THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS
We are now under a month away from The Force Awakens. A MONTH! And what perfect timing. I've already reviewed the three Star Wars films we shouldn't speak of. The three unbearable ones are out of the way. It's about time that we looked past those failures and looked towards the light. With just a month left before we return to my favourite galaxy, it's time we think positively, and it's time to review the 4 Star Wars movies I actually like. So..... let's begin.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith begins, like all Star Wars films do, with a shot in space. We pan down to a battle raging on, Anakin (Haydn "Can't Act If His Life Depended On It" Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewen McGregor) amongst some of the republic members. They're here to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) from the evil clutches of General Grievous (Matthew Wood). Upon their return, Palpatine closes in with Anakin, attempting to turn him against his master and the rest of the Jedi council. He attempts to bring young Anakin towards the dark side, bribing him with ever-lasting life and the opportunity to save his now pregnant wife, Padmé (Natalie Portman) from death. It's an offer that's hard to resist, and so begins his transformation into the character we know and love; Darth Vader.
The opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith is one of my favourite moments in this entire prequel trilogy. The spectacle and the visual effects are jaw dropping. Seeing a battle of this scale is quite exciting, especially after being forced to witness the poor excuses for battles in the previous two films. We open with a two minute tracking shot through space, Anakin and Obi-Wan making their way through the chaos. Unlike the other CGI battles from the previous prequels, in Revenge of the Sith, the battle looks phenomenal. The special effects are on point, the visuals capable of blowing my mind every time I watch the film. It's quite the sequence.
Revenge of the Sith certainly does have the most impressive visuals effects of the lot, although they're not perfect. The big, epic space sequences and the final battle on Mustafa are without flaw, but a lot of the character designs and smaller moments are, much like most of the first two films, cringe worthy. There's a moment in which R2D2 takes on two Super Battle Droids and it looks like a b-grade cartoon. The effects are on par with the movie Free Birds, and we all know that film wasn't very good. Like, at all.
None of the Star Wars movies ever seem to have a very in-depth plot and with Revenge of the Sith, the same goes. It's a two and a half hour film about Anakin's turn to the dark side. That's it. And it works. It's the Sith coming to power, bringing down the last of the Jedi. There's a few subplots here and there, all involving a battle of some sorts, but nothing too important. The General Grievous plot, while entertaining, can pretty much be cut out of the film entirely. It won't change the final outcome in the slightest. After all, he does get killed off about halfway through.
Thankfully, the plot of Anakin's turn is an engaging one. It's what we would've seen had Luke caved in to his father's wishes in the original trilogy, and it's thoroughly entertaining. Despite some bad acting, over the course of this trilogy we've slowly seen Anakin's transformation. It's been an ongoing thing, starting with his temper and eventually evolving into the murder of younglings, fellow Jedi and then the attempted murder of his wife and Obi-Wan. Hayden Christensen still can't act, but he's given the opportunity to look angry, and it appears that he's better at doing that than he was with everything else he was made to do in these movies.
Amongst the many battles in this movie, one involves Yoda travelling off to Kashyyyk, the home of the wookies. It's here he runs into a young Chewbacca, before he met Han Solo, obviously. Now, Chewbacca is one of my favourite characters in this entire franchise and so I don't know why, but his appearance in this movie really annoys me. It's forced and pointless, the battle only in the movie to have yet another throwback to the original trilogy. If it had just been another random wookie, that probably would've been a bit better. It still would've been pointless, but it wouldn't feel as forced as Chewbacca was.
In the original trilogy, all we ever saw of Yoda was a sassy, wise cracking old Jedi isolated on an empty planet. In Revenge of the Sith, we finally get to see the Jedi in action. Sure, he's not as sassy or hilarious as he was in the original trilogy, but he was pretty freaking awesome. Towards the end of the film, Yoda takes on Palpatine, who has now transformed himself into the Emperor of old. The battle is fast and exciting, Yoda showing off just how powerful of a Jedi he really is. We got a brief glimpse of this at the end of Attack of the Clones, but the battle hardly lasted. Here, Yoda proves us to he is worthy of all his perviously mentioned glory.
The first half of Revenge of the Sith is really 50/50 for me. There are some great sequences, like that opening rescue, and then there are some painfully dull sequences, like the whole Padmé romance and visions of the future. Then the whole "execute order 66" montage happens and everything from here on out is wonderful. The Jedi are killed off one by one, Anakin finally turns to the dark side and we get one of the best lightsaber battles in the entire franchise. Not just the prequels, but the franchise. It's dark, it's upsetting and it's hard to turn away from.
That being said, there is one scene in the second half of this movie that I completely despise. Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson) and a group of unnamed Jedi approach Palpatine, hoping to arrest him. However, Palpatine takes out a lightsaber (because fuck it) and takes down the supporting Jedi. Nobody fights back. They just all watch as Palpatine approaches and slaughters them. Why does he even have a lightsaber? Who the hell knows? But that's not his only power. Once down on the ground, Anakin comes to the rescue, slicing off Mace Windu's hand. This gives Palpatine an opportunity to strike, and he does so by shooting his famous lightning from his hands, killing Mace Windu and transforming his figure into what we saw in the original trilogy. He doesn't seem the least bit phased by the fact that he just aged fifty-seven years. And to top it all off? He just randomly appoints Anakin the name of Darth Vader, because fuck you, that's why. It's one of the worst scenes in this entire trilogy, and there are a lot of terrible scenes.
From here, Anakin travels to the lava-planet, Mustafar. Padmé attempts to bring him back to the Jedi, but it's no use. He tries to murder her, Obi-Wan stepping in and putting a stop to it. They then proceed to have a 15-or-so minute fight that's violent, brutal and features edge of your seat thrills. Sure, like every fight in this trilogy, it's overly choreographed, but combined with the terrific visuals, not much can compare to it. It's lengthy and exciting, the battle just going and going and going. When we get to its eventual conclusion, you can really feel the emotional bond these two characters had. Anakin is lying on the ground, limbless and burning away, screaming about how he hates Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan is trying to convince Anakin that he loved him like a brother. It's a scene that really plays with your emotions, and it's unexpectedly grizzly for a Star Wars movie.
But good old Anakin can't die yet. No, Palpatine comes to his rescue, transforming him into Darth Vader once and for all. Why is Palpatine just conveniently on Mustafar at the same time as Anakin and Obi-Wan? Nobody knows. But he is, okay. It's stupid, but it happened, and there's no going back. Anakin is fixed, donning the iconic black suit. Upon hearing of his wife's death (who died from a broken heart.... are you fucking kidding me? A broken heart? Fuck off), Vader lets off a loud "NOOOOOOOO," and it's unintentionally hilarious. In case his legacy wasn't already tarnished by the prequels, it sure as hell was now.
This isn't the only poor wrap up to the story arc of original trilogy characters, either. C3P0 and R2D2 get their memories wiped and are placed on the ship we see them on at the start of Episode IV. There really isn't a lot of ways you could've gotten around the whole R2D2-and-C3P0-stupidly-in-the-prequels thing and so I guess I wouldn't have been happy with any conclusion, but it's just not good. They dug themselves into a hole that they couldn't get out of, and it's really felt. But that's this whole trilogy. Nothing really follows the continuity of the original trilogy.
To sum up, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is easily the best of the prequels. It's dark, action packed and (surprisingly) visually stunning. That being said, it's also a poorly paced, forced and occasionally dull installment, ruining the arcs of multiple characters.