As the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker nears, so does the end of the third trilogy in the Star Wars series. Thus, it is an ideal time to look back at each film that came before it, in chronological order, starting with the prequels. This is Revenge of the Sith, which was good enough to justify their existence.
The clone wars, which started at the end of the last film, have been going on for three years and there is no sign of stopping. Against the army of the Republic are standing the droid-filled Separatists, led by Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and Jedi-slaughtering droid General Grievous (Matthew Wood). Revenge of the Sith offers an exhilarating introduction, when Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) are flying through a space battle above Coruscant, the headquarters of the Republic, trying to get onto Dooku’s ship, where Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) is held hostage. Once onboard, the two Jedi face the Count once again, in a much shorter battle. Due to the unfortunate outcome of their last duel, Anakin has lost an arm and is now set on getting his revenge.
Once back on ground after their mission, Anakin discovers that his wife, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) is pregnant. They don’t get much time to celebrate, as he’s quickly pulled into the political intrigues of the Republic. The Jedi order asks him to spy on Palpatine, who they believe has sinister plans of conquering the galaxy and making himself a dictator. At that time, Palpatine asks the same of him. Anakin’s torn between this decision, because he doesn’t know who to trust. Eventually, he’s coerced into fulfilling a prophecy and making plan threatening the entire galaxy come true.
Except for the fan-favourite Obi-Wan, who’s yet again the standout, the acting may have actually gotten worse since Attack of the Clones. Christensen is fun to watch, as he’s a talented physical actor and he’s very obviously trying to do his very best, but his attempts are continuously undercut by the awful dialogue. None of his lines are realistic, even in the sense of this giant space epic. His performance can be enjoyed, but unfortunately only when looking at it like a so-bad-it’s-good part of the film. Padmé is a lifeless plot device, who’s sole role is to remind Anakin that he’s in a moral quandary. Her lines are impossible to believe, although that’s more on the script than on Portman herself.
Palpatine actually comes out with the worst performance, and that’s by a long shot. He sounds mysterious and ominous when saying the most causal things, which makes all the surprising reveals about him that much more predictable.
To give Revenge of the Sith some credit, it finally let go of the politics for most of its runtime and focused more on the action-adventure part of the series. Despite running for 140 minutes, the pace is smoother and the film flows from one act to another nicely. The action is refined, better than ever before, and the film is filled with fantastic lightsaber duels as well as various battles between the clones and the droids, showing the full scale of war. Revenge of the Sith severely cuts back on dialogue during fighting, letting the beautiful compositions by John Williams shine in these moments. Nowhere is this more evident than with Duel of Fates, which plays under one of the final, and most powerful moments in the film.
Being this a prequel to the original trilogy (to which we’ll get in a few days), the final minutes of the film are spent putting every character in their place, so we can meet up with them again, much later, in the 1977 original. Though it is a short sequence in the context of the entire film, it really halts the flow, instead of putting a strong end to not only this instalment, but also to the first trilogy.
Revenge of the Sith manages to put a semi-satisfying end to the beginning of the Star Wars saga, thanks mostly to its brisk pacing and thrilling action scenes. In a trilogy populated with so many characters, you’ll walk away feeling only for Obi-Wan. It’s a shame these actors didn’t manage to do their characters justice, as some have complex storylines that the film straight up failed to communicate.The writing is choppy as ever, although it does lend itself to some amazing meme material.