My journey to The Force Awakens finally brought me to the last film in the prequel trilogy. I’ll just be blunt. I love Star Wars, but I don’t know if I can watch these prequels ever again.
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith will always hold a special place in my heart. I will never forget seeing it in theaters way back in May of 2005. I saw it with my brother after school one day in the middle of the week. My mom was freaking out since I was only 13 and out late on a school night. But she should’ve understood the magnitude of this situation. After all, she did see the first Star Wars like 8 times in theaters. Seeing what was to be the final Star Wars movie was too important, no matter the day of the week.
And that was the big thing. This was supposed to be the last one. It was monumental. This was the final step in a journey we started 10 years earlier when my brother got the originals on VHS. At the time I remember us talking about how this may be the best one since The Empire Strikes Back.
Pleasant memories aside, we have to look at Episode III from a pure film standpoint. When you do that, you see this movie sucks ass. It has its moments, but they are few and far between. To be fair, each Star Wars prequel is better than the last, but it’s really a “skinniest kid at fat camp” situation.
There are many reasons for this movie being bad. The staples of the previous prequels – bad writing, bad acting, bad directing, about 20 minutes that could’ve been cut – are all here. However, nothing stands out more than what I am certain is the single worst scene in the history of cinema.
Mace Windu’s fight with Palpatine is legitimately a contender for the worst scene ever. The dialogue preceding the fight is laughable. Then we get Palpatine’s silly battle cry and his computer animated flip. Then these shitheel Jedi Knights are cut down instantly. Then we get down to business with the real fight, complete with Palpatine’s ludicrous grunts and facial expressions.
This scene is so ridiculous that I’m just going to list out the rest of the silliness:
- Palpatine saying “No. No, no, YOU WILL DIE.”
- Palpatine and Sam Jackson both yelling, “He is the traitor,” in the least-convincing strained voices. It is like Bela fighting the octopus in Ed Wood.
- Palpatine’s skin getting wrinkly and his weird “I’m too weak” voice.
- Mace going from, “He has to stand trial in the Senate,” to being like, “He controls the Senate and the courts so I better just kill him,” all in the span of about 3 minutes.
- “POWAAAHHH! UNLIMITED POWAAAHHHH!”
- Anakin’s sadsack cry of, “What have I done?”
There have been a lot of bad movies and a lot of bad scenes, but this scene is too much. It is possibly more embarrassing than that scene in Spider-Man 3 when Tobey Maguire goes emo and dances. Go back up and watch it. It is so poorly made and fucking corny you’re going to be embarrassed with yourself for watching it, and mad that it was ever released.
While it is neat that Ian McDiarmid reprised his role as Palpatine for these prequels, he pretty much destroys this film on his own. His facial expressions and lines are so over-the-top. That scene when Anakin discovers Palpatine’s a Sith lord. Palpatine’s dialogue with Anakin borders on farcical homoeroticism rather than serious and sinister manipulations to the dark side. When he starts squinting and deeply whispers that he can “feeeeeeeel” Anakin’s anger you find yourself laughing. I remember the whole theater laughing at that.
And the scene when he dubs Anakin “Darth Vader” is a bit much. It is absurd. His weird breathing then groaning about how the Force is “strooonnnng” in Anakin is fucking hilarious. He closes his eyes, takes a big, deep breath and then is speaking in some weird voice and pushing out his jaw and stuff. The dude is too much.
Then his fight with Yoda. Rather than list out every issue again, I’ll just leave it at this: Over-the-top facial expressions and mannerisms, corny, it’s stupid to have Yoda in big fights like this, and it’s simply a monumental waste of time with shitty computer effects.
Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman are again completely dreadful. The badness of the prequels is embodied in the moment he says to her, “You are so….beautiful.” She says it’s just because she’s so in love, and he goes, “No. No, it’s because I’m so in love with you.” Yes, the writing is awful, but the delivery ain’t that good either. Their interactions throughout the movie are so bad. They feel like students acting in a play, not real actors.
There’s also the horrendous scene where Anakin and Padme are on opposite ends of the city, staring out at the sunset. It’s supposed to symbolize the distance between them, but it is so corny and dumb you focus more on laughing at it than the pain the characters feel. Anakin is standing around crying, looking out into the distance, and you’re crying too, wondering how something as awesome as Star Wars could be made to look so craptastic.
Ewan McGregor is good as Obi-Wan yet again, though he’s lacking the majestic hair he sported in Episode II. He also does this weird action pose with his lightsaber multiple times. He sticks out his fingers on his left hand like he’s going full Jon Jones and leading with the eye poke. I don’t get it and it is stupid.
Speaking of stupid, I hate R2-D2. Yes, the little droid. In this movie we see R2 blow shit up and defeat other droids. R2 even flies. I think we’re supposed to be amused by the mischief this little droid gets into, but I’m mad since R2 couldn’t do this stuff in the original trilogy, and I don’t give a crap about a computer animated robot fighting robots.
And then there’s the time issue. If you thought the concept of time was an issue in The Dark Knight Rises, well then just remember that Christopher Nolan did say he was influenced by Star Wars.
Night is falling in Coruscant when Anakin travels to Mustafar to kill all of the Trade Federation people. He seems to get there pretty quickly as we see not much is changing on Coruscant during all of this. Suddenly Obi-Wan asks Padme where Anakin is, and it is broad daylight. She says she last saw him the day before.
Padme and Obi-Wan then travel to Mustafar. During all of this we see cuts to Anakin literally standing around, staring at lava, crying. How long was he standing there all emotional for? He makes it to the planet pretty quickly and kills everybody. Meanwhile everybody on Coruscant has time to sleep, wake up the next day, go about their business, and then Padme has time to travel to Mustafar. This is like Bane attacking the stock exchange in broad daylight, turning a corner and it’s night, and then Bruce Wayne is broke the next morning.
After the madness on Mustafar, we have the birth of Luke and Leia. Padme dies right after their birth, though there is no medical reason for it. She simply dies of a broken heart, like in Where the Red Fern Grows. This, of course, contradicts the scene in Return of the Jedi when Leia tells Luke she has memories of her mother. The prequels are such shit.
But at least Anakin finally becomes Darth Vader, mask and all. Sadly, that isn’t nearly as cool as it should be since he’s sad about Padme dying and screams, “NOOOOOOOO!” That was another moment that had the theater laughing. It is beyond disappointing to find out this total badass from the original trilogy is actually just this sad guy who missed his mom and then killed his wife and got even more sad.
But yes, this movie really does have its moments. When Anakin is starting to feel conflicted by the dark side, we see a rare moment of good acting from Hayden Christensen. He tells Padme, “I’m not the Jedi I should be. I want more. And I know I shouldn’t.” It is actually a good scene. Then he starts crying or something and ruins the moment.
The last 40 minutes or so are pretty cool. Anakin becomes Darth Vader and starts murdering people left and right, and that’s fun. His lightsaber battle with Obi-Wan manages to be both ridiculous and awesome, and Obi-Wan slicing him up at the end is pretty sweet. Ewan McGregor’s performance as he yells at a burning Anakin nearly saves the whole movie.
But there is one thing I don’t get. Before they fight, Anakin channels George W. Bush and tells Obi-Wan, “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” Obi-Wan responds with, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”
Bro. What? That statement right there sounds an awful lot like an absolute, Master JEDI.
The prequels are supposed to be “the tragedy of Darth Vader,” but the only tragedy here is that there’s a whole generation that had to grow up with these shitty fucking movies. When my nephews are older, I will never show them these movies. When I have children one day, they will never watch these if I can help it.
There will only ever be the originals, and hopefully this new trilogy can live up to those. To say the prequels fell short is a monumental understatement. The prequel trilogy is a collection of some of the worst movies ever made, and are only getting worse as more time passes. Fortunately, what awaits me now is possibly the greatest trilogy of all time.
And I cannot put into words how nice it will be to see Darth Vader as a giant badass rather than a whiny baby.