Fall of the Jedi: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

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(Updated: April 07, 2013)
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And so I came to the third Fall of the Jedi, with hopes high given the vast improvements to the previous two movies. Sadly, I ended up disappointed.

There's lots to be praised, so lets start there.
Getting rid of the buzz droids from the opening speeds things up nicely.
Getting R2 out of the Grievous/bridge rescue so it's all down to Jedi power (what the Jedi should be relying on, not gimmicky rescues) is great.
I really liked the inclusion of the rebellion first meeting (Padme otherwise having gone from action protagonist in films 1 & 2, to moping about at home in this movie).

I prefer this version losing the Chancellors voice-over during Anakin's internal conflict scene (around 52 min - the "silent" conversation with Padme). However, my suggestion would be to drop "real" Padme from this scene altogether, and for Anakin to be brooding as now, have a brief (Chancellor inspired) vision of Padme screaming, then the run to the ship.

As usual the loss of lots of bad dialogue such as "Hold me like you did on Naboo."/"I have the high ground." is great. I'd definitely also like to have had Euan's bizarre shout of "... to democracy" removed from 1h22m49s. In fact that whole sequence should go:
ANAKIN: Don't lecture me, Obi-Wan. I see through the lies of the Jedi. I do not fear the dark side as you do.
OBI-WAN: Anakin, my allegiance is to the Republic.
ANAKIN: Don't make me kill you.
OBI-WAN: I will do what I must. [ignites his lightsaber]

But then we come to the real problems. As other reviewers have said, this has clunkier editing than in the previous two, with some scenes clipped too closely. The out-and-out most painful is the edit around 10 min on the Grievous ship, going from exiting the lift shaft to running down a corridor, getting caught in a shield and an exchange of dialogue, then being surrounded by droids in 20 seconds! It plays like a trailer! If it's needed to have an R2 unit that they left in the hanger (that doesn't fight and never shows up on the bridge!) to sort this, then what's the prob?

Narrative-wise I dislike where the Dooku/Sidious relationship has got to. I think I'm right in saying the only thing to connect them in the Fall of the Jedi trilogy is Dooku's statement in II about taking the death star plans to his master on Coruscant. Without a specific understanding of that single ambiguous line, Dooku becomes a goody in this trilogy! He was a Jedi (good), who became aware that there was a Sith at the heart of the Republic (correct), so struck out on his own to form an alliance against it (brave, commanding), and he couldn't bring himself to kill the defeated Anakin/Obi-Wan at the end of II (merciful)!
Now actually I don't have a problem with that - character complexity! But I'm pretty sure that isn't what was intended by Q2 (given the master-on-Coruscant line).
And III is where dropping the Dooku/Sideous relationship costs us: the Lucas version shows us evil turning on itself when the Chancellor tells Anakin to kill him, and shows us the price in Dooku's expression. The scene should be edited in much the way Q2 has done: lose the cartoony Chancellor laugh and "Good, Anakin, good.", lose the "Kill him now!", lose Anakin's conflict. But (with a bit more reference to Dooku/Sideous included at the end of II - without dialogue if necessary, just show them standing together and imply a close relationship if you really don't want them to talk!) I think the Dooku execution scene should keep the first "Kill him!", Dooku's expression of bewildered betrayal, then Anakin acting. Without that, we lose a great lesson on evil.

But I'd let all this go if it wasn't for the ending.
Conceptually I disagree with the idea of preserving who Vader really is until Empire. The purpose of the prequels is to chart the course of the creation of the fiction's greatest icon of evil. Of course the "Nooooo." has to go. But we so rarely get to see the birth of evil, only it's effects and a hero fighting it. Now, instead of showing the birth of evil, the trilogy shows the defeat of evil, with Anakin probably dead at the end!

In the scene where Anakin lies defeated, Q2 wants to cut Obi-Wan's poorly-delivered chosen-one lines which I understand; but I'd have kept Anakin's "I hate you!", plus the about 15 seconds of non-dialogue that seems to have gone as well. This is a scene the trilogy has been building to, we need to dwell on it as much as we can.

And I'm not a fan of The Other Boleyn Girl (for anyone who doesn't get the reference - this is the clip of Portman holding baby from said movie). If Padme is not allowed to die from depression (which tends not to be passively fatal), it should at least be in child-birth! How can one of the three key trilogy protagonists just disappear from the series? I know Q2 is trying to align the film with what Leia says about her mother in RotJ, but to have the disappearance of Padme explained by a throw-away line three movies later seems bizarre treatment of a series principal. Yes Lucas messed up, there's nothing we can do about it - Padme should die.

And the way it's done, the viewer doesn't even know there are twins! There is a conversation about children needing to be split up (whose children? Padme hasn't been shown or described as having given birth, and there is no mention of her pregnant with twins). Next Padme is shown crying, holding a baby; then Obi-Wan gives a baby to Beru. How do we know Padme was not saying goodbye, and it was the same child?

Finally, the loss of the Yoda/Sidious fight. I could live with the loss of Yoda/Dooku for reasons I explained in my review of II. But Q2 went to far this time! I have to say it's not a scene I particularly enjoy, but it represents really important themes: the folly of judging from appearances; the ability to hold power but not use it. As I said in my II review, the Yoda fighting scenes are when we learn he's not just talk, he's been massively powerful all this time and simply chosen not to abuse/misuse it. To resort to violence last; but be able to if justified: that's a lesson I don't want taken away from the world. :-)

There we go. Some great work by Q2, but sorry, you lost me at goodbye.

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Owner's reply April 07, 2013

Thank you for your your well written review. Not many people defend their opinions as well as you do. That said, I do take issue with a few points.

Your comment about preserving who Vader is until Empire is is exactly what my prequel trilogy set out to do and more. It was to preserve all surprises and revelations of the OT, and not spoil those for first time viewers. Fall of the Jedi trilogy is all about preserving those moments so that a person can watch I - VI, in order, without having key moments spoiled.

I also disagree with your comment of the defeat of evil. While Anakin may or may not be defeated, the Emperor is still alive and kicking, the Jedi have been defeated, and the Empire has been born. It actually ends on a sour note.

Anakin's line "I hate you!" is too in your face. I think the audience gets it already, not only from the battle but from the sheer hatred in his expression. Film is all about showing over telling, and I felt the look Anakin gives Obi-Wan was enough to express his hatred.

Padme can't die at the end of this film for one simple fact: in ROTJ Luke asks Leia "Do you remember your mother, your real mother?" and she responds: "Just a little bit. She died when I was very young." How sould Leia remember her mother if Padme died in childbirth or immediately after?

I also wanted to keep the twins a surprise. We know at the end of the thid film there are twins, but the idea is most people will think identical twins. (If you hear "twins" I suspect most people will go in that direction.) So when it's revealed in ROTJ that it is in fact fraternal twins it's more of a surprise. And with the lines "The children should be split up..." I think its enough for the audience to understand that Padme had twins and that they're being split up. (But perhaps I over estimated the audience putting two-and-two together.)

So, again, thank you for the thoughtful review and defending your position. Hopefully my comments will help you, and others, understand my choices a bit better.

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