Ten days after it opened, I finally managed to see Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith yesterday. And what a phenomenal film it is! If you haven't seen it yet, do go. And if you do plan to and don't want any spoilers, then don't read the rest of this post.
There are plenty of film reviews out there, and plenty of different individual opinions about the film, the acting, the dialogue and the special effects - try these, for example. I thought all of it was simply terrific.
Two things struck me especially strongly about this film, both to do with acting and characterization.
The first is the brilliant portrayal of Anakin Skywalker by Hayden Christensen. This is an actor who without doubt has grown substantially in ability since his first appearance as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones three years ago. In this latest film, he is believable and makes for compelling watching as the tortured and lost soul who is Anakin Skywalker and who becomes Darth Vader.
Watching him progress from confusion and doubt (about himself, primarily) to warped denial and the awful catalyst for the eventual death of his pregnant wife Padmé Amidala (acted by Natalie Portman) was quite something. Deep and dark, definitely not a film for small kids.
The second thing is the relationship and inter-reactions between the characters of Anakin Skywalker and Chancellor Palpatine, played equally brilliantly by Ian McDiarmid. Seeing one human being consistently manipulating another in the pursuit of raw and absolute power was quite breathtaking.
Great acting means acting a great story, and this film is that. Yes, I've read some reviews and commentaries that talk about wooden acting and lame storylines. I don't agree at all, but that debate will have no end. For me, this film - and all the Star Wars films - are simply a great story, a variation on a timeless theme about good and evil, love, trials and tribulations, having dreams and vision, and so on. It's a winning formula, every time.
I thought the final part of the film, following Anakin's conversion into Darth Vader, set a pretty seamless transition to Episode IV, the original Star Wars film released in 1977. How the newly-born Luke and Leia were separated to protect them from their father, Darth Vader on the bridge of a star destroyer, the crew below in uniforms that were those in the later (original) films, the partly-built Death Star visible through a window - all elements that bridge the gap between this last of the new trilogy with the first of the original trilogy.
The circle is now complete, to quote one of the oft-said lines in this film series. It makes me want to watch the original trilogy again...
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