WARNING: Spoilers for Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
This piece accompanies the most recent episode of Brett's Flix available on our YouTube channel here.
And the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy comes to a rousing conclusion! Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is certainly the best of these three films. Lucas has learned a lot from his past two blunders and he gets really close to being able to tell a great story again. I give him props, as Revenge of the Sith definitely ends this trilogy on a high note (something the other two trilogies struggle to do).
Sassy Obi-Wan is on full display here and I love it. Ewan makes me laugh with almost every line. It’s really a testament to his ability as an actor because honestly, some of his dialogue is atrocious, yet he is able to do it with a wink and a nod. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Hayden who gives us his most emotional performance ever (in both a good way, and a bad way). He just goes way too over-the-top in some scenes and really needed to be more subtle. But the same can be said for scenes in Episode II. The problem isn’t exactly Hayden himself, but more George Lucas. The man does NOT know how to direct emotion. Scenes with Anakin and Padme are still CringeFest 2000, but at least they are given much less screen time. Those are the scenes with the worst dialogue, though it's still better than the dialogue in their scenes together in Attack of the Clones.
Anakin is finally the main character in this film!
He has more scenes than Obi-Wan and he is the one that goes through more of an emotional journey. Obviously. I think the “main story” would be about him finding a way to stop Padme’s death. So that means his discovery of her being pregnant is the inciting incident. And then having the dreams and realizing he needs to stop that is the "Break Into 2". It’s a bit sloppy, but I think that makes the most amount of sense. Obi-Wan hunting down Grievous would be the "B-Story". So that would mean Anakin becoming Vader would be the "Midpoint". Again, slightly late, but hey, at least this one has a definable structure! Progress!! What’s also neat is how much better this film works knowing the events of The Clone Wars tv show. It gives Grievous and other characters a much stronger presence because we understand that this is the final battle between these characters. Knowing the history makes it feel stronger and more lived in. Make no mistake, the film should have been written stronger from the beginning. But at least it feels better in hindsight. That’s something. I guess.
So if Anakin is the lead in this movie, then that means each Prequel film has a different main character. Episode I - Qui-Gon, the man who discovered Anakin. Episode II - Obi-Wan, the man who trained Anakin. And finally Episode III - Anakin himself, taking what he learned, and just completely biffing it. It’s kind of okay now that I view it from an outside perspective. But in terms of a complete story, it doesn’t fully work because we haven’t been following Anakin this entire time. He’s been there sure, but he hasn’t always been the focus. So the emotion here doesn’t hit as hard as it would have if the entire Prequel Trilogy had focused on Anakin since the beginning. How great would it have been if we actually felt his betrayal as an audience member? Like, the Prequel Trilogy ends and we side with Vader! That would have been incredible. A wasted opportunity for sure.
But even with all its flaws, the fact remains that Revenge of the Sith might be the biggest spectacle in the entire Star Wars franchise.
The battles here truly are incredible, and it ends with what is probably my favorite lightsaber fight in the entire franchise: Battle of the Heroes. Seriously, this battle has some of the best fight choreography; and the emotion between the two brothers is solid (even if it could have been MUCH better and more heartbreaking). Yoda’s fight with Palpatine is also great, but Lucas wisely does not have it overshadow Obi-Wan and Anakin’s. He knows that is where the true heart of the story lies.
Side note: It’s also really neat watching this film with knowledge of later, more recent films in the franchise. Much of Palpatine’s dialogue here has even greater meaning knowing what lies ahead in The Rise of Skywalker.
Side Notes and Questions:
1) A two-parter: How pregnant is Padme at the very beginning, and how much time passes throughout the film?
2) Why the hell are the babies digitally put into Obi-Wan’s hands at the end? Why couldn’t he have just been really holding a baby in the scene?
3) Is there a deleted scene of C3P0 and R2D2 dragging Padme onto the ship while Obi-Wan and Anakin duke it out? Cuz if so, I NEED to see it!
4) I've seen people claim that Palpatine drained Padme's life force and gave it to Vader to live and THIS is the true reason she died. So here is my question: if that is true, then why did it have to be explained in hindsight, rather than just being shown clearly in the film? The movie alone did a terrible job of showing us that is what was going on (if that is indeed what was going on).
5) I've also seen it said that Palpatine's scream before he kills the Jedi Masters is a supposed Force Scream used to drain the opponent's connection with the Force. If so, same response as Question 4; the I only way I knew that is supposedly what should be happening, was because someone else told me that’s what was supposed to be happening. That is not a good way to craft a film, George!
So, Lucas finally got his shit together (mostly) for his last film in the Star Wars franchise. He really stumbled when bringing the Prequel Trilogy to life. For some reason, he kind of completely forgot how to tell a coherent story. But the good news is that he mostly pulled it together for this last entry. Yes, some of the dialogue is still gross. Yes, Hayden’s acting is sometimes almost unwatchable, and Lucas’ directing makes him even worse. This film is not perfect. But it is a far cry better than the previous two, and has enough spectacle to fill multiple movies. With memorable action, fun character interactions, and just a touch emotion, Revenge of the Sith turns out to be a rousing space opera.