May 09, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

For those who have written expressing weariness about my "endless" reminiscences about Star Wars, you'll be glad to hear that this isn't another one. (Thanks to the one person who enjoyed all the Star Wars stuff as "a break from [my] usual cynical rants. They're a breath of fresh air.") This about Star Wars, but from a more analytical perspective.

One question I have received from several readers is how I can say that Revenge of the Sith is the best of the prequels, while giving it the same 3.5-star rating that I accorded to both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Doesn't that, they reason, mean that all three films are on equal footing.

That's the problem with assigning numbers or stars: their relative importance gets blown out of proportion. When I wrote that Revenge of the Sith is the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, that's precisely what I meant. It's not a lot better than Episodes I or II, but it is superior. Or, to put it another way, all 3.5 star movies are not created equal.

For me, the star rating is an indicator of how strongly I recommend a film, and that doesn't necessarily corrlate absolutely with how "good" (or "bad") I deem a film to be. I don't deal in objective quality, because it's impossible to measure when it comes to motion pictures. (For more about my feelings regarding the star rating system, see the "Twinkle, Twinkle" ReelThought for January 21, 2004. So there can be "lesser" and "greater" 3.5 star films. Consider Revenge of the Sith to be amongst the "greater" ones. Depending on what comes along between now and December 31, it has a legitimate shot at winding up on my Top 10 list. (It would have been on last year's.) I never considered giving either of the previous prequels a similar honor.

Tomorrow, I promise that I'll take a break from the Star Wars musings. But I'm not done with outer space. Later this week, I'll have a few things to say about the other series - the one with the Vulcan, the fake planets, and the Captain who can't utter a sentence without at least one dramatic... pause.