The final film in George Lucas' epic space series, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is now less than two weeks away, opening May 19, and a preview for journalists Tuesday night Lucas' Skywalker Ranch confirmed his assertions that it is the darkest and most violent of the lot. Sith is the first of the Star Wars films to receive a PG-13 rating.
Wrote Scott Bowles in USA Today, "Women and children are slain. The heroic Jedi Knights are all but slaughtered. Characters lose arms, legs and heads in lightsaber duels. One character catches fire, screaming in agony while the flesh peels off his body."
AP's David Germain sounds stricken: "Young Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) completes his transformation into blackhearted villain Darth Vader with a bloodbath against old allies, the body count including a corridor of 'youngling' corpses — Jedi children cut down by his light saber.
"Anakin is left gruesomely mutilated in a death duel with former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). His surgical reclamation as the part-flesh, part-machine Vader is chillingly juxtaposed against the bleak childbirth scene of his wife, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), whose twins grow up to be heroes of the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia."
Stephen Spielberg reportedly wept when he saw it at the Ranch. He said, "It's absolutely amazing. It's the best of the last three episodes. It's the best way you could possibly imagine for George to finish it off, it has a tremendous ending and it's very dark. You'll cry at the end, it's wonderful."
And director/actor/Star Wars fiend Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl) rants rhapsodic on his View Askew website (WARNING SPOILERS):
- This is the "Star Wars" prequel the haters have been bitching for since "Menace" came out, and if they don't cop to that when they finally see it, they're lying. As dark as "Empire" was, this movie goes a thousand times darker - from the triggering of Order 66 (which has all the Shock Troopers turning on the Jedi Knights they've been fighting beside throughout the Clone Wars and gunning them down), to the jaw-dropping Anakin/Obi Wan fight on Mustafar (where - after cutting his legs and arm off, Ben leaves Skywalker burning alive on the shores of a lava river, with Anakin spitting venomous sentiments at his departing mentor), this flick is so satisfyingly tragic, you'll think you're watching "Othello" or "Hamlet".