It's fair to say that “Star Wars III: The Revenge of the Sith” is the most anticipated film of the summer. For costumed superfans, who are already lining up in front of local theaters hoping to be first in line to see the conclusion to the saga, this is an event. For those of us who don't want to be fodder for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, it is also a must-see film, after the initial rush has passed.
I really, really want to like this movie. The fact that it promises to be dark with no happy ending, much like “The Empire Strikes Back,” makes it more appealing. But after seeing “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones,” I wonder if George Lucas can bring the emotional intensity needed to make this movie a fitting conclusion.
In the last two movies, Lucas put too much focus on delivering the big Industrial Light and Magic action scenes to the attention-deficit kiddies instead of a well-crafted story for those of us who are his real target audience, the children of the original “Star Wars” generation. Action scenes are a huge part of the success of the original “Star Wars” films, but it was the story that kept bringing the fans back to the theater.
In “Phantom Menace” and “Clones,” Lucas the director appears to only have commissioned Lucas the screenwriter to put some words together to link one action sequence with the next. Stilted dialogue such as “I feel something terrible has happened” and “the power of the Dark Side is strong” repeated over and over does not make for an engaging story.
I didn't hate “Menace” and “Clones,” but I was disappointed. I was hoping for the same thrill that I got from the original films. Maybe, thanks to the cynicism of age, it isn't possible for me to have the same emotional connection to these movies anymore. And unfortunately, Lucas did not hire a better screenwriter and director for “Sith” (both positions are still filled by him). He did, however, recruit Steven Spielberg to help him with certain sequences, which is encouraging.
In order to complete the story and give it the fitting conclusion it deserves, there are a few points that have to be addressed. These are essential to me and some like-minded “Star Wars” fan friends. Here's hoping that Lucas remembered us, and the original story, when he wrapped up “Sith.” We'll be watching.
From truculent boy to Dark Lord of the SithRemember “Star Wars?” Yeah, in that movie, Darth Vader was a controlled, deliberate Sith. He didn't act impetuously and, goodness knows, he did not whine. Anakin Skywalker, particularly in “Clones,” is a whiner. He is impatient, moody and not remotely menacing. He's more like a teenager who got put on restriction for missing curfew.
Yes, I realize that is part of the plot development — that he is susceptible to the Dark Side because he is a willful, unfocused, ego-bruised Padawan learner. But we're getting down to go time, and judging from the trailers he's still whining and still nobody understand him! How are we supposed to believe that this guy is capable of becoming the methodical villain that made him the star of “Star Wars”?
It's too easy to blame Hayden Christensen, but he's only working with the words that are given to him. Lucas must find a way to settle him down and deliver an emotional wallop that is devastating enough to turn this truculent boy into the cold, unquestioning servant of the Emperor that haunted “Star Wars.”
Since Vader is unaware of the whereabouts of Luke and Leia, or their existence for that matter, the loss of his children cannot push Anakin to the Dark Side. It's unlikely that Padmé will be the deciding factor either (presumably she will be with the children, at least until their birth). Anakin is motivated by power, not love (there is no love on the Dark Side).
No, the final push has to come from Obi-Wan, his mentor and the source of his greatest frustration. Obi-Wan, who has always counseled him to moderate his emotions and put duty over his personal desire, must betray him, at least in Anakin's eyes. Anakin wants, he covets, and when he doesn't get what he wants, he gets angry. The Supreme Chancellor, soon to be the emperor, offers him power. But it will be Obi-Wan's betrayal that pushes him to align himself with the emperor.
One thing is for sure. We know there is a climatic fight scene between Obi-Wan and Anakin in “Sith.” Fingers crossed.
Help us Obi-Wan, you're our only hope
Obi-Wan is a central character in four of the six movies. He's the voice of reason and continuity. We know he ends up in hiding on Tatooine. But let's please get him there with the dignity he deserves.
Like many of the other characters, Lucas has given Ewan McGregor trite, cliché-ridden lines that reduced the mighty Jedi master to a full-size Yoda wind-up doll. But we are at war now, and with his impetuous apprentice sliding toward the Dark Side, Obi-Wan needs to take care of the problem. True, anger is the path to the Dark Side, but even a Jedi knows when enough is enough. If Anakin cannot be trained as a Jedi, he must die like the Sith scum that he is.
We do know that Anakin and Obi-Wan have a battle to end all battles on the molten planet of Mustafar. And we know they both survive, albeit with one in a biomechanical suit. But despite his peaceful Jedi nature, it must be clear that Obi-Wan is trying to kill Anakin. The future of the Jedi — and Anakin's children — are at stake, and that takes precedent over one miserable Sith. To have Obi-Wan save him from the fiery depths would be yet another cliché.
Obi-Wan will, of course, be guilt-ridden by this anti-Jedi behavior, but knows that he must make sure that Luke and Leia remain hidden from the Emperor. After securing their safety, he takes to the caves of Tatooine, to hide, reflect on his failure as a Jedi and on his tutelage of Anakin, until we meet him again in “Episode IV” as Ben Kenobi.
Padmé, the token chick
Like Princess Leia in the original trilogy, Padmé Amidala has been reduced to window dressing. Feisty, devoted to her cause (she knows the working end of a blaster), she has no real power and no real purpose in this movie, other than to dress in exotic clothing and give birth to Luke and Leia.
It's very sad to see a good actress like Natalie Portman reduced to a cliché, especially a cliché with simpering lines. So following the cliché, this bright woman, a senator no less, has put her good sense to the side and married an emotionally unstable man that she has to sneak around to see because, as a Jedi, he's not supposed to marry anyone. But she can get smarter, and like a lot of women who make mistakes, she can get out.
In order to turn Padmé into a fully developed character, she has to leave Anakin. But she can't leave him because she is pregnant. No, most likely, she won't realize she's pregnant until after she's left him. She will flee to Alderaan, with the help of Bail Organa. She leaves him because she decides that she must remain true to her cause and her beliefs. She can see Anakin shunning his Jedi teachings and falling deeper and deeper under the influence of Chancellor Palpatine.
Since there is no mention of her in “Episode IV,” it is safe to say she does not survive “Episode III.” But if she stands by her cause, and not her man, her death won't be in vain.
No, there is another ...And finally, we come to Luke and Leia. Presumably, Padmé dies in childbirth, or closely thereafter (after all, she's fulfilled her only real function in this George Lucas universe). So who does it fall to to protect the children — the future generation of the all-but-extinct Jedi? The last remaining Jedi, of course, Obi-Wan.
The girl, who is less likely to draw attention from Darth Vader, is given to Viceroy Bail Organa of Alderaan to be raised as his own daughter, Princess Leia. But Luke is the “new hope.” He must be hidden and watched over. Obi-Wan can't raise Luke himself and run the risk of them both being captured and killed by the Empire. No, Luke must be placed in a remote, but safe spot where Obi-Wan can keep an eye on him.
Enter Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Knowing that Anakin/Vader would never want to return to Tatooine, the planet where his mother died, Obi-Wan takes the boy to their moisture farm and tells them what happened to Anakin (who they meet in “Clones”). Since Anakin's late mother was married to their father, they take in the boy and raise him to be a farmer, telling him that his father was killed during the Clone wars.
No, I'm not going out on a limb on this scenario, but it is essential that we see this in the film. We must see the boy Luke left behind on Tatooine, while Ben Kenobi heads for the hills, as his father takes his spot at the right hand of evil.
Please, George, make it so.