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'Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith'
AP ^ | May 15, 2005 7:12 pm US/Pacific | CHRISTY LEMIRE,

Posted on 05/17/2005 6:49:27 PM PDT by BenLurkin

AP) All those "Star Wars" geeks, who've been waiting for weeks outside movie theaters with their Yoda sleeping bags and their homemade lightsabers, finally have a film that's worthy of their perseverance.

The Force is strong with "Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," the sixth and final piece in George Lucas' galactic saga, which represents a welcome return to the ideas and the spirit that made his original "Star Wars" a pop-culture juggernaut 28 years ago.

The circle is now complete, as Lucas' characters are fond of saying, and much of the film's joy comes from watching these familiar names and events fall into place.

It is enormously satisfying to see young Anakin Skywalker ( Hayden Christensen) teeter along the edge that separates good and evil, and to see what finally pushes the would-be Chosen One over to the dark side of the Force.

It's a wonderful, small discovery when Anakin receives the name Darth Vader once he finally swears his allegiance to Chancellor Palpatine, who reveals himself here as Darth Sidious, a Sith master and the eventual evil Emperor. (And all the other words that ooze from Ian McDiarmid's mouth leave you feeling so slimy, you'll want to take a shower afterward.)

But the moment we've all been waiting for is one that simply must be experienced in a packed theater: when the mask goes on and the helmet comes down and Anakin takes his first raspy breath as Darth Vader in all his dark, gleaming glory. (You won't hear anyone else breathing, it's such an absorbing sight.)

The iconography is powerful to behold, especially when compared to the horrendously disappointing Episodes I and II. In retrospect, the first two "Star Wars" prequels seem even more useless, with their stilted dialogue and their numbing, CGI-infused clone battles.

Lucas wisely has placed the emphasis this time on elaborate lightsaber duels — between Anakin and mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) against the Sith lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), and ultimately between Anakin and Obi-Wan themselves. Some of the biggest thrills come from tiny Yoda, the Jedi master who's at the height of his powers here. He does as much damage with a well-chosen, structurally inverted phrase or the subtlest wrinkle of his round, green face as he does with a swing of his lightsaber. (And Yoda has mad skills.)

Lucas' writing still clangs, though, especially during the exchanges between Anakin and his secret bride, Senator Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), who announces in Episode III that she's pregnant (with twins we've come to know as Luke and Leia in Episode IV, the original "Star Wars").

"You are so beautiful," Anakin dreamily tells Padme as she brushes her dark, flowing locks on a balcony in the moonlight.

"Only because I'm so in love," Padme coos back to him.

Thankfully, Lucas also didn't saddle her with the heavy headgear and distracting dresses she wore in Episodes I and II, or else she would barely be able to get up and move about the galaxy.

That love for Padme, though, is partly the inspiration for Anakin's conversion. Not to give too much away, but he becomes convinced that Padme is in danger, and the only way to save her is through the powers that come with dark-side membership.

He's actually just being manipulated by Palpatine/Darth Sidious, who wants to turn the Galactic Republic into his own Empire and sees him as a malleable apprentice, especially at a time when Anakin isn't getting the respect and authority he craves from the Jedi Council.

"Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose," Yoda warns Anakin, but it's too late — and we know it's too late, and that built-in expectation is much of what makes "Revenge of the Sith" so riveting.

It's also a visually wondrous film, though. Lucas uses the digital technology to far greater advantage than he did in the first two prequels, which too often had the glossy, detached look of a video game. Crisp daylight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows of Padme's apartment, and the cityscapes consist of silvery skyscrapers and golden sunsets. Even Chewbacca and his Wookiee buddies look lifelike as they scamper in battle across the beaches and jungles of the planet Kashyyyk.

Clearly, this is Lucas' war protest movie — Obi-Wan shoots a character down with a gun once his lightsaber is knocked away from him, and afterward sniffs, "So uncivilized." But it's also, at its core, a soap opera. It always has been. Think of Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker, "I am your father," during the heat of battle in "The Empire Strikes Back." Episode III features fast-paced parallel editing between two staples of daytime TV: a childbirth and a complicated operation.

But despite its drama and darkness, Lucas gives us some light moments, too. He slips in a glimpse of the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks at the very end, and although the big, goofy Gungan doesn't say anything, his presence alone feels like Lucas' last little dig at the naysayers — and a reminder with this final farewell that, nearly 30 years later, he's still doing it his way.

"Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," a Twentieth Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images. Running time: 142 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

TOPICS: Music/Entertainment; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: activistactors; antiamericanism; boycottstarwars; bush; bushbasher; bushequalshitler; bushhater; cannes; cannesfestival; darkside; darthvader; ep3; episode3lucas; fansboysagainstbush; force; france; georgelucas; hollyweird; jedi; liberalloser; lightsaber; lucasfilm; moviereview; natalieportman; nixon; obiwan; padme; portman; revengeofthesith; richardnixon; shutupandsing; sith; starwars; theforce; usefulidiot; vichyfrench; vietnam; vietnamwar; yoda
"Three and a half stars out of four."

Yeah. Sure.

1 posted on 05/17/2005 6:49:29 PM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin
Forget the Sith. Long live Slithis!
2 posted on 05/17/2005 6:52:20 PM PDT by pissant (Dead Terrorists are a good thing)
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To: BenLurkin

Misspelled Sh** in the headline...

3 posted on 05/17/2005 6:53:26 PM PDT by weegee (Funny how prisoners at Gitmo can have their religious books but our school kids can't.)
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To: BenLurkin

Although I stood in line for 2 hours in 1976(?) to see the first movie, I won't be seeing this one. Just to gory for me. I guess I got old.

4 posted on 05/17/2005 6:53:56 PM PDT by eccentric (a.k.a. baldwidow)
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To: BenLurkin

Here are some geek reviews from Aint it Cool News

Plot spoilers within.

Since I don't plan on seeing the film anytime soon (but probably eventually, possibly at a dollar theater), I figured it was okay for me to see the spoilers since I would undoubtedly hear of them within a few weeks any way.

Quint has joined the Dark Side! An OT loyalist's review of REVENGE OF THE SITH!

CANNES: Celia does Day 5 and suffers through STAR WARS EPISODE 3: REVENGE OF THE SITH...

And Harry's own review:
I have watched my last new STAR WARS film.

5 posted on 05/17/2005 7:04:05 PM PDT by weegee (Funny how prisoners at Gitmo can have their religious books but our school kids can't.)
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To: BenLurkin
...Lucas' last little dig at the naysayers...

The whole freakin movie is the Lucas' "last little dig" but I won't feel it cause I ain't watchin it.

6 posted on 05/17/2005 8:03:58 PM PDT by Theophilus (Save Little Democrats, Stop Abortion)
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To: eccentric

No, Lucas went from the sublime to the ridiculous.

7 posted on 05/18/2005 7:31:32 AM PDT by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin
At 5:45 PST, the first copy of the movie appeared on the Internet. Where did this copy come from? It was purchased on the street from a vendor who was selling copies on a college campus. That same workprint apparently was for sale in at least nine cities, and apparently sold to those waiting in line at noon in Milwaukee.

I'm so glad the MPAA and the RIAA are going after private sharing of television and music - and ignoring these street sales. The video was a workprint, and it will likely be available from street vendors across the world by the time you read these words. Particularly painful for Lucasfilms in nations where the film isn't scheduled to be shown for some time yet.

Yes, there are number counters on the screen, so it is flawed, but this theft will likely result in at least a multimillion loss in ticket sales, and perhaps as much as a hundred million when world wide theater ticket sales are counted.

8 posted on 05/18/2005 9:51:31 PM PDT by kingu
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To: kingu
Interesting. What is a "work print" and what are "number counters"?

For years I have seen illegals selling DVDs of current releases on the street in downtown L.A. -- always figured it was stolen, or a crappy copy or blank and never bought one.
9 posted on 05/19/2005 9:32:49 AM PDT by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin
A workprint is any number of the prints made of the film prior to final production. Typically a workprint is used to ensure that the story and effects are flowing properly and is pretty much the last print that the director sees before it goes into mass film distribution. Click on the link (or paste it into your browser) for an example of what the workprint looks like. The number counters are for synching the video and audio tracks in this case.
10 posted on 05/19/2005 3:44:31 PM PDT by kingu
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To: kingu

Interesting, thanks!

You know, in this digital era the studios could code each 'print' and then track the persons who have access to that particular print. If for some reason they suspect someone, they might even slip him or her a uniquely coded print and see if it turns up on the market.

11 posted on 05/19/2005 3:55:19 PM PDT by BenLurkin (O beautiful for patriot dream - that sees beyond the years)
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To: BenLurkin
They do that to a point with 'screener' copies of movies. The biggest difficulty is that the source video is re-encoded and re-sized - making most creative efforts to track the video pretty useless. The most effective scheme I ever saw was done by Disney - they simply put a 'Security code -- 2919293' (a different number for each copy) in the credits at the end of the film.

A lot of major newspapers got egg on their faces as copies were located in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and France. Simple sound queues or spacing of initial credits differently could easily be used to identify which copy is which, but as I said, they like to get really sneaky and it nearly always backfires. (Damn those pirates, finding out our security system! -- what the pirates actually did was re-crop the film for television, slicing off the ID codes.)
12 posted on 05/19/2005 4:02:24 PM PDT by kingu
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