And now we come to the third and final entry in the famous prequel trilogy that seemed doomed from the start. It truly went from one end of the spectrum to the other, with Phantom Menace being the most childish entry in the franchise to this one being the most grown-up. And when the audience already knows everything that’s supposed to happen, it takes some real skill to keep them invested in characters they know will make many permanent changes before the credits roll.
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith tells the story of the end of the Clone Wars. With tensions at their highest, many begin questioning the loyalty of their allies. Not to mention the mysterious Sith Lord the Jedi have been searching for continues to elude them. In the middle of all this, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) begins having haunting nightmares that his pregnant wife Padmé (Natalie Portman) will die in childbirth, which leads him to form an unlikely friendship with Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). When Palpatine reveals himself to be the Sith Lord they’ve been looking for, he offers Anakin the powers of the Dark Side so he can save the one he loves, and this sets Anakin down the most sinister path of his life, one that will change the fate of the galaxy forever, and turn many friends into mortal enemies.
Most dark movies hold back their darkness, at least a little bit. They do this because there has to be some message, some point to the darkness, that allows for it to have purpose and meaning, thus making it a necessary evil. But not this movie, and that’s a good thing. Without giving too much away, let it be known that evil wins in this movie. It doesn’t achieve a shallow victory while the heroes achieve a smaller, nobler one, and it doesn’t give the heroes some kind of consolation prize either. Evil wins, period. It’s reminiscent of a TV show’s mid-season finale, when all seems hopeless and beyond fixing, until the next episode undoes the damage. But this is the last movie for a lot of these characters. For them, there will be no reprieve, and that’s something most movies can’t get away with.
However, this movie is not free of glaring issues, namely the wooden dialogue. In a movie that’s this epic and dark and riveting in so many places, lines like “Love won’t save you, Padmé, only my new powers can do that” seem to pull you out of the seriousness of it all. Or what about: “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.” (What, was “against me” copyrighted or something?”) And then there are ones like “All of this is unusual, and it’s making me feel uneasy.” (Oh no, not uneasy! That’s the worst feeling in the whole world!) And of course there’s Darth Vader’s horrible “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” to cap it all off. I guess hoping for George Lucas to learn from ALL his mistakes may have been a little too much to hope for.
Still, this movie ends the prequel trilogy on a far higher note than anyone could have predicted when the disastrous Phantom Menace first hit theaters. It’s not perfect, and it still doesn’t hold a candle to the Original Trilogy, but it’s a competent piece of sci-fi and a worthy entry in the Star Wars saga. Had the prequel trilogy instead been just a single movie, Revenge of the Sith would have been more than satisfying.
4 out of 5