Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Review

Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith movie posterSynopsis
Three years after the start of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) begins having nightmares about the death of his wife, Padme (Natalie Portman). Hoping not to lose his wife the same way he lost his mother, he searches for a way to prevent her death. He confides in his friend Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who offers him a solution: learn about the Dark Side of the Force from the Chancellor.

Review
This is it. This is what Star Wars fans have been waiting for since Obi-Wan and Darth Vader first dueled on screen in Star Wars: A New Hope : Anakin’s turn towards the dark side. This easily is the most action-packed of the Star Wars films. It starts in the middle of a dogfight above the planet Coruscant and ends with one of my favorite movie sword fights. The epicness of the large battle seen at the end of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones flows into this movie. Several scenes share the scale of that battle, but are broken up into smaller sequences. Although General Grievous (voiced by Mathew Wood) may not have a strong presence in the movies (The Clone Wars television show is another story), he is one of the most menacing villains, and one of my favorite Star Wars characters (he’s a four lightsaber wielding cyborg, how is that not awesome?). The relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan was built much more than in Attack of the Clones, which is where I feel it should have been built in the first place. Once again, Christensen’s Anakin is the weakest part of this film. Christensen is monotonous and Anakin acts like a child. Although it still has some flaws, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is the strongest movie in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

Rating
4.5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Writer
John Williams – Composer

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen – Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman – Padme Amadala
Ian McDiarmid – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Mathew Wood – General Grievous (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Jimmy Smits – Senator Bail Organa
Temuera Morrison – Commander Cody
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
Christopher Lee – Count Dooku

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Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones Review

Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones movie posterSynopsis
Ten years after becoming Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Ewan McGregor) apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is turning into a skilled Jedi Knight. They are assigned to protect Padme Amadala (Natalie Portman) after an assassination attempt on her life. Anakin returns to Naboo with Padme while Obi-Wan’s search leads him to the cloning planet of Kamino, where he meets the bounty hunter Jango Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his clone army. Meanwhile, the Sepratists, lead by the mysterious Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), are amassing an army, putting the Republic on the brink of war.

Review
The Star Wars prequel trilogy seems to follow the same format as the original trilogy. The first movie, The Phantom Menace, introduced the main character and focused more on the action, like Star Wars: A New Hope. Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is much like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where it is more concerned with building the characters and setting them up for the final installment in the trilogy.

Other than for special effects, the Star Wars films have simply dabbled with CGI before but they never fully embraced it. With this film, there is a heavier use of CGI for characters, leading to the creation of some pretty good looking species. The animatronics and makeup may look better, but some of the creatures could not have been done that way. Also, Yoda is converted from puppet to digital for the first time. His transfer went pretty well. Some of the action sequences he does towards the end could not have done with a puppet.

I really like Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought he did Well in The Phantom Menace as the Padawan but he does equally as well, if not better, as the mentor. I’m not sure if he was trying to do an imitation of Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan from the original trilogy) or not, but there were glimpses of Guinness’ Obi-Wan showing through. He is easily the highlight of this movie.

The last forty or so minutes is probably the largest and most epic battle of the entire Star Wars Saga. It is such a large scale fight, I can’t think of many that can compare. It is also unique in the Star Wars movies because it is one continuous scene, rather than showing part of it then cutting away to show part of something else. Even during the climactic lightsaber duel, it doesn’t cut away, allowing the focus to stay on those particular events. At the very end, the Imperial March plays while the camera pans over the Clone Army, giving some great foreshadowing about events to come later in the saga. I would have rated this movie a half-point lower if I didn’t enjoy this last act so much.

My biggest problems with Attack of the Clones is Anakin. He comes across as a love-sick puppy. Some of his lines, particularly those between him and Padme seem like they were pulled from an afternoon soap opera. The film shows hints of Anakin moving towards the Dark Side, showing he is full of emotion (mostly anger), but it makes him look even more like a child. I have a hard time believing this whiny kid would become one of the most badass villains in cinema.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones is the low point in the Star Wars saga. This is mainly due to the central character of Anakin. He comes across as a whiny, love-sick brat who in no way resembles the awesome character he will become. Despite this, there are still some redeeming qualities. The visuals looks great, Ewan McGregor fully comes into the mentor role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the battle between the clone and droid armies is one of the most grandiose of any in all the Star Wars movies. If Anakin’s character growth had been handled differently, Attack of the Clones would have been an entirely different movie, and probably one more deserving of the character.

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Story / Screenplay
Jonathan Hales – Screenplay
John Williams – Composer

Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen – Anakin Skywalker
Natalie Portman – Padme Amadala
Ian McDiarmid – Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Temuera Morrison – Jango Fett
Daniel Logan – Boba Fett
Christopher Lee – Count Dooku
Leeanna Walman – Zam Wesell
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Jay Laga-aia – Captain Typho
Jack Thompson – Cliegg Lars
Silas Carson – Ki-Adi-Mundi / Viceroy Nute Gunray

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace Review

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace movie posterSynopsis
When the Trade Federation sets up a blockade around the planet Naboo, two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), are sent to find a peaceful settlement. When the negotiations fail, the Jedi flee with Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) to the Republic capital Coruscant. Their ship is damaged during the escape, forcing them to take shelter on the planet Tatooine. There, they meet Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), who Qui-Gon senses has a strong connection with the Force and accompanies them on their journey.

Review
After waiting 16 years since Star Wars: Return of the Jedi was released, George Lucas finally shows how the Star Wars Saga all begins. With the progress in special effects since Return of the Jedi comes a whole new visual style to the Star Wars universe. Although it has its bumps, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace tells the story it wants to, while throwing in some visual flare to really make it pop.

The Phantom Menace follows a similar formula to A New Hope. There is some exposition to learn about the characters, but for the most part it concentrates on the action. It hardly takes a break so it keeps moving along fairly quickly. However, there were times it felt like scenes were cut short to keep the movie moving forward, making transitions feel abrupt. This does not apply to action scenes, which receive their fair share of screen time.

Despite knowing several of the main characters and already aware of their fates (if you have already watched the original trilogy), there is still a sense of wonder and discovery throughout the film. One of the draws for me about the original Star Wars trilogy was the vast universe it built. This film takes that same feeling and builds on it. Sure, a good chunk of the movie is set on Tatooine, a planet seen several times before, but more time is spent amongst the city and ordinary folk and learning more about their way of life. There is a sense about how vast and strong the Jedi are. The Republic Senate, merely mentioned before, is shown, along with the galactic capital Coruscant. If this movie does one thing correctly, it’s expand the Star Wars mythos and universe.

Much like A New Hope, a lot of the core cast of this film were relatively unknown at its release. Liam Neeson and Ian McDiarmid were the only ones who had any major acting experience (again, referring to the main cast). Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman were just starting their acting careers and Jake Lloyd was just a young boy. It was easy to tell they were still somewhat new.  There didn’t feel like there was much emotions in their lines and it came of very flat most times.  But overall they all did well with their parts.

My biggest complaints about The Phantom Menace is the dialogue. Much of it was delivered as if the actors were on a stage play, making it come off as corny on screen. I know the actors can do better, I’ve seen most of them do better. Maybe it was because some of the actors were still fairly inexperienced, but they just seemed awkward in their deliveries.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace gives Star Wars fans what they have been waiting for almost two decades: a glimpse at how everything began. The film’s pace is quick, concentrating a lot on the action. Although I know the fates of the main characters, it is still entertaining to see their origins, as well as expanding the Star Wars universe. It is a very similar sense of wonder during Star Wars: A New Hope. Because of the movie quick pace, several transitions feel abrupt. Most of the cast were fairly inexperienced at the time and it was obvious but the parts were well cast. The Phantom Menace isn’t as good as its predecessors, but it does well to expand on fan-favorite characters from the original trilogy.

Rating
4/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
George Lucas – Director / Writer
John Williams – Composer

Liam Neeson – Qui-Gon Jinn
Ewan McGregor – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman – Queen Amidala / Padme
Jake Lloyd – Anakin Skywalker
Ahmed Best – Jar Jar Binks (voice)
Ian McDiarmid – Senator Palpatine
Pernilla August – Shmi Skywalker
Oliver Ford Davies – Sio Bibble
Hugh Quarshie – Captain Panaka
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO (voice)
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
Frank Oz – Yoda (voice)
Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
Terence Stamp – Chancellor Valorum
Brian Blessed – Boss Nass (voice)
Andy Secombe – Watto (voice)
Ray Park – Darth Maul
Peter Serafinowicz – Darth Maul (voice)
Lewis Macleod – Sebulba (voice)

Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Review

Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi movie posterSynopsis
The Rebel Alliance learns about the construction of a second Death Star. Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) lead a strike force to destroy the Death Star’s shield generator. Meanwhile, Darth Vader (David Prowse / James Earl Jones (voice)) takes Luke to confront the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) and attempt to turn him to the Dark Side.

Review
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi concludes everything the original Star Wars trilogy (and really the entire saga) has been building towards. I think this is a fairly unpopular opinion, but this is my favorite film of the franchise. It has everything that makes the previous Star Wars films great: lightsaber duels, space battles, character growth, and of course Darth Vader, but better. Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back were both great, but Return of the Jedi steps it up a notch and concludes the saga on its strongest note.

I commonly find my self losing track of time while I’m watching this movie. It has a very quick pace, so it’s never sitting still for too long. I can’t help but get pulled into the story, mainly I think because I followed Luke throughout his journey from moisture farmer to a full fledged Jedi Knight and I am invested in finishing his quest along side him. Although it moves quick, every character gets their fair share of screen time. Other than some minor characters, like the Rebel leaders, I didn’t think, “I wish I saw more of them.” It was a good balance.

There isn’t as much character development as The Empire Strikes Back, but it is easy to see how the characters have changed since A New Hope. Han is no longer the “scruffy looking nerf herder” Luke met on Tatooine, Leia is a much more capable leader than when she was rescued on the Death Star, and Luke is fully inducted into the ways of the Force. After being with these characters for three movies, it is very satisfying to have watched them grow and develop.

Every Star Wars movie has its own lightsaber duel, but the duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is the best one yet (until the Obi-Wan / Anakin duel in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, but more on that when the time comes). It was much more energetic than the previous duels, keeping me on the edge of my seat. Towards the end of the fight, Luke fights with such a ferocity that it appears he may turn towards the Dark Side and become the Emperor’s new apprentice. Like the evolution of the characters, I like that the lightsaber duels grew and became better and better, too.

What makes this the best in the series for me, though, is the three simultaneous battles that occur at the end: one in space above the moon, one ground battle on the moon, and one lightsaber duel on the Death Star II. The movie bounces between these different fights perfectly and seamlessly. As soon as one begins to slow down, another picks up, so the viewer is always in the middle of some action or another. Kudos to the editing team.

I can’t say enough how much I enjoy Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The action is the best of the series, and even during the non-action scenes the movie is always moving, never becoming dull or slow. Three different battle that define the Star Wars Saga (space fights, lightsaber duels, and large-scale ground battles) occur simultaneously , blending together smoothly. The character development may not be as strong as the previous film but it is gratifying to see how the characters have grown across three movies. Return of the Jedi may not have been as influential as Star Wars: A New Hope, but it proves that with the right care, a franchise can get better with each entry.

Rating
5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Richard Marquand – Director
George Lucas – Story / Screenplay
Lawrence Kasdan – Screenplay
John Williams – Composer

Mark Hamill – Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford – Han Solo
Carrie Fisher – Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams – Lando Calrissian
Peter Mayhew – Chewbacca
Anthony Daniels – C-3PO
Kenny Baker – R2-D2
David Prowse – Darth Vader
James Earl Jones – Darth Vader (voice)
Alec Guinness – Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
Ian McDiarmid – The Emperor
Frank Oz – Yoda
Denis Lawson – Wedge
Warwick Davis – Wicket