Back in 2005, fans across the globe were eagerly awaiting the concluding chapter in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In this Rewind Review, we take a look at what is arguably the best of the prequels, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Episode III sees Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker torn between his loyalty to the Jedi order, and the seductive power of the dark side. As the Clone Wars rage on, Anakin must make a difficult choice, one that will change the galaxy forever and seal his fate.
Anakin is played by a returning Hayden Christensen (Jumper), who has certainly improved in the role. He still has the occasional wobbly moment here and there, but he is better and gets some good moments to shine.
Ewan McGregor (Birds of Prey) returns once again as a younger Obi Wan, who is now a Jedi Master. McGregor has consistently been one of the best aspects of the prequel trilogy and this is no different. He really puts his own mark on the role, whist never straying too far from Alec Guinness’ portrayal in Episode IV.
Padme Amidala is once again played by Natalie Portman (Thor: Love & Thunder). Like Hayden, she has improved in this movie, expressing more emotion, but she still feels a little underwritten. Like most of the characters from the prequels, she wasn’t developed enough over the course of the three films for us to properly connect with.
We also get more action from Yoda (Frank Oz), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and the rest of the Jedi council. It’s great getting to see all the different Jedi in live action, and the movie wisely only uses them when necessary, otherwise the movie would be overstuffed and distract from the main story.
Returning to torment the Jedi is Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings) as Count Dooku, who doesn’t get much to do. The character is still cool to see, with his appearance marking the beginning of Anakin’s descent in a genuinely shocking scene. Lee is brilliant as ever, but Dooku just feels like a leftover from Attack of the Clones that needs to be dealt with quickly.
The villain who gets the most attention however, is General Grievous, voiced by Mathew Wood (Star Wars: The Clone Wars). He’s a modified droid who collects the lightsabers of the Jedi he’s killed. There’s not much else to say about him. He looks and sounds cool and has an intimidating presence, aside from the cough.
Ian McDiarmid (Return of the Jedi) makes his fourth appearance as Sheev Palpatine/Darth Sidious, and he’s as manipulative and sneering as usual. This is easily his best appearance, as it shows how he can get into people’s heads. There are missed opportunities to flesh him out more, but he serves the story effectively.
For Star Wars fans, we ultimately know this movie focuses on the birth of Darth Vader, but the question was always how the story would unfold.
The story picks up instantly and proves to be the most interesting of the prequels. From Anakin’s psychological torment to the execution of Order 66, there is a lot to get through, but it all flows well and it’s paced perfectly to give a well-rounded story that fleshes out Vader’s backstory realistically.
With the subject matter, this is by far the darkest movie in the entire saga, and it’s all the better for it. This movie deals with the fall of heroes, and rise of villains, and it handles it very well.
The actual transition from Anakin to Vader is quite sudden and could have been done better, but scenes where Sidious pulls Anakin to the dark side are great. This includes the brilliant Opera house sequence and the tragedy of Darth Plagueis.
And with the movie focusing on a growing darkness, this does feature some pretty emotional moments, and it’s far more impactful than the previous prequels, such as an effectively silent scene between Anakin and Padme. Not everything hits the way that they should, but most of them are handled well.
The love story between Anakin and Padme has been building over the course of the prequels, and this is where it comes to a head. There hasn’t been a lot of development, which makes it harder to connect with them. They do feel more like a couple this time around though, but the foundations aren’t strong enough to make it believable.
With this movie taking place towards the end of the Clone War, the action is significantly ramped up with a huge number of battles and five lightsaber fights. The action is stunning and engaging, especially the final battle on the lava planet of Mustafar, which features some of the most complicated choreography of the entire franchise.
The only fight that could have done with some improvement is the confrontation between Mace Windu and Sidious, which feels very slow and safe. There is no tension and it feels as though it’s being steered towards its conclusion rather than flowing naturally, similar to a few plot elements.
The movie opens with an enormous battle in space, and it is instantly visible the effects have improved a lot since the previous two Episodes. From the characters to the backgrounds, the effects look great. There are a few cartoonish moments involving the Clones, but it never takes you out of the experience and isn’t too noticeable.
Continuing with tradition, Lucas introduces us to three brand new worlds, including the home of the Wookies. Each planet has its own unique look, making it easy to know where each character is.
It’s a shame we don’t get to spend more time on each of these worlds, with most of the events taking place on, or above, the skyscraper filled Coruscant, but they look spectacular and add even more variety to the Star Wars galaxy.
One of the best parts of any Star Wars film is the soundtrack, again composed by the legendary John Williams (Superman: The Movie). The score for this movie is phenomenal and has some of the most iconic tracks since Empire Strikes Back. It is genuinely moving and emotional whilst also being more grand and epic, which is very fitting for what was originally the last Star Wars movie. It is some of John Williams’ finest work.
Fans have always debated about the quality of the prequels, and now the sequels, but one thing that most can agree on, is that this is the best of the three. It feels like this was the story George Lucas wanted to tell, and it’s the one that fans wanted to see.
Overall, this is a good movie. It isn’t the best of the saga by any means, but it does provide a satisfying conclusion to Lucas’ era. The dialogue is still clunky and the acting is 50/50, but the movie makes up for it with a gripping story, fantastic action, spectacular effects and an incredible soundtrack. This is the best of the prequels and definitely worth seeing.
Purple Revolver rating: 4/5. “Know the power of the dark side.”