Star Wars Movie Retrospective: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

episode III poster

“You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the Sith, not join them! Bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness!” –Obi-Wan Kenobi

Sometimes the cliché is true; third time is the charm. After the poor reception of the first two Star Wars prequels, filmmaker George Lucas finally hit his directorial stride that he lost long ago with the final prequel Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The result of his efforts? The most underrated and darkest Star Wars film to date.

coruscant battle

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith takes place during the last days of the Clone Wars. The opening scrawl literally opens with the word “War!” then explains that the galaxy-wide conflict between the Galactic Republic and the Separatist Alliance has been devastating to the Republic. The Separatists, led by the Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his second-in-command the cyborg General Grievous (Matthew Wood), have kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), the leader of the Republic. As the Separatists leaders try to flee Coruscant, the capital planet of the Republic with their hostage, a massive and ultimately decisive battle breaks out between two opposing space armadas over Coruscant.

Amidst the cluttered, epic space battle, two Jedi Knights, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker anakin defeats dooku2(Hayden Christensen), take their small fighter ships and infiltrate Grievous’ battlecruiser where Palpatine is being held. The Jedi fight their way to the captive chancellor. They soon confront Dooku and engage in a lightsaber duel where Obi-Wan is knocked unconscious, but they younger Jedi is able to defeat the Sith Lord. At Palpatine’s urging, Anakin beheads a surprised Dooku after some hesitation.

As Anakin tries to escape with Palpatine and Obi-Wan in tow, by this time, the battlecruiser has taken on severe damage from the space battle and is losing orbit. General Grievous manages to escape in a shuttle, leaving Anakin to pilot the battlecruiser and crash land it on the citified planet.

anakin and padmeLater, amidst the celebration among Palpatine and other politicians over Dooku’s death and the war concluding, Anakin steals away to rendezvous with his wife Senator Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), whom he secretly married in defiance to Jedi rules that forbids romantic relationships. She reveals that she is pregnant, and although he is excited at first, that night he has dreams where she dies during childbirth, which unsettles him.

General Grievous arrives on the planet Utuapo, his base of operations, and confers via hologram with the Sith Lord Darth Sidious. The cloaked figure orders him to bring other Separatists leaders to the volcanic planet Mustafar and announces that soon he’ll have a younger, more powerful replacement for Dooku.

At the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, yoda anakinAnakin confides with Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) about his premonitions. Yoda warns him about being obsessed with his visions and adds “The fear of loss is a path to the dark side.” The wizened Jedi tells Anakin that death is a part of life and those that die become one with the Force and that the living shouldn’t mourn them and to let go of his fears. Anakin is clearly unsatisfied with Yoda’s advice.

Later, Anakin meets with Palpatine, who appoints him to be his representative to the Jedi Council. This is against Jedi procedure since they make such appointments. The young Jedi is happy, thinking that he’ll become a Jedi Master, but is angered later by the Council. The other Jedi state that while they accept the appointment and he can sit in the Council, he won’t be made a Jedi Master. After the Council meeting concludes, Obi-Wan reveals to Anakin that the Council allowed the appointment because they want the young Jedi to report to them about Palpatine’s dealings. They no longer trust the chancellor who is amassing more executive powers and has stayed in office past his term. Anakin is disturbed by this but Obi-Wan reminds him that the Jedi are loyal to the Senate not its leaders and to not to let his friendship with Palpatine cloud his judgment.

anakin palpatineAt night, Anakin joins Palpatine at an opera and learns of Grievous’ location. The chancellor adds that he distrusts the Jedi and thinks that they want to overthrow him . Anakin admits his faith with the Jedi has been shaken lately. Then they engage in a philosophical discussion about the similarities between the Jedi and the Sith. Palpatine asserts to an intrigued Anakin that both sides crave power, but that the dark side of the Force is more powerful and gives one control over life and death.

Anakin later attends a Council meeting and reports that Grievous is on Utuapo and that Palpatine wants him to capture the cyborg leader. The Council members overrule him and assign Obi-Wan to go instead. Anakin is visibly displeased over their decision, but says nothing. Afterwards, he accompanies Obi-Wan to a space port where the two men reaffirm their friendship and separate on good terms.

obi wan and mount

Obi-Wan arrives on Utapau and confronts Grievous. The four-armed cyborg tries intimidating the Jedi with his prowess by wielding four lightsabers simultaneously. Obi-Wan coolly counters Grievous with his adept lightsaber skills. Then a newly arrived clone army attacks the droid army guarding Grievous and the Separatist base. Grievous tries escaping, but is pursued by the Jedi, who catches up to him and the fight ensues. It ends with Obi-Wan shooting the cyborg dead with an “uncivilized” blaster.

obi wan punks g

Anakin reports to Palpatine the news about Obi-Wan’s confrontation. In the conversation, Anakin admits his disillusionment with the Jedi and the chancellor starts manipulating him. He reveals that he is a practicioner of the dark side of the Force and that Anakin could learn so much more if he embraced the dark side. Horrified about the revelation, he leaves and informs Jedi Master Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) about the chancellor’s true nature. Windu tells him to wait in the Council chambers while he and other Jedi leave to confront the Sith Lord.

four inept jediWindu and three other Jedi Knights arrive at Palpatine’s office and try to arrest him. But the chancellor is surprisingly fast and kills three of the Jedi with his lightsaber except for Windu. Anakin rushes over to the office in time to see the two men in battle. Windu disarms Palpatine, but the Sith Lord unleashes Force lightning from his fingers at Windu. The Jedi is able to deflect the lightning bolts, which splash back and disfigures Palpatine. palpatine defeats winduWindu realizes that the chancellor is too dangerous and must be killed. Anakin argues that Palpatine should be allowed to live and stand trial. Undeterred, Windu prepares a killing stroke but is stopped by Anakin who dismembers his hand. This gives Palpatine the opportunity to kill Windu with his Force lightning.

Anakin is dismayed at what he’s done. He realizes that he has no place with the Jedi now. Palpatine asks him to become his apprentice and the young man accepts as long he helps him save Padmé. The chancellor agrees and renames him Darth Vader. Palpatine tells him that all the Jedi are enemies of the Republic and must be killed. He orders him to kill the Jedi at the Temple and the remaining Separatist leaders on Mustafar.

As Anakin, now Darth Vader, leads a clone army into the Jedi Temple, Palpatine broadcasts a special command, Order 66, to every clone trooper spread out throughout the galaxy. The clones mercilessly and abruptly turn on their Jedi commanders and decimate the ancient order. The only ones who escape execution are Obi-Wan on Utapau and Yoda, who is on the Wookie planet Kashyyk leading a battle against droid troops. Yoda is able to flee the planet thanks to the help of loyal Wookies, including Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

vader marches

The Jedi Temple is in flames as Vader and the clones kill all the Jedi there, including young children, the sole witness to the atrocity is Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) who went to the Temple to see what was happening. Organa later sends Obi-Wan a holographic message warning about him the slaughter and to meet with survivors at certain coordinates. Meanwhile, Vader goes home and lies to Padmé that the Jedi tried to overthrow the Republic. Then he leaves her for his mission to go to Mustafar and end the war.

Obi-Wan and Yoda meet at Organa’s ship and end of republicplot to return to the Temple and intercept a broadcast for all surviving Jedi to return to Coruscant. Once they arrive, Obi-Wan is able to change the message into that of a warning. From security footage, they learn that Anakin has betrayed them. At the same time, Organa and Padmé attend a session in the senate where Palpatine denounces the Jedi and that in order to maintain order he has to reorganize the Republic into a Galactic Empire. After viewing the footage, the two Jedi decide to confront Palpatine and Vader. Yoda, the stronger of the two, will face Palpatine, while Obi-Wan will confront his former apprentice. From there, the two Jedi separate to confront their foes in battles that will literally decide the fate of the galaxy.

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Star Wars Movie Retrospective: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

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“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”–Jedi Master Yoda

As we get ready for the continuation of the Star Wars saga with this December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, let’s look back at the previous six films of this iconic film series. Putting opinions aside, the first six Star Wars films will now forever be known as the ones that Star Wars creator George Lucas directly worked on. They bear the mark of what he intended for the overall story and for better or worse reflect his vision for the Star Wars saga. For the first retrospective of the entire star spanning saga, we begin not with the very first Star Wars film made but with the first chronological film in the saga: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

jedi trio

The setting for Episode I as are the rest of the films is long ago in a distant galaxy. Large parts of it are ruled by the Galactic Republic. Consisting of thousands of worlds, the Republic’s relative peace for generations is at risk because of one of its members: the Trade Federation. In the film’s opening crawl, the Trade Federation is up in arms with the Republic over taxes on trade routes of the outer worlds. Their idea to resolve this issue is to place a blockade on the planet Naboo.

The Republic’s ruling chancellor dispatches two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan MaGregor), to negotiate with Nute Gunray (Silas Carson), the Viceroy of the Federation. at his flagship orbiting Naboo. Not long after they arrive , the mystical warriors are attacked by the Federation’s droid soldiers who have orders to kill the Jedi. The relative ease to which the jar jar and jediJedi take out the mechanical troops is our first taste as to the true height of the Jedi’s powers. During the battle, the Jedi learn that the Federation are about to land troops on Naboo, so they hitch a ride on one of the invading ships and arrive on the planet to warn the inhabitants. Along the way, Qui-Gon saves a strange and goofy alien native, an amphibious Gungan called Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). The floppy eared alien decides to tag along with the Jedi because of a life debt owed to them as they make their way to the Naboo capital.

Once the trio reach the capital, the Jedi manage to rescue the planet’s ruling queen, Padme Amdilla (Natalie Portman), and her royal entourage, who were being held hostage by the Trade Federation’s droid army. They were captured by Gunray because he wanted to force the queen to sign a treaty legalizing the occupation of Naboo. After easily dispatching the cannon-fodder droid army in the city, the Jedi and the others board a spaceship and break the orbital blockade.

The queen wants to go to Coruscant, the capital world of the Republic, to plea for intervention. But although the ship is able to jump into hyperspace during the escape it was damaged. This forces them to set down for repairs in a nearby world: Tatooine, a desert planet that is outside the Republic’s domain.

On the backwater world, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar leave for one of Tatooine’s towns Mos Espa to get spare parts for their ship. Joining them at the behest of the queen is one of her handmaidens, who is actually Padme herself pretending to be a commoner.

watoo

They meet a coarse junk dealer called Watoo (voiced by Andy Secombe) who has the engine parts they need, but they’re unable to pay for them. During the visit to Watoo’s business, they meet his young human slave, Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who befriends them and offers shelter in his mother’s home from a coming sandstorm. Qui-Gon immediately senses that the Force is strong in Anakin and takes a fast interest in the boy.

dinner with the jedi

For those who have been living under a rock since 1977 the Force is a metaphysical power in the Star Wars universe that is wielded by the Jedi and their opponents the Sith. According to Star Wars lore it’s a form of energy that flows through all life forms and those who are adept at using it can perform superhuman acts like telekinesis, controlling weak minds and so on.

qui gon vs maulQui-Gon wants to recruit the young slave and train him as a Jedi, but first he has to win the boy’s freedom. To accomplish this, he convinces Watoo to enter Anakin in a dangerous pod race where racers speed through the desert climes of Tatooine in cobbled together engine parts and makeshift carriages. If Anakin wins he’s to be freed as part of the conditions of a bet the Qui-Gon and Watoo placed with each other. Additionally, if Anakin wins, Qui-Gon will be able to get the parts needed for the queen’s ship so they can leave for Coruscant.

Unbeknownst to the group is that the Jedi are being tracked by Darth Maul (Ray Park) a devilish Sith apprentice and his superior Darth Sidious (Ian McDiarmid). Throughout the film, Sidious has been manipulating and controlling the Trade Federation for his own mysterious reasons and is the mastermind behind the Naboo invasion. More importantly, Sidious wants to renew the ancient feud his order has against the Jedi.

maul

While the heroes busy themselves with leaving Tatooine, reaching Coruscant and finding a way to end the Federation occupation, sinister forces are aligning against the Jedi and the Republic. Soon, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan will confront the deadly Sith as they attempt to free Naboo, and it’s an encounter which will have lasting ramifications throughout the galaxy.

naboo battleStar Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was probably the most eagerly awaited film in history. For sixteen years, fans had to endure a drought of Star Wars films after Return of the Jedi (ROTJ) came out in 1983 and there was doubt if there would ever be another Star Wars film. After ROTJ, George Lucas was burned out, plus the limitations of effects technology hampered his ability to bring forth his visions in additional films.

However, Lucas changed his mind after some time. He saw in the early ’90s that Star Wars was still popular thanks to the success of spinoff books and comic books. More importantly, he was impressed with the effects technology, specifically the emerging CG effect featured in films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park. At last, he felt that he could bring his true unhindered vision to film thanks to the new CG technology.

Lucas had been fascinated with the backstory to the Star Wars saga and Darth Vader’s origin, which he wrote as a fifteen-page outline back when he was developing the very first film in the ’70s. Hence, the reason why his followup to the original trilogy would be prequels.

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The Star Wars Films Ranked

 

star wars collage

2015 is shaping up to be the year of Star Wars with the continuation of the celebrated sci-fi saga in December with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Episode VII in the story. Here is a ranking of the previous six live-action films that came before and made movie history in order of personal preference.

darth and luke

1. The Empire Strikes Back (1980): Commonly considered as the best Star Wars film and in this instance, I agree with that sentiment. The reasons why are varied. It is a film that really explores the mystical side of the Star Wars universe with Jedi Master Yoda instructing Luke Skywalker all about the Force and the consequences of turning to the dark side. It is also a film that does not follow the traditional structure of an adventure film unlike the previous entry. Supporting this is the climatic battle between the Empire and Rebels, which occurs in the first half of the movie. Our heroes are put in constant jeopardy and there is no real resolution on the fate of Han Solo, setting up a cliffhanger ending that is almost jarring in its abruptness.

This was a risky move by George Lucas, since he could have just remade the original film and be done with it, but instead The Empire Strikes Back is an actual second part of an ongoing story and is very well done. It also introduces iconic characters like the aforementioned Yoda, and fan favorite bounty hunter Boba Fett. Plus, there is a wonderfully done lightsaber duel between Luke and Darth Vader that results (SPOILER!) in the shocking revelation by Vader that he is Luke’s father. Combine that with the epic battle of Hoth with snow speeders and AT- AT walkers and this film is a classic in every way.

luke ben

2. A New Hope (1977): The movie that changed everything. What more can be said about the original Star Wars? It tells the classic tale of good and evil. It is a fairy tale that is set in outer space and introduced to the world Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, R2D2 and C-3PO, plus incredible worlds like Tatooine and Yavin with exotic aliens and robots.

Even if someone has never seen it, they know who all of these characters are and how they look like. That is when you know it has crossed from pop culture to something else. I think the simplicity of the tale of the Rebels fighting against an oppressive Galactic Empire with classic archetype character (hero, rogue, princess, wizard, villain, and comical sidekicks) is its biggest strength and the core of its widespread appeal. Iconic fixtures of the saga like the now-famous X-Wings, TIE fighters, lightsabers and the Jedi all started with this film.

revenge of sith

3. Revenge of the Sith (2005): The best of the prequels, this film is George Lucas’ swan song and one of his best. It begins with a bang hurling viewers into the middle of a great space battle over the gleaming capital planet Coruscant. From there, the story does not let up with the prequel’s heroic Jedi, Anakin Skywalker beginning his descent to the dark side, which culminated in an epic lightsaber duel (one of the best of the whole saga) against his mentor and friend Obi-Wan Kenobi. This was something fans had been waiting to see for years ever since it was revealed that Vader and Kenobi were friends.

Unfortunately, this movie is sometimes attacked since it is a prequel, and there are hardcore original trilogy fans who want nothing to do with them. But despite that, this movie is excellent and belongs with the first two as great Star Wars films. Highlights include showing the widespread destruction of the Clone Wars, Anakin’s cruel actions at the Jedi council, him murdering his wife Padme, and the bringing of the whole saga full circle in the end with infant Luke being brought to Tatooine. These are all of the movie’s major strengths.

attack of the clones

4. Attack of the Clones (2002): The second of the prequels, this film improves on what was begun in The Phantom Menace. Anakin is shown as a troubled, if somewhat whiny apprentice to Obi-Wan. The film presents the murky beginnings of the infamous stormtroopers with Sith Lord Count Dooku’s shady dealings, and Anakin’s slow turn to evil under Chancellor Palpatine’s sinister influence. Something I like about this movie is its look: the clouds on the capital planet Coruscant in the film’s beginning, the underworld club scene, and the waterworld of Kamino are all striking to look at. The epic ground battle on Geonosis during the film’s climax is also a big highlight along with Yoda’s subsequent lightsaber duel with Dooku.

A problem the film has is the clunky romance between Anakin and Padme Amidala.  It is not done well and is somewhat of a drag thanks to wooden dialogue. Despite that, the movie is still a good effort by George Lucas.

end of return of jedi

5. Return of the Jedi (1983): As the last film in the original trilogy, it may not be as good as the first two movies, but is still a good Star Wars adventure. The fantastic Battle of Endor is still the best space battle ever seen more than 30 years later. Luke’s final clash with his father Darth Vader is also one of the best moments in the saga.

An issue with the movie is the fact that the plot is somewhat of a repeat of A New Hope with its start on Tatooine and having another Death Star to destroy. Another is that the cuddly Ewok characters somehow and unbelievably make Imperial stormtroopers seem like the Keystone Cops.  However, Return of the Jedi Is still lots of fun and the final celebration with our heroes is always great to see.

maul vs jedi

6. The Phantom Menace (1999): Let’s be blunt, the first prequel, chronologically the first part of the saga, is the most polarizing Star Wars film by far.

This movie had huge expectations coming in after a very long wait since Return of the Jedi and many fans were not happy with it. They complained about Lucas’ rusty directing, over-reliance on CG, and the film’s pace. I myself like this flick and while it does have some problems, namely the somewhat childish humor with Jar Jar Binks and the slow middle portion on Coruscant, there are many things about it that I really enjoy. Just seeing old Ben Kenobi as a young Jedi cutting up battle droids was a big thrill. The multiple battles on Naboo in the end and the appearance of Darth Maul (one of Star Wars’ best villains) are all highlights and bring back good memories.

We’ll find out this December if The Force Awakens will also generate memorable viewing moments and where it ranks with the other films.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars Unveils Its Final Episodes

yoda anakin mace

The sixth and last season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, entitled “The Lost Missions”, just premiered on Netflix. As the final season of the excellent series it’s a shortened one with 13 episodes as opposed to the usual 22. The purchase by Disney brought about the cancellation of the series and the creative team led by Dave Filoni has moved onto the upcoming series called Star Wars Rebels.

This sixth season has four story arcs which begin with a very interesting storyline about a clone trooper named Tup that suddenly attacks and kills his commanding Jedi general. His fellow clone trooper named Fives (Dee Bradley Baker) investigates anakinwhat caused this violent behavior and uncovers a conspiracy going back to the creation of the clone army in their birthplace planet Kamino and the Sith Lord Darth Sidious (Tim Curry). This story, as well as others in this season, lead directly to events in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of the Sith, which makes this season a very good send off for the show.

The next story arc involves Senator Padme Amidala (Catherine Taber) and an old flame named Clovis who gets involved with political intrigue involving the Banking Clan as well as Sith Lords Sidious and Count Dooku (Corey Burton). While this may not sound very exciting, these episodes actually show how Palpatine further consolidated his control over the Republic and also have both Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Padme questioning the nature of their secret marriage.

dooku

The third story arc features everyone’s favorite Gungan Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) and Jedi Knight Mace Windu (Terence ‘T.C.’ Carson) trying to solve a mystery involving a planet where its spiritual leaders are disappearing and dealing with a prophecy about darkness taking over the galaxy. These two episodes were good although not quite as significant to the overall story of the Clone Wars as compared to the other arcs.

The last batch of episodes deals with the Jedi trying to find out about the murdered Jedi Sifo-Dyas and Yoda (Tom Kane) being contacted from beyond the grave by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), who shows him how he can continue to exist after death. Qui-Gon has him travel to a world that is the origin of the Force itself and face his worst fears. This references a scene in Revenge of the Sith where Yoda tells Obi-Wan Kenobi that he has discovered the secret of existing in the Force after death. It is a great way for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to end, with Yoda knowing that while the Clone Wars may end badly, there will be a way for the Jedi to continue on.

destroyerStar Wars: The Clone Wars was in the middle of production when it was cancelled, but the last season is one of the strongest in the series. The quality of these episodes shows that even at the end the writers still came up with very interesting ideas and perhaps the shortened run prevented any weaker episodes from coming up. Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars will go down as first rate Star Wars action and drama that did justice to its cinematic counterparts. Hopefully the upcoming Star Wars Rebels series will continue this trend.

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