I finally made it out to see Star Wars Episode 3 with a few friends. (It is still difficult to believe that I married a woman who has never seen any of the Star Wars movies. She has a chance to be that rare person in our generation who will see the movies in order.)
I was not overwhelmed or underwhelmed. You have to expect campy dialogue and shoddy acting. (Or maybe the bad dialogue is just too limiting for the actors.) Only Ewan MacGregor stands out for his acting – which is appropriate given that Alec Guiness was the best actor in the originals (though I also like Harrison Ford’s Han Solo). The guy who plays the Chancellor/Emperor (whose name escapes me) is decent, and Natalie Portman is OK as Padme. Hayden Christiansen was not very good, but given how terrible he is in Episode 2, he actually seemed decent by comparison. Samuel L. Jackson is rather hollow; Yoda, however, is pretty cool. Fortunately we don’t see much of Jar Jar Binks.
On the plus side, the visual effects throughout the film are incredible.
The storyline itself was interesting. Episode 3 definitely helps tie all 6 episodes together very well. I would actually like to now continue and re-watch episode 4-6. In fact I’ve been thinking a lot about it and the way it all fits together so remarkably well.
One thing I realized about Star Wars, having now seen all six installments, is that the principle character in the saga is Anakin Skywalker. Watching the old ones (epidsodes 4-6), one is led to think that Luke Skywalker is the main character; but now it’s clear that it is ultimately Anakin who is central to the saga. The saga tells the tale of his rise, fall, and redemption.
This particular installment is necessarily dark in tracing Anakin’s turn to the dark side. The switch itself seemed rather sudden though – too sudden. One minute he’s bonding with Ben Kenobi, the next he’s swearing alleigiance to the Sith Lord.
Of course I wouldn’t recommend anyone develop a worldview based on Star Wars. It is certainly influenced greatly by Eastern thought. There’s a moment where Yoda tells Anakin that the fear of loss is a path to the dark side, that death is a part of life, and that he should try to live free of attachments. Definitely a Buddhist moment.
There’s another moment where Ben Kenobi tells Anakin that only the Siths speak in absolutes. Anyway, I’m not one of those people who is going to get angry about that kind of stuff because I think we can all take such aphorisms from Star Wars with a grain of salt. Don’t take it too seriously.
For pure escapist fantasy, Star Wars is pretty cool.
Here is an interesting article about how, in spite of its Eastern feel, Star Wars depends on a Christian worldview to really work.