Movies

Why ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ Is The Worst ‘Star Wars’ Movie

It certainly wasn’t my plan to write about the Star Wars prequels twice in two days. That also means, in all of 2016 so far, I’ve only written about the Star Wars prequels. Maybe this is all I will write about for the entire year? I’m on pace! What a terrible pace to be on. Fun fact, though: I’ve seen two 2016 wide release movies so far (I am not allowed to mention their titles yet) and I’d much rather write about the Star Wars prequels. You’d rather read about the Star Wars prequels. You just have to trust me on this one.

(It’s never good when you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement to see a movie that you didn’t really want to see in the first place. I didn’t look at the date it expires, but I hope it’s forever. I hope that I am legally never allowed to ever discuss this particular movie.)

My editor: “Where’s that piece on that movie? You missed your deadline.”

Me: “Sorry, I can’t write about it. It’s the law!”

Anyway, the point of all of this: Revenge of the Sith is the worst Star Wars movie.

Look, I used to be just like you. I used to think that Revenge of the Sith was the best of the prequels. I even used to try to make that contrarian argument that Revenge of the Sith was even a little better than Return of the Jedi. I was fooling myself. It’s all a lie. My life is a lie.

In November, David Sims and Griffin Newman were nice enough to invite me on their podcast about the Star Wars prequels. (You should listen! It’s good! Even with me mucking up the whole thing.) The subject was Revenge of the Sith and I thought I was getting a raw deal. I thought that the earlier two prequels would be much more fun to complain about. While re-watching Revenge of the Sith, I just couldn’t get over how much false weight is given to pretty much everything. I couldn’t stop thinking to myself, Wait, this is the good one?

George Lucas can claim he didn’t listen to the critics of the first two prequels, but I don’t believe him. People did not like Jar Jar – a character Lucas loved – and all of a sudden Jar Jar’s role in the next two films was mysteriously substantially less. Now, there was also a huge complaint that the first two movies were missing the “fun” of the original trilogy. So, now, all of a sudden, in Revenge of the Sith, characters are having “fun.”

Now, let’s talk about this so called “fun”: Instead of maybe creating a character who acts like a real human being with real emotions, the solution to how to install fun into Revenge of the Sith is to have the characters smile more. I’m not kidding. Watch this movie again and it will drive you nuts. Characters smile for no reason. Obi-Wan will say a line that’s not funny, then smile. I can imagine Lucas on set saying, “Come on, Ewan, if you smile that means we are having fun!” It’s fake fun.

Also, I honestly didn’t remember how little Natalie Portman has to do in Revenge of the Sith. She literally just hangs out in the apartment the whole movie until the end. It’s just odd that someone who was on so many adventures in the first two films does nothing in the last one. Well, except die.

The worst part about Revenge of the Sith is that it thinks it has something to say when, in fact, it has nothing to say. At least Attack of the Clones knows it has nothing to say, which at least makes it honest, therefore better.

Yeah, poor Attack of the Clones, the de facto “worst Star Wars movie.” The thing is, Attack of the Clones zips along at a pretty good pace, which is remarkable for a movie in which literally nothing of significance happens. But it does have the speeder chase through Coruscant, the nifty fight between Obi-Wan and Jango Fett, and the final Jedi arena battle. None of these really make Attack of the Clones a good movie, but at least they are pretty to look at. Attack of the Clones is like eating Fun Dip. There’s no nutritional value and it will probably make you sick, but at least it tastes really sweet for a bit there, before you realize you’ve just eaten pure garbage. But we know Fun Dip is garbage. And the thing all of those scenes have in common: No one is at all suggesting they are important.

Ohhhhhh, but Revenge of the Sith is all soooooo important. We are introduced to a character named General Grievous, a character who’s a crucial player, even though we have never heard of him before. To be fair, Attack of the Clones did the same thing with Count Dooku, but at least that movie picks up 10 years after the previous entry so a) there’s going to be new, important players and b) Palpatine would have had to have replaced Darth Maul by then. Here, this is the main guy leading the Separatists, yet we’ve never heard of him. There’s not one mention of General Grievous in the prior films.

The fight between Obi-Wan and Grievous made me scream, “Oh come on,” out loud. Obi-Wan drops in from above and says, “Well hello there,” then smiles (because we’re having fun). Then he gives Grievous time to slowly ignite all four lightsabers because Obi-Wan is a gentleman and is just out here to have fun, after all. Then the two fight, then Grievous escapes on a hamster wheel. (All of this happens after my least favorite scene in all of the prequels: Obi-Wan meets Tion Medon, and Medon is nervous because the Separatists are watching them and, somehow, Medon must let Obi-Wan know what’s going on, but can’t say it out loud. So, what happens? Medon tells Obi-Wan everything is fine. Then whispers that everything is not fine. That’s it. All of that nonsense is solved with just speaking a little more softly.)

(As an aside: Before 2016, I had never written the name Tion Medon, now I’ve done it two days in a row. Another pace I’m setting. Maybe I can mention Tion Medon in everything I write this year. Maybe I can ask any filmmaker promoting his or her movie what he or she thinks of Tion Medon.)

In The Force Awakens, there’s real tension when Rey fights Kylo Ren. Ren has just done something that makes everyone angry and we feel invested in the anger Rey must be feeling. The fight itself is fine, but that’s never the point of a lightsaber battle. The lightsaber battle between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars is as no frills as it gets, but it’s super intense.

I think of lightsaber battles the same way I think of a great pitcher-batter matchup in baseball. There’s not a lot going on. There’s a lot of staring. There are a lot of mental games. But the intensity is built on the stakes. If this is Game 7 of the World Series, one pitch can be the most stressful moment in sports. If those stakes aren’t properly set up, it doesn’t matter. It’s as if Lucas knew the stakes between Obi-Wan and Anakin weren’t properly set up, so to cover for that, their fight is riddled with gymnastics and floating lava hoverboards and swinging on vines. It’s so ridiculous! It would be like if a meaningless August game between the Padres and Rockies featured all the batters and pitchers riding lava hoverboards. It wouldn’t build intensity … it would just be stupid. (I mean, I’d still watch, but only because it would be so stupid. And I would want to know what a lava hoverboard looks like in real life.)

The first two prequels are not good, but there’s something almost nice about their lack of substance. Revenge of the Sith is fake substance, which is much worse. It’s actually trying to attempt something and fails miserably… as opposed to Attack of the Clones, which attempts nothing and succeeds.

Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.

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