"Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" is the final installment in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy (about fucking time) and it's set three years after "Attack of the Clones". The Clone Wars are in full effect and the Republic is at war with the Separatists, Jedi Knights are being dispatched to various parts of the galaxy to fight, and the rise of the dark side is now beginning. This movie's story is that it focuses on Anakin Skywalker and the final stages that lead to him becoming Darth Vader, and this transformation is done by means of Chancellor Palpatine who is secretly the Emperor.
If you've read my reviews for the previous two prequels, you know I'm not a fan of either of them. I feel that they not only fail as "Star Wars" films, but just pieces of filmmaking in general. Now we're at "Revenge of the Sith" which many will argue is the best of this trilogy. I will agree that this is the best prequel, but that's not to say that I like the movie. It may be the most entertaining and the easiest to watch, but there's still a lot going against it.
First off, I'll start positive and give credit to the opening 20-30 minutes of this movie. It immediately throws you into the Clone Wars as Anakin and Obi-Wan are on a mission to rescue Palpatine after being kidnapped by Separatist leader General Grievous. The opening action scene while the two Jedi are flying to the ship is entertaining and most everything after that makes for a pretty fun sequence of events. We get to see small doses of Anakin and Obi-Wan's friendly banter that was lacking in the previous film and none of the action feels like a video game. That being said, I still have a slight issue with the lightsaber rematch with Count Dooku. Once again Obi-Wan gets taken down in about 30 seconds (even though Sith lords are their specialty according to him) and Anakin's defeat of Dooku doesn't feel earned. Watch closely and you'll see that when Anakin cuts off Dooku's hands, he pulls a cheap shot by grabbing his hands into a position where he's unable to move them and then slices them off. I feel like this was a missed opportunity to show a parallel of When Luke beats Vader into submission in "Return of the Jedi". We could see Anakin being taunted by Dooku, he gets pissed and pounds him into defeat, and kills him there, thus displaying his slow transition to the dark side as opposed to Luke refusing to kill Vader, therefore beating the temptation unlike his father before him, but oh well. But after that, we get another entertaining scene of the two Jedi briefly confronting Grievous and crash-landing the ship onto Coruscant. It's after this opening sequence that the movie starts to fall apart.
Once Anakin is back on Coruscant, he finds out that Padme is pregnant and eventually starts to have dreams of her dying of childbirth, but not before some more of George Lucas's absolutely genius love dialogue that shan't be discussed. It's these particular visions that play into Anakin turning to the dark side once he learns from Palpatine that there's the ability to save people from dying. The scene where Palpatine tells him the story of Darth Plagueis is a really well done scene for giving the saga more lore, but you also have to question why Anakin doesn't immediately jump to the conclusion that Palpatine is trained in the dark side of the Force if he knows this stuff so well. He just plays a long like there's nothing wrong with a politician discussing the dark side. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this particular trilogy is simply built around dumb characters making dumb decisions that lead to shitty situations. Anakin is supposedly a wise, cunning warrior according to the original trilogy, but this movie just solidifies that you need to hold his robotic hand and spoon-feed every little detail to him.
In fact, that's really my biggest problem with this movie: Anakin's character arc. I won't argue that he doesn't have any character development, but the problem is that it's too rushed. For example, let's look at when he finally decides to join the dark side. He pledges himself to the Emperor, and in the very next scene, just hours after first joining the dark side, he's going around killing other Jedi, even younglings. Him just nonchalantly killing children and possible former friends in such a short time span really takes me out of the arc. I don't buy that a scared, helpless wreck like him after Mace Windu's death would suddenly become a cold-blooded, ruthless killer after just a couple of hours. He even goes on a killing spree on Mustafar allegedly within the 24 hour span on him becoming a Sith. This movie has enough going on as is with various other side stories, but I wouldn't mind making this movie longer if we got more scenes of Anakin's slow build into who Darth Vader is as a villain. The closest we get to that is an admittedly well done scene where Anakin is meditating in the Jedi council room and Padme is in their house across the city with the both of them more or less connecting with one another. That's a great scene that shows Anakin's emotional conflict, but I just feel like this movie needed more of that.
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan's mission is to go to the planet Utapau to take out Grievous and officially end the Clone Wars. The scene itself is simple enough in its objective and it has its moments of entertaining, fun action, but my problem is that I just don't like Grievous as a villain. The character of Grievous was actually first introduced into the Star Wars lore by means of the 2004 animated show, "Star Wars: Clone Wars". I watched that show as a kid and I remember loving the character of Grievous for being a badass who knew how to fight, cut down anyone who stood in his way, and only used his four lightsabers as a VERY last resort. Now in this movie, his character is a sniveling, coughing little shit who can barely put up a fight. You can go ahead and chalk that up as yet another piece of evidence that George Lucas simply doesn't understand his own lore.
Obi-Wan eventually kills Grievous, and that leads to Palpatine having to give up his emergency powers. That leads to one of the more poorly done action scenes in the movie. Mace Windu and three other Jedi go to arrest him after finding out he's a Sith lord, Palpatine whips out his lightsaber and a duel begins. What makes this fight so pathetic is how it starts. Palpatine immediately cuts down two of the Jedi after they just stand there and do nothing, and Kit Fisto (the green alien with tentacles for dreadlocks) is holding his lightsaber like he's a Padawan. Seriously, watch this scene and look closely at Kit Fisto; he holds his lightsaber like it's his first time using it. Mace Windu ends up beating Palpatine, but after Anakin's arrival, force lightning, and a bunch of over-the-top yelling and overacting from Ian McDiarmid, Windu dies and that ends one of the more cringe worthy action scenes in the movie. As far as the action for the movie in general, it's ultimately a mixed bag. You have good action such as the opening scene and some stuff on Utapau, but then there's the aforementioned duel with Palpatine and the Order 66 scene where we're suppose to feel sad for Jedi that we've only seen as background characters. And with the discussion of action, let's talk about this movie's climax.
By the end of the movie, Obi-Wan and Padme both learn about Anakin's turn to the dark side, they both go to Mustafar to confront him, and a fight breaks out after Anakin force chokes Padme. It's Obi-Wan vs. Anakin in a lightsaber fight in all it's CGI glory with solid visual effects and a fantastic score from John Williams, but the fight itself lacks any of the emotional depth that it could've had. Granted, you're much more invested in this fight than any other fight in the prequel trilogy, but let's stop and think for a second: Exactly how much screen time do Anakin and Obi-Wan have together in a scene that isn't them either engaging in action, or bickering like a married couple? "The Phantom Menace" gives them maybe two minutes in total screen time, "Attack of the Clones" is literally nothing but them arguing with each other, and this movie has them split up in separate stories, like with "Attack of the Clones". My point is that there's not nearly enough time dedicated to establishing them as friends. Without that, you don't fully invest in the conflict going on in their lightsaber fight. Not once in this trilogy did I ever get the feeling that they were close friends, almost brothers even. This makes the fight just feel like a shallow, highly choreographed CGI fest. By the end when the fight FINALLY ends with Obi-Wan cutting off Anakin's limbs and leaving him to burn in the lava, the only thing I get out of this fight is that John William's score is incredible, and Ewan McGregor is a great actor. Those two are the only reason I get slightly emotional at the end of this fight.
The other fight going on in the climax is that of Yoda vs. the Emperor. In theory, I like the idea of these two iconic characters fighting against each other, but this movie executes it as more of a way to entertain little kids by flashing around more lightsabers. I already explained in my "AOTC" review why I don't like Yoda using a lightsaber, but I also don't think the Emperor should have one, and here's why. In "Return of the Jedi" when Vader presents the Emperor with Luke's lightsaber, the Emperor refers to it as a "Jedi weapon" an you can tell just by the tone of his voice that he looks down on it as more of a toy than an actual weapon. Giving him a lightsaber in this movie almost negates how powerful he is in the dark side. Also, there's only so much of his annoying laugh and over-the-top facial expressions I can watch. This serious fight is almost ruined by the Emperor acting like a cartoon character, again, something that contradicts his character in the original trilogy.
Once both these fights end, the movie starts to wrap up and two big things happen. One is Anakin being put in the classic Darth Vader suit and a huge factor into why this is such a powerful scene is once again Williams' score. As Vader rises into frame with the music blaring, you get the sense that we're finally seeing the dark, powerful antagonist that is Vader...that is until he screams "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" like an idiot and you get him in the movie for a total of three minutes.
The second big thing happening is Padme giving birth to Luke and Leia. As cool as it is to see these characters introduced into the "Star Wars" universe, this scene has what is arguably the dumbest death in all six movies. It's Padme's death and what is it you ask? Was it childbirth? Did Anakin's force choke kill her? Nope, she ends up dying of a broken heart, losing the will to live according to the medical droid. Right, because giving birth to twins isn't reason enough to keep living, right, Lucas? If we're going off of Lucas's logic that people can just die over the loss of a loved one, then shouldn't Luke have died of a broken heart when his aunt and uncle were killed? Shouldn't Leia have died of a broken heart when Han was frozen in carbonite? But anyway, the twins are separated with Leia going to Bail Organa, (a character who just kind of appears out of nowhere halfway through this movie) and Luke goes to his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on Tatooine. In all honesty, I really liked the end shot with Owen and Beru holding baby Luke and staring at the binary sunset as Obi-Wan watches from a distance. It's a nice callback to the original film and it ultimately sets things into motion for the saga.
So that's "Revenge of the Sith". Is it the best "Star Wars" prequel? Yes it is. Do I think it's a good movie? No, I don't. For as much credit as I can give for it having great visual effects, a powerful score, some entertaining action scenes, and an easier to follow plot compared to the first two, it still suffers from poor dialogue, digital effect overload, some bad action, and a very rushed character arc for Anakin. To me, this movie is the very definition of wasted potential. We had the promise of seeing Anakin's gradual turn to the dark side, but in my eyes, it just didn't do the character any justice. This prequel trilogy as a whole is just one massive disappointment, but thankfully I can stop talking about them and finally move onto better things with my upcoming reviews for the original three films as well as a brand new review for "Rogue One" and a review for "The Force Awakens".