I just returned from an advance screening of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith here in Austin. And, my press pals around the nation seem to indicate that Fox scheduled screenings all around the U.S. at precisely the same time. And man, was it a security process to get in. You had to put your signature on the pass, bring a photo ID, etc. etc.
I knew as much about the film as most people did. I haven’t read any early reviews, haven’t browsed the novelization. I went in cold.
The film itself is easy to describe in a few quick points (and don’t worry, no major spoilers):
– It’s the most graphically violent and disturbing of all six of the Star Wars films. Just when you think Lucas won’t take it too far, he does. It’s amazing to think that the guy we all thought had gone soft on us, was really hiding these dark and violent scenes for later.
– This film makes the first two weak prequels well worth it, if we were building up to this. Episodes I and II do make a little more sense. This is the best of the trilogy in the same ways that Return of the King was the best of that trilogy. This one, though, this is the film we’ve wanted for 20 years.
– Very, very, very little Jar Jar Binks.
– It’s great to witness the actors growing up as performers. Both Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen have matured over the years. I mean, you sit there watching Portman, and you see the momentum of Garden State and Closer shine through.
– The Wookiee planet is awesome. Keep an ear open for a Weismuller-era Tarzan homage. It’s classic.
– Everyone’s a badass. Sure, you hope Anakin Skywalker becomes more of a badass (and he does). But, Yoda is a bigger badass. Even R2-D2 is a badass for once (just wait and see). Samuel L. Jackson was always a badass.
– The way in which Anakin is pulled over to the Dark Side is totally convincing. I mean, he’s supposed to evolve into one of the greatest screen villains of all time, and the process works. You believe the way he was tricked, and how tragic it becomes.
– I wanna spend an entire movie inside the opera/circus/theater that Anakin and Palpatine discuss the legends of the Sith. This “watershow” and its music are intense and amazing. More of that, please.
– Check out the subtle Peter Cushing lookalike, one of the many examples of how Lucas really does tie everything together in a fanboy bow.
– The montage in the middle of the film (I’ll call it the “Order 66” sequence and say nothing else) will bring any Star Wars fan to the edge of their seat and grip you more than any sequence in the entire series of the films. It’s heartbreaking – and not unexpected – but still presented in a tragic and engrossing manner. It also teases the viewer with some of the other worlds and battles that we didn’t spend much time upon… and for once, a Star Wars prequel leaves you wanting more. Wow. I guess that was the whole point. Good job, George Lucas, you clever boy.