Surprisingly enough, I actually enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. Revenge of the Sith is probably the least talked about of the Star Wars films. It does not get the sheer hate that Phantom Menace does. It does not get the more critical disparagement that Attack of the Clones does. By the time it came out, the hardcore fans had already dismissed the prequel trilogy. But I think there is a lot of bad to go with the good.
So, what is there to hate?
Well, the acting is a very mixed bag. Hayden Christensen turns in a better performance this time around. Maybe that is because he has less bad lines to work with. The best parts involve the characters being silent as they reflect on what his happening. Ewen McGregor has a terrible moment when he provides flat response to seeing Anakin kill children. Ian McDiarmid is great as Palpatine, though.
One of the hokiest parts of the film is when Vader gives his big, “NO!” at the end. Is there any more that I can say about that?
Aside from Anakin and Palpatine, the antagonists of this film are not given proper treatment. For whatever reason, Count Dooku is killed off in the first ten minutes of the film. What a waste. Did Christopher Lee offend someone? Grevious is killed half way through the film. He is such a disappointing villain after being built up so much. The Tartakovsky Clone Wars cartoon made him out to be a huge badass but he comes across as a throw away villain. Nute Gunray, who was in all three prequel films, barely gets any screen time in these last two flicks. And do we ever learn why the Sith want revenge in the first place?
The settings and environments lack memorability. We go back to Coruscant yet again, and it is still a boring planet. Utapau looks like it could be interesting but there is not much time to appreciate it. The same goes for Kashyyyk. (The Wookiee home planet.) The Jedi-killing montage show more interesting locations like a planet with giant flowers, a planet with a huge sea, and others. Mustafar, the volcanic planet at the end, is the only new location that looks memorable by having such a simple concept.
I despise the fact that Anakin became a wife beater and child killer at the end. No matter what angst he goes through, I cannot see him doing that. It is completely out of character and it leaves a foul taste in the mouth.
…At least Jar Jar kept his mouth shut throughout the whole film.
Aside from all of that, there is plenty to like in the film.
The movie kicks off in one of the best ways possible. After the opening scroll, the camera plans down the star field to show a republic battleship against a planet. The audience hears rhythmic loud bangs that are somewhat dulled because they are in the distance. The camera focuses on a pair of small Starfighters the fly alongside the battleship and then the camera swings down to show a huge and epic space battle that was just out of frame. Good stuff.
Watching Anakin and Obi-Wan infiltrate the Invisible Hand is also enjoyable. I like the bickering interaction between Anakin and Obi-Wan. There is real tension when Anakin guides the broken ship down to the surface of the planet. Seeing Grevious for the first time is a bit of a letdown and Dooku was killed off way too early.
The scene where Anakin speaks with Palpatine in the theater is almost chilling. It is subtle and haunting and it gives Anakin a good motivation for wanting to turn to the dark side to save the one he loves.
The montage of the clones slaying the Jedi is really well done. Part of what makes that scene work is watching Yoda feeling the multiple deaths and clutching his little heart. After telling Anakin that he must let go of his passion and attachment, Yoda must be feeling like a hypocrite.
The final scenes that establish where everyone goes at the end is pretty darn emotional. Padme’s funeral is legitimately sad. Seeing Vader and the Emperor oversee the construction of the Death Star is foreboding. And after it sinks in that the Emperor has won that that the heroes’ shit has been thoroughly wrecked, we get a final glimmer of hope when Obi-Wan gives Luke to the Lars family and we see them silhouetted against the setting suns as a nod for the better things to come. And, dare I say it, I almost teared up during that final sunset.
John Williams turns in another great score after a rather lackluster score in Attack of the Clones. We get a much larger range of emotions. The music that plays during the climactic duel is right on the money. The music during the final ‘Where are they now?’ montage hits all of the right notes at the right times.
One of the complaints that I have heard from quite a few people is that the films focus too much on the Jedi. I never understood this complaint. I agree that the Jedi scenes were handled poorly. Is it really necessary to initiate children into a monastic order when they are that young? Considering that Obi-Wan says that the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace in the Old Republic, I cannot see how they can be ignored. This is a franchise that has always focused on knights with glowing swords and magic powers in space.
I remember going to see Revenge of the Sith in the theater on opening day with reserved expectations. Attack of the Clones left a sour taste in my mouth and I did not want to be disappointed again. I came out of the theater not quite knowing what to think. I knew that I did not hate it as much as the previous film but I knew that I did not love it.
After watching it again, I really enjoy this film. I completely understand why people do not like it but I do not think that it deserves a lot of sheer hate. It is certainly watchable. I did not want to pull by eardrums from the bad acting like I wanted to when listening to Attack of the Clones. But, I cannot call it a good film for all of its flaws.
After the bitter taste of the prequel trilogy, it is time to move onto the next film, which gives me a new hope. Ba-dum-tish!