best Grievous earlier in the movie).

The scene in which Mace Windu (a bored and boring Samuel L. Jackson) arrives to arrest Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious is just complete nonsense.  Palpatine sits there shooting lightning out of his fingers and saying that he's too weak to fight back against the Jedi?  Mace Windu, the most boring character Samuel L. Jackson has ever played, suddenly decides to murder Palpatine and Anakin, who has so staunchly advocated for singular power and action throughout the last two movies, suddenly decides that Palpatine should be arrested and tried in the courts.

This is where the already stupid movie goes completely off the rails.  Nothing in this movie happens organically at all.  It's like George Lucas suddenly realized he was supposed to be making a prequel, and starts making things happen because they have to happen, regardless of how much sense it makes.  It's poor screenwriting in every way.

The worst example of this offense is Padme's death.  Does she die because she's injured?  Does she get sick?

No.

We're told she dies... of a broken heart.    This is absolutely, downright the most fucking retarded reason I've ever heard of someone dying in a movie.  How Natalie Portman agreed to have her character so thoroughly dragged through the mud in these two movies is beyond me.  In the last movie, we saw her falling in love with Anakin and telling him it's okay to slaughter women and children when he's angry.  Here, she somehow manages to kill herself through sheer power of will after finding out that he's... slaughtered women and children when angry.  It's worse here because she's just given birth to twins.  So basically, what we're seeing is that she would rather die and leave her children parentless than accept the fact that her shitty husband is a total douchebag.

After slogging through two hours of nonsense and offensive stupidity, we finally get to the climactic sequence that's supposed to bridge the two trilogies - the final duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi on the planet Mustafar.  This is another one of those moments of greatness that the movie teases you with until it takes it all away.  The fight goes smashingly, full of emotion and action until... Until Anakin and Obi-Wan jump up onto a table and start twirling their lightsabers at each other.  That's right, twirling their lightsabers at each other.  They're not fighting, they're just standing there twirling their lightsabers at each other.  I really can't be more clear on how incredibly fucking retarded this is.  After this, it's completely impossible to care about anything that's going on, and the movie ends with a whimper.

Frankly, I could go on for hours about how awful this movie is.  I hate it.  I hate it for so completely ruining what should have been the coolest, most awesome fuckin' 'Star Wars' movie ever.  We finally get to see all the shit that made one of the greatest cinema villains of all time, Darth Vader, and it fucking sucks.  Everyone's shocked to find out that Anakin turns evil, but for fuck's sake... the guy's an asshole.  He wears black all the time, and talks about how the galaxy would be a better place without all the diplomacy and democracy, and whines about how he needs to get more respect and power for himself!  I mean, come on, people.

In the end, the Jedi fall because they must.  George Lucas doesn't give us a credible reason, he just knew that they had to because he wrote the end before the beginning and then couldn't figure out how to get from B to A.  The same goes for everything in this movie.  R2-D2 and C3PO, you say, shouldn't they know the truth?  Oh, well, George just puts in a throw-away line (delivered in a throw-away manner) about erasing 3PO's memory.

So fuck it.  Fuck this movie.  It's terrible.  I might hate this movie more than I hate any other movie.  Downright loathe.