Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (a 15-Minute Force production): Chapter Four: The Sith Legend of Darth Plagueis (And, Forewarned Is Four-Armed)

 

15minuteR2

 

00:45:01 – 01:00:00

So…as this chapter kicks off, Chancellor Palpatine comes right out with it and asks Anakin: “They [meaning the Jedi Council] asked you to spy on me, didn’t they?” The Dark Lord of the Sith is no one’s fool.

Anakin hems and haws, not really answering. He’s torn between his twin loyalties to the Jedi and to the Chancellor, who has seemed to have been a friend to him.

Palpatine urges Anakin to remember his early training. All who gain power are afraid to lose it. Even the Jedi.

Anakin defends the Jedi, saying that they use power for good. But, Palpatine thinks good is a point of view. The Sith and the Jedi are identical in almost every way, including their quest for greater power. Anakin argues that the Sith think only of themselves, while the Jedi are selfless in their actions. Palpatine doesn’t seem convinced.

Palpatine uses this natural break in the conversation to bring up the story of Darth Plagueis the Wise. He is a Sith legend. He was so powerful he could use the Force to influence the midichlorians [you really can’t get the stink of midichlorians out of the upholstery] to create…pause for dramatic effect…life. Plagueis had such a knowledge of the Dark Side that he could even keep the people he cared about from dying.

Wow. This little Sith bedtime story seems tailored specifically to Anakin, doesn’t it? I guess it’s not really a stretch to think that Palpatine knows about Anakin’s prophetic dreams about Padme dying. If Anakin didn’t tell this to Palpatine himself, the Chancellor could have bugged Senator Amidala’s highrise apartment, since Anakin told Padme about the dreams. Well, of course her apartment is bugged. Palpatine is evil, right?

Of course, this tale of Plagueis’ abilities gets Anakin’s attention. Palpatine goes on to say that the Dark Side is a path to all sorts of abilities that many people see as unnatural. By this point he’s such a Sith booster that Anakin has to know that Palpatine is at the very least allied to the forces of the Sith. He’s troubled by prophetic dreams, not stupid.

Darth Plagueis was eventually killed in his sleep by his apprentice, whom he had taught everything that he knew. This goes back to that rather vague Sith Rule of Two thing. It seems that Palpatine should have foreseen his own death at the hands of his apprentice as well. It’s a Sith tradition.

Palpatine looks so smug during the telling of this tale that we are meant to assume that he was Darth Plagueis’ murderous apprentice. That sounds about right.

Is it possible to learn this power?” Anakin asks.

Palpatine responds, “Not from a Jedi.”

The hook is set now. Palpatine can begin reeling Anakin in. After he eliminates a few other emotional ties, that is.

One Star Wars screen wipe later and we’re on the planet Kashyyyk, the home of the Wookiees. This is where Yoda brought a battalion of clone troopers. After a brief establishing shot showing lots of trees, troopers, Wookiees, and dragonfly-like flying craft, we join Yoda on a holo-conference call already in progress. Anakin delivers news from Palpatine that General Grievous is believed to be on Utapau. A diplomatic packet was intercepted, or something like that. It’s even possible that many Bothans died. Yoda agrees that they should act quickly and decisively on this information. Even though the Jedi want Anakin to spy on Palpatine, they still fail to sense that this could be misinformation, or perhaps a trap. When Anakin tells the Council that Palpatine wants him to lead the campaign, the suggestion is immediately shot down by Mace Windu and Master Yoda. Obi-Wan Kenobi will lead it instead.

The droid army politely waits for the conference to end before attacking, and the Battle of Kashyyk begins. The Wookiees and the clone troopers fight together against the droids. The way the Wookiees fight is reminiscent of the Ewoks on the forest moon of Endor, though much cooler because these are Wookiees and not little teddy bears. I heard at least one Tarzan yell during this sequence, but no Wilhelm screams.

Anakin and Obi-Wan share a tender scene before Obi-Wan leaves to begin the campaign to Utapau. Anakin apologizes for being an arrogant jerk and for being frustrated with the Jedi Council. Obi-Wan advises Anakin to be patient, the Council is going to promote him to Master soon. He also adds that he’s taught Anakin everything that he knows and that Anakin is a more powerful Jedi than he could ever hope to be. They say “May the Force be with you” to each other, and Obi-Wan confers with his clone trooper squadron and leaves the planet.

We see another glimpse of Anakin’s prophetic dream about Padme’s death. We see that Obi-Wan is with her this time.

And then we’re back at Padme’s apartment, for another scene between her and Anakin. She tells him that Obi-Wan had come by the apartment that morning, because he’s been worried about Anakin. Anakin tells his wife that he feels lost. Obi-Wan and the Council don’t trust him. Padme insists that’s not true. Anakin says he doesn’t feel like he’s the Jedi he should be. He wants more, when he knows that he shouldn’t. But, he says, he believes he’s found a way to save Padme from his vision. Uh-oh. Ani, are you okay? Are you okay, Ani?

Hayden Christensen is on the verge of being the bad actor that he was in Attack of the Clones, but he manages to rein it in. So far, his performance in this movie has been more restrained, and overall—dare I say it?–better. Mostly, he’s asked to sulk, pout or look menacing, and he seems to handle that well. It’s when he has more than two sentences of dialogue that he seems to get tripped up.

Somehow, Anakin’s farewell scene with Obi-Wan seemed more tender and heartfelt.

Obi-Wan lands alone on Utapau, where he met by a delegation of rather thin characters with large heads like gray corduroy and unsettling rodent-like teeth. Obi-Wan asks if he could refuel there and set up a command post to begin searching for General Grievous in the surrounding systems. The leader of the Corduroy-Heads tells Obi-Wan that the Separatists are there on Utapau and that they are being watched as they speak. Obi-Wan instructs his R2 unit to report the situation to the clone trooper called Cody, and the Jedi watches as his ship leaves without him.

Obi-Wan then takes a ride on a giant lizard that makes a high, thin warbling noise that irritates me to no end. I want to mute the sound everytime this lizard steed is on-screen. The effects here are as great as I’ve come to expect, but any cool factor is immediately counteracted by my annoyance at the lizard sound-effect.

Cut to, another meeting. This one is between General Grievous and his various allies assembled with him there on Utapau. Grievous tells everyone that it won’t be long before the Republic tracks them there. He also says that he is sending them all to the planet Mustafar on the Outer Rim, where they will be safe. If he knew the Army of the Republic was coming, why has he waited so long to go to Mustafar? Obi-Wan is already riding towards him on his mighty lizard, and the clone troopers will be there in short order. This plan of Grievous’ seems needlessly risky. The Separatist allies seem to have lost a little faith in General Grievous as well, with Count Dooku being without a head and all.

Obi-Wan is up in the rafters to hear the end of this meeting. Then, he does the sensible thing any Jedi would have done. He drops down, alone, at the center of a large group of all sorts of droids, including at least four MagnaDroids with their electrostaffs crackling with purple lightning. He makes a light-hearted quip, and then Grievous orders all of the droids to kill him. After Obi-Wan easily dispatches the MagnaDroids by crushing them under some heavy metal piece of machinery, Grievous tells the other droids to back away: he intends to take care of this Jedi slime himself.

Grievous removes his cloak next, revealing his extra pair of robot arms. They weren’t behind his back as I thought. Instead, each pair of two arms fits together neatly to form the two visible arms we’ve already seen. Each of his four hands is holding a lightsaber, and all four blaze to life at once as the cyborg general squares off with Obi-Wan. It looks like Grievous has two green and two blue lightsabers. In his mechanical hands, they become rapidly rotating (and oscillating) blades, and they look impressive as he approaches the Jedi.

Impressive or not, Grievous loses two of his hands, and his lightsabers along with them, quite early in the duel. The fight is very nearly a fair one as the clone troopers finally arrive and begin their attack on the droid army en masse.

As the chapter of the 15-Minute Force ends, the droid and clone forces are clashing furiously, and General Grievous is scuttling away, attempting to make another of his patented slippery escapes.

And here we leave our story, in mid-action. Things are beginning to come to a head. There is a mighty battle being fought on Kashyyk, and another one on Utapau. In the midst of a full-out battle, Obi-Wan and General Grievous are engaged in one-on-one combat, and Grievous seems to be high-tailing it for Mustafar, but doing it in such an obvious fashion that he’s sure to be followed.

Plus, Anakin is certain he’s discovered a way to save his beloved bride from dying in childbirth. But, lies and deceit are the tools of the Sith.

Until we meet again…A Smart Sith Lord Never Teaches Their Apprentice Everything They Know…And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.

 

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