So last night, Abby and I went to see Stars Wars III: Revenge of the Sith at the $5 movie theater in Athens. Brief tangent: ever since we found out that they charge $5 in prime time, I don’t think we’ve been back to Tyler and the $7.50 prices. $5! Plus, there’s an Applebees right there that we hit for dinner before hand and dessert after. We were in a hurry to eat before the movie and we told our waitress we were going to see Star Wars and to just bring our check right when the food got to the table. When we returned for dessert, we had the same waitress. “So, long time no see!” she said.
Back to the movie. In any other movie, dreadful dialogue writing and some awkward acting would damage the experience. But Star Wars isn’t any movie (or series of movies). The plotline and conceptual world is so great, that it really doesn’t matter. We just chuckle or groan to ourselves and move on. Roger Ebert has a great review in which he gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars–he trashes lots of the decisions that George Lucas makes as writer/director but acknowledges that it is still very entertaining.
A word on the acting. Yes, there are plenty of very good actors–Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson–but the acting is obviously not the emphasis. I also thought that the Chancellor/Emporer did a good job. Hayden Christenson seemed pretty poor both in this one and the last, but that could be for a couple of reasons: (1) I haven’t seen him with a script or a director that would let him perform well–so I should reserve judgment and give him a pass in Star Wars just as I admittedly do for all the others who I know are good, and (2) His character is obviously the centerpiece of the story throughout the prequel trilogy, so the greater focus on him may bring to light flaws that may not have been as big a deal otherwise. While the story itself did a good job of advancing the inner conflict of Anakin Skywalker, I don’t think that Lucas’s writing of Anakin nor Christenson’s acting necessarily carried it, but neither got in the way.
It was fun connecting the dots with the original movie and the action was great. The story concept is fun, engaging and other-worldly. Other-worldly at least to Westerners, since the characters live in a pantheistic universe akin to some kind of Eastern mysticism with a yin/yang-type concept of an impersonal Ultimate Reality (the Force) that is a part of every living thing and that has both a good and evil side instead of a monotheistic universe with a personal God who is separate from creation and who is only good and not evil. Plus the emphasis on detachment as the goal of the “spiritually enlightened” Jedi (Yoda to Anakin: Attachment provides an opportunity for temptation to the dark side; you must detach yourself from anything that could be used to tempt you). Given this universe, there is a curious relationship between absolutism/objectivity (Obi Wan to Anakin: “The Sith are evil!”) and relativism/subjectivity (Anakin responding to Obi Wan: “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil!”). I’m trying to figure out what role personal free will has in such a universe, if any. But I won’t think so hard about it as to ruin the fun.