Star Wars Episode 3 : Revenge Of The Sith
Putting all ''The Force is strong with this one'' references aside, Revenge of the Sith, truly is the best of the prequel bunch. But it still can't quite hold a lightsaber to the original trilogy.
The catastrophic battles of the Clone Wars are in their final stages as the crumbling Republic--supported by the ever-vigilant Jedi Knights--fight against the Separatist Alliance, lead by a particularly nasty half-droid, half-alien named General Grievous. Jedi überheroes Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are sent to kill General Grievous and end the war, but it isn't easy. Meanwhile Yoda, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and the other Jedi Council members fear for the state of the Republic under the guidance of the nebulously sinister Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). I know what you're thinking, ''Yeah, yeah, just tell us how Anakin goes bad.'' Poor Annie. He still has some serious anger issues, which now revolve around his adoring young wife, Padme (Natalie Portman), and their unborn child (or children, in this case). He thinks he foresees Padme's death and will do anything to keep her safe, including listening to Palpatine malevolently whisper promises of immortality and the power of the Dark Side into his ear. Not the best thing for this volatile fellow. Yes, Darth Vader will soon emerge and the inevitable duel between the good and the Dark Side is at hand. Get your lightsabers ready.
Happily, all the main actors--save for perhaps Natalie Portman as the ineffectual Padme--get a lot more to chew on in this final installment. Christensen is thankfully done being the whining teenager from Attack of the Clones and turns into a brooding, conflicted pre-Vader who can't control his anger. Of course, he overdoes it a bit with the scowling and evil, cold stares, but that's OK. It's what the part requires. The love story between Christensen and Portman, however, is still kind of painful to watch. The two actors look more than a little embarrassed professing their love for one another (''I'm so much in love with you'' ''No, I'm so much in love with YOU!''). And besides bringing back the infamous Leia ''cinnamon bun'' look, Portman isn't given a darn thing to do but fret and pace and rub her pregnant belly, praying Anakin will be all right. You'd think after wielding a gun in The Phantom Menace, she'd get to do more fighting. Oh, well. On the flip side, McGregor, Jackson and even McDiarmid all get to kick some serious butt in Revenge of the Sith, each with their own action-packed fight sequences. Jackson just seems happy to be swinging a lightsaber around. McGregor, with the full beard and biting commentary, does a nice job setting the stage for the elderly Ben Kenobi to come. And McDiarmid, a veteran British stage thesp, finally gets his chance to shine as the malicious Palpatine, as we see his own transformation into the ultimate evil being he becomes.
Oh George, what are you going to do now that it's all over? Of course, Lucas has said he is going to redo all the six Star Wars episodes in 3-D as well as produce a TV series which follows the events after Return of the Jedi. Then there's the fourth Indiana Jones movie to look forward to. But Lucas will probably hole back up at his Skywalker Ranch in northern California and dream up even better ways to generate special effects for the big screen. That's what he does best. He truly is an amazing genius at creating visuals and Revenge of the Sith is no exception. From the battle between General Grievous and Obi-Wan to Yoda's clash with Darth Sidious to Obi-Wan's climactic duel with Anakin, Sith is simply riveting. The only difficulty Lucas has ever had is with the human element. I'll admit I'm one of those die-hard fans of the original trilogy who had a problem with the lack of an emotional core in the prequels. After writing and directing the first Star Wars (or Episode IV, for those counting), Lucas understood then that maybe he wasn't the best choice to write the next two, handing the chores off to screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. It worked. Big time. Yet, with all three prequels (that's Episodes I-III), Lucas did it all himself, and his obvious shortcomings are evident. But hey, does it really matter how connected you feel to the characters when you've got the Force, Jedi Knights, evil Darths, an ass-kicking little green guy, clone armies, droid armies, Wookiee armies (yeah, that's a lot of fur) and an ultimate turn towards the Dark Side? No. But it helps.
If you can use Jedi mind tricks to gloss over the trite dialogue and stiff acting, Revenge of the Sith is going to give you the big Star Wars payoff you've been waiting for. And we do mean big.