Sunday, June 19, 2005

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

The climactic light-saber battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and the newly emergent Darth Vader has an operatic grandeur appropriate for the culmination of this six-film cycle, but director George Lucas undermines it by cross-cutting to a simultaneous battle between the elfin Yoda and the evil emperor.
Yoda, basically an animated squeeze toy, is exactly what is wrong with this overburdened series. He's a character that was cute and clever in his initial appearance in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back but who has shown no growth, surprises or shades in his subsequent appearances. He's still a freak creature from the legendary Star Wars bar. George Lucas had the good sense to reduce Jar-Jar Binks to a cameo in this episode. Why give so much attention to the equally irritating Yoda?
Much has been said about Hayden Christenson's lack of acting chops, but he glowers effectively in this final episode, and that's pretty much what's required of him. I didn't have many complaints -- although my daughter thought he was ridiculous when he had to express anger verbally rather than through a smoldering look.
As for the rest of the movie, it's pretty much what you would expect: Excellent animated special effects, a plodding story, unsurprising tying up of loose ends. There are worse ways to spend a summer evening.