Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is the third and final chapter of the prequel to what was supposed to be a nine part series. Confused yet?
I remember my father telling me that I'd be 27 by the time Lucas finished all of his films (I had just finished watching Return of the Jedi). Well, good ole George didn't quite achieve that vision, but with his last installment he comes awfully close.
Since it's technically in the middle of two series, there are few secrets left here. We know that Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid, reprising the role he last played in 1983!) will become the Emperor. We know that Anakin (Hayden Christensen) will get really messed up and become Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones, once again uncredited as he was in the original Star Wars film). And we know that Padme (the lovely Natalie Portman) will bear Anakin twins, who must ultimately be separated and hidden from the Emperor.
But we don't know the details, and that's how Sith brings it all together. The three prequels finally hit their stride with Revenge of the Sith, culminating in what made Star Wars great.
I can't emphasize this enough: The first two movies were less appealing because we had no "normal guy." Everyone, from Luke and Leia to Anakin and Padme, conduct themselves with deadly seriousness. Somebody has to lighten the mood. The prequels suffered precisely because there was no "normal guy's" point of view, calling the Force malarkey and otherwise rolling his eyes at the ridiculousness of a guy in a dark suit.
Fortunately, by the third film Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) has evolved enough to crack jokes. His give-and-take with Anakin is much more natural than their disapproving exchanges in the Attack of the Clones.
The film delivers just about everything and answers every question. If there's a fault, it's that it crams all this in a little too quickly. Anakin's descent into the Dark Side happens very quickly and the excuse for doing so seems a wee bit lame. Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) does indeed go out fighting, but not in the fashion I had hoped. And we finally get an explanation as to why everyone thinks an old shriveled guy with yellow eyes in a robe is "normal" for a political leader.
R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) kicks some druid butt, Yoda (Frank Oz) kicks some serious Sith butt, and C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) are blessedly mute (a few lines and no lines, respectively). The Force doesn't just get used, it gets abused. And we love every minute of it.
The animated series of films titled "Clone Wars" is a must see for fans who want to know what happened between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. It introduces General Grievous (Matthew Wood) and explains what happened to all the hot female Jedi.
As a parallel for modern events, Sith has many parallels. The leader who uses war as an excuse to come to power; the return of religious fundamentalism under the guise of a secular government; the repression of another religion under said government; and the willingness of a republic to hand over its ideals of democracy to achieve peace…even at the price of their own autonomy.
Padme has little to say, but her lines are very quotable: "This is how Liberty dies - with thunderous applause." And "What if the democracy we thought we were serving no longer exists, and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy?"
Star Wars as a political tract? In the 70s, the Empire was seen as a parallel for Communism. In the 21st century, the Empire is…US.
This is the goriest of the films. Light sabers lead to their inevitable conclusions: the loss of life and limb. Anakin's downfall is particularly gruesome, which earned this film a PG-13 rating.
Revenge of the Sith isn't the greatest of the Star Wars series, but it is by no means the worst. If you can look past the cheesy dialogue, contrived romance, and the fact that Chewbacca doesn't do much besides stand there, this is the best of the prequels.
Congratulations to George Lucas. He bowed out of the Star Wars with grace…but I still recommend watching the original three movies first.