STAR WARS: Revenge of the Sith

Hmmm. . . I have always been capable to refrain myself from reading a Star Wars novel before the movie comes out. How could I possibly deprive myself from fully enjoying the upcoming film by discovering all of its secrets before it is even released? I'm afraid that I'm one of those hardcore fans. I won't sink so low as to dress up as a character, but I'm a Star Wars fan to the marrow of my bones. I'll soon turn 31 years of age. Which means that I grew up with the original trilogy. Images of what used to be known solely as Star Wars are the earliest memories I have of my childhood. Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker action figures are among the first toys I remember playing with. The subsequent release of both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi marked my childhood years. Later on, in high school, I relived the excitement with Timothy Zahn's excellent trilogy of books. My mouth watered at the thought of buying the original trilogy of movies, remastered with digital sound and image. Then came the Star Wars New Editions. I stood in line for 4 to 6 hours, once in a snow storm and once in freezing rain (welcome to Montreal!), just to make sure that I would get a ticket for the premiere of each movie. Idem for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Thank God the tickets became available in April or May, with more pleasant weather for a guy standing in line, waiting for the tickets to become available! Understandably, I have all the videos, DVDs, soundtracks (even the original anthology). So in light of all this, I figure that I could be called a fan!;-)

Went to the bookstore with my friend Pat during our lunch break on Sunday. That was when I realized that the book was already out. He asked me if I was going to read it. Of course, I said I wouldn't. Well, the very next day I was buying it. So much for self-control, eh!?!:-) But this has been 28 years in the making!!!

By the way, I have finished Neal Stephenson's The Confusion, so expect a book review soon. I thought I'd write it before reading Revenge of the Sith. Alas, I finished the novel in less than 24 hours.

It is not my intention to reveal all of the film's secrets. But it is impossible to write an appropriate book review without including some spoilers. So be forewarned: If you read beyond this point, whether you like it or not, some secrets will be revealed. But since many of them are already known, it is not much of an issue.

What's the movie's premise, you ask? Well, the Clone Wars have lasted for years now. The Separatists have been battering the Republic almost to the point of collapse. Darth Sidious, who orchestrated the civil war and feeds its fire under the guise of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, continues to strip away constitutional rights in order to, ostensibly, safeguard the faltering Republic. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi have become war heroes, but the Clone Wars are decimating the Jedi Order. And led by the military genius of General Grievous (yes, the name is quite lame), the Separatists are getting bolder and bolder, killing millions of people in the process. The story begins with one such bold move, as Separatists attack Coruscant itself and kidnap the Supreme Chancellor.

Let's focus on the novel itself for a minute. I've never read anything by Matthew Stover. And frankly, I probably never will. I am acutely aware that this is the adaptation of a screenplay. But regardless, a little more substance would have been appreciated. I know that this one is certain to hit the NYT list, so Del Rey were well aware that it was pointless to give this assignment to one of their top talents. But folks, this is a far cry from Zahn's work. Lately, I have been reading the prose of such authors as Robin Hobb, Stephen R. Donaldson and Neal Stephenson. Let's just say that you'll never hear Stover's name mentioned with the aforementioned writers. In itself, unless you are a collector or if you want to read it now, there will be little point in buying or reading this book following opening day.

What makes Revenge of the Sith different from its two predecessors? Well, it is packed with action from start to finish. Indeed, there are more lightsaber fights than in the other five movies combined!:-) More violence, which undoubtedly explains why this one will be PG-13. It starts with a bang, with both Anakin and Obi-Wan rushing to Palpatine's rescue.

If I were to write a synopsis of the storyline, readers would be thrilled at the pace and depth of this last chapter in the trilogy. Unfortunately, two major obstacles could prevent this film from being as good as it could and should be. Number 1: the dialogues often leave a lot to be desired. Too many one-liners, delievered to convey a little humour, but which don't always have a place in this darkest chapter of the saga. Number 2: everything hinges on Hayden Christensen's performance. Anakin's fall to the dark side of the Force takes central stage in this one, and the actor has shown just how inappropriate he could be in Attack of the Clones. So we'll have to see if he can pull this off. . .

Surprisingly, Padmé plays a secondary role in this film. Her love for Anakin is tearing her heart apart, as she gradually discovers how far gone her husband is. And the fact that she is pregnant, if it becomes public knowledge, could force Anakin to leave the Jedi Order.

Another key player is Darth Sidious. Ian McDiarmid's performance could make or break this movie. The Sith Lord is more powerful than the Jedi have ever imagined. There is a very big surprise concerning the man who'll become Emperor, but I don't want to spoil it by revealing this secret!;-) Nor will I disclose just how he'll manage to turn Anakin to the dark side.

Obi-Wan also plays an important role, as always. Witnessing his dearest friend's fall into the darkness will shake him to the core of his being, but still he trusts Anakin to be true to his Jedi heritage. Of course, we all know that he will end up defeating his former apprentice, leaving him for dead in a lava pit. But I'm not about to tell you how it's going to take place!

The Jedi are spread far and wide, in an attempt to restore peace and end the Clone Wars. But the Separatists have grown stronger, creating droids that can kill powerful Jedi Knights. General Grievous himself owns 4 lightsabers, trophies of his Jedi kills. As public opinion is turned against them, the Supreme Chancellor boldly makes a political move that seeks to put the Jedi Council under his authority. When the truth is finally revealed, that Palpatine himself is the Sith Lord, could it be too late for them? I will say no more, but the film will answer the question as to why Yoda and Obi-Wan are the sole remaining Jedi in the original trilogy.

The movie starts with a bang and ends with one. Of course, you have guessed it: the raising of Darth Vader. If the film is done well, the last 30 or 45 minutes should keep us to the edge of our seat!;-)

Ultimately, is this one good? Damn right it is!:-) Will this last chapter somehow bridge the quality gap between the 2 trilogies? I'm afraid not. But Revenge of the Sith has the potential of being the very best of the new trilogy, head and shoulders above the others.

Having said that, will I stand in line for hours to have the chance to be at the premiere at midnight on May 19th? You better believe it!

Regardless of what detractors claim; regardless of how bad Attack of the Clones was; regardless of what all those haters have been saying for the last 3 years; regardless of the negativity that seems to surround the release of this film; regardless of the fact that this one will once again rely way too much on special effects; regardless of the fact that some actors will conceivably offer poor performances; regardless of all that, I believe that Revenge of the Sith will capture the essence of the original Star Wars movies. Hence, I cannot wait for this film to hit the silver screen! Forget the hype and just enjoy it!:-)

Oh, and may the Force be with you. . .

1 commentaires:

Scott said...

I read your article on ROTS (although I realize it is fairly old) and felt that some sort of reply was in order.

Firstly, I was shocked that you disparaged Matt Stover's writing style! I happen to enjoy his books immensely, paticularly those set in the Star Wars universe. I felt he made an admirable tale out of a lackluster film, and expended eloquently on Anakin Skywalker's descent into evil. His explanations and foreshadowing that made Vader's rise from the ashes of Anakin Skywalker's heroic legacy so believeable were entirely absent from the screen version. Even Anakin's final betrayl of Padme seemed more poignent and not simply a necessary prelude to an amazing lightsaber duel.

I would also recommend, if you have not yet read it, the book Traitor from the New Jedi Order Series. Don't worry about reading the other 18 books in the series if you are not otherwise inclined. A cursory knowledge of the story up to that point is all that is required. Stover does a fantastic job - once again - of showing the ambiguity of the Force and the way HUMAN (by which I mean sentient beings, not specifically humans) actions and human motivations dictate the course of history and not some vague "will fo the Force" that Lucas would otherwise ascribe to. However, I would warn you that if you are someone who feels George Lucas is completely justified in his assertion that the "Dark side" somehow MAKES people evil, then you might wish to skip it. If you're somewhat more pragmatic, or if you enjoyed I, Jedi, then certainly give it a read. I'd love to hear your take on it.