NOTE: Welcome, Michelle Malkin readers! And thanks for the link, Michelle.
The early reviews of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith are coming in and, amazingly, critics actually seem to like it. As I write this, review-aggregator site RottenTomatoes lists 9 out of 11 Episode III reviews as favorable. Perhaps this is not surprising, given how far the previous two prequels have lowered people's expectations.
Reviewers are also noticing the same anti-Bush message permeating the film that I posted about here.
Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter:
The movie opens with the now traditional receding title crawl, which informs us that in the galactic warfare that has broken out, there are "heroes on both sides" and "evil is everywhere."Joshua Tyler at Cinema Blend:
If anything, this fantasy film is a rather poignant warning on the dangers of fear mongering. A lesson on the evil men can do while wrapping themselves in the mantle of freedom, democracy, and safety. As Anakin himself points out later in the film, it all depends on your point of view.Gabriel Shanks at Mixed Reviews:
Lucas' screenplay is his strongest in years, and even contains a few barely-concealed critiques of the Bush Administration and the Iraq War. The commentaries on democracy are offered in direct counterpoint to a government that is clearly overstepping its bounds, and the parallels are obvious to anyone looking for them. While Bush might not be an evil emperor (yet), it's not that far a trip from Senator Palpatine to Tom DeLay.Scott at ThreeMovieBuffs:
One of the most surprising elements of this film is Lucas' political statement. "Any one that's not with me, is my enemy," Anakin says at one point, paraphrasing the famous line from a George W. Bush speech. "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," Obi-wan replies. "So this is how liberty dies,” Padmé points out in another scene as Senator Palpatine is laying out his new political strategy. “With a round of applause."Ed Gonzalez from Slant magazine :
I imagine that Revenge of the Sith is very much the film Lucas's fans want to see, but are some of them ready for an anti-Bush diatribe? Though every Star Wars film until now has existed in an insular comic-book world, a lot has happened since 1999 and 2002 in the real world and Lucas dares, for the first time, to address how the hollow political conflict in his franchise correlates with the reality outside its panels.Ed correctly notes that Lucas's sudden embrace of Kerryesque nuance is a real laugh coming from a guy who divides the Force into a "light side" and a "dark side". Was there a grey side of the Force I missed back there somewhere?
...Lucas's political gestures would be easier to appreciate if he himself didn't trade in absolutes and generalities (you know the drill: the darker the couture, the closer you are to the dark side), but it's still a welcome step forward.
On the other hand, I wouldn't call clear references to real-world politics in a fantasy movie a "welcome step forward". The Internet and TV are already bursting at the seams with political punditry. There's no pressing need for more of it in our summer blockbusters.
True, when Return of the King came out, some conservative commentators saw pro-Bush parallels between the battle for Middle Earth and the War on Terror. But director Peter Jackson didn't let any political allusions get in the way of his story. Lucas, on the other hand, lays on the message with a trowel.
I know, I know: it's his movie and he can do what he wants. But is it really too much to ask that we be allowed to forget about today's ubiquitous political squabbling for just two hours? There's a reason previous Star Wars movies are fondly described as "escapist fare".
Lucas weighs in on the issue here.