Review: Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I don't remember the movie well enough to comment on how the book might differ (I'd probably go watch it again if they weren't charging $20 to see a 10-year-old picture...) But one of the things this book does quite well it take scenes that _feel_ like silly action sequences from a film, and explain them in a way that keeps the book from being slapstick. That's not really even criticism of the movie; films and books are just different stylistically, so things that play fine in what is essentially an action flick, risk becoming ridiculous when written down. Here instead we get some rather arch scenes where Dooku deliberately leads our heroes on a merry chase through his robot-filled ship - being careful not to lose them before they can fall into his trap, and scoffing at their foolishness the whole time. It was well done.
Well-enough done, in fact, that it makes the first part of the story quite believable. Which makes it all the more jarring when our hero suddenly starts murdering children for no readily explicable reason.
Seriously, the best bit of this book is that it makes loyalty into Annakin's "fatal flaw"... but that doesn't really line up well with his loyalty to a father figure he sees occasionally overpowering his loyalty to his wife and to his teacher and day-to-day companion in battle. I know the author was stuck with the basic plotline he was given, but it just doesn't make any sense, and nothing here really helps with that.
The other thing that is striking in this book is just how clear it becomes that everything in all 3 prequel movies is meaningless. Basically just Palpatine playing solitaire with himself. He completely controls the Separatists, _and_ he apparently controls a super-majority in the Galactic Senate that allows him to do pretty much whatever he wants, _and_ he tells the Jedi what to do. He is all 3 sides. Everyone trusts and loves him, to the point that they think it's the end of the world when he gets kidnapped by his own guys. We in the audience are the only ones who know he's evil, and that jarring difference between what we know and how _everyone_ acts makes it really hard for us to empathise with any of the characters in this story. Either they feel like idiots, or else Palpatine is somehow controlling them with the Force, which would just confirm that Palpatine could do anything he wanted at any time, and all of this war thing is just him playing with himself.
I want to give the first half of the book, where Stover does an excellent job of transferring the film to words, 4 stars. But I want to give the last half, where he gets railroaded by the movie's silly plot, 2 stars. Call it 3 and split the difference I guess.
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