I love Star Wars. I always have, but I never knew how much until I saw Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith. That cancerous, bile-ridden, festering malignancy urinates bloody semen all over what Star Wars once was. From the unbelievably bad dialogue to the endless cavalcade of mediocre CG where actual sets, props, and miniatures easily could have been used to the bland and overdrawn fight scenes the film reeks of consummate unprofessionalism and a decided lack of care or interest in the so-called "saga" by the man who created it, short of inventing new marketing, franchising and licensing possibilities so that that same man (who once fled Hollywood to avoid the money-lust of the major studios) can collect even more money for his already multi-billion dollar empire.
And what's more infuriating is that self-proclaimed "fans" of Star Wars not only argue in favor of this visual tripe, but actually have seen it more than several times in theatres, throwing even more money onto the disinterested bonfire of commercialism, essentially informing the man behind it all that, "hey, we don't care, just put the words 'star' and 'wars' on it we will kiss your ass until we wear off the very lips required by human speech to lob the unwarranted congratulatory shrills at you." Nobody cares. Nobody has imagination. Nobody has a vision – least of George Lucas.
What Episode 3 has done to the Star Wars universe (obstensibly being the "last" major motion picture, and therefore last "true" part of Star Wars canon) was basically to wash away any hope of a quality finale. Sure, the things, the story-beats, the plot elements, that we all expected were there, but there was no artistry or cohesion behind them. Lucas claims this is a 12-hour movie, but how could that be when the prequels are completely and utterly divergent from the classic trilogy in virtually every way? I would argue the only thing the two trilogies have in common is some of the music, and frankly, I won't stand for it!
I grew up watching Han and Chewie run after Stormtroopers, Luke train with Yoda, Leia kill Jabba. I emersed myself in the world, the universe that was there on the screen. The hints of backstory were always tantalizing but never, ever did I expect to see things like Jar-Jar, Anakin building 3PO, the force to be explained in biological terms, Yoda leap about like a coked-out spider monkey, Boba Fett's "daddy" (or himself unmasked, for that matter), Luke and Leia's mother "choose" to die, Anakin to ultimately turn to the Dark Side suddenly and in one scene, and certainly not to have the infamous and total surprises of Luke's father and sister ruined and made invalid by the prequels. But those things, oh so many more, I did get and I can't help but ask myself why Mr. Lucas didn't try harder, or at all, to give us stories at the very least comparable in quality and style to the classic trilogy. Perhaps had he farmed-out writing and directing duties this time as well this would be a much different rant, but sadly, that's not how things panned out, and we're stuck with such horrible films and such miserable transitions in topic.
Arguably the best character of Episode 3 is that of Supereme Chancellor Palpatine. The Emperor has always been one of, if not my favorite Star Wars character and that's most mainly because of the brilliant actor portraying him: Sir Ian McDiarmid. A Scottish actor, McDiarmid not only has multiple theatre awards, but was actually the director of the Almeida Theatre in London for 11 years
– hence quality performance is his forte. I think he shines in his scenes as the Chancellor, particularly the one at the "opera" in which he injects his dialogue with such subtlty and force that one is compelled to learn the dark arts right then and there – not to mention the story he relates that could be a vague allusion to his own history. That scene is the only one in all three prequels I would deem as "good." Sadly though, when Palpatine becomes the Emperor (receiving his aged and scarred visage in one of the most far-fetched and disappointing "accidents" in all of cinema) I feel McDiarmid becomes too energetic, theatrical and, daresay, zany in performance. But is this really his fault, or that of a unskilled, self-admittedly bad-with-actors director? Either way, one can easily say that this Emperor is not the same as the one in Return of the Jedi. Similarly, the action figures of McDiarmid for Episode 3 seem to follow this pattern.
First we have Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (#14 in the line, for those counting). Here, good ole Cos (his official[ly retarded] first name) comes decked out in his simple black robe from the rescue scene at the beginning of the film. Like McDiarmid's performance, there is a simple, subtle, refined elegance to the figure. He comes in a very static pose sporting some articulation, but not a lot. Sculpturally, the detail on the robe is excellent, especially for the scale, and the likeness is superb (and I believe it is the same head used for the Episode 2 figure).
The figure also comes with a handcuff accessory which does not fit onto his hands in any possible way – a nice inclusion, but ultimately worthless. I recommend this figure - it is most appropriate in style to the character, though I must admit the all-blackness of the robe makes it a little bland.
Next is just plain, old Palpatine (#35) dressed in his girlishly poofy red robes from "the arrest scene." The costume is more visually stimulating than that of the last figure, but it is still too frumpy and big-sleeved in style for me to like. Articulation is decent for an essentially legless figure. Accessory wise, this guy is fairly loaded: two heads, two sets of hands, and two little lightning bursts. The alternate body parts facilitate semi-quick-change action from Chancellor-to-Emperor and, as is my pseudo thesis for this review, the Chancellor version looks better. The overall sculpt is good, nicely detailed, with some black wash paint to bring out the layers, though not too well.
Basically, its just the pose, or rather the semi-closed left hand and neck angle that make the Chancellor version succeed (though a hand sculpted holding Palpatine's saber, as opposed to Anakin's, as included, would be nice). The Emperor version has an awkward "claw" pose for the left hand and, most bizarrely, a very strange neck angle, which when mixed with the goofy, smiling expression, makes the figure just laughable. This one is a "maybe." Its cool, but it gets pretty lame, pretty fast; yo really seems to like it, but I say buy at your own discretion.
Finally is Emperor Palpatine (#12), easily the worst of the batch. Just like McDiarmid's performance of the Emperor, this figure is just awkward and weird. There is some very subtle detailing on the outer robe, but the likeness is very... well, I guess it's not bad, based on the make-up, which is a very lifeless, silly, cartoonish, too-thick rendition of what was used in Return of the Jedi. The worst part is that the arms, sculpted with elbows at right angles, makes the figure appear more ready to ride a bicycle than to attack with lightsaber or his two included accessories, some sort of watery-ejaculate projectile.
The head is sculpted separately from and underneath the hood of the robe, which ultimately only succeeds in making the hood look ridiculously large and unnatural in position. Add to all of this the fact this particular costume is only seen in the final scene with Tarkin and Vader, I must recommend this figure be passed by in the aisles. If you want an Episode 3 Emperor in black robes just wait for the inevitable release of the multi-layered, Yoda-fight costumed figure.
And, with that, much like my passion for Star Wars, this review has reached its near-end. These are three averaged-out-to-be-okay figures for a cool character from a bad movie that ultimately slaughtered a franchise (again, it was the last chance for anything good to happen with the prequels and it failed that charge in practically all ways). Everyone has and is entitled to their own opinions, so far be it from me to attack anyone who like Episode 3.
However, I cannot, in good conscience, let everyone off of the hook. If you like Episode 3, I must enthusiastically disagree, but if you love Episode 3, then shame on you. Even if you just "like" the film, you are not a Star Wars fan, you are a Star Wars enthusiast, you do not love or care about the Star Wars universe, you simply take an interest in it. And if you are one of these people, please, for the love of the classic trilogy, take a moment and reevaluate your feelings for Star Wars – the classics do not deserve the disgrace and carelessness of the prequels.
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