Half of ’em down, half to go. I hadn’t seen any of the STAR WARS movies in their entirety in quite awhile, but my kids have the original trilogy on so much that revisiting those won’t be so alien. But this third film in the second trilogy has gotten little play (not the least because it is the most brutal of the films), so it truly felt like it’s been ten years since I last saw it.


I watched STAR WARS: EPISODE III – THE REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) on 12.5.15. It was my second viewing of the film, and first since its theatrical release.

Throughout the six STAR WARS scripts, George Lucas takes the easy way out almost every time. The good guys mostly live in the original trilogy, and the bad guys all die. Those who are killed, or who die for good, do so nobly or for some major plot turn. Throughout the first two films of the prequel trilogy, all plays out the same. The death of Qui-Gon Jinn in PHANTOM MENACE almost comically mimics the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the A NEW HOPE. The biggest diversion from this moment is when Anakin Skywalker Hayden Christensen), newly named Darth Vader, walks into a room of Jedi kids and ignites his lightsaber. This moment is not safe, it is not easy, and it is vital. The original series is about good versus evil, and it serves as one of the all time cinematic examples of such a struggle. The prequel trilogy is about good becoming evil. The first two movies do a terrible job of beginning that arc. But, miraculously, THE REVENGE OF THE SITH manages to rise out of the ashes to become something unthinkable. Something on par with the originals.

That is not to say that this movie doesn’t have its problems. Like most of the STAR WARS saga, it has issues with women. Padmé (Natalie Portman) is relegated to barefoot and pregnant status. She should be the one to challenge Anakin in scenes of major hostility. Instead, she asks him to hold her and gives up an entire career of helping people to succumb to his new philosophy. Lucas writes her as dumb and oblivious (to be fair, he writes Anakin this way as well), so she goes through the second act of the movie without challenging him when the movie could really use that conflict in a major way. When it finally happens on a far off planet in the final scenes of the film, it is a little too late.

The CGI in this movie is a big upgrade over the previous two films. The opening scene takes place in space as a major battle plays out. This is easily the best looking portion of the prequel trilogy. The action is exciting, momentous, and relentless. It’s what we want out of a STAR WARS film. The movie doesn’t always live up to this pace, though many of the action sequences come close. The CGI also lags a little after this opening – and the final lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) is as artificial as anything else in the series. But the movie has earned a bit of a reprieve by that point because it really does do a good job of telling the Anakin to Vader story.


Hayden Christensen improved his acting chops significantly between the two films, or maybe Lucas did a better job of utilizing him. But his whiny character of ATTACK OF THE CLONES is gone, replaced by a brooding and cynical man coming into his own. His Anakin is believable in his conversion, though he sometimes has to transcend some writing that makes him leap from place to place without much meat in between. This trilogy was not light on foreshadowing – we all knew where Anakin was heading from before PHANTOM MENACE came out, after all – but the leap from nice guy to child killer wasn’t entirely present in the script.

The acting isn’t the only thing in this movie which works more than it should. R2-D2 is turned into an unlikely action star in the first battle sequence. This should be cheesy, but it is fun instead. A four-armed robot villain gets a ton of screen time, and he turns out to be the most dynamic robotic villain in the trilogy. He gets more time than PHANTOM MENACE gave Darth Maul, and it is better for it. In general, REVENGE OF THE SITH did what the two movies that came before it could not: It took an unbelievable story line, some major plot holes, and some problematic characters and turned it all into something really, really entertaining. The hallmark of the original STAR WARS trilogy is not its believability, but its likability. REVENGE OF THE SITH absolutely succeeds in this.



The opening battle sequence – first in space and then on a star ship – is worth the price of admission alone. A top moment, not just in the prequel trilogy, but in the STAR WARS universe in general.


FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on December 7, 2015.

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