This week, progressive/nerd/parent reviews of all six Star Wars films as part of the obsession with/buildup to/exploitation of the release of The Force Awakens. The reviews are in sequential order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) although I recommend a different order for first time viewers.
Star Wars: Episode III – “Revenge of the Sith”
Bechdel-Wallace Score: 1/3
Shukla Score: 1/3
Russo Score: 0/3
Notice that the climax of the prequel trilogy is also the least diverse of the three, hmm. There is no LGBTQ representation in this movie. There are two people of color, though they never speak to each other. There are three named women in this movie, if you count baby Leia (I don’t) and Aunt Beru, neither of whom speak. Even if the cut scenes of Mon Mothma, Padme, et al. had been kept in the movie that would have been a 2.5 at best since they’d be meeting with men and also discussing political issues centered around a man (Palpatine). I gave the movie three out of five kittens, because I do like watching some parts of it quite a bit, but it is about half awful.
Highlights/Low points (in this movie, they all go together):
The opening sequence starts out pretty awesome, with a grand scale and great effects as Skywalker and Kenobi battle their way to rescue Palpatine from Grievous’ flagship… …but then it descends into this weird buddy comedy with Anakin and Obi Wan and R2 trading quips, like it was Bill & Ted’s Chancellor Adventure or something.
The fight between Mace Windu and Darth Sidious is pretty great, more like the empassioned lightsaber battles in the original trilogy… …but only after it started with Sidious doing this weird Tasmanian Devil move that apparently paralyzes Jedi Masters, because they just stood there and got cut down. What was the point of that?
Anakin’s redemption, as he learns to appreciate Obi Wan’s tutelage and betrays Palpatine/Sidious to the Jedi Council is a welcome if unexpected development… …because then he turns to the dark side anyway, adding another low point to the Windu/Sidious fight, and really making us all wonder just what the fuck is supposed to be going on. How do you go from the attitude-of-gratitude to mass-paedocide in a single day? It would be one thing if this were set up as a conflict, but it is not. It is like there are two separate Anakin narratives, one redemption, one descent, and one of them just evaporates when needed to move the story along.
And then, of course, the Anakin vs. Obi Wan duel. It starts off terribly, with Anakin doing a rhetorical George W. Bush impersonation to justify his behavior. Since when to the Sith offer excuses and reasons for being evil? Obi Wan fairs no better, pleading the virtues of democracy like he was talking do a DailyKos reader when he is, in fact, talking to a former child slave turned child soldier turned general of an army of clone slaves. How’s that working for you, Old Ben? Then the fight itself, which really is breathtakingly awesome, right until Anakin CGI-jumps across the room destroying both the shield-generator control panel and everything redeeming about this sequence. After that it is just McGregor and Christensen trying to deliver drama amidst CGI lava. I am also unable to suspend disbelief during this sequence, because FYI the heat on a lava planet wouldn’t just make these two sweat, it would vaporize them in a pyroclastic flow.
This movie gets credit by some for being the least-bad of the prequels. I even know a few die-hard Star Wars fans who prefer this film over Jedi. I don’t get that: sure, this movie had much more promise than the first two prequel episodes, but much like Episode II the gap between the potential and what is delivered on screen makes the movie worse in my mind, not better. The individual scenes of Skywalker’s turn to the dark side might be good, but the scenes of him realizing he should value his friends and family are better. It just never makes sense. Plus, after all he trades for the power to save Padme, the soon-to-be-Emperor tells him that he doesn’t even know how to save her and then that she died anyway. How is killing the Emperor not, ya know, the first and only thing on Vader’s mind after this? The story just makes no damned sense.
Final highlight/low point – hooray the movie ends, but only after killing off a strong woman because she just couldn’t be bothered to live without her murderous, abusive bae. FAIL.
Dad edits: We skip the killing of the Jedi kids at the temple, for sure (yes, including the boy that gets killed on the platform in front of Senator Antilles). We skip the Anakin/Padme dialogue, because it is execrable. I try to cuss Lucas out under my breath or in another room, but that is a self-edit not really something about the movie itself.