Star Wars, Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

I am a hardcore “Star Wars” fan, I love the lore, the amazing mythology and It’s taken hours before I could summon the emotions I took from this last installment in the “Star Wars” franchise and somehow manifest it in to words, and surely this last “Star Wars” movie was an emotional experience for me. When I stepped in to the theaters and watched the theme blast from the speakers I felt a swell of emotion build up in my chest–maybe it was gas, who knows?–but regardless, this was quite possibly the biggest experience I’ve had in theaters in years. I liked the “Star Wars” prequels, I thought they were okay, but they still just did not add up to the original trilogy and Lucas did a poor job of displaying Anakin Skywalker’s descent in to the dark side.

Regardless they were fun, and I got to see my favorite character, Obi-Wan Kenobi, in action as a young warrior develop in to this wise powerful Jedi master. He’s a bad-ass. Lucas declared he made this film for the fans only, and I’m surprised in what he’s accomplished. This is Lucas’ masterwork, his utter masterpiece that is almost equal to the superior storytelling and dark atmosphere of “Empire Strikes Back”, this is Lucas’ swan song and his finale that he gives the fans after holding out on us so long. I was happy to be watching this film, but at the same time I was heartbroken to see it end, and as the finale approached, I just didn’t want to leave my seat, because that meant it’s all over… supposedly. If you’re a fan of the films you’ll love this, if not, then who knows?

But I as a fan adored this movie, and I was heartbroken to see it end. Lucas has topped himself immensely, and finally pinpoints what made “Star Wars” so amazing, it’s just too bad he caught on in the last film. This poignant last installment explains to the fans what ultimately led to the rise of the Empire and the fall of the Jedi, most of which is consisted of a lot of foreshadowing to the original trilogy which most innate fans catch. In this last installment, Anakin and Obi-Wan must rescue Senator Palpatine from the clutches of the trade federation under the rule of the powerful droid General Grievous, when he’s rescued Anakin gets a glimpse of the dark side and returns home to hear from his beloved Padme that she’s pregnant.

Constantly plagued with horrific nightmares of her dying during birth he’s told by Palpatine that with the power of the dark side he can change that, and become the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy, thus begins his journey in to the dark side and the downfall of the Jedi. I was honestly stunned by the sheer brilliance of the amazing special effects and by the fact that they helped to support such an exciting story which is layered in spiritual themes and character emphasis sorely missing in the prequels. We’re able to witness many more glimpses in to minds of our characters including as Obi-Wan Kenobi who struggles to keep Anakin beside him, Anakin who struggles with his morals and lust for power with the dark side, and, in perhaps the most emotional sub-plot, Padme, who is witnessing the deterioration of her husband before her eyes and has no idea what to do about it.

The cast gives decent performances this time around including Natalie Portman who is heartbreaking as Padme, Hayden Christensen whose performance is a big improvement this time around and truly manages to convey both confusion, and his lust for the dark side. Ian McDiarmid is excellent and chilling as Emperor Palpatine, the presence of pure evil who corrupts the Republic from the inside out. McDiarmid gives an engrossing performance and truly shines as Palpatine here. The best performance in the entire movie, however, is from McGregor who defines Obi-Wan as the most layered character out of the entire series and McGregor looks like he’s having fun doing it. Kenobi is my favorite character out of the entire series, and McGregor does McGuinness’ defining portrayal the justice it truly needed. He masters his mannerisms, facial expressions, and tone of speaking which make him almost his double. We’re also shown some brand new characters that were so much fun to watch including General Grievous who was a foreshadowing of Darth Vader and manages to define his presence, and the introduction of the Wookies and their planet.

They play a big part in the clone wars and a certain wookie makes a walk-on appearance that many fans will appreciate. There is a lot of foreshadowing to the original trilogy that just made the experience even more heartfelt and the space opera emotion is back finally with some compelling character drama. I was intrigued by the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, I cared about the deaths of the Jedi in a long sequence that was very reminiscent of “The Godfather”, and I hoped Anakin would make the right decision despite the fact I already know which path he chooses. Meanwhile, there are plenty of utterly amazing light saber duels that fans will just love, Grievous’ duel with Obi-Wan, Anakin’s duel with Dooku, Mace Windu wiping the floor with Palpatine, and my favorite being the climactic and exciting duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. It’s a very emotional sequence as they fight along the pits of hell.

That single scene contains some of the most amazing choreography of the series. The film does also contain some very emotional moments that while connecting the series’ will also really tug on the heartstrings of audiences. The theme of family that was very resonant in the first three films are still very clear here, and the finale where we’re introduced to the brother and sister that will be the downfall of Vader is one of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve seen in the series. Lucas has outdone himself making a film just for the fans and I loved every single minute of it. As I left the theater I couldn’t help become a little sad as this was the last time I’d be watching a “Star Wars” film in theaters. This is Lucas’ first masterpiece in decades and he deserves the credit. Lucas is almost incapable of telling a story anymore.

There were so many plot holes with the prequels connecting to the original trilogy, almost too many to name, but the most resonant flaws were the inconsistencies in both story and characters. What triggers Anakin’s descent in to the dark side is never actually verified to the audience. There are no explanations and assumptions Lucas alludes to, but none of it is ever really pinpointed, so we never know if we should accept it. The potential cause being anakin’s fear of Padme dying thus causing him to become manipulated is a terrible reason and ultimately contradicts the Darth Vader we see in the trilogy who has a lust for murder. There are many possible reasons for his descent in to the dark side, more power, anger at the Jedi council, conflicting loyalties, anger about his mother’s death, jealousy, all of it is alluded but we’re not sure which to go with.

Inevitably I assume Lucas will just say “Which ever one you think is the reason, go with it”. Which ever explanation sticks, Lucas relegates the murderous war monger to a mis-guided young man, and ruins any mystique Vader possessed. Lucas has done a poor job of connecting the series together which would account for the animated series “The Clone Wars”. And certain scenes border on cheesy with much of the romantic dialogue between Padme and Anakin remaining completely uninteresting and their romantic dialogue is utterly horrible. Lucas should have had help, how hard is it to write romantic dialogue? In spite of its flaws, the good inevitably outweighs the bad with a masterpiece of filmmaking Lucas has managed to achieve. Fluke or not, this was not a disappointment and doesn’t fail to become a great addition to the series.