It’s Revenge of the Sith that is both the most disappointing and the least disappointing of the prequel trilogy. In scope, it’s the largest. In tone, it’s the darkest. In action, it’s the proudest, but in characters, it might be the worst. This is the chapter that is supposed to show us the tragic fall of Anakin Skywalker, and it does, but not in the chilling way you’d want it to. It’s obvious that the film was supposed to be a true character study, one of true tragedy, and Lucas, being inferior as a screenwriter, was unable to obtain the real emotions that he wanted to get out of this finale.
The film opens with a staged kidnapping of Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) by Separatist leader Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) and General Grevious (Matthew Wood), a reptile who has been reconstructed as a cyborg. Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious, is using his kidnapping as a means to an end to eventually turn the Republic into an Empire because of repeated security lapses that he calls for behind the scenes.
Jedi Knights Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) spring the trap and battle Dooku, with Anakin killing him in cold blood after disarming him. Palpatine, fully knowing that his plan will be complete by eventually turning Anakin to the Dark side, eggs him on to do so. Grevious escapes, leaving the rest of the film as another split for Anakin and Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan goes after Grevious to kill him and end the Separatists movement, and Anakin stays with Palpatine and grows closer to the realization that the politician he considers to be a strong mentor may be a Sith in disguise. So when Anakin begins having visions of his wife, Padme (Natalie Portman) dying in child birth, his fear of loss and overwhelming emotion make him curious about the ways of the Dark Side.
The rest is history. We know that the Jedi die when the Empire turns on them, and we know that even masters like Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) perish in the struggle. Obi-Wan confronts Anakin, now Darth Vader, in an emotional battle on a volcanic planet, defeating him and leaving him for dead after sustaining debilitating burns all over his body. Palpatine rescues him, but Anakin will never be the same, forever encased in a respiratory suit keeping him alive. In a way, it works perfectly for Palpatine, having his powerful new weapon murder every single Jedi, and then sustain enough injuries to never be a threat to Palpatine himself. Obi-Wan and Yoda, however, the last remaining Jedi, go into hiding, and separate Anakin’s children on different planets so that they grow up away from the father’s influence. Padme, of course, dies in child birth despite Anakin’s change, leaving him a broken man.
In theory, the idea of the strongest warrior in the galaxy becoming evil is pretty heady, and if told correctly, it could live up to being the ‘space opera’ it intends to be. The change for Anakin feels so rushed, and in this movie, we feel less of a good/evil conflict from him than in the previous movie. His adversarial issues with Obi-Wan are mostly absent here, instead showing somewhat of a brotherly affection for one another. His fear of death is pretty evident in the prior films, but for someone with a ‘want to save everyone’ hero complex, his abrupt change to the dark side doesn’t really have a pay off. Part of the origin is the ‘seduction’ to the dark side, and that isn’t really relevant here.
In terms of the visuals, there are some good looking scenes, but the human eye detects what looks fake really easily, and the Star Wars prequels are so over-saturated with CGI that it becomes really hard to not notice it in every scene. So, the backdrops, especially indoor ones, really do not look good. The combat is fine, but again, many of the lightsaber scenes go on for too long, and there’s not a sense of urgency for this movie at all. The writing is as bad as the other two, but the stakes are higher. Because of that, it’s not a guilty pleasure, but it’s not really that good either.