This is hardly the only written piece I've submitted late this week.
Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.
I cannot claim to be capable of reviewing this movie with any semblance of objectivity. Star Wars has meant too much to me personally for that. I can only review it as a Star Wars movie. And, as a die-hard fan, I present this review as I would want to recieve it: free of spoilers.
As such, it is excellent. I will have to re-examine both movies, but I think I rate it above Return of the Jedi, which would have been the second best in the Original Trilogy (next to Empire) if not for the goddamned Ewoks. Originally the plan was for the Wookies to have aided the Rebels on the forest moon of Endor, but Lucas put the Ewoks in to sell the movie to children. (Note: if the death of one of the good guys during a climactic battle evokes an "awwww..." from the audience, then you've done something wrong.)
But thats enough of that. Ok, so I lied. One more thing. There was some vindication for that error in Episode 3, because the scenes with the Wookies were amazing.
So lets take this blow by blow.
The plot: Clearly the most thought-through of the prequel trilogy. It's as strong a plot as any of the OT. Most importantly, Anakin is a much better-written character this time around
The dialogue: Let me put this lightly. There is a difference between being a master storyteller and a master writer. No one ever accused Lucas of being the latter. That being said, the dialogue was largely decent with one or two exceptions where it stuck out sorely as well as just about every scene with Padame and Anakin.. There were, however, some great exchanges, and a few great and memorable lines, some of which right-wingers are bitching about. Like this one:
Amidala: So this is how liberty dies. To thunderous applause
and this exchange:
Anakin: If you're not with me, you're my enemy
Obi-Wan: Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes
The Acting: Most of the cast weren't really, but that's like saying, "Nolan Ryan didn't pitch his best game today." There are six occasions where this could have honestly said about a no-hitter. The cast is made up of great actors, and though they weren't at their best, I have no complaints, except Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman, and only in the scenes in which they appear together. And I only partly blame them, because when good actors give poor performances, it is usually the director's fault. It was, after all, Lucas who decided that they didn't need a few more takes to get the scenes right.
That being said, Christensen excecuted the transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader spot-on; from somewhat arrogant yet loyal Jedi Knight, to a conflicted and troubled man trying desparately to reconcile his loyaltees, to a man possessed by the Dark Lord of the Sith.
For that matter, McGreggor squarely bested his previous two performances as Obi-Wan, and throughout the last act brilliantly portrayed a man betayed by his former student, whom he loved as a brother.
When she didn't appear in one of those alltogether unfortunate love scenes with Hayden, Natalie Portman played a solid Amidala. Also, let it be known that the acting did work for me when Anakin and Amidala were in conflict.
Everyone else on the cast more or less did their job.
The visuals: Mindblowing. there really isn't more to say on the subject.
The war scenes: Wookies fighting droids, Jedi fighting droids, Clones fighting droids, Clones and Jedi fighting droids side by side, and Jedi and others flying against the droids in badass snubfighters. All were amazing to behold; well planned and well excecuted.
The music: Yep. Still John Williams. 'Nuff said.
The humor: For the first time in the entire saga, C3PO and Artoo Deetoo go through a movie without being annoying. The humor in Revenge of the Sith was more effective than in any previous Star Wars. And this is in fact important, because withot humor, the story would be too painful.
The fall of the Jedi: Ok, so if you're at all familiar with original films, you knew already that by the end of the movie the only Jedi remaining alive would be Obi-Wan and Yoda. Thus, the rest of the Jedi are killed by the end. I won't spoil how it happened, but when it did happen it was beautifully painful. Especially since you knew it was coming. I'm not afraid to admit I shed some tears here.
The duels: There is more lightsaber duel footage in this episode than in any other. They were some of the greatest examples of filmed swordplay that I've ever witnessed. The last one was the greatest. Hayden Christiansen and Ewan McGreggor are phenomenal swordsmen, and they show it. Remarkable speed, footwork, and range of technique. The ones not involving either of those two are only slightly less awesome.
All in all, this movie is more than worth seeing. Like Anakin Skywalker, the prequel trilogy lost its way, but redeemed itself in the end.