Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith
Ewan McGregor……….Obi-Wan Kenobi
Hayden Christensen……….Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid……….Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson……….Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits……….Senator Bail Organa
Frank Oz……….Yoda (voice)
Christopher Lee……….Count Dooku
Keisha Castle-Hughes……….Queen of Naboo
Temuera Morrison……….Commander Cody
Rebecca Jackson Mendoza……….Queen of Alderaan
Joel Edgerton……….Owen Lars
Genevieve O’Reilly……….Mon Mothma
Matthew Wood……….General Grievous (voice)
We all seem to have a Star Wars story of our own. Whether it be that you saw Star Wars in the theater is 1977 when it first arrived, or you saw it as a child at the behest of your family who knew you would love it , or perhaps you’ve never even seen it at all even at the bewilderment of your friends. No other series has had a grip on modern cinema and pop culture like the series in a galaxy far, far away. On May 19, 2005 that series finally reached its end, or more exactly… its middle.
Everyone by now knows how George Lucas had a 6-9 part epic story to tell and from 1977-1983 told the three middle potions of that story. While he didn’t tell us his whole story, he ended up changing cinema forever. Later Lucas would abandon his latter three installments, but decided to film the story leading up to his epic Star Wars Trilogy. Also well known is that Lucas disappointed as many traditional fans as he made with the first two installments of his new trilogy of films. The pressure was on Lucas to deliver with this final film to save his legacy. Consider that legacy now to be locked up tight.
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith is everything it should be, a rousing adventure, an epic tragedy, and one of the best films of the greatest series in cinema history. Perhaps Lucas found our lack of faith disturbing because he pulls out all the stops to give Star Wars the film they have been craving for since the Ewoks gave us their “Yub Yub” song at the end of Return of the Jedi. While nothing of note really happens in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones is a bit too ponderous, Revenge of the Sith is an epic masterpiece.
The story begins in the midst of the Clone Wars, an intergalactic struggle that is tearing the fabric of their society apart. The two heroes of the Prequel Trilogy, Jedi Knights Obi Wan Kenobi and his friend Anakin Skywalker, race to save the Galactic Republic’s Supreme Chancellor Palpatine from the clutches of the leaders of the Separatists Forces, Count Dooku and General Grievous. In an outstanding opening sequence we see our two Jedi Knights dogfight in the second best space battle sequence ever filmed (Return of the Jedi still holds a sequence with that title). From there the action moves to Dooku’s ship, where lightsabers are ablaze and droids go down by the hundreds. R2-D2 is also shown in top form, bringing the best comic relief he’s done since The Empire Strike Back. The rematch with Count Dooku is also a brutal battle with emotional consequences.
This early portion is also the lightest of the films. Congrats go to Lucas for really nailing the relationship between Anakin and Obi Wan, making us believe they’re the best of friends. The banter in this section is some the best dialogue of the film and McGregor and Christensen really shine.
The second act of the film is the slowest. Those that hate the Prequels will not be happy in this section of the film. Two long scenes with Padme and Anakin will be notorious for Anakin sulking about his role in the Jedi Order. Also weighing heavily on his mind is the pregnancy of his secret wife. Anakin has visions of her death, and wants to do what he can to save her.
Enter Ian McDiarmid’s Chancellor Palpatine, who weaves a villain of Shakespearean proportions, as he slyly admits to Anakin that he is the true Dark Lord of the Sith and that ways of the Dark Side of the Force can save Padme. Palpatine snakes his way into Anakin’s conflicted conscience to where the boy turns at the most dire moment for the new Emperor.
The last portion of the film is some of the most emotional of the entire saga as the Emperor declares all Jedis outlaws and they are massacred. Encompassing the last hour to hour and a half, the action-packed film climaxes with Jedi Masters Yoda and Obi Wan fighting it out with the Sith Lords for the fate of the galaxy. Of course for those familiar with the series, we all know how it all ends and how Darth Vader finally rises from the ashes.
For all the naysaying and negativity toward Lucas’ second trilogy, Revenge of the Sith can stand shoulder to shoulder with any film containing the words Star Wars in the title. Lucas melds his first and second trilogy together with visual splendor to create a tapestry of pure geek heaven. Lucas cements his place with masters Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Zhang Yimou and Akira Kurosawa for being able to bring the most exquisite visuals to the screen. It helps also that all involved give their best effort this time around.
Acting in the Prequels has never been better. Ewan McGregor becomes the full fledged successor to the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in this film. McGregor does Alec Guinness proud as he finally brings the emotional center of characters that’s been needed for three films. The best actor for the entirety of the Prequels, Ian McDiarmid, is once again excellent. McDiarmid’s consistency throughout his four Star Wars performances get the brass ring here as Revenge of the Sith becomes his masterwork. While Christensen and Portman are not quite up to the task in the love scenes, their emotional struggle helps drive the last half of the film and the two carry the load as best they can.
The final duels of the film are a tour de force of editing and choreography, and hats go off to all of the performers for being top notch. The amazing part of the action sequences is that they really have an urgency that’s been missing since Return of the Jedi. Anakin versus Obi-Wan is not only a blazing fight scene of Force pushes, lightsabers and rivers of lava, but the emotional content is able to give the battle a place that ranks with any other fight in the series.