'Revenge of the Sith': The Power of the Dark Side Has the power of the dark side been underestimated? Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan reviews Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the final chapter of the Star Wars series. He says it's easily the best of the trio of Star Wars prequels.
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'Revenge of the Sith': The Power of the Dark Side

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'Revenge of the Sith': The Power of the Dark Side

Review

'Revenge of the Sith': The Power of the Dark Side

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KENNETH TURAN reporting:

Never, but never, underestimate the power of the dark side of the force.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan reviews the latest installment of "Star Wars."

TURAN: "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" easily is the best of the trio of "Star Wars" prequels, and it has even attempted the tougher assignment of saving writer/director George Lucas from himself.

(Soundbite of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith")

Unidentified Man #1: This is where the fun begins.

Unidentified Man #2: Let them pass between us.

TURAN: It's a tribute to the power of the universe Lucas has created that we want to see this episode, despite the tedium of the previous two and despite knowing exactly what will happen in it, or maybe as with a familiar story told around a camp fire, it is our knowledge of how things will work out that makes us interested in the first place. For it's the opposite of a secret, that revenge is where the beloved Republic turns into the dreaded Empire.

(Soundbite of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith")

Unidentified Man #3: The Sith and the Jedi are similar in almost every way, including their quest for greater power.

Unidentified Man #4: The Sith rely on their passion for their strength. They think inwards only about themselves.

Unidentified Man #3: And the Jedi don't?

TURAN: Anakin Skywalker official goes over to the dark side and ends up Darth Vader, he of the heavy breathing and black-on-black ensemble. "Revenge" is the best of the prequels because it contains the creation myth of one of the most durably popular films of our time, and because seeing a potential hero torn between good and evil is always involving.

But that doesn't mean the film is without the weaknesses that scuttled its pair of predecessors. Quite the contrary. Aside from that great story, "Revenge's" strengths are all visual. It uses more than 2,200 effects to create memorable combat, and it has overwhelming ability to evoke a spectacular variety of alternate worlds. But when it comes to words, whatever gift Lucas once had for dialogue has deserted him. The language in "Revenge" is banal and stilted, and that weakness is matched by a marked lack of facility for working with actors.

Everyone knows that the "Star Wars" universe wouldn't exist if Lucas hadn't fought for it and taken it more seriously than anyone else. But he seems to be taking it so seriously today that the raffish energy and wised-up sense of humor that marked the very first "Star Wars" is completely gone from the scene. There is no doubt that the return of Darth Vader provides "Revenge" with a classic film moment that lives up to expectations, but the people we'd really like to see make a comeback are Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and, most of all, Harrison Ford. It's not to be, of course, but that only makes us miss them even more.

(Soundbite of "Star Wars" music)

MONTAGNE: MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan. Other "Star Wars" stories are at npr.org.

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