Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith


After the bitter disappointment of Episode I, The Phantom Menace, and the almost-but-not-quite-there glimpses of hope in Episode II, Attack of the Clones, the third time was finally the charm for Star Wars fans. They finally got the prequel they deserved with Episode III.

Despite the diminished expectations created by the first two prequels, the third installment still had a lot to live up to. This was the episode that would have to deliver all that the fans had been expecting from the sequels, namely the story about how Anakin Skywalker turned to evil and became Darth Vader and of the birth of the twins Luke and Leia who would be the heroes of the second, er, first, I mean, the other Star Wars trilogy.

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This installment obviously can’t be as fresh as the first film in 1977 nor does it quite live up to the gold standard of The Empire Strikes Back, but Revenge of the Sith easily leaves the first two prequels in the dust and moves comfortably past Return of the Jedi to become the third best film of the series.

Episode III doesn’t so much as fix the main problems of Episode II, namely the cringe-inducing bad romantic dialogue, as simply move past them. Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) are a couple now and mostly beyond the need to say mind-numbingly stupid things to each other like a couple of lovesick teenagers in a Hallmark internship. Instead, the film gets down to the business at hand, namely destroying the Jedi and subverting the Republic. You know . . . the good stuff.

If fact, one could consider this as the only essential film of the prequel trilogy. Revenge is the only one you really need to watch to understand the original films. The other two may establish some plot points but they only impact the third film, which can be enjoyed without knowing anything about the first two episodes.


Sith picks up with the Clone Wars in high gear. A droid leader named General Grievous has snatched Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) have been dispatched to rescue him. This leads to the kind of bravura action sequence that Star Wars movies do very well, complete with explosions, banter and lightsabers aplenty.

The rescue is obviously successful (or else this would be a very short movie) and Anakin is rewarded by the Chancellor forcing the Jedi to accept the inexperienced knight as a member of their council. Of course, we already know that the Chancellor is really the Sith Lord orchestrating the whole war for his benefit. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is dispatched to pursue General Grievous, separating him from his vulnerable student just at the time the younger man’s loyalties are being divided.

To complicate matters, Padme is pregnant and Anakin is having visions of the her death in childbirth. The Chancellor insidiously plays on his fears with promises that she can be saved.

Hayden Christensen acquits himself far better here than in Episode II, because he makes a far more convincing tortured soul than romantic lead. Natalie Portman, on the other hand, doesn’t have much to do besides sitting around and worrying about the father of her children. Didn’t George Lucas know that giving Natalie Portman less to do is always a bad idea? Fortunately for her, she gets to do some very heavy emoting late in the picture.

Ewan McGregor really shines, having truly made Obi-Wan his own character. As with Natalie Portman, the end of this movie really lets him pull out the emotional stops. Samuel L. Jackson also gets some meat to chew on here, more than erasing the memory of his performance in Episode I. I don’t know if Lucas intended for Mace Windu to be such a major player in the story, but Jackson makes him seem like the obvious choice.

As the Chancellor/Sith Lord/Emperor, Ian McDiarmid has the widest range to cover here. Going from coolly reptilian when seducing Anakin to the Dark Side to wildly maniacal once he’s no longer hiding his true intentions. Horror movie legend Christopher Lee is only briefly on hand, but his early departure allows us to see the first signs of darkness from Anakin (at least, since he hacked up all those Sand People in Episode II).

If Episode III is not quite perfect, it’s because of three things. One, the scene in which Palpatine declares himself Emperor is so far over the top it’s coming back over the South Pole before we cut away. Two, to the casual observer, it seems as if Anakin switches to the Dark Side in the same manner I switch brands of shaving cream: begrudgingly but without much of a fight. Three, that scene in which Darth Vader is revealed as we know and love him and learns something I can’t mention without spoiling the end of the picture? Well, the less said about that scene the better. Three faults, fortunately, can’t completely sink Revenge of the Sith.

Also on the plus side, Jar Jar Binks doesn’t say a damn thing, not one idiotic word (and there was much rejoicing).

20 thoughts on “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

  1. KLCtheBookWorm

    I found it yesterday and read through the archives. So many movies I need to see.

    At least this one I did see. Star Wars III was an improvement over the previous prequels has no argument. But how come few reviewers mention Jimmy Smits’s performance as Bail Organa. His character’s name wasn’t even mentioned in Episode II (I had to go to the Star Wars website to confirm my hunch) and in this movie he becomes the everyman hero, sticking his neck and career to help the Jedi simply because it was what was right. Small part but makes sense for the man who raised Leia and help start the Rebellion.

  2. L.

    I hate to be the wet blanket here, but I feel that you are being way too forgiving with this one. What about the non-human digital-ness of the entire film? Why should I care about computer reproductions? And actually, Padme and Anikin do have some silly repartee that made me want to throw up (“You look so beautiful”, “It’s because I’m so in love”, “It’s me that is so in love, and you are blinded by it”…or something equally as stupid.) Anyway, on my scale of 1 to 10, it would get about a 4, only because I did laugh a couple of times (even though I don’t think I was supposed to).

  3. Paul McElligott

    Re: Jimmy Smits.

    If you get the chance watch the deleted scenes on the DVD. The “birth of the Rebellion” scenes with him and Natalie Portman are even better than the scenes he does have. It’s just a shame they got left out of the final picture.

  4. Tainted Dragon

    this film is one of those films that happens to be if you love it… you absolutely love it… if you hate it… you hate it beyond reasoning (ie: The Butterfly Effect for an example). Personally, It was a good conclusion to the “first” trilogy, Lucas does need to work out the issue of time… the animated tv series helps with this… for those that only watch the there is a significant gap in time. One question though, if Anakin has the most metaclorians (spelling?) how come he can’t sense this significant other is carrying two children, even while he lays in bed with her?

  5. Jamison

    I was a pretty bid SW fan until I saw this film… it was okay, visually, but so distracting. Must be 100 things going on in the background of each scene.

    The one scene that killed the movie for me was when Padme yells with tears in her eyes: “Oh Anakin, you’re breaking my heart!”

    Breaking your heart? Thats the phrase you decide to say to a man who is about to murder his own friend?

    Just my take… great blog btw.

  6. Neil

    “Also on the plus side, Jar Jar Binks doesn’t say a damn thing, not one idiotic word (and there was much rejoicing).”

    Made me laugh… That was the main thing I was thinking when I bought tickets to the film. “As long as Jar Jar doesn’t say anything, I’ll be happy.”

  7. Monique

    “Two, to the casual observer, it seems as if Anakin switches to the Dark Side in the same manner I switch brands of shaving cream: begrudgingly but without much of a fight.”

    Those were the words I was looking for after seeing that scene! I was looking around the theater for confused reactions like mine, only to find the rest of the audience in a Star Wars induced coma…along with my seven year old son! 🙂 Great blog. I’m thinking I need to watch some Alfred Hitchcock….


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