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|By AARON SKETCHLEY (aaronsketch@HOTdelete_thisMAIL.com)||Ver 1.0 2020.06.21|
That said, I was painfully aware of how uneven the film is during a recent rewatch. There are stretches in the beginning that are... boring. In short, there's too much exposition. I also disagreed with the boneheaded portrayed of the Jedi. But never-mind that, the most aggravating part was how the script turned them into a pseudo-religious organization that demands its members be celibate. No wonder members are leaving the organization and turning to the dark side. And what happened to the implications of the 'knight' part of their name from the original series?
That said, the last third of the film is still quite enjoyable, and the acting improves considerably—especially after Count Dooku starts appearing on screen. And that battle between the Clone Troopers and the Droid army? That alone is worth the price of admission. I'm glad I was able to see that in all its glory in an IMAX theatre.
On top of the introduction of quite a few memorable villains, and an exploration of the activities of the (elite) Clone Troopers, we also get to see the development of Jedi and Sith apprentices, and one of the more memorable light sabre duels in the entire prequel trilogy story arc—there is genuine tension in this one.
I'm not a big fan of the character designs, but the animation is extremely fluid, and some of the vistas and battles they create are astoundingly complex. The visual design is top notch. It leaves me with asking - how could they do so much and get so much right, with so little?
The movie is anticlimactic, and because of that, it seems to drag on at times. There were also some bizarre choices made in characterization, especially during the opening sequence (well, third of the movie), to the point that I was left feeling that some of the actions were out of character (E.g.: R2 burning Battle Droids alive) or adding nothing to the film. The acting is wooden at times, and some of the dialogue is inane—after repeated viewings it has even grown aggravating.
That said, pretty much any scene with Ian McDiarmid in it is operating at a higher level (although they should have continued to use the stunt double in the light sabre fight between his Palpatine's and Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu). McDiarmid gets some of the best dialogue in the film, and is one of the highlights of the film. The rest of the movie isn't all bad. In fact, its darker tone is refreshing compared to its predecessors, and it is neat seeing the seeds for the original trilogy starting to bloom during the film's coda.
The bad: although the movie is great on first viewing, once you realize how similar a story it is telling to the first Star Wars movie, it looses a lot of its luster. The first half of the movie was the most interesting for me—giving us new visuals and situations. On rewatching it, the back half of the film has developed a kind of "been there done that" feel. Also, I found the lack of "traditional" Star Wars aliens odd. I don't mind new alien races being introduced, but the lack of existing ones became a distracting thought in scenes that should have had a few more familiar "faces".
The ugly: the movie has a giant flaw in its story - who is the Republic? Why do the bad guys feel that it is necessary to destroy multiple planets in one shot to 'destroy' the Republic - which we were given the impression in the preceding movies spans the galaxy? Yes, it's an action movie, but the complete lack of information on something so vital to the plot was... jaw droppingly astounding.
... and then there is the star-sucking big space gun. From a scientific perspective, it just doesn't work. From a visual spectacle perspective, I get why they wanted to do it the way they did it. However, the only way I can wrap my head around the sequence were the bad guys shoot at multiple planets and characters on another witness the attack as it happens, is if those weren't planets, but moons around a gas giant that's hidden just off screen. And even that's stretching it a bit too far! For a movie that has so much working in its favour, that sequence is something that jarringly boots my suspension of believe in the movie out the window—something that the George Lucas prequel films never did.