Star Wars Throwback Thursday: Revenge of the Sithby Todd King, contributing writer
Before the Throwback
Last week, Disney Parks Blog announced the opening dates for Rise of the Resistance, the newest ride going in to the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in both California and Florida Disney parks. First to open is the version in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida, on Thursday, December 5 (on Walt Disney's birthday). It then opens in Disneyland in California on Friday, January 17.
Disney provides this newest description of the attraction's story:
"Guests will be recruited to join Rey and General Organa at a secret base. Along the way, they will be captured by a First Order Star Destroyer. With the help of some heroes of the Resistance, they break out and must escape the Star Destroyer, protect the secret base, and stay one step ahead of Kylo Ren."
I'm excited that Rey, Leia, and Kylo Ren are all part of the experience and that it will "blur the lines between fantasy and reality," which is, I believe, the highest principle in Disney Imagineering. This ride has a lot more mystery around it than did Smuggler's Run, which is wonderful in its simplicity (fly the Falcon), so I'm very curious to learn more. Keep in mind that in the midst of these openings is the release of The Rise of Skywalker to theaters, so Star Wars will certainly be at a fever (dream) pitch level at that time—and this could also greatly influence the attendance numbers in Galaxy's Edge.
We're only in July here, folks. Strap in before the jump to lightspeed!
In other news, July 23, 2019 will see the release of the novel Thrawn: Treason, a sequel to Thrawn: Alliances, by Timothy Zahn. Thrawn must deal with the battles for power in the Empire as its dictator, Palpatine, shifts priorities to their super weapon, the Death Star. This puts Thrawn in the middle of hard decisions about his loyalty. Fans of this sinister character, and of Zahn's books, are sure to enjoy this story that complicates the famous Grand Admiral.
Taking the Tragedy with the Comedy
Star Wars is fun. George Lucas never left out humor even in the most serious of times. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was not only the first Star Wars film rated PG-13, it is considered the darkest of the entire saga. The cold tone is not surprising because this was the chapter responsible for the fall of Anakin Skywalker, the seizing of power by the Emperor, and the destruction of the Jedi. It was never going to be a complete space romp. However, the movie is not devoid of fun, and much of the humor that does unfold is pretty hilarious. But how do you add some light into such a dark journey?
Lucas kept the characters true to themselves but presented them here as more mature than in the previous adventure. Some time has passed, and we see our people older and wiser. That idea makes them more familiar to each other and therefore appear emotionally closer. With that established, they are free to cut up and have fun with each other. This is evidenced in the friendship between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker—at least this is how they interact with each other at the beginning.
Most of the comedy takes place in the first third of the movie to start things off on a high note, instead of the other way around. By the end of this movie, the feeling is much more somber than in any previous episodes. This makes the tragedies at the end all the more impactful; we see what could have been had everything worked out for the better. It makes us truly feel like we have lost something that was special and good. It makes for an effective story of loss and of the difficulty of finding evil. With that said, I'm not here to dwell on the downward spiral of the Old Republic; I'm here to find the humor even in the cheerless of places and please enjoy these frames from Revenge of the Sith that are worthy of remembering for their true levity.
Space Battles Don't Have to be Stressful
The movie throws us straight into the Clone Wars where a major battle explodes in the space above the city-planet of Coruscant. It's utter chaos but the camera pans in to follow our intrepid duo of Anakin and Obi-Wan as they get into their mission. Amid the confusion of the battle we can focus on our familiar characters and their troubles through missiles, lasers, droids, and doors.
"This is where the fun begins," a line from Han Solo in the original trilogy, now spoken both ironically and unironically by Anakin as he and Obi-Wan fly their way through a chaotic space battle. © Lucasfilm.
"I'll try spinning that's a good trick," said Anakin in The Phantom Menace while flying in a space battle to avoid laser fire. Here, he spins to successfully detonate missiles tailing him, complete with pod race engine sound effects. © Lucasfilm.
From the space battle we get into a battle on-foot and our heroes, still sticking together, face a whole new set of challenges and we're barely minutes into the film. The pacing of this first act is fairly relentless in a good way. There is plenty of action, but also gags, character-building, and R2-D2 kicking butt, too. There have been a lot of battles of the Clone Wars going on and by the time we see this were reaching their end but not before some business to be finished, namely: rescue the Chancellor and kill General Grievous. To rescue the Chancellor of the Republic, the Jedi must first endure the trials of the lift.
We first saw Anakin and Obi-Wan in Episode II in an elevator. Here they are again in an elevator but with much more camaraderie and comedy. The board without knowing a host of battle droids saying "Drop your weapons!" are already there. © Lucasfilm.
The Jedi do not have time to deal with an elevator full of battle droids so they ignite their lightsabers and dispose of them so quickly there is no time even for an uncomfortable silence while muzak plays. © Lucasfilm.
The elevator comedy of errors is not done. When it suddenly stops, Anakin knows there's a way out and while most movies show that every elevator has a trap door, Anakin makes his own by slicing through the ceiling with his lightsaber and the falling "hole" provides a quick funny moment. © Lucasfilm.
Instead of jumping around, Obi-Wan's approach to the situation is to rely on Artoo as a resource for help. He shouts over the comlink that they need to be going up, not knowing that his voice is heard by super battle droids putting R2-D2 in danger. © Lucasfilm.
Our Speciality: Springing the Traps
It can be argued that by now the Jedi have lost their way because they've engaged as leaders of war. Some would argue the Jedi were already lost by the time they first found Anakin in The Phantom Menace. In hindsight, we can see the sub-story of the film being the nearly undetectable Darth Sidious and his subtle machinitions having already clouded the Jedi's vision probably as soon as Palpatine became a senator and got close to the Jedi. In Attack of the Clones, the Jedi play right into the trap, use the clone troops, and join the war. Here, Obi-Wan senses a trap so naturally, his advice is to walk into it.
Before their elevator adventure, the Jedi both feel the presence of Count Dooku on the ship. "I sense a trap," says Obi-Wan. "Next move?" asks Anakin. "Spring the trap," is Kenobi's idea. It's funny on the surface, but also funny that it basically sums up the flaws of the Jedi--play into enemy hands. © Lucasfilm.
Although R2 is put into danger by helping his friends, he really is no match even for two super battle droids that he not only causes to slip on oil, but engulfs them in tremendous flames in a matter of seconds. Don't mess with this glob of grease! © Lucasfilm.
With some gravity problems on the ship, R2's fall is broken by the pile of battle droid debris, most of which he caused. The popping up of Artoo's sensor scope is reminiscent of his near-fatal run in with a monster in the swamps of Degobah in Empire Strikes Back. © Lucasfilm.
When our heroes finally face Count Dooku for the second time, Obi-Wan brings up their first failure saying, "This time we'll take him together." "I was about to say that," replies Anakin showing a degree of maturity. © Lucasfilm.
Palpatine adding fuel to the fire of his contrived plan says, "You're no match for him, he's a Sith Lord." Obi-Wan retorts in a bit of arrogance with, "Sith Lords are our specialty." Ironic that Kenobi was saying this directly to a Sith Lord's face. Oh, how the Jedi were ripe for defeat. © Lucasfilm.
This may not necessarily be a funny moment, but when Palpatine suddenly turns on Count Dooku, his apprentice, and urges Anakin to murder him, Palpatine takes such glee in the moment saying, "Kill him," that it's weirdly fascinating just how delighted he is in being evil. © Lucasfilm.
Obi-Wan, having been knocked out from the lightsaber duel with Count Dooku, suddenly wakes up to find he's barely hanging onto Anakin high above the elevator shaft. Finally a Jedi shows real emotion. © Lucasfilm.
Droids hate droids. This super battle droid finally gets revenge by kicking R2 in frustration. I love these "punch and judy" moments of violence just to get another character to "shut up!" © Lucasfilm.
Seeing that Artoo won't be able to help them this time, Obi-Wan asks Anakin, who finally tried to rely on Jedi patience that didn't pay off, "Do you have a plan B?" Keep watching and he does indeed. © Lucasfilm.
Anakin Saves Palpatine, the First Time
Anakin Skywalker often had a tendency to save people's lives. As Darth Vader he would set out to destroy lives and at the end did both and which untangled the web of the Empire. But in a really quick moment, he was probably a centimeter from killing the most evil creature in the galaxy.
I only caught this next moment when going frame-by-frame. Anakin goes to free Palpatine from capture, but it almost seems for a moment that Palpatine is worried Anakin might kill him. His face starts here with slight fear at first. © Lucasfilm.
I don't believe Palpatine is sure if he's getting hit or not in this moment but can certainly feel the heat of sparks as the perpetually useless battle droids are broken like toothpicks around him. © Lucasfilm.
We Lost Something
The rest of the film takes a dark turn, the darkest of the saga. There is much less room for laughs, but they are there and are used quite effectively so that the entire thing isn't complete despondence. The moments are balanced and not over the top--perhaps the Emperor falling over his chair is a bit much but that wrinkle-face deserved it.
"Another happy landing," says Obi-Wan after a rather harrowing experience. That's pretty much the last of any "happy" moments, not to mention landings, that any of them will have from here on in. © Lucasfilm.
Obi-Wan's fight with General Grievous looked like it was beginning as a sneak attack. Instead, Kenobi goes for the surprise, um, "attack," with a good-mannered, "Hello there!" The same greeting he gives R2-D2 in A New Hope. © Lucasfilm.
When introducing the lightsaber to us and to Luke in A New Hope, Obi-Wan described it as, "not as clumsy or random as a blaster, an elegant weapon from a more civilized age." Here a blaster saved his Jedi hide and yet he still tosses it aside calling it, "So uncivilized!" © Lucasfilm.
The last two-thirds of the movie are mostly devoid of humor (for good reason) but there are a couple moments like this entrance by Yoda who wipes out the royal guards with one swift stroke. © Lucasfilm.
The last couple of humorous moments involve C-3PO who has been "helpless" in the story until he states he's finally figured out this piloting business. This is just before his memory is erased. © Lucasfilm.
Senator Bail Organa puts Threepio and Artoo into the care of Captain Antilles and his first order of business? Have 3PO's mind wiped. That explains a lot later on, even his line in A New Hope, "I've forgotten how much I hate space travel!" © Lucasfilm.
Before the Plus
Disney Plus will start November 12 (I thought it was coming in September) and there is a lot to look forward to especially, from a Star Wars perspective, The Mandalorian, which premieres with the service, and The Clone Wars season 7, which will hopefully come out soon thereafter (not to mention the Cassian Andor series to come later). I will continue my Throwback Thursdays for the rest of the year to cover the TV series (The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance), The Force Awakens, and The Last Jedi and bring up the humor in them all. I haven't yet seen all the TV series episodes so this will be a bit of new journey for me. What should you Iook forward to in the series?