Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Movie Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Novel Written By: Matthew Stover
Novel Published By: The Ballentine Publishing Company
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Knowing that I am a huge fan of Star Wars movies and the books that have been inspired by the films, one could easily surmise that I have both read each novel and watched every movie, cartoon series, documentary, etc, attached to each and every film in the Star Wars saga. Quite some time ago, I reviewed Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, incorporating the book as well as the DVD versions into the review. For this review, I plan to give the same treatment to the third installment in the Star Wars prequel series, Revenge of the Sith.
This installment of the Star Wars saga marks the downfall of Anakin Skywalker. Revenge of the Sith is the final installment in the prequel trilogy and begins with the kidnapping of Chancellor Palpatine by the Separatist Army. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are assigned to rescue the Chancellor, but things don’t exactly go as planned. The Jedi manage to save the Chancellor, but in deciding how to deal with Count Dooku during their confrontation, Anakin takes another step toward the Dark Side.
Upon returning to Coruscant, Anakin discovers that Padmé is pregnant with his child. While he rejoices at the news, they both know that their secret life as husband and wife will soon become public, possibly forcing Anakin out of the Jedi Order and Padmé out of the Senate. The revelation of this secret is nothing to Anakin compared to the premonitions he has of Padmé’s death in childbirth.
Unable to save his mother from the fate depicted in his nightmares, Anakin is determined to prevent his premonitions of Padmé’s future from coming to fruition. Anakin’s obsession with preventing Padmé’s death is just what Chancellor Palpatine (aka: Darth Sidious) needs to begin his seduction of Anakin to the Dark Side. Suggesting that the powers of the Sith could aide Anakin in his quest to keep his wife alive, Palpatine offers to teach Anakin the ways of the Dark Side.
At first Anakin balks at the idea, but the seeds of mistrust have been planted by Palpatine and Anakin begins to question the intentions of the Jedi Council, the Senate and even his own wife. Torn with indecision, Anakin’s fear and desire for power take over and Anakin falls to the Dark Side, becoming Darth Vader, apprentice of Darth Sidious. As Order 66, the order to terminate all Jedi is carried out by Palpatine’s Clone Troopers, two Jedi set out to bring down the Sith - Yoda and Obi-Wan.
Of course, knowing what takes place in the following films, we know that they are unsuccessful and that this is the beginning of the Empire run by Sith Lords Palpatine and Vader.
The novelization of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was written by Matthew Stover. Based upon the story and screenplay by George Lucas, there are some differences between the book and the movie. This can often sour fans of the movie to the book, but in this case, it works.
While the movie relies on visual effects and dialogue to show Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader, Stover can delve deeper. The book version of Revenge of the Sith allows the reader insight into the thoughts and emotions experienced by each character, offering more depth to the story. Stover was also not held back by time constraints and could therefore afford to add in many of the scenes that Lucas was forced to delete from his movie, such as Padmé’s involvement with the beginnings of what is to become the Rebel Alliance.
I enjoyed Stover’s insight into the conflicting emotions of the characters involved. Stover took time to give his readers insight into each separate character and how they were feeling at critical moments throughout the story. These insights are invaluable to the storyline and our understanding of the decisions made by its characters.
I also enjoyed the introductions to each “Act” of the story, the author waxing poetic about darkness while offering an accurate description of what is happening to Anakin as he succumbs to the Dark Side. “The dark is generous, and it is patient. It is the dark that seeds cruelty into justice, that drips contempt into compassion, that poisons love with grains of doubt.” My personal favorite: “The dark is generous, and it is patient, and it always wins. It always wins because it is everywhere. It is in the wood that burns in your hearth, and in the kettle on the fire; it is under your table and under the sheets on your bed. Walk in the midday sun and the dark is with you, attached to the soles of your feet. The brightest light casts the darkest shadow.”
Of course, all the imagination in the world will not allow you to visualize the fight scenes in Revenge of the Sith the way George Lucas has envisioned them. For that we turn to the movie with al of its special effects that captivate us and offer up an adrenaline rush that no book could ever give a reader. All of the lightsaber duels were very well done, but the best duel of all is the one that takes place between Anakin (newly minted Darth Vader) and Obi-Wan on Mustafar. The speed and ferocity of that battle are amazing and we begin to see some moves that never have appeared in lightsaber battles in previous films.
Something else the movie can give us that the book can’t is a clear view of our characters’ emotions as they go through the events in Revenge of the Sith. Anakin’s pain and confusion are written on his face. His anguish comes out in the tears that streak down his face. Obi-Wan’s shock and dismay at the plight of his former student are registered in his body language. Actors offer up a visual display of emotion that can only be imagined by the reader, depending upon how descriptive the novel’s author truly is.
As far as the acting goes in this movie, Hayden Christensen was still a tad stiff at times in his delivery as Anakin Skywalker, but otherwise was a very good selection to portray the man who would be Vader. Ewan McGregor was the perfect selection to portray the young Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s remarkable how much he resembles Alec Guinness in his portrayal of the character in A New Hope. Upon first seeing the film, I found Natalie Portman’s Padmé to be a bit whiney and somewhat weak compared to the last films. Now that I have seen the scenes that were deleted from the film, I discovered that a lot of the substance of her role ended up on the cutting room floor - a pity. Ian McDiarmid is amazingly devilish as Palpatine/Sidious. Yoda was as amazing as ever.
I was a tad disappointed at the demise of Kit Fisto, a character I truly enjoyed and wanted to see more of. He barely had begun to battle Sidious when he was felled by the Dark Lord in a maneuver that I would have thought a Master like Fisto would have been able to counter. What a shame.
So, the movie or the book? Which one? In my opinion, both. The movie for the visual storytelling and special effects and the book for al of the behind the scenes stuff one could never get by simply watching the film.
Like every loyal Star Wars fan, I saw Revenge of the Sith as soon as it hit the movie theaters and then bought the DVD as soon as it hit the stores. While seeing the movie in the theater is the ultimate in movie-going experiences for a Star Wars fan, watching the DVD at home is advantageous in its own way.
First, there are no lines and no sold out showings. Second, you can stop the movie anytime you want and not have to worry about missing anything as you head to the kitchen for a snack or take a bathroom break. Third, there are no annoying people talking around you, unless you are silly enough to hang out in your home with annoying talkative people. Fourth, you can watch the movie over and over again to spot things you may not have seen during the first, second, third or umpteenth showing. Finally, DVD’s are usually chock full of interesting little extras.
I loved this movie in that it finally ties things up. Episodes IV-VI made it seem like the story was really about the Skywalker family and Luke’s quest to right the galaxy and defeat the Empire by turning his father, Darth Vader, away from the Dark Side. In Episode I, we learned that the saga was truly about Anakin Skywalker who is ultimately the Chosen One - the one to bring balance to the Force. So how could someone who eventually becomes Darth Vader be the one to bring balance to the Force? George Lucas ties everything up in this film.
The DVD version of Revenge of the Sith is crisp and clear, the visuals are just as sharp as if you were watching this in a theater. The audio is clear and doesn’t require much volume control adjusting, always a plus. The Revenge of the Sith DVD is actually a two-part set, the first part containing the movie itself and the second containing the extras.
I love extras as they often show viewers come fairly cool stuff, like deleted scenes, trailers we might have missed, gag reels, documentaries and more. The Revenge of the Sith DVD extras supply a plethora of information about the film via three main documentaries. It’s All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III is a documentary which explains how various stunts were created for the film. I was surprised to learn that Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor did most of their own stunts. All of that fancy sword fighting we see featuring Anakin and Obi-Wan is actually performed by the actors themselves. Wow! The Chosen One ties all of the movies in the saga together and gives us a clearer picture into what they were all about. Finally, Within A Minute: The Making of Episode III, is an hour and seventeen minute documentary about all of the work that goes into 45 seconds of the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar. Although it gives one incredible insight into the amount of people, props, time and effort involved in making this short scene, I found the documentary to be incredibly dull and actually fell asleep through part of it.
The Deleted Scenes section is excellent. It includes scenes that were cut from the film with explanations from the boss himself as to why these particular scenes were actually removed from the film. While I understand why they were cut, I felt that these scenes were important to the film and should have been left in.
The Web Documentary section offers viewers an opportunity to view the fifteen web documentaries that were created during the filming of Revenge of the Sith and originally made available at www.starwars.com.
The Video Games and Stills Galleries offer a view into the trailers of upcoming video games, an X-Box playable demo of Star Wars: Battlefront II, views of various posters, production photos and more. And of course, what would any DVD extra section be without the Trailers section where one can view the various movie trailers of Revenge of the Sith, as well as the variety of television spots and a music video entitled A Hero Falls. I also understand that there are some rather interesting Easter Eggs hidden on the DVD as well. Will have to check those out.
The Revenge of the Sith DVD is definitely an excellent value for the money. After all, it contains one heck of an exciting movie and is chock full of extras that Star Wars fans crave!