Upon watching this movie again, I noticed that the opening shot is actually really REALLY cool. I never realized it until now. Revenge of the Sith starts out on a high note with a space battle with the classic “Our heroes are back” feel to it. Life seems good, despite the Clone Wars raging on, and Anakin seems like he would never turn to the dark side of the force… Right?
I remember when I was younger and it bugged me that Count Dooku was only in one scene of the movie before getting his ass handed to him by Anakin; but it does make sense to get Palpatine’s current apprentice out of the way to make room for the one we’ve been waiting three movies for. Revenge of the Sith is basically a “We owe this to you” film. It gives you everything you could want in this conclusion, which is to move every character into the spot they start out in, in A New Hope, and kill off the ones that don’t make it. There are more lightsaber on lightsaber fights in this movie than anything. I feel like George Lucas said to himself, “We need every combination of colors fighting each other in this movie. Red on blue; blue on green; green on red; red on purple; blue on blue; all of it!” Hell, General Grievous has four lightsabers! That’s absurd. I don’t like General Grievous in this movie, I think he’s unnecessary and just gives Obi-Wan something to do while Anakin kills younglings. It didn’t take me until watching the Clone Wars mini series created by Genndy Tartakovsky that made me like Grievous, because they flesh out his character. SIDENOTE: If you haven’t seen Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars mini series, do yourself a favor. It’s brilliant and takes place perfectly between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
As I said, this movie kills off everyone you know isn’t gonna make it to A New Hope and because of that, it does build up a little anticipation about how characters are going to die. Looking back on Mace Windu’s death, it does seem fitting for him to die trying to take down Palpatine after he reveals himself as Darth Sidious; But Anakin’s betrayal in that scene feels too rushed – considering less than five minutes before that he was confiding in Windu for advice on what to do about Palpatine. Palpatine’s reveal happens somewhat unexpectedly; but you’re anticipating it the whole movie and his dialogue/evil head turns just make it seem that much more obvious – there’s nothing left to the imagination. The person who gets screwed over the most in this movie? Padmé.
Padmé went from being a devoted queen of Naboo, to a dedicated senator to the Republic and a cunning warrior in the battle on Geonosis, to a pregnant, helpless sap who just stares and worries all movie. When she finally gets her moment to confront Anakin, Natalie Portman gives the best performance of the whole trilogy; but her character has been reduced to this helpless mother who’s only role in the movie is the birth the main character of the original trilogy and his twin sister. Not to mention she “loses the will to live”. Basically another way of saying she died of a broken heart which is the exact opposite of her character. Padmé would raise her children and guide them on how to be good loyal people and not turn into their father, which is why it would make more sense for Anakin to kill Padmé. It isn’t out of his character! The man killed younglings and half the Jedi Order! It would have been completely in Anakin’s nature to Force choke Padmé to death but somebody in the writing room decided that would be “too bleak” because this is still supposed to be a children’s movie. This isn’t a fact it’s just a speculation but am I that far off?
There are a lot of emotional beats in Revenge of the Sith that certainly raise the stakes and give fans a reason to watch this movie. We do see Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship dissolve and end in the cathartic lightsaber fight generations have been waiting years to finally see. It’s entertaining as hell, but the “emotional” conversation that Anakin and Obi-Wan have is so badly acted by Hayden Christensen that it makes the scene nothing like it should have been. It’s a shame too, it really is. Still fun to quote though. Ewon McGregor gives a great performance at the tail end of the fight when he tells Anakin he loved him. That was probably the most compelling scene of the whole prequel trilogy.
At the end of the day, Revenge of the Sith hits all the right beats. It entertains and draws conclusions to complete the saga. Some of them don’t line up EXACTLY with the original trilogy but whatever. Every action sequence in this movie hits the right mark and objectively this is certainly the best of the three prequels. There’s a lot of poetry in the cinematography to call back to the originals which makes it feel a little bit more connected; and as always, John Williams’ score ties everything together.
Next: Episode IV – A New Hope
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