So Melanie and I finally saw Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith on Saturday night. It was a much, much better movie than the previous two combined, yet it makes me even angrier that the first two were such lost opportunities. I particularly agree with Steven Greydanus’s review of the movie. (Incidentally, Steven has a longer piece in the June issue of Catholic World Report on the whole Star Wars saga and its place in American myth. On newsstands near you very soon.)
I think Lucas’s first big mistake (apart from Jar-Jar Binks) was starting with Anakin as a child. I know that he wanted to show how his love of his mother stunts his emotional maturity. Unfortunately what we end up with is Darth Vader, the most evil iconic villain in cinema history, being revealed as the product of whiny teenage angst. The descent of Anakin to the dark side of the Force is salvaged somewhat in Episode III, but it would not have to have been rescued if it had a better beginning.
Lucas could have started with Anakin at the age that Obiwan was portrayed in Episode I and Obiwan could have been Qui Gon’s age. Rather than having the loss of his mother being the major point, Anakin could have dealt naturally with the loss of a father, a more natural entree into the seduction by Darth Sidious and alienation from Obiwan. It would have made Obiwan’s recollection of Anakin as a great friend more appropriate. It would have made his relationship with Padme less Oedipal and more understandable.
Apart from that, I thought Sidious, as he justified the dark side of the Force, sounded very much like many liberal Catholic theologians I’ve heard.
Also, I’m embarrassed to say that I only realized today that the name “Revenge of the Sith” is a parallel to “Return of the Jedi.” I’m a trained observer. Don’t try this at home.