Revenge of the Sith

Stef and I met up at the Chili’s in Lowell to have some dinner before we saw Revenge of the Sith. It had been forever since I’d had that delicious Chilis’ staple, the chicken crispers, and when my plate came I ate far too much. But I had an hour or more to digest before the movie, so all was good. After dinner, we walked across the parking lot to the theater, stood near the front of the line that had formed, and we waited. By the time they began to let us into the theater, my transformation from grumpy old man to wide-eyed kid was already complete.

And I think it’s because I went into it as a wide-eyed kid that I came out of it rather scared and sad and upset. Revenge of the Sith certainly earns its PG-13 rating, and that’s not only because of the occasional beheading or dismemberment—I’d argue the rating is equally appropriate, given the film’s tone.

Beyond the opening battle, which recalls the spirit of the original films more fully than any sequence in the prequel trilogy so far, the film is dark, dark, dark. I’m sure it’s a bit of a copout to describe it as such, that being a proclamation straight out of the marketing copy, but I really do think that’s the best way to describe it. There is a sense of oncoming doom lingering over every scene. And when that climax that so many of us have imagined over the years arrived, I found myself transfixed. I wanted it to end, for them to stop fighting, for it to all be over. The final saber battles pulled at emotions so deep in me that I still find myself rather sick to my stomach as I write this, hours and hours later.

And I think it’s the fact that I knew the entire story that made this movie so incredible and so painful. Knowing where it will ultimately end up, as most Star Wars fans do, is one thing. But knowing every place where Anakin will misstep, every place where someone will unintentionally push him that much closer to the edge… It truly helps this film take on another level. And that’s why I think it will bear many repeated viewings. This is one that will only get better with age, at least in my estimation.

For me, the most poignant moment was hearing James Earl Jones speak Padme's name. Sure, I’ve always known that Anakin Skywalker would become Darth Vader, but hearing the voice of Vader speak the name of Anakin’s wife was what finally tied everything together for me. My mind was blown. Because, it was in that moment that I thought forward, of the special resonance certain scenes in the original trilogy would have, of how much more profound the sadness in Vader’s voice will seem the next time I watch Return of the Jedi and he explains to his son that there is no hope left for him. And I thought backward, imagining that the same unspoiled child that once shrilled “Yippee!” will eventually be ordering soldiers to tear apart ships, that the same young man who so awkwardly spoke of love will eventually become the ruthless interrogator of his own daughter, and that arrogant Jedi who said, “This is where the fun begins,” amidst a horrible space battle will soon use that same smug tone when mocking his own son as he falls into the carbon chamber. Yes, I could suddenly see Hayden Christensen’s face smirking behind that mask in my memory of the line, “All too easy,” from The Empire Strikes Back. It was an amazing moment.

The film is not without its flaws, but if you want to read about them there are plenty of other places you can do so. There are plenty of critics who and plenty of audience members who will refuse to watch these films and enjoy them for what they are. I am not one of those people. I have always loved Star Wars, and if you’re a longtime reader of this page, you’ll know that the films are really beyond criticism for me.

I loved the film and if I saw it two or three more times before the weekend was over, as I’ve done with each of the previous prequels, it really wouldn’t surprise me.

Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m addicted to Star Wars.

Well, there are certainly worse things.