Movie Review
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith poster
By Scott Sycamore     Published May 21, 2005
US Release: May 19, 2005

Directed by: George Lucas
Starring: Ewan McGregor , Hayden Christensen , Natalie Portman , Ian McDiarmid

Running Time: 146 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $380,270,577
This kind of story is all about the parts where the world comes crashing down, and Revenge of the Sith executes these parts with style.
The final Star Wars flick (for now) is here, which concludes the most anticipated trilogy in cinema history. Notice how I didn't say "best" trilogy, which many believe would be the original Star Wars; as many have noted, Lucas gave himself an incredibly tough act to follow. Here he ties it all together, and it is true that this is the best film of the prequel series - but that isn't saying much.

I would imagine most people know much of the plot before they even see the thing, so my explaining it would just be redundant. Perhaps Lucas was going for a Shakespearean experience: the audience already knows how the story plays out, so the fun is watching characters make their tragic mistakes and seeing how much emotion can be rung out of every terrible action.

That works to some effect in this chapter; there is more operatic fury than in the previous two movies. This kind of story is all about the parts where the world comes crashing down, and Revenge of the Sith executes these parts with style. This movie definitely has that atmosphere of darkness and tragedy in its tone, and in the sense that most agree that these prequels could have been a lot better. It's definitely art imitating life in this one. In fact, I think Lucas has thrown a lot of autobiographical material into these flicks: he started out as a rebel filmmaker who took on the Hollywood status quo and made a cultural phenomenon in the process. Then, he grew super-rich and complacent, and has since transformed into the Godfather of Mega-Franchise.

The special effects are fantastic, but they are in service of poor direction and editing. I didn't think the effects were enough of a leap from Episode II to really carry the picture properly, and in many of the battle scenes they just whiz by with no connection to the viewer. The huge vistas and cityscapes are amazing, but they are never focused on enough to appreciate for more than a few seconds. The light saber combat is also very choppy, reinforcing my theory that so few directors can do action well. If your story is based around warlike activities, how can you put so little thought into staging these climactic scenes? I guess you only do what you can, even if you control every single aspect of the filmmaking. That said, on a high-resolution big screen, this movie is going to look incredible. A spectacle...that's all the people want, right?

This movie does provide spectacle in the watered-down manner. We get some rub-off of that sense of epic space war grandeur from Empire Strikes Back, with many Jedi fight scenes in dark and threatening places. There's also some sweet albeit familiar Force uses in this one. The problem is that in the big climactic action scenes, everyone knows what the outcome is going to be. When Obi-Wan fights Anakin and then Yoda fights Sidious, we already know that they are both going to survive - so where's the suspense? And therein lies the most fundamental problem with doing prequels. The sad thing, though, is that in our instant internet communication age, even if sequels were made, everyone would know what happens before the films come out anyway. Such is the nature of anticipation and love of spoilers. Let's hope those sequels get made anyway and are imbued with the true spirit of '77.

If I have been overly critical in this review, it is only because I respect and enjoy Star Wars so much as a whole. This movie, like all the other ones, has replay value. There are so many little subtleties in the effects and story that fans can mull over the stuff for ages to come. Lucas' effort truly is modern mythmaking; it is a parable that everyone knows and everyone can relate to. Audiences like these films because they can sink into the rich landscapes and commune with the legions of characters that fill the screen. If you're reading this, you've either seen the film or are going to see it, and I ain't mad at you for that.
Scott's Grade: B
Scott's Overall Grading: 417 graded movies
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'Revenge of the Sith' Articles
  • Craig's review B
    May 22, 2005    A breathtaking visual journey to tyranny, suffering, and death. -- Craig Younkin
  • Weekend Box Office Analysis (May 20 - 22)
    May 22, 2005    A 40% improvement {over Episode II} would place Episode III at a total of $430 million, but if everyone did rush out, its total might end up slightly south of $400 million even with diehard fans and multiple viewings. -- Lee Tistaert