I may have fallen behind in my quest for reviewing all of the “Star Wars” movies before “The Force Awakens” but I refuse to be swayed and give up. Next on the list for the “Star Wars” saga is “Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith”. The final installment of the prequel trilogy had many fans holding their breaths to see how strong of ending this trilogy would be. For a while most “Star Wars” fans were operating under the assumption that this would be the final “Star Wars” film we’d ever see on the big screen. For many “Star Wars” fans the prequels are bitterly hated (not all do but for many). I don’t believe they are nearly as bad as some make them out to be but I do admit they are weaker installments. “Star Wars: Episode III” however is a completely different story. While still suffering from some weak dialogue, “Revenge of the Sith” is easily the best of the prequels and a return to form for the series. Darker, tragic, action packed and emotionally charge, “Sith” is not quite up to par with the original trilogy (or the most recent installment) but it remains a strong entry in the saga.
“Revenge of the Sith” picks up about 5 years after the events of “Attack of the Clones” (“the Clone Wars” TV series takes place in between those films). The movie opens up with a huge space battle over the city of Coruscant . Supreme Chancellor Palpatine has been captured by the Separatists (led by Count Dooku and General Grievous). There hasn’t been such a big, “let’s get to the action early” type of opening since the original “Star Wars” (where the Empire is chasing a Rebel ship). Of course here there are several ships that are locked in a bitter battle that is reminiscent of maritime ship combat (mixed in with the incredible Dog fighting that Star Wars is known for).
Of course this is the movie that many fans have been waiting to see since the 1983 release of “Return of the Jedi”. This is (spoiler alert) the chapter in the story where Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side of the force, and Darth Vader is born. The Clone Wars is winding down, Obi-Wan heads off to capture General Grievous to end the war. Yoda is off world as well while Anakin battles distrust from the Jedi Council. His close relationship with Palpatine makes him the perfect choice to spy on the Chancellor for the Jedi creating a further divide. Anakin also battles visions of his secret wife Padmé dying in child birth. Each event leads him closer to the destiny he cannot seem to turn away from.
Many “Star Wars” fans have pointed out that “Attack of the Clones” is boring and not very exciting. In a response to that “Revenge of the Sith” is a perfect follow up because it’s a much more exciting and action packed film. While there is still down time, there are a number of large scale battle sequences and quite a few lightsaber duels and emotional moments. There is a lot more to get involved in. You could make the argument that the opening is bloated but there is no doubt that the spectacle is a wonder to be seen. Even ten later the visual effects still look very impressive. With the exception of some here and there ( more so the green screen effects) Industrial Light and Magic had really out done themselves (at that point and time the effects industry).
The storytelling in this episode is much better than any of the previous features. While some moments of “Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones” got muddy in terms of narrative explanation and convoluted, “Revenge of the Sith” has far more intricate plotting but at the same time it’s easy to follow. The key plot threads are obvious enough to see but not so in your face that it becomes overbearing. There is still some really bad dialogue that is left over from “Attack of the Clones” between Padmé and Anakin along with some other rushed elements.
Although it’s very clear that this is the story George Lucas has wanted to tell for the longest time. There is a lot more energy, and even a lot of the humor works well here. Some of the mistakes he makes in the prequels is not trusting his audience. He’ll over explain some moments with long exposition. Here he even restrains himself from that. The best scene in this movie (perhaps the whole prequel trilogy) is when there is no dialogue at all. Anakin is looking across over the city towards the direction of Padmé and she is doing the same. No dialogue but there is so much emotion conveyed in just that one moment that you understand everything the characters are feeling and going through.
There is that element of Shakespearean tragedy to this. Lucas brilliantly weaves Anakin Skywalker’s arc to all coming down to a single moment and choice that he has to make. He chooses one way the entire original trilogy wouldn’t have happened. Of course those movies already exist and this is a prequel so we know there is only one outcome to his choice, and that’s to turn to the dark side. Even then, as the audience, there is a part inside of you that is like screaming at him not to go through with it.
This is a good moment to talk about how the “Clone Wars” TV series really enhances this film. While the movie works fine on its own, the emotional moments for our characters and (originally) “background” Jedi fate is made all the more tragic after spending six seasons with them. “Order 66” is already one of the greatest moments in the entire “Star Wars” saga, where you see all the Clone troopers turn against the Jedi and massacring them. This pivotal scene is made even better after watching the series and getting really attached to Anakin, Obi-Wan and all the other Jedi we meet along the way.
Anyone disappointed by the lightsabor duel in Episode II will have plenty made up for them here. There are five lightsabor fights packed into one feature. Most of them are dazzling. There is a few goofy moments in some of them but for the most part nearly all of them work. There is a much better showdown with Count Dooku, Yoda gets to fight the Emperor, and Anakin and Obi-Wan have a nearly 9 minute duel. My personal favorite duel of the series, Anakin versus Obi-Wan. The fight may drag out for some but for me personally I got locked into the personal conflict between the former master and apprentice.
“Revenge of the Sith” is a much better movie then some give it credit for. It’s not perfect, and has its flaws; but ultimately it a far and away better film then “Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones”. Unlike those two movies, I got so wrapped up in the emotional experience of the story that I can overlook most its flaws; sit back and just enjoy myself. It’s a great way to end the “Star Wars” prequels and carry us further into the universe.