In honor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ release, we’re rerunning our series from 2012 when I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time. Read my intro/explanation here, and here are my reviews of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, and Attack of the Clones.
And this is how the series ends, not with a bang but a “NOOOOOOOOOO!” I can sense in the Force that the fandom probably, rightfully, takes a great deal of issue with Revenge of the Sith, but I think it may actually be the strongest of the prequel movies.
The rise of Darth Sidious was perhaps the best plot of the prequels, since it was cultivated well from the beginning. Anakin’s development could have gone better, but I blame that primarily on Hayden Christiensen‘s lacking performance (particularly in this movie — he was never as scary or as lording as he should have been in the end). There was a lot of mythology though that a different kind of film could have delved into more deeply — more about the Siths, the lightsabers, etc. And though I think that digitalization can be a great boon to movies, I also think it can be used far too much and relied upon too heavily as it was here (and I for one was not a fan of digital Yoda, who was quite the hyperactive gremlin).
Anakin and Padmé’s relationship, which always had some creepiness to it, turned her into a mostly useless character in Revenge of Sith as she hid around trying to pretend she wasn’t pregnant. This is Anakin’s movie, yes, but for all of my praise of Leia’s personality in the original trilogy and appreciation of Padmé’s resourcefulness in the first two prequels (less so in Episode II), the ball was dropped here.
Still, Revenge of the Sith created some real emotions as the Jedis were killed off and the Reign of the Sith Lord began. It also tied in everyone’s stories reasonably well with the original trilogy, particularly Luke and Leia’s origins and why Darth Vader didn’t continue becoming more powerful as everyone kept saying he would (he only betrayed his Master in the end to save Luke and the last good piece of his soul, not because he craved power — at least, not until Luke showed up).
As much as I wanted for Star Wars in its completeness to be the story of Anakin after seeing The Empire Strikes Back, it’s really the story of Luke. Despite getting three movies devoted to him, Anakin is never really fleshed out in the way Luke is. Luke also has the benefit of a very strong supporting cast, and even when the focus is not on him, we’re still interested in what’s going on (whereas when the story strayed from Anakin in the prequels, so did my interest).
I don’t think that the prequels are a complete and utter disgrace (well, Phantom Menace maybe), but I can’t see myself ever finding much reason to watch them again. The originals, however, I was nearly ready to pop back in after I finished Revenge of the Sith. I’m ultimately glad that I didn’t watch the movies in chronological order, I don’t care what George Lucas says. They ruin the surprises of the later movies (and even though I already knew those reveals, the way they played out was still interesting), and makes for an unfortunate transition from glossy digitization to old school effects, which is a weird jump.
There was another order considered before I began called Machete, which essentially suggests the watch order should be IV, V, II, III, VI (leaving out Episode I entirely). Ignoring the brush off of Episode I (which I think you might as well watch just as part of the canon), I actually support this a great deal. It really heightens the stakes at the end of Empire, where, because now that you “know” Darth Vader so much better, his death is that much more full of pathos.
So that’s all, folks. It’s been a riveting journey through space and time, and I’m sad I don’t have another installment to look forward to tomorrow. I guess it’s time for me to take a stance on this Disney Issue…
Episode III Roundup:
Favorite Character(s): Obi-Wan, Darth Sidious for outsmarting everyone
Least Favorite Character(s): Count Dooku for being confusingly useless (sorry, Christopher Lee)
Light Saber Color: Blue. No, green. Purple? Whatever the force chooses for me, but I guess I’m on the light side. I see the appeal of the dark, though …
What worked best: Obi-Wan’s characterization developed nicely, and I particularly liked his interactions with Anakin at the start of this Episode.
What didn’t work: Samuel L. Jackson really shouldn’t have been allowed to introduce another color into the saber array. It was already weird enough to have blue and green while the Sith lords only have red. Now there’s a rainbow, and no reason behind it? Weaksauce. Also, Darth Vader appearing as the Bicycle Girl from The Walking Dead at the end before Dark Sidious scoops him up was ridiculous. Oh and “wiping” the droids memories? Convenient …
Best Quotes: “So this is how liberty dies … with thunderous applause.”