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PCR # 267  (Vol. 6, No. 18)  This edition is for the week of May 2--8, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith  by Mike Smith
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20th Century Fox     
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: George Lucas
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Back in May 1977, I was very excited about an upcoming film that I had been waiting to open since I'd heard about it. That film was "Sorcerer," starring my favorite actor, Roy Scheider. I remember how excited I was entering the auditorium and how puzzled I was by how small the audience was. Little did I know that a few miles down the road, in a galaxy far, far away, most of my friends and the rest of the city of Tampa were lining up in droves to see a movie called "Star Wars."

It's now almost 30 years later. The 1977 film, now titled "Episode IV: A New Hope," was followed by Episodes V and VI. In 1999, director George Lucas brought out "Episode I," which introduced us to the origins of the story. In 2002, "Episode II" carried on the story, slowly building the saga to what fans had always wanted to know: How did a cute little kid like Anakin Skywalker become the evil Darth Vader? With the release of "Episode III" we're all about to find out.

War! That is the first word in the now-familiar credit crawl that opens the film. It's good versus evil on a galactic scale. The head of the imperial Senate, Chancellor Palpatine, has been kidnapped by Sith Lord Count Dooku (Lee) and his metallic ally, General Grievous. With a face like a greyhound and what sounds like a chronic smoker's cough, Grievous is a tough warrior, able to use four light sabres during hand to hand battle. Defeating Dooku and rescuing the Chancellor moves young Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) to the top of the Chancellor's list and soon he is made a member of the Jedi council. However, he feels a slight in his appointment and soon he is again at odds with the other council members, especially his teacher, Obi Wan Kenobi (McGregor). To make his life more complicated, his young bride, Padme Amadalla (Portman), announces that she is pregnant. As he's not even supposed to be married, he certainly can't go to the council and ask for maternity leave! What's a young, angry Jedi to do?

Though many didn't agree with me, I enjoyed "Episode II: Attack of the Clones." I thought it made a great attempt to get away from the kid-friendly aspects of "Episode I" (read: very little Jar Jar Binks). And I felt that Hayden Christensen did a fine job fighting his feelings for Padme while slowly becoming a Jedi. "Episode III" allows Christensen to run the gammit from lovesick husband to brutal avenger as his emotions come under attack from every corner of the galaxy. McGregor has slowly grown into the role of Obi Wan, and his anguish at Anakin's betrayal is heartbreaking. Portman doesn't have as much to do in this chapter but she makes good use of her screen time. Jimmy Smits, as Senator Organa, the soon to be adoptive father of Leia, brings a quiet dignity to the role. Along the way, familiar characters like Yoda, C-3PO, R2-D2 and even a young Chewbacca make memorable appearances, proving that they are, indeed, major players in the "Star Wars" saga. By the time of the final battle on the fire and lava filled planet of Mustafar, you are on the edge of your seat as everything you thought you knew about Anakin and his transformation into Darth Vader are dashed against the firery rocks of the planet. If there is one drawback to the film it is the dialogue. Director George Lucas, like "Titanic's" James Cameron, is a great story teller. Sadly, like Cameron, he's not very good with dialogue. Stale jokes and bad comic rapport slow the film down some and it's not until the last 40 minutes, when everything begins to gel into place, that the movie takes off. As usual, the special effects are eye popping and the action is delivered well. A quick warning: "Episode III" is the first of the "Star Wars" films to receive a PG 13 rating (though, in all fairness, the rating wasn't around for "Episodes IV-VI") The body count is high and some scenes are quite gruesome. Young children who are only familiar with the stories from "Episodes I and II" may genuinely be frightened here.

If, as director Lucas has said, this is the final film in the saga, he has done himself justice by going out with a winner. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"  Three and half stars

This week's movie review of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.