On the other hand, what often passes for wisdom in “Revenge of the Sith” (and it is the same in all of the episodes), is really a reflection of New Age and Buddhist theology.  “I put the Force into the movie to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality in young people,” Lucas said, in an acclaimed interview with journalist Bill Moyers several years ago, “more a belief in God than a belief in any particular religious system.”  The director, who was reportedly baptized in the Methodist church as an infant, also told Moyers that he believes that “all religions are true.”

Clearly, “Star Wars” reflects synchronism among the faiths.  In “the force,” we see a differentiation, however vague, between good and evil, as well as a strong encouragement to join the forces of good – something that characterizes almost all major religions.  But Christianity distinguishes itself because it offers a precise definition, in the person of Jesus Christ, of just what that good means.  And, without a definition of that oh-so-intangible concept, what is there to prevent any of us from becoming Darth Vaders?  If truth is left up to each individual, we will all eventually find ourselves wallowing in a quagmire of emotion, ambition and pride.  Rather than any form of true faith, therefore, “Star Wars” instead embraces a radical, New Age style individualism – something that cannot help but lead to conflict and disharmony, the very thing it purports to seek.

On a cinematic level, and as it has been in most of his films, Lucas’ dialogue is positively woeful, aka Shakespeare meets television sitcom.  And, yet again, Lucas’ directing has caused perfectly good actors to phone in their performances.  What’s with all the lingering shots of their blank stares?  Christensen is better than he was in “Attack of the Clones,” but that is truly not saying much.  What happened to the boy we met in “My Life As a House”?  Portman and Jackson, who are both excellent thespians, don’t appear to offer any facial expressions at all.  Combined with their forced, clichéd dialogue, they both come across as almost laughable.  McGregor does a decent job, although even he seems to have been dragged off the set of a Shakespearean play, so formal and uppercrust is his English accent.  McDiarmid gives the most credible performance – until he degenerates into the cliché “mwa-ha-ha” evil chancellor toward the end of the film, that is.

In terms of the overall quality of this prequel, these are no trifling matters – especially when you must also overlook problems with cogency, when it comes to plot, and pacing, such as battles (particularly the first one) that last way too long.  Overall, what could have been a brilliant film is thus a mediocre one.  The good news – for Lucas and the box office – is that we’ve suffered through two truly bad “Star Wars” films prior to this, so we’re definitely willing to overlook a lot.  In fact, the best way to watch the series, once it’s boxed up and sold as a collection, will be to ignore those first two and instead watch this film as the opening of the final three.  The original “Star Wars,” by the way, will henceforth be called “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.”

Although it does not live up to the quality of the first three “Star Wars” films, “Revenge of the Sith” is a worthy endeavor that merits viewing.  By overlooking its faults – as well as its more-than-questionable theology – most people will find it to be a fun film.
        
AUDIENCE:  Adults, teens and mature adolescents

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT:

  • Drugs/Alcohol Content:  None.
  • Language/Profanity:  None.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Light kissing between married couple; discussion of pregnancy.
  • Violence:  Ongoing sci-fi style violence that is inappropriate for younger children, including multiple light saber duals and one in which lightening is used as a weapon.  Various deaths, often violent, result.  In one scene, a character is horribly burned and disfigured in molten lava.