I literally just got back from seeing Episode III. I’m desperately short on sleep and time but I figure I’ll throw out a quick review.
Star Wars Episode III
*** (Three out of four stars)
This time around we don’t have a stiffly acted, poorly written racist fantasy. We have a stiffly acted, imminently predictable post-911 parable of corruption and deception. *Yawn* (That’s the proverbial yawn denoting the boredom solicited by the movie and the literal yawn of being up so long without sleep.)
In typical Star Wars fashion, the movie starts off with a strikingly beautiful space sequence, leading toward the rescue of Chancellor Gowron, er, Palpatine. The inevitable fight scene between Anakin and Dooku is precipitated by the rescue. Anakin single-handedly defeats Dooku and is pressured by Palpatine into killing Dooku.
During this time, R2-D2 is involved in a series of comical adventures certain to warm the hearts of even the most jaded fans—*mmmph*. Yeah, right. It’s stupid kiddified garbage. I hate CTI R2.
From that point, they encounter General Grievous who is a total wuss and doesn’t even resemble the threat as he appears in the Clone Wars series. The vessel in which the purloined Palpatine was sequestered is irreparably damaged and Anakin must land it. This is a really awesome scene. My only quibble is that this scene is just one of the many examples of bad human CGI used throughout the film. ILM can do no wrong when it comes to planets and ships—they cannot render lifelike humans. Please stop.
More stuff happens. Anakin turns to the dark side, yadda yadda. Padme dies, boo hoo.
Overall, the acting is poor, the dialogue is weak and the fight scenes are total disappointments. General Grievous and Dooku are total non-entities. Anakin’s motivations are questionable. There is too much exposition which tries to tie the new and the old. Jar Jar gets twenty seconds of screen time, when he deserves none and ILM cannot animate human characters.
The movie succeeds despite its weaknesses due to the fact that it creates a cohesive universe between the new trilogy and the old, at least stylistically. There is just too much exposition in tying the films together but it seamlessly binds the new and the old on a design level. That much I like. The movie is not bad. It’s not great but it is easily the best of the new trilogy. It comes short of matching ROTJ, which is easily the weakest of the original trilogy.
The sad part is that the most memorable performance of the film is R2, who gets a comedic bit role only. Ewan McGregor is way too stiff as Obi-Wan. Don’t get me wrong, Obi-Wan is certainly not a laid-back character but McGregor is way too stiff in this film. Padme is relegated to the weeping wife, which is disheartening. Anakin is leagues better than he was in Attack of the Clones but he is still too stiff.
The new trilogy lacks any real memorable characters or performances. The original trilogy was produced with life and vigor, something sorely lacking in this trilogy.
Still, Episode III succeeds in tying the old to the new. It really makes me want to see Episodes VII, VIII and IX. In that, there is potential.