Movie Reviews
4:26 pm
Sun May 22, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith

Otherworldly

The Force in contemporary popular film criticism comes from the New York Times, so when critic A.O. Scott weighs in on George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith, I listen:

"This is by far the best film in the more recent trilogy, and also the best of the four episodes Mr. Lucas has directed. That's right (and my inner 11-year-old shudders as I type this): it's better than 'Star Wars.' "

With so many reviews echoing Scott, I will not repeat my similar praise but alter it slightly by saying that Sith is second for me to the original now called Episode IV--A New Hope; the original has a clarity, innocence, and spirit so reflective of my family and the time when we saw it, I cannot allow any other episode to eclipse it. Sith may be superior, but my memory preserves the primacy of the first Star Wars.

More interesting than my nostalgia is the allegorical commentary even Lucas admits is underneath Sith. When Darth Vader tells Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy," no conscious adult can miss the echo of George Bush's similar challenge. Obi-Wan's response is a liberal's rejoinder to the 21st-century neocon's streamlined mantras: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."

Lucas himself, while admitting that he started this line of thinking about Nixon and Vietnam with the notion that "the senate could give itself over, could surrender to a dictator," said recently, "I hope that situation never arises in our country. Maybe the film will awaken people to this danger."

What makes Sith superior to all other sci-fi films, even others in its own canon, is the CGI that is itself otherworldly: The battle scenes are full of interstellar acrobatics with the usual ironic humor and the light saber fights so evocative of old-fashioned Errol Flynn/ Han Solo swashbuckling that the film carries itself to greatness on the tails of technology.