Star Wars Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith
Starring:
Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Frank Oz, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed By:
George Lucas
Grade
B-

WARNING: This review will feature MASSIVE spoilers from the movie and the series in general. Read at your own risk.

So, after many years, the final installment of the 6-part movie series known as Star Wars has finally reached the theaters. The space opera, which details the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker culminates with the third part where Anakin (Christensen) finally succumbs to the dark side and aids in bringing about the end of the war started in Episode 2. To this end, he finds himself in the middle of the war with the Separatists when dreams of the death of his beloved, Padme Amidala (Portman), shake his resolve. Having grown in power, he's placed in the center of a political conflict between the Jedi Counsel and Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid), which proves to be more than the fragile balance of his emotions can handle. Palpatine, who is also the sith lord Darth Sidious, convinces Anakin that the dark side has power that can save Padme from the prophesied fate Anakin sees in his nightmares. This leads to a final destructive conflict that destroys the Republic, Jedi Counsel and turns Anakin into the monstrous Darth Vader.

Story-wise, don't expect too many surprises. Even if you hadn't been keeping up with the "leaked" scripts and plot overviews floating on the internet, the basic story plot is pretty obvious. Bridging the gap between the first two episodes and the original trilogy, there are a number of events you know have to happen and when they do, it all feels like part of a plot-oriented checklist. Along the way, though, Lucas throws in some additional fights and even a new nemesis, the cyborg General Grievous who commands the Separatist army. It's a shame, though, that Grevious feels pretty unnecessary and his death makes his short stint in the film feel cheap. I almost wish he hadn't been added and that Count Dooku (Lee) had just been given more screen time. As it is, Dooku's time in the film feels like leftover footage from Episode 2. And, never mind that despite all his looks, Grevious sounds like a lung cancer patient and looks pretty goofy in motion. He doesn't have the coolness that Vader or Darth Maul exhibited.

When it comes to visual effects, Lucas and his folks can really make an effective effort. RotS is a gorgeous film to watch in action and the film is best when it's going full gear on action. The opening sequence and just about every single one of the battle and duel sequences look great. When it slows down and forces the actors to push their way through the ham-fisted script, things really get boring. And that proves to be a shame as every single major actor/actress in this film have proven themselves outside of Star Wars. But, because the script is so stodgy and the direction is so lackluster, the performances feel wooden and lifeless. This is a shame as there are many scenes that could really evoke so emotion from the crowd, but since there never really feels like these people have character, I found myself not caring whether they lived or died. Any chemistry Christensen and Portman had from Episode 2 is completely squandered before the movie is half over. By the time the film gets to it's resolution, Anakin's fall is greeted will melodrama and even Padme's "end" is anticlimactic.

Even with the meager direction of the actors, there are a few performances worth noting. Ian McDiarmid quite easily steals the show in this film. He's conniving, manipulative and all around evil. His gambit is actually quite fun to watch. Ewan McGregor struggles and mostly succeeds in making Obi Wan the hero of the movie. At moments, you can really feel sorry for him as the betrayal plays out. Whether it was intentional or not, Samuel L. Jackson's Mace Windu is a complete ass who almost single-handedly drives Anakin to Palpatine and the dark side. In fact, Windu feels like the poster child for how the Jedi Counsel has become a disfunctional bureaucracy on it's own.

Revenge of the Sith is really all about squandered opportunities. Portman is left to stand around, fretting over the fate of Anakin instead of any real acting. The lightsaber battle between Yoda and Sidious near the end of the film amounts to nothing in the story and feels tacked on just to increase the movie's "Yoda Quotient" (and with the Pepsi/Yoda tie-in, they have to give him more screen time). And, the sequence where Anakin is unveiled in his cyborg Vader suit feels more like Frankenstien's monster than dark Sith Lord.

I guess with all this being said, if you can turn your brain off and just enjoy the ride, you can get your money's worth out of Rots Honestly, you probably already know whether you want to see this film or not. Fans of the series will have already seen it and if you're a casual viewer who wants to catch the final chapter, go ahead and see it at a matinee price. For those who haven't seen the rest of the series, pass on Rots as you'll likely be out of the loop without having seen at least Episode 1 and 2. While this is a better movie than the first two chapters, it still pales in comparison to A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

- - Vane

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