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Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

Film Synopsis: After three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker concludes his journey towards the Dark Side of the Force, putting his friendship with Obi Wan Kenobi and his marriage at risk.

Rated PG 13 runtime 140 minutes

It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away
(27 years, to be exact) when George Lucas introduced the world to the phenomenon of Star Wars. Now the saga is complete with the sixth film in the series, taking us back to the beginning.

I admit that I did not see the last two installments in the series. However, encouraged by positive reviews and the desire to see the conclusion of the series, I returned for Revenge of the Sith.

The central character is the young Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker, father of Luke and Princess Leia. The central conflict is Anakin’s turn to the dark side and his development into super-villain Darth Vader. Anakin is haunted by memories of his mother’s tragic fate (apparently this happened in one of the episodes I missed) and his conviction to protect his pregnant wife Padme from harm. At the same time, the Jedi Council asks Anakin to join them, without extending “master” status to him because of his age. The evil Emperor Palpatine takes advantage of the Council’s seeming rebuff of Anakin, as well as his concern for his wife, and persuades him to come over to the dark side. (I never understood how that would help Padme.) Anakin succumbs and immediately exclaims, “What have I done!” and then never looks back. He is fast on the way to becoming one of the great screen villains.

I was not convinced by Anakin’s turn. There is a lot of room for Jungian analysis, but Lucas, who wrote and directed Sith, does not display a knack for character development. He’s more interested in piling on the special effects. Certainly, the computer-generated effects are cutting edge. But without a stronger screenplay, all the computer generated effects soon become tiresome. It’s as if Lucas is a kid with a new toy showing everyone what he can do.

Lucas has forgotten what made his first two films so successful. First and foremost existed a story, full of adventure, humor, and wonder. And what about all those great characters? Those lovable droids, C-3PIO and R2D2 have small roles in Sith, but never get to do their Laurel and Hardy routine (“Here’s another fine mess you’ve got us into!”) Chewbaca, our favorite ill-tempered Wookie, appears briefly, and only gets off one good roar. Han Solo’s wisecracking adventurer is sorely missed. Sith is virtually void of humor.

My favorite of the series, The Empire Strikes Back, was pretty dark in its own right. At its conclusion, Luke learns that Darth Vader is his father and Han Solo is frozen. But Empire, thanks to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay, had far more depth than Sith. I still remember the climactic laser sword duel between father and son, simply framed by a deep blue background. It was far more dramatic than the lengthy duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi in a sea of fiery lava (another example of an showy special effect for no apparent reason.) The relationship between the mentor Yoda and young Luke in Empire was great. Yoda has a prominent role in Sith, but he has little to do. He could have done a better job mentoring young Anakin! And annoying his manner of speaking has become!

To give Sith its due, the ending is the best part of the movie. The degeneration of Anakin into Darth Vader is complete with the fitting of the black helmet over his deformed face. Then the labored breathing and the voice of James Earl Jones. It is a chilling moment, and definitely the most effective special effect of all. Finally the twins Luke and Leia are born and transported to their adopted parents. Luke arrives to the familiar scene of the desert, where Star Wars begins.

George Lucas has now brought his epic saga full circle. I only wish the end had been half as much fun as the beginning.

Tom Condon, OP

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