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STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH (article first published : 2005-05-25)

Do the light-sabre battles in the Star Wars films get your adrenalin pumping? Then, gee-whiz, are you in for some rushes of note when you see George Lucas's sixth sci-fi spectacular, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

Five exhilarating light-sabre battles feature in the lavish new visual feast which, running just over two hours, is highlighted by a duel involving a metallic monster wielding four of the bright, buzzing weapons at once.

It's a battle that concludes with a principal character riding a giant, squawking, lizard-like creature, then leaping from it to nail his foe, who speeds along on a gargantuan vehicle, a nifty one-wheel contraption. Another memorable action sequence has a light-sabre brawl on narrow, burning bridges on collapsing buildings - on a lava planet where volcanoes cough up chunks of molten rock that rain down upon the duellists.

Then there is a daring fight involving the slicing off of limbs, another ending in a decapitation and a particularly exciting showdown between wise, green mite Yoda (the voice of Frank Oz) and Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).

Palpatine is at the core of the new film, which is much darker, more emotional, more coherent, far, far and away more remarkable than any of the other films in the new trilogy - and light years better than the so-so last sequel. As fans of the series know, the latest chapter of the story of good versus evil has handsome hero Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) stepping over to the dark side, hitherto to become known as the towering, heavy-breathing baddie in black, Darth Vader.

The journey begins when Palpatine is kidnapped by the evil Clone Army leader, General Grievous, a computer-generated figure resembling a metallic Bionicle toy with a bone-like mask. The character's menacing voice and hacking cough, recorded and heavily modulated in a three-hour session, was produced by former-actor-turned-sound-editor Matthew Wood.

With Palpatine kidnapped, it's up to ace Jedi Knights Anakin (a now long-haired Christensen) and his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobe (a now bearded Ewan McGregor) to hop into action to rescue him. This leads to a thrilling opening space battle that involves audacious heroics in the lift shaft of a crippled airship.

In time, as all Star Wars fans already know, Palpatine reveals he is not the good guy he makes out to be. He is really devious and dangerous Darth Sidious and it's he who seduces Anakin over to the dark side, to prepare him for the annihilation of the Jedi Knights, the end of democracy and the birth of a galactic empire.

How all this happens and the consequences thereof pull the focus of a fantasy extravaganza rich in detail and spectacle and well deserved of a 9/10 rating.

Featuring Natalie Portman (as Padme, the now-pregnant Mrs Skywalker), Samuel L Jackson, Christopher Lee and Jimmy Smits, the film also introduce the infants Luke and Leia who, of course, grow up to become lead characters of the original Star Wars film from 1977. - Billy Suter




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