Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Release Date: May 19th, 2005 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: George Lucas Actors: Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, Jimmy Smits, Anthony Daniels, Temuera Morrison, Bruce Spence
he once mighty Republic is crumbling under attacks by Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and his separatist droid army. Meanwhile, the war commander, robotic General Grievous (Matthew Wood), kidnaps Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), leader of the Galactic Senate, forcing Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his trainee Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) to stage a desperate rescue mission. Evil is everywhere. And Anakin now wears black, signifying his obvious descent to the dark side of the Force (though none of his colleagues seem to notice). In a bold move, Dooku’s great villain is removed too soon from his previously prominent role, hoping that new characters, Anakin’s growing malevolency, and the secret behind Darth Sidious is enough to counter the loss of Lee’s perfectly fitting persona.
Upon Anakin’s return to Coruscant, his secret wife Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) confesses that she’s pregnant. Nightmarish premonitions of her death in childbirth consume Anakin, who gravitates toward the advice and company of Palpatine. But the chancellor’s power and influence in the Senate is in question by the Jedi Order, and young Skywalker is asked to spy on Palpatine. Yoda and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) clearly don’t trust the politician or the impetuous Jedi Knight, complicating matters further when Palpatine reveals that he can save Padme from certain doom, provided that Anakin embrace the dark side of the Force.
Political dealings and corruption are more prominent in this final chapter, along with long-awaited answers. The biblical prophecy that has permeated the first two episodes is now clarified through the legend of Darth Plagueis, with Anakin’s destiny (and even creation) planned and intentional all along. It’s no longer a mythical belief, but now a carefully orchestrated Sith scheme for a decades-long revenge. Ultimately, it lends to a cleverer, more morbid, darker finale, garnering the series’ first PG-13 rating (and a huge body count) and setting up the dystopian premise for the original 1977 sci-fi epic.
As with the previous two prequels, space battles are the best visuals this franchise can deliver, easily trumping anything taking place on the ground. The opening scene is a great reminder and prime example of how breathtakingly spectacular swarms of varyingly sized starships exchanging colorful laser blasts can be. Once the heroes make it indoors, the fight sequences, while still energetic, are noticeably ignorant of the gravity and physics that should be affecting believable movements. While the storyline is merely an embellishment on turning Anakin against the Jedi, with characters and ministerial environments lining up to coincide with the start of “A New Hope,” one battle scene after another is the main agenda before culminating on the final duel between Obi-Wan and Vader (on a volcanic planet in the Outer Rim). It will inevitably cause the former Skywalker to don the iconic black metal helmet and armor that would enshroud one of the most famous of all movie villains.
Unsatisfactorily, Palpatine becomes something of a zombielike monster, while Yoda exhibits frequent bouts of spontaneous agility. Skywalker’s conversion is too rushed (despite an overlong running time) and his rotating allegiances and loyalty are entirely unbelievable. His deteriorating relationship with Padme is equally contrived; action sequences are repetitive and lengthy; and the dialogue remains subpar, badly in need of reworking. Despite all of the flaws, “Revenge of the Sith” is still a vital chapter in the series for devoted fans, ending on a Frankenstein’s monster sort of reveal and a glimmer of hope amidst all the death and destruction.
– Mike Massie