a critiQal film review Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Plot: As Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) takes off to do his part in the battle raging across the worlds, his apprentice Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) begins having visions of wife Padme's (Portman) death. Unable to imagine losing her, he embarks on a dangerous path that could eventually turn him against everyone he cares for - and spell the end of the Republic.

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This film, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, posed an interesting problem for George Lucas. With this last episode of the prequel series, Lucas had the daunting task of explaining a future everyone already knows. We already know that Anakin becomes Darth Vader, we already know that he has two kids, Luke and Leia, and we know that the Republic has fallen on hard times.

With everyone already knowing the ending of your film, how do you make it interesting? Thankfully, Lucas has become a master storyteller over the years, and makes the journey the interesting part of Revenge of the Sith, rather than it’s conclusion.

All of the actors chosen for this highly-anticipated prequel seemed unlikely choices at first. Ewan McGregor (of Trainspotting (1996) fame) as the young version of the legendary Obi-Wan Kenobi? Natalie Portman (of such varying films as The Professional (1994) and Now and Then (1995)) as Anakin’s love interest, Padme? Two different unknown actors to portray the man who would be Darth Vader? No one believed in Lucas’ choices – except Lucas himself – and Revenge of the Sith proves him decently correct.

Ewan has evolved over the course of the films, coming to take his character more and more to heart as the films have progressed, and made him more believable in the role in great leaps and bounds. By Revenge of the Sith, another actor would be hard pressed to take over the role he has now made his own.

Natlie Portman has grown somewhat into her role as well, bringing the hope of good to a no-win situation, and making believable the tough choices that Anakin must face. Palpatine does a decent job as his role gets indescribably bigger in this film, and young Anakin (finally) also begins to shine (at least a little bit) as he goes through the events leading to his transformation into Darth Vader. They all come together to achieve the believability needed to make Revenge of the Sith work as a worthy introduction to the previous trilogy.

The events of Revenge of the Sith leading up to the legendary first trilogy come at the viewer at such a quick pace, the viewer never has a chance to get bored. Whereas Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) interspersed the action with the growing love story between Anakin and Padme, this film has none of that. Every sequence is precisely tuned to keep the fast pace going, so the viewer never really has a chance to collect their breath.

With it’s 2-plus-hours length, that’s a long time to go without being able to pause, and it does begin to wear a little. By the end of the film, the viewer is glad it’s over, but at the same time sorry, because it now there aren’t any more prequels.

This fast pace of Revenge of the Sith, unfortunately, does gloss over a little of Anakin’s descent into evil. It doesn’t give the viewer a real feeling of the desperation he feels which leads to his turning, or of the strife he goes through when he confronts old friends later. This turning is the event viewers have waited through 3 films to see, and when it comes, they are oddly disappointed with the ease with which it happens.

The special effects, as usual, are stunning. They are done in grand sequences, with effects occurring in almost every frame of the film. It’s impressive how the filmmakers were able to put so many together in such a short amount of time, without too many adverse affects. True, some of the effects, mostly involving characters moving around during fight sequences, seem a bit rushed, but overall the effect is quite astounding.

All in all, Revenge of the Sith neatly ties together this prequel trilogy with the original with skill, updating the films without demeaning the originals. It is by far the best of the three prequel films, outshining the others mostly by the actors finally all striving to perform up to par. While Hayden Christensen still seems a bad choice for Anakin, at least in this film he’s actually trying.

With Revenge of the Sith, the wait is finally over, and fans gets to see what they’ve waited three films for – seeing Anakin become Darth Vader. While the film does have it’s problems, it’s definitely worth seeing even if you aren’t a fan of the previous prequel films. This is the one that counts, and it shows.

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