Reviewed by: Keith Howland
Moral Absolutes—Are we living in a moral Stone Age? Answer
|Featuring||Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson|
|Distributor||20th Century Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company|
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… The End. (Or rather, the middle.)
“Revenge of the Sith” is the final installment of the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy, and the last of six films altogether. Most viewers have seen the other five, so they know many things that need to happen to complete the story, including: the birth of Luke and Leia; the destruction of most of the Jedi council (all but Yoda and Obi-Wan, who go into hiding); the ascendancy of Darth Sidious to despotic Emperor; the fateful lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (resulting in the latter’s disfigurement); and, most anticipated of all, the transformation of the Jedi prodigy into Darth Vader. Fans also hope to be amused and amazed once more by eye-popping visual effects and heart-pounding thrills, with a smattering of R2-D2 and C-3PO.
So how does it play out? Is it fun and exciting? Are there any surprises left? Does everything unfold merely as we imagined, or can George Lucas and Co. still stretch our imaginations?
The visuals are stunning and the soundtrack full of aural fancy. There is also a great deal of action and some clever twists on “Star Wars” standards, such as the obligatory lightsaber duels. Even moments that are expected manage to be exciting, due to the fantastic backdrops and to Anakin’s reasonably believable progression toward the Dark Side.
Although Lucas has never been a master wordsmith (and insists on recycling too much dialogue, at times to the detriment of believability), he nevertheless has given Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) some wily means of enticing the impressionable Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) to call good evil and evil good. Indeed, Palpatine tempts Anakin much as the Serpent tempted Eve in the Garden: by goading his pride. The Serpent (Satan) promised Eve that if she ate the forbidden fruit, her eyes would be opened, and she would “be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Palpatine (a Sith Lord) promises Anakin that if he dabbles in the forbidden Dark Side, he will “know the full Force.” A great performance by McDiarmid makes the temptation more chilling and effective.
Apart from some of the aforementioned dialogue clunkers and some wobbly pacing, this film is the most satisfying of the prequel trilogy. It is clear that the previous two installments were the groundwork for this, the final payoff. It is also just nice to see old friends again, including the latest return character, Chewbacca.
“Revenge of the Sith” is the first “Star Wars” film to be rated PG-13. This is appropriate, because it is darker, more intense and more violent than the rest of the films. This makes it less suitable for children. But the story is about the triumph of evil, both in its influence over individuals and its ability to wreak widespread desolation. Thus, the violence is inherent to the story and not gratuitous. Indeed, it is often restrained, and mostly bloodless, as with the other movies in the series.
Of course, there is a spiritual/supernatural undercurrent to every “Star Wars” film, with the “Force” playing a central role in the battle between good and evil. In “Revenge of the Sith,” Anakin speaks of the Sith (those who use the Force for evil) as being selfish, and the Jedi (those who use the Force for good) as being selfless. This is a fair representation of the real world; that is, those who are evil are full of themselves, while those who are good are humble, committed to God and others before themselves (Matthew 22:36-40). The one sinless man, Jesus, was “humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29) and fully devoted to God’s will and serving humanity (John 5:19; Mark 10:45).
But though the concepts of good and evil are well defined, the role of the Force is not. The Force appears to be something that can be appropriated for evil means with nearly equal power as it is for good means. In this movie, Palpatine says that there is “very little difference between Sith and Jedi,” intimating that it is merely how the power of the Force is used that separates the two. Indeed, the Dark Side often seems more powerful, and the good just more virtuous.
But in the real world, God is good—indeed, the author of goodness—and His power far exceeds the powers of darkness and Satan, which merely pervert the good things He has made. In the last days of this age, God will effortlessly cast Satan and all that is evil into the fiery Abyss for eternal punishment (Revelation 20). The Force seems to be a source of supernatural energy that may be tapped for good or evil purposes in equal measure, despite its wishes, but God cannot be used by anyone. Rather, He puts His mercy and power on those whom He calls His own-all those who love Him and call on His name (Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:1-10; 3:14-20).
One other inherent difference between the real world and the “Star Wars” universe is the innate goodness or sinfulness of man. In “Star Wars”, it appears as though people are inherently good, and only through adverse circumstances and insidious manipulation, exacerbated by fear and doubt, is evil fomented in a person (i.e., that he is seduced to the “Dark Side”). Now it is true enough that outside forces may exploit us in our worst moments to entice us to wrong, but that is largely because we are born sinners who are inherently prone to turn away from right (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; etc.).
The tragedy of life is that all people are doomed to go the way of Anakin Skywalker if not for the grace of God in Jesus Christ. The Good News of the Gospel is that salvation and redemption come to all who profess that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). One day, Darth Vader’s son will appear to redeem him from evil before he dies. In the real world, every person may call upon God’s Son to redeem us from sin and save us from death.
See list of Relevant Issues, plus reviews of all the “Star Wars” movies and games.