Episode III Review

Doubted by many, yet more powerful than them all. Filled with anger and regret. Eventually turning to the dark side.

Such terms not only describe Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, but also the film itself.

The short version is that Episode III is the best of the Star Wars films. It is at least on par with The Empire Strikes Back and possibly overtakes it.

The problem with Sith is despite being a great movie, it is so close to the cusp of being an excellent movie that it almost feels as though the film is holding back. The acting is much better than the previous two prequels, and Ian McDiarmid and Ewan MacGregor give excellent performances. McDiarmid’s Palpatine is a crafty schemer who seduces Anakin into the Dark Side of the Force by playing on his deepest insecurities and fears. He plays Satan to Christensen’s Faust with exactly the right mixture of cleverness and evil.

This movie hinges on Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen)’s Faustian descent into evil. Had that not worked, the movie would have collapsed on itself. Thankfully, Anakin’s transition to Darth Vader works — mostly. Once Anakin falls to the Dark Side, the film truly gets something that both Menace and Clones lacked — emotional punch. Anakin’s fall into darkness is emotionally draining, and the effects of his actions are what make this film transcend just being technically marvelous into something much more potent.

The love scenes were stilted and awkward, but not as horrendously bad as they were in Episode II. Natalie Portman’s performance is much improved from the first two films (having an on-set dialogue and acting coach was a very wise move), and she manages to give a performance that helps the material rather than making it seem flat. There are still some emotional moments that misfire, but this is the first of the prequels that actually had an emotional core to the story that worked.

There are moments that could have been done better to take the film from good to great, and if there is a flaw in Episode III it’s that the film could have reached that higher level with a little more work on dialog. Had Padmé and Anakin’s romance been just a little more believable, the emotional core of the story would have been that much more powerful. Had there been more character development in I and II it would have also helped this film build on a more solid core.

Star Wars has always been visually arresting, and Episode III is no exception — but whereas the technological glitter outperformed the story in I and II, Episode III is about more than epic space battles. It’s a Faustian story about a man whose desire to protect what he loved overwhelmed his inner morality. Star Wars is not high art — but then again, Chaucer, Mallory, and Conan Doyle were considered pop fluff in their day as well. At the end of the day, Episode III is a compelling story, and George Lucas the storyteller has returned from the Dark Side of CGI and product tie-ins to tell the kind of story his fans have been waiting over a quarter-century to see, ever since the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” appeared on the silver screen for the first time.

6 thoughts on “Episode III Review

  1. I’m hearing pretty good buzz for this one, but after the last two, as well as the absurdity of Lucas attempting to inject “serious” contemproary politics (of any persuasion) into what is a supposed to be a fun, larger than life epic has left me with absolutely no pressing need to rush out and see it anytime soon. I’ll go, but maybe in a month or so, when the theaters have a bit more room in them.

  2. The whole political thing is overblown. There’s actually a line that ties the Dark Side of the Force to moral relativism. I found that the supposed political commentary aspect of the film was more hype than reality.

  3. On those same notes, I explored a possible allegory of Jedi (traditional religion) and Sith (totalitarianism) with my review for Generation Sit.


    In short though, Episode III rocked, and is more than a fitting conclusion to the series. Ahh, a week of finales- the last Star Wars movie comes out the same week I graduate from college.

    Oh, and Jay, we need to get together and have some drinks some time before I leave town….

  4. I watched it, it was similar to what’s gonna happen in the future predicted in revelation or apocalypse. God the son, Jesus will return, but first the evil dictator(Son of Satan, or him in the flesh) comes to bring false peace and freedom, then later break it and hunt down and kill anyone who won t accept his religion and make terrible wars, famines, trials, and persecutions, and some will be betrayed even by their family members and friends and love of many will grow cold, but God is always in control, the reason why he lets Satan run around and attack us is because he’s trying to get us together, because we were all made in his image to have a loving relationship with him, just like a father-child relationship, but you have to get converted to be a member of the family of God. In the beginning, God created first 2 humans named Adam and Eve, and placed them in the garden to live on, but they later ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that God told them not to eat, they joined the dark force like Anakin did, and so did we, but we have to accept Jesus’ charity to live with him forever, it’s that simple. Satan, his angels, and the wicked are cast into the lake of fire for eternity. We are all in a spiritual warfare, but the good will win. Read the word of God, I can t wait.

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