Countdown to Skywalker: “Revenge of the Sith” Review
December 6, 2019
Wrapping up the abhorred prequel trilogy, “Revenge of the Sith” provides a (somewhat) happy landing for a story that got off to a rocky start.
The problems from the previous two are still present, but far less severe. It’s still filled with bizarre editing choices, fades and bad CGI but at least there’s a story you’re interested in. “Revenge of the Sith” benefits from being the conclusion; Anakin Skywalker’s (Hayden Christensen) corruption and the rise of Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is the raison d’être for the trilogy. It just took two god awful movies to get to it.
“Revenge of the Sith” follows Anakin as he is manipulated and misled by Chancellor, soon to be emperor, Palpatine. After killing Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) at Palpatine’s urging, Anakin is appointed to the Jedi Council under the pretenses that he’ll be an informant for Palpatine. As Anakin’s faith in the Council fades, he grows closer to Palpatine who encourages him to explore the dark side of the force.
This progression makes sense for Anakin, it just takes too long. That’s my problem with the whole movie: it’s got some incredible moments that are bogged down by a long runtime and idiotic post production decisions.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Ewan McGregor) storyline is essentially filler. After rescuing Palpatine with Anakin, Obi-Wan sets off to track down General Grievous (Matthew Wood), the commander of the Separatist military. No matter hard McGregor tries, and he does try, he can’t make this plot point feel necessary.
It’s once he returns to Mustafar and realizes the path Anakin is going down, that McGregor really stands out. It’s cliche to say McGregor is the best part of the prequels but he’s just so good. If only he weren’t given nothing to work with until the last 30 minutes.
Christensen and Natalie Portman’s performances as Anakin and Padmé are still hollow, not an ounce of chemistry between them, but at least their story is finally compelling. When Anakin returns, Padmé reveals she’s pregnant. Soon Anakin has nightmares of Padmé dying during childbirth. Anakin begins dabbling in the dark side to prevent her death. Though their love story is a tragedy, the movie is too ham-fisted with its execution for it to be touching. Their interactions are so melodramatic to the point it’s funny. But hey, funny equals entertaining, and if you don’t take Star Wars too seriously, it’s a lot more enjoyable.
Overall, I like “Revenge of the Sith.” It’s a solid ending to a really bad trilogy. On a technical level it’s a bit messy, but it does what the prequel trilogy set out to do: tell the story of Anakin Skywalker and set up “Episode IV—A New Hope.”
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