Fun with Franchises: Final Thoughts on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
All right… we’ve watched the film, talked about it, had fun with it, and then we went and listed our favorite images from the film yesterday. Now all that’s left is to finish up with what we actually thought about the film as a whole.
This is our space to go over what we liked and didn’t like about each film we watch for Fun with Franchises. We talk about specific things as we get to them during the articles, and we’ll mention our general thoughts during them, but we don’t really ever get to sit and do broad strokes during the articles. So this is why we do these Final Thoughts. We get to take a step back and talk about the films as a whole, rather than discussing specific scenes or images. We’ll talk about how we felt about the film, how we liked it as a film, how we liked it as a member of its franchise, and where we think it falls within that franchise.
Again, it’s not very complicated, but it is a place to find out what we actually thought about certain movies, since, while we’re having fun with them in the articles, it may get difficult to tell sometimes. Because we’ll just rip things to shreds for fun, even if we love them.
So here are our final thoughts on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
Final Thoughts on Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith:
Let’s get it out of the way — this is the best of the three prequels. That’s not saying much, considering the other two, but this movie does have its heart in the right place. As for the pancreas and the gallbladder and the liver…they’re all in the wrong place. That is to say, George did a lot of great things with the flow of this film and its general arc, but the mechanics of it fall flat under scrutiny.
This is obviously the film about Anakin going full retard, Palpatine rising to power, and the Jedi Order being extinguished. Since we start the film with Anakin as a ‘good guy,’ Palpatine with considerable but limited power, and the Jedi Order alive and well, there’s clearly going to be some action to get us from Points A to B. This is all pretty simple and can be represented by an arithmetic problem: A New Hope – Attack of the Clones = Revenge of the Sith. Anything that happens in this movie needs to bring us from the end of Episode II to the beginning of Episode IV (cause that’s how number sequences work), so we know exactly what George has to accomplish, and can guess roughly how he’ll do it. But he messed up in a few key ways.
First, he put way too much of the motivation on Anakin’s worry of Padme dying in childbirth. He spends a whole lot of time getting Palpatine to cast doubts upon the Jedi, but ultimately, Anakin turns because of the Padme thing and in spite of feeling remorseful for having betrayed the Jedi. Then George backtracks and has Anakin yell at Obi Wan about how he thinks the Jedi are evil, which is not at all borne out in dialogue or reactions during the Mace/Palpatine confrontation. In fact, the last line we get from Anakin before he goes Vader is, “What have I done?” which would suggest that he sided with Palpatine despite knowing that the Jedi are good. So we have to conclude that it all boils down to him and Padme and the visions. Did Palpatine send him these visions, or is he merely acting on them? If so, how does he know about them? If Anakin was so concerned about Padme’s life that he would betray every friend and ally he ever had, why would he be so quick to choke her? I really don’t buy him being the one to effectively kill her, especially when she was fine afterwards and just died of a broken heart. Maybe Anakin could accidentally hit her with some Force Lighting (a newly-acquired Sith skill) while trying to take down Obi Wan. Knowing George, he’d probably want to go for that trademark subtlety by having the necklace that he gave her act as a lightning rod and channel the shock right to her heart or something. See? I could write better than this guy, and even adapt my writing to suck at his level.
Next, and I brought this us in the articles — the politics don’t work AT ALL. The man just doesn’t understand parliamentary procedure on a basic level. Normally, that’d be fine, but he’s invested so much time and plot in the Galactic Senate as a governing body that it should probably function correctly. The most glaring example of erroneous writing is how Palpatine gets emergency powers. I’ll accept that this democratic government with a history that goes back thousands of years has a provision to bypass the democratic process itself and install a single dictator in the place of several thousand delegates — you get that for free, George. But think about what happened here. There was legislation before the Senate to create and use an army. It wasn’t going to pass. So instead, someone had to suggest that Palpatine be given emergency powers to pass the legislation himself, which would have been the obvious intent of granting him the powers. So, if everyone who was going to vote ‘no’ in the first place knew that Palpatine was only being ushered into power so he could override their dissent, why did he receive overwhelming and instantaneous support? They actually don’t even show the vote on him getting powers; it’s proposed by Jar Jar, everyone claps, and it’s decided. Think maybe a vote like this that nullifies the whole democracy and gives one man power should be harder to clear than a normal piece of legislation? Think maybe it might require some creative political maneuvering? That could have been the WHOLE MOVIE from Palpatine’s perspective.
How great would that have been, if the whole movie was about him orchestrating this vote behind the scenes and figuring out how to make it happen even if people were still opposed to the Military Creation Act? I’d watch that. It’d give us more Palpatine time, it could make the politics interesting, and we’d have a more well though-out explanation of how he got his position. Instead of Jar Jar Binks saying some stupid shit and everyone clapping and the scene being over in 12 seconds. And at the end, we could have Palpatine getting into bed with his black girlfriend and having her read the bill to him.
I don’t think I need to talk about how frustrating it was that the Jedi continue to see and do nothing to help their own position.
Okay, I could gripe for days. How about good stuff? There were certainly good things. The Emperor is always good. I love that man. He laughs, he jizzes, he yells things…he’s pretty much the highlight of this film and I’m only sorry they didn’t give us more. Palpatine is the only three-dimensional character (in that respect, I suppose he could be called…palpable?) around in the prequels. He’s the only character I consistently understand and whose actions are mostly explainable. One of Mike’s and my own suggestions were to give us more about this guy and to develop him properly. He’s already great, but he could be better.
This movie obviously looks better than the previous two, as evidenced by yesterday’s favorite shots article. I don’t know if he just got the CGI up to the level it needed to be, or if the cinematographer (same guy as the previous two films, and the same guy that did Speed Racer, which Mike loves) tried something new here. All I know is, the images were way crisper than they’d ever been before, we got a lot more closeups that didn’t suck, and some of the shots (the Jedi Temple on fire comes to mind) looked like paintings. I can only imagine what my feelings on Episode I would have been like if it had looked this good. It’d still be a shit story, but I might be more willing to forgive them that. Doing the shots article for the prequels was an eye-opener; I had next to nothing for the first movie, a few for the second (but nothing that I really cared about), and then a whole bunch for this one. There’s so much here that’s good to look at, even though a lot of it is still middling CGI.
That should be enough, cause I’m not in the mood to write a dissertation. This is clearly the best prequel film, but it still ranks behind the worst of the original trilogy. I’m betting a lot of fans have the same ranking I do, but it has to be: Empire Strikes Back, A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones. Is it weird that I just spent a minute trying to think if that numerical order matched up with the firing order of any six-cylinder engines? Probably. Of course, it doesn’t.
Wow, apparently Mike has the same order, basically. For all the differences we had during these articles, we came out of it with the same order of films and also being able to now enjoy any of them because of all the work that went into these articles. Mission accomplished.
My Final Thoughts:
I… again have mixed feelings about this one.
In terms of the trilogy arc, this does work on paper. Anakin goes evil, the Republic falls, Palpatine takes over, the Jedi are destroyed, the Empire is created. And yet — there’s such awful shit in here.
I like that we start with war, but then they waste it by focusing only on Anakin and Obi-Wan. And then we get those stupid “comic” scenes on board the ship before they get to Palpatine. Which is just a waste of time. They should just get there and move on with the scene. Like the original trilogy.
I liked Palpatine’s initial turn, even though I really wish they’d have set it up more. And I love Grievous as a character until he goes bug. But that whole initial sequence, ending with them landing the fucking ship — totally unnecessary and mostly stupid.
But then the film picks up. Once we get into Palpatine messing with Anakin’s head and all that — they should have developed this earlier and better. Because there is a good movie in here. There wasn’t in the last two. But there is a good movie here. Which is why I always say — if you pull out parts of this and Jedi — there are three really great movies in this franchise.
I don’t even want to get into any more specifics, because it’s just not worth it. I’m so done talking about Lucas’s shortcomings and his failings in this trilogy. We know what it is. Obviously this is the best of the three, but that’s like saying something is the best of the Police Academy sequels.
So, it is what it is. The overall story is interesting, so by default, parts of this movie are actually good. But it’s still lessened by the previous two movies and all the shitty stuff Lucas felt compelled to include.
So this’ll still only be the slightly less shitty movie of a bad trilogy.
That’s all I got. Let’s move on. I’m done with this.
In terms of the overall franchise, my favorite is still probably Empire. Or rather, that’s the best one. Star Wars — New Hope — might be the one I’d watch more, just because I like the direction more, but that’s also right up there. And, despite my hatred of all that is the second act (and Endor part of the third act) of that movie, I’d say Jedi is my third favorite. Followed by this, then Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.
But, you know, the real benefit of these articles is the fact that now, instead of saying, “Fuck no, I don’t want to watch Attack of the Clones,” I’ll be able to put it on and enjoy it more because I’ll be thinking of these articles.
So that’s my lesson to impart on you all for this franchise — if you think you hate something — just analyze it in depth and have fun with it, because then you’ll always be able to think about it in that context, and it won’t be so bad anymore.
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And that’s the end of Star Wars.
Tomorrow we start our next franchise. Which is not late, nor is it early. It’s arriving precisely when it means to.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)