01 November 2005

DVD OF THE WEEK - Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith

In 1999 and 2002, most critics gave decent reviews for Star Wars Episodes I and II, maybe because they were afraid of fan backlash or just maybe just maybe wanting them to be better than what they were.

Everyone knows the plot by now, concerning the eventual conflict between Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker and the latter's turn to the Dark Side of the Force. The point of Revenge of the Sith is not what happens, but how it happens. In this regard, Lucas delivers the goods, and does so in a way that casts a whole new light on the much-beloved Episodes IV-VI.

Detractors have blamed writer/director George Lucas for writing clunky dialogue and failing to support his actors while they struggled. Now the performers appear far more comfortable, and in fact, enthusiastic about their jobs.

The overall quality of acting has improved 90% from Episodes I & II, and even Samuel L. Jackson sounds like his old self. Ian McDiarmid in particular gives one of the series' best performances since Alec Guinness in "Star Wars."

Likewise, the new digital Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) is now capable of facial expressions that express authentic humanity. In a fight with the Emperor, Yoda grimaces and glares, and we can sense hints of fear, rage and anguish beneath the surface.

The digital effects in particular have reached a point that they no longer seem "too perfect." The film's awesome landscapes, sometimes appearing onscreen for no more than a few seconds, appear as background for Lucas's lovingly flawed human characters.

Lucas also allows a new darkness to creep into the film. Good and evil are no longer so clear cut. In many instances he demonstrates that good and evil are only relative terms; each person has it within him or herself to turn at any time, and each person struggles constantly.

Likewise, the film's depiction of political power shifts is utterly timeless, yet completely relevant. Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, history tends to repeat itself.


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