This is where the fun begins
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is directed by George Lucas and stars Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Ian McDiarmid, and Christopher Lee, all who reprise their respective roles from the previous two prequels.
Third time was the charm for George Lucas in delivering a satisfying Star Wars prequel, and it was the one that provided the parts of the over-arching Star Wars story that fans had wanted to see the most since The Phantom Menace saw the light of day. After the misfire that was Attack of the Clones, Lucas could only go upwards with what little was left of the prequels, and he knew that Revenge of the Sith was his last chance to try and salvage every cinematic crime that was committed in Episodes I and II. I think Lucas would need to be diagnosed with traumatic brain injury if he thought up a worse Star Wars film than Attack of the Clones, and, believe me, no way in hell will The Last Jedi or Episode IX be anywhere near as bad as The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. Revenge of the Sith is loads better than the other two prequels combined, but earning the title, "Best Star Wars prequel" is about the equivalent of a fourth grade soccer league Participation Award. It still suffers from many of the same lingering problems that have plagued the prequels: wooden acting, bad dialogue, and clumsy action sequences. Oh yeah, and the romance between Anakin and Padme is still pathetic.
The opening title crawl tells us, "War! The Republic is crumbling under attacks by the ruthless Sith Lord, Count Dooku. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere." The whole "evil is everywhere" part makes sense, but who exactly are the heroes on the side of the Separatists? It's also funny how the opening crawl makes out Dooku to be a menacing villain like he was in Episode II, even though Dooku doesn't last 25 minutes into the film. The rest of the crawl sets up the opening scene of the film. A massive space battle is taking place over Coruscant after the droid leader General Grievous kidnaps Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi make their way onto Grievous' ship, killing Dooku and rescuing the Chancellor in the process. Admittedly, I just spoiled the first half-hour of the film for you, which sucks because there's no real proper way to discuss what happens the rest of the way without knowing that, yes, the Chancellor gets rescued. After the Chancellor's rescue, the Republic formulate a plan to find and defeat General Grievous who escaped during the space battle. Along the way, Anakin grows ever closer to the Chancellor who is secretly trying to convert Anakin to the Dark Side as The Emperor's new Sith apprentice.
Pretty much every major scene of Revenge of the Sith is a popular figment of pop culture, and unless you, for some reason, had no idea that there was a Star Wars trilogy created before Episodes I-III were released, you would have absolutely zero trouble in figuring out every major step that makes Revenge of the Sith the film that it is and how it connects the bridge between the prequels and the original trilogy. Anakin and Obi-Wan have a heated duel that leads to Anakin becoming the Darth Vader the world knows and loves. Padme dies after giving birth to Luke and Leia, to which Darth Vader shouts his infamous "No!" I know I am completely going against my own set of rules for this blog, which is to not provide any major spoilers during a review. But Star Wars is a victim of its own success. It's so universally praised and discussed by people all over the world that even those who would not consider themselves Star Wars followers are likely to have had run-ins with some form of the series' many famous lines, battles, and characters. George Lucas didn't really have a choice with Revenge of the Sith. It had to be 2005's most predictable movie, since the only twists and turns that the movie could afford to take were those that would properly set the stage for A New Hope (or Rogue One, at least). But let's not completely bury the film for being highly predictable. There are still plenty of redeeming qualities.
- Revenge of the Sith is best viewed as popcorn entertainment, as it is easily the most action-packed Star Wars episode until The Force Awakens came around. It has the most lightsaber fights out of any episode (I counted five), although two of the fights aren't exactly dazzling. General Grievous is overkill using four lightsabers to Obi-Wan's one, and Palpatine relies on various flips and awkward facial expressions in his duel against Mace Windu. My favorite is this face when Palpatine uses a stab attack against Windu.
- The scene in the Opera House when Palpatine tells Anakin about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise is the best scene in the entire film. This beautifully lit scene is the best exchange of dialogue between any two characters throughout the entirety of the prequels as Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christensen doing a terrific job of going back and forth with each other. Palpatine explains to Anakin that Plagueis was so powerful and so wise that he could use the Force to create life and, because Plagueis had such a vast knowledge of the Dark Side, he could prevent the ones he loved most from dying. On the surface, this is clearly Palpatine manipulating Anakin and doing what he can to convince Anakin to turn to the Dark Side. Anakin sees into the future and comes to realize that Padme will die in childbirth, and he wants to do whatever he can to prevent this from happening. What's really fascinating about this scene is how Lucas gives us the chance to see The Dark Side as more than just the Star Wars Villain Club. We are given some neat Star Wars folklore that helps us better psychoanalyze the Dark Side, and that, just maybe, Star Wars is about something more than simply being a battle of good vs. evil.
- For of all its popcorn entertainment, Revenge of the Sith is hampered by more bad dialogue and more awkward acting. Obi-Wan keeps insisting on being the prequels annoying provider of eye-rolling one liners ("Flying is for droids", "Another happy landing"), and Ewan McGregor has a surprisingly bad moment when he finds a hologram of Anakin being told what to do by The Emperor. He watches the hologram for a few seconds until he says, "I can't watch anymore" in a rather lackadaisical fashion. Christensen is back at it with more bizarre exchanges with Natalie Portman, who sits around and does basically nothing until the movie's third act. Here's one such exchange between the two:
Anakin: You are so.....beautiful.
Padme: It's only because I'm so in love.
Anakin: No (*laughs*), no, it's because I'm so in love with you.
Padme: So love has blinded you?
Anakin: (*laughs*) Well, that's not exactly what I meant.
Me: *Bangs head violently on chair*
Lucas has tried three times to make Portman and Christensen into a darling on-screen couple, and three times he has failed hard. The two are forced to go off of a script that involves Lucas making the characters say exactly what they are feeling instead of having such feelings implied. Padme verbally tells Anakin that he's breaking her heart, even though any functional person with at least three brain cells could tell that a crying Padme who's husband turned evil has had her heart broken. Lucas' writing has a bad habit of having its character straight-up tell you how they feel and explaining ideas instead of dropping us hints and leaving the audience to fill in the holes. It might have been a good idea for Lucas to consult fellow screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan for assistance, especially with the romantic scenes.
One last thought on Christensen: He improves quite a bit from the bratty teenager that we saw in Attack of the Clones.
The funny thing is, Revenge of the Sith is the first from start-to-finish good Star Wars episode, that is, if you're looking at things purely from the chronological order of events in the series. I couldn't imagine how heartbreaking that the movie would've been had Episodes I-III been the first Star Wars movies ever created. How well would people react to Order 66 if no one had any idea that Anakin would become Darth Vader? One can only imagine.
The film as a whole is pretty action-packed, although some of the action like the Grievous vs. Obi-Wan lightsaber fight is pretty lousy. Ian McDiarmid gives the best performance out of anyone, outside of his wacky antics during his fight with Mace Windu. There's still plenty of bad dialogue and bad acting, but it's way way way more forgivable compared to the unholy terrors that are the acting and dialogue in Attack of the Clones. Honestly, the only way to go was up.
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