Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the third and final film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy contains a few moments of graphic violence, as well as the transformation of a beloved character from good to bad. The movie chronicles the fall of Anakin Skywalker and his transformation into Darth Vader. The plot and characters grapple with some complicated moral issues and occasionally embrace shades of grey. In a sequence of surprising detail for a Star Wars film, viewers see Anakin burn in a pit of lava, with his skin turning into cinders. This particular scene earns the film its PG-13 rating; we recommend extreme caution and consideration when deciding whether younger children can handle viewing something that's this emotionally and graphically violent.
What's the story?
REVENGE OF THE SITH shows how young, ambitious, and idealistic Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is convinced that using the dark side of the Force will benefit his community and Padmé (Natalie Portman). They have married in secret (as a Jedi, he's supposed to remain single); to make matters even dicier, she's now pregnant with the twins Luke and Leia. Anakin's desire to not to lose Padmé (and, oh yes, to gain power) leads him to the dark side -- and his destiny of becoming Darth Vader.
Is it any good?
The origin story of the infamously heavy-breathing, black-caped villain Darth Vader isn't uninteresting, but neither is it innovative. Anakin's motivations are conventional (even if he doesn't bother discussing his decisions with Padmé, not showing his very capable and intelligent partner much respect). In fact, the movie's most compelling angle is that Anakin is so young that his thinking is immature: Afraid of loss, he can't accept what happens and so changes the shape of the entire galaxy essentially to get his way.
Like the other Star Wars movies, this one is filled with great special effects: Though the futuristic urban sets look rather flat, the space-fighting scenes are very video-gamey. Yoda is especially well rendered here, and a scene in which Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) rides a giant lizard and battles enemies in a multi-legged mechanical vehicle is lively and sometimes funny but also involves violent fighting, which might worry some younger kids. As much as this story focuses on Anakin's dilemma, the secondary characters are often more compelling, especially Obi-Wan, again revealing patience, wisdom, and charisma, and Padmé. Palpatine is convincingly vulnerable just before he becomes utterly fearsome, but Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Senator Organa (Jimmy Smits) have very little to do, embodying the predominant problem in the Star Wars franchise -- too much emphasis on technical displays and "universal" plotting, and not enough attention paid to character details.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how the movie's violence impacts the story. Was it disturbing to watch Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader? Why or why not?
How does this movie compare to others in the series? Do you think each movie should be equally intense, or was it OK that this film be more violent and darker than the others?
How does Anakin deal with anger in this movie? What are some other options for managing frustration and disappointment? What are the two sides of the Force?
|Theatrical release date:||May 19, 2005|
|DVD release date:||November 1, 2005|
|Cast:||Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson|
|Studio:||Twentieth Century Fox|
|Run time:||146 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||sci-fi violence and some intense images|