Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
(USA 2005, director: George Lucas)
The Republic is in turmoil, as the Clone Wars are in full swing, with Jedi Knights fighting alongside clones against Separatists led by Count Dooku and General Grievous, while there is an evil force at work in the higher political ranks with Anakin Skywalker thrown into the middle of it.
The biggest problem George Lucas’ origin story of Darth Vader, the Emperor and the Empire had to face was that one always knew where its characters were heading to. While this may sound obvious, it doesn’t mean that one couldn’t have more interesting ideas or at least stuck to what came after. Unfortunately both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones tried too much and told too little. While the first minutes of Revenge of the Sith is a narrative mess, it gets better over time.
Being the final part of the prequels with a clear knowledge of setting up the beginning of the old trilogy, the plot and character development work quite well this time. Even acting and dialogue are much more enjoyable than in the first two movies, as if all involved suddenly know who they are and what happens around them. Special mention has to go to Ian McDiarmid who plays the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and whose role was always downplayed in the other movies. Even Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker finally gets to show his darker side with some impressive scenes. Although there is a bit of overacting, the more mature tone of the story does wonders to an otherwise mediocre series of movies.
Of course not everything is perfect. With so much happening in 2 hours, there’s an overload of CGI fighting, some of which looks extremely ridiculous (like Obi-Wan riding a big creature in a fight). Introducing a new adversary in the form of multi-armed General Grievous whose name alone is already ridiculous enough, there’s not much time spent on explaining his backgrounds (being more prominent in the animated Clone Wars series) and therefore coming across as just another forgettable character.
The prequel trilogy went from a very weak start through a mixed middle, only to arrive at a point when everything falls together. There might still be too much talk (although the conversations are better written and the lines satisfyingly delivered), but the fighting scenes with lightsabers and other weapons are more emotional and epic than before. At times the dramatic elements and reliance on too much CGI can distract, but compared to what came before, this is finally a Star Wars movie that is enjoyable despite its flaws. If it’s necessary, that’s a different question, especially when it comes to continuity and logic both of which are sometimes left at the door of George Lucas’ strange concept of what his original saga was about.
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