Journey to the dark side
The cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel LJackson, Ian McDiarmid, Christopher Lee and Frank Oz (voice of Yoda)
The director: George Lucas
The storyline: How Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader.
The bottomline: Watch you must, expect you must not.
This has to be the darkest of the lot.
Fine, if you consider that young fans of the originals have aged since the first Star Wars film released in 1977. And the present crop of young fans are anyway used to finding violence and killing in films.
‘Revenge of the Sith’ is very grown-up compared to the other films in the series. And the most serious one. There aren’t too many funny lines or feel good moments. But that again is understandable considering that George Lucas just wanted this episode to show how a good man becomes bad.
How the irresistibly cute child from ‘Episode 1:The Phantom Menace’ Anakin Skywalker becomes the black-metal masked evil Darth Vader, the villain in the original series (which have now become Episodes 4,5 and 6).
Given that the function of the middle of any story is to put the central characters into a crisis and push them to the lowest point of their graph, there was very little scope for comic interludes. Hence the beeping droid R2D2 is just at its efficient best, the gold-plated C3PO does not get too much screen time, the usually eccentric Yoda we see in the originals is all serious and the goofy Jar Jar Binks, introduced in Episode 1 to bring comic relief is done away with.
Drama dominates ‘Revenge of the Sith’ as Lucas fleshes out the politics that sets the stage for the transformation of Anakin (HaydenChristensen), who now finds his loyalties split between the Jedi Council and the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who he had befriended in the prequel.
After having set-up Anakin’s ability to foresee death (remember the premonition he had in Episode 2 about his established when little Anakin meets the Jedi council for the first time in Episode 1 when Yoda tells him: “Fear is the path to the darkside. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”), the master story-teller skillfully ties it all up, with Anakin now getting a premonition of Padme’s (Natalie Portman) death.
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu has just about managed a slightly bigger role this time and Ewan McGregor gets the meaty chunk of the saberlight fights. It is to the director’s credit that the mind-blowing visual effects (the saberlight fight in the climax between Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin/Darth Vader is the highlight of the film and the battle scenes are out of this world), in spite of being the best in the series, in no way distract you from the story you already know.
And that, is the beauty of the third prequel. It meticulously fills in the blanks between the first two prequels and the three originals, unfolding an almost Shakespearean transformation of Anakin.
Star Wars fans will love it, for this has pretty much everything else you liked about the series. Lucas continues his “one cliffhanger after another” formula to have you at the edge of our seat, with the “I have a bad feeling about this” line (this time Obi Wan Kenobi says it) signaling off the start of yet another adventure, yet another saberlight fight, yet another losing the saberlight stunt, yet another narrow escape, and many ‘May the Force be with you’ greetings thrown in, at regular intervals.
As Yoda would say about ‘Revenge of the Sith’: “Expect too much, you must not. Enjoy, you will then.