After three long years, the Clone Wars are nearly at an end, a conflict that has ripped apart the galaxy and made heroes out of Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen). Following the daring rescue of Chancellor Palaptine (Ian McDiarmid), the Jedi Council dispatches Kenobi to bring General Grievous, the deadly leader of the Separatist droid army, to justice.
Back on Coruscant, Palpatine’s power continues to grow, subtly influencing public opinion against the Jedi while introducing sweeping political changes that threaten to transform the Republic into an Empire. Meanwhile, Anakin is increasingly troubled, not only by the Jedi Council’s indifference but also by the fear that his pregnant wife, Padme (Natalie Portman), will soon die. Palpatine takes advantage of Skywalker’s turmoil to reveal the true nature of power and the promised secrets of the Force in an attempt to lure the young Jedi to the Dark Side.
Being a Star Wars fan the past six years has not been very easy. Yes, it has been great to see Lucas return to that galaxy far, far away, but we’ve also have had to deal with the wooden acting, crap dialogue and exposition so dense that one longs for the more action packed proceedings on C-Span.
Revenge of the Sith is the reward for our suffering. It’s technically spectacular, more action-packed, mature and intense, backed by better storytelling, acting and directing (although there are still a cringe-worthy moments to be had) than the previous two entries, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.
Giving the production his best effort, Lucas, much like Peter Jackson with Return Of The King, definitely has saved the best for last. It’s the instalment that fans have been waiting 22 years for, an enthralling, entertaining, emotional kick-ass ride which transcends the series’ limitations to close the most popular film franchise ever with a bang.
Watching the pieces fall into place that connect the two trilogies is both as involving as Anakin’s slow descent into the Dark Side and as exciting as the two massive action sequences that bookend the film. They also make for some moments that are genuinely moving in the crucial third act. It may not be award-worthy filmmaking, but Lucas’ work this time around is as focused and accomplished as one could hope for in light of the last two entries.
For the first time since The Empire Strikes Back, the acting is not completely upstaged by the visual effects. While the otherwise talented Natalie Portman continues to be the weakest aspect of the cast, the other series regulars are quite good. Christensen impresses conveying Anakin’s descent into evil, McGregor is once again solid as Kenobi, injecting some nice moments of humour and humanity into his performance. Samuel L Jackson, still underused, is also good as Mace Windu, while Frank Oz once again impressively gives the digitally-created Yoda a heart and soul bigger than his human counterparts.
But it is Ian McDiarmid, as the corrupt Chancellor, who steals the show. Always a secondary character throughout the saga, this is the chapter where the Chancellor gets his moment centre stage. McDiarmid proves he is more than up to the task. One hopes he is brought back for the upcoming television series.
To quote Darth Vader from the 1977 original, the circle is now complete. The Star Wars film franchise has come to its end, and it’s an enthralling, entertaining one at that. Revenge of the Sith not only brings balance back to the series, it also reminds us why we love these movies so much.