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Star Wars Episode III Gripes
By Lucas Todd Clark July22, 2005

After it's triumphal entry into the box office, Star Wars Episode III was bittersweet at best. My own deep love for the classic tales and esteem for their conjurer prevents me from disowning the prequels, but I guess I was hoping to experience more than a very dramatic anticlimax. I returned home after two and a half hours wondering, "what happened to the rest of the movie?" Here are my gripes, comments, and fundamental questions now that "the circle is complete":

Who is Syphadias? Is it Dooku or Palpatine? The Jedi seem to have forgotten that they chose to borrow the clone armies from this Syphadias character even though their main lead in the matter, Jango Fett, led them right to Count Dooku. But they didn't seem to put any of that together for some odd reason.

Why did Palpatine choose Naboo as his home base to launch his conquest of the galaxy? This question seems petty, but you have to consider your moves very carefully when you're a Sith Lord, and the excuse of convenience doesn't seem to justify an entire movie devoted to conquering a planet that you don't really have any interest in.

How did Palpatine manage to use the force to conceal himself from the Jedi for so long?

My impression from the second film was that Anakin's dreams were influenced by the emperor to manipulate him into situations that would release his strongest emotions, that he created the incident on Tattooine with the sand people and with his wife to torture him into submission. It sort of still could be taken that way, but the last scene is so silly, the emperor seems too stupid to have done all that purposely to Anakin.

Did Anakin fulfill the prophecy about bringing balance to the force, or was the prophecy really about Luke?

Are we to believe that the emperor's mechanism for saving Grievous and Vader is related to what he would have done to save Padme?

The emperor in this film strikes me as neither sinister nor cunning; instead he is cowardly, weak and stupid. His arguments aren't even compelling.

How did Qui-Gon Jinn suddenly get out of Force-purgatory? How did he get in it to begin with? According to the logic of the films, killing off all of the Jedi can be atoned for by saving your offspring, but desiring to take on a new apprentice who has exceeded the age limit of tike is enough to prevent your spirit from communion with the force. Even being a compulsive liar doesn't seem as damning as that.

Why does it take twenty years to build a death star? If it really takes that long, then they must have been close to getting underway with their second project on Endor. As Contact's Hadden Suit said, "Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?"

What was Dooku's motive for switching to the dark side? He's kind of a dope not to realize that the Emperor is trying to set him up with his "Oh Save me, I'm captive!" game to lure the Jedi.

Everyone who has seen episode II knows that, if you're a Jedi, flying out a window on Coruscant is hardly a death sentence. Therefore, Mace Windu lives!

What was Darth Maul's beef with the Jedi? His comment, "at last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi, at last we will have revenge" still doesn't make sense after three movies. In fact, the title Revenge of the Sith, although creepy and a good parallel with Episode VI's title, leaves us very unfulfilled--revenge for what? Ok, Anakin's getting revenge because he had a temper tantrum for not being given the title of Master, but Sidious doesn't seem to have any reason for getting revenge, except that the Jedi keep bumping off his apprentices, but he never liked them much to begin with. I think George Lucas was disappointed that he couldn't call episode VI "Revenge of the Jedi" like he had originally planned, so, when it came to episode III, his immediate thought must have been "at last we will have 'Revenge.'"

Why do bolts of lightning suddenly cause facial deformity when it's never had that effect on anyone else before? Duration? Luke got it for about the same amount of time. Intensity? The emperor was firing at himself: the smart thing for him to do would be to tone it down, or at least use graded potentials. I was always under the impression that the chancellor bit was a disguise for his real self, which he only showed on sinister holovideos to his inept counterparts.

I was so disappointed that they stooped to one-liners for the Emperor and Yoda's battle: the language of Star Wars used to be much more profound in the days of Empire Strikes Back. And too many puns: "My apprentice will take care of you."

What about that first battle? There's hardly any tactical flying or fancy maneuvers against the droid ships, which is the mainstay of the action in the first movies. No intense "how will they ever get out of this one" moments. And then, how did the fire squad know to spare the droid battle cruiser instead of blasting it out of the sky. If I understand correctly, the chancellor was taken captive in the middle of a land invasion occurring simultaneously with the orbital assault, so a crashing droid cruiser would probably not be greeted warmly.

What is Darth Plagius the Wise's relationship with the Emperor? Are we to believe that the Emperor was his apprentice? Or that he is Plagius? If so, is Anakin the product of Plagius's super power with the force? Lucas wets the appetite so well with this scene, but then doesn't elaborate: it would have been so interesting to hear a little more lore of the Sith, to hear Palpatine's justification for his quest for power. I am also disappointed that the power to create and sustain life is only something achievable by quintessential evil. The emperor appears to have been incompletely trained in the ways of the Sith because he can only use sham substitutes for restoring health and vitality, relying on Vader for the power he needs.

They could have done the transition in authority over the clone troopers with so much more suspense and intrigue. Dispense with the "execute order 66" crap--you don't have to give away every plot twist before it happens. It would have been so much more interesting to be surprised by the attack on Obi-wan without him or us knowing who it was that shot him down. Secondly, it would have been really cool if Yoda or Obi-wan could use their Jedi mind tricks to pit the clones against each other, especially since they are particularly obedient to orders in the first place, and Obi-wan controls them with skill in Episode IV. According to the movie, the emperor would have been far wiser to tell his minions on Kashyyk to bump off Yoda before any of the other Jedi because none of them seemed to have noticed the disturbance in the force. Palpatine may have known the ways of the Sith, but doesn't seem to have much concept of the ways of the Chess.

What's with the rough New Testament quotation: "If you're not with me, then you're against me." And then Obi-wan's rebuttal, "Only the Sith think in such absolutes." It bugs me that Lucas gave Anakin an immaculate conception, and then put words in his mouth that closely resemble the Savior's own words even though he is an evil Sith Lord. And then Obi-wan's statement makes it sound as if Good is somehow relative. If the Jedi are ever to stand up to the Sith, they must be even more absolute in their vigilance. If that's what Lucas is trying to convey by this interchange his skill at forcing us to read between the lines is greater than I have foreseen.

Finally, the biggest plot-hole of all is the fact that in Episode VI, Leia remembers her mother as always being very sad. Die-hards may say that her statement might refer to some sort of emotional imprinting at birth by the force, but that's a real stretch since Luke has no recollection of his mother. If you say that Leia meant Mrs. Organa (Queen if you must) instead of her biological mother, what cause did she have to be so sad all the time? Her husband didn't die until the Death Star demolition crew decided to make space for an intergalactic superhighway through the Alderaan system.

The greatest tragedy of all in the prequels is that Leigh Brackett never lived to write them, and Lawrence Kasdan didn't write them.

But, when all is said and done, it is only a movie, and at that it is Star Wars, so it's still awesome! In spite of itself.

Copyright © 2005 by Lucas Todd Clark

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