Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala
Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine
Frank Oz as Yoda
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Anthony Daneils as C-3PO
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Silas Carson as The Viceroy
Matthew Wood as General Grievous
After taking a mini-vacation for Christmas, I am ready to conclude this Star Wars material in anticipation of the new movie with Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Whether you like these prequels or not, you have to admit that this was a pretty significant moment in the series. It shows us Anakin Skywalker’s transformation into Darth Vader, the villain who, to many, defines the entire series. Do you know that before the new Force Awakens, he was the only Star Wars character to appear in every movie in the series in some form? Also, we were told that this was to be the last Star Wars movie ever. I don’t think any of us really believed that, but what the Hell, we were gonna roll with that.
The civil war between the Republic and the separatists from Attack of the Clones is on. But there’s something more sinister going on. Chancellor Palpatine has set this whole thing up and is turning Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. Anakin gets visions of Padme — who he is only secretly married to because marriage is against the rules of the jedi — dying and is informed by Palpatine that only the Dark Side can enable him to save Padme. And I think you all know how that works out. But despite his conditional turn, Anakin ends up becoming addicted the Dark Side to the point where he ends up becoming consumed by it and former mentor Obi-Wan ends up giving up on him.
The most obvious improvement over Attack of the Clones is Hayden Christensen’s performance. He’s still not Oscar-worthy by any stretch of the imagination, but he does elevate himself to below average as opposed to utter crap. Since many of his scenes are with McGregor and McDiarmid, both of whom are great actors, that’s not as bad as it sounds.
One slightly disappointing performance, though, is from Samuel L. Jackson as jedi master Mace Windu. He specializes in playing extremely passionate characters but is an even-tempered jedi here. He might have adapted to this new situation, except that the change of style appears to have made him uncomfortable. Result? A rare mediocre performance from him.
The romantic dialogue is still highly questionable, but the dialogue concerning the political gamesmanship and Anakin’s turn are quite solid.
Action is also excellent. It consists mostly of lightsaber dueling and Palpatine’s troops sneak-attacking unsuspecting opponents. It’s done extremely well, particularly the simultaneous Anakin v. Obi-Wan and Yoda v. Palpatine duels (good wins one, evil wins the other). Acrobatics, great effects, and most importantly, creativity enable them to really stand out.
The most exciting part is, of course, Anakin turning to the Dark Side. As noted, part of the reason is that Palpatine convinces him that only the power of evil can save Padme. Ironically, it turns out to be precisely because Anakin turned that his wife dies. Still, a big part of Anakin’s conversion is that Mace was half-expecting him to turn all along. So when circumstances create a close battle between Palpatine and Mace, with the outcome to be decided by who Anakin helps, he has a choice between helping a father figure and a guy who’s been treating him like a suspected criminal. Of course, Obi-Wan screwed up in his failure to see the signs and help Anakin resist the Dark Side before it was too late, as he admits in both this movie and Return of the Jedi. So we’re left to wonder who really is at fault.
All said, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a pretty good conclusion to the prequel trilogy. While not perfect, it’s a very admirable ending.
Overall: 8 out of 10