Every movie in the original Star Wars trilogy was a hit. With the prequel trilogy, the saying “third time’s a charm” comes to mind, and even that may be an overstatement. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is the highest rated (80% on Rotten Tomatoes) and, in my opinion, the best movie of the dreaded prequels.
The movie follows Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and his poorly-acted journey to the dark side and ultimate transformation into Darth Vader. I’ll make my summary brief because you either like Star Wars and have seen this movie or you belong to some sort of terrorist organization that doesn’t believe in Star Wars.
The movie opens with Anakin and Obi Wan Kanobi (Ewan McGregor) on mission to rescue Chancellor Palpatine, who had been captured by General Grievous. During the rescue, Palpatine convinces Anakin to kill Count Dooku, even though it is against the Jedi way.
Upon returning home to find his wife Padme pregnant, Anakin begins having visions of Padme dying. This fear, along with manipulation from Palpatine acting as his new mentor figure has Anakin questioning the Jedi. Palpatine tells him the powers of the dark side can prevent death, making Anakin believe that he’ll be able to save Padme. Palpatine eventually reveals himself as Sith Lord Darth Sidious. The Jedi Council is on to Palpatine and almost has him arrested. Just as Mace Windu has him subdued, Anakin comes to Palpatine’s rescue. Afterward, Palpatine takes him as his Sith apprentice and gives him the name Darth Vader.
At this point, Anakin/Vader has basically rage quit on the Jedi. He and Palpatine send out a mass text or snapchat or something for all the clone droids to rebel against the Jedi and kill them. Anakin is on a rampage until he’s confronted by Obi Wan, who tries to talk some sense into him. Anakin declares “you’re either with me, or against me” and a fierce lightsaber duel breaks out between the two, culminating in Obi Wan cutting off Anakin’s legs and leaving him near death on Mustafar.
Palpatine/Sidious shows up and rescues what’s left of Anakin. This is when he’s put into the black suit and, in my opinion, officially becomes Darth Vader. Palpatine then convinces him that he killed Padme in his rage and Vader loses it. Meanwhile, Padme isn’t dead yet. She left Mustafar with Obi Wan and is having her babies. That’s right, plural. Two of them, Luke and Leia. After telling Obi Wan she still believes there is good in Anakin, she passes away. The twins are then separated. Leia is taken to Alderaan and Luke goes to Tatooine and now we, the viewers, can rejoice because the prequels are over and we’re set up for the original trilogy.
As I stated before, this was the best of the prequel trilogy and it really isn’t all that bad. I’m not a fan of Hayden Christensen and it’s difficult to dismiss his performance in the movie. Ewan McGregor is solid as Obi Wan, but I feel Natalie Portman’s Padme is kind of an afterthought in the film. My favorite performance is Ian McDiarmid as Chancellor Palpatine. He was the most well-acted role and his character carried a lot of weight in the film in converting Anakin to the dark side. The film as a whole is pretty well done, although the CGI doesn’t really hold up. Part of the reason is that motion capture technology wasn’t used at this time for the CG characters, making them appear kind of wonky at times.
After watching it this time, I couldn’t help but think of the great debate over which order the movies should be watched in. Machete order, in which you watch IV, V, II, III, VI is generally popular. You’re getting a couple good movies in first, then following the parallel timelines of Luke and Anakin’s growth, culminating in the payoff that is Empire Strikes Back.
I think what I like about Episode III is how it fits into the mythology of the original Star Wars saga. I feel like it does a good job at setting up Episode IV, which is why I’m now thinking you can watch III through VI in order and cut out both I and II. You get a little more back story on Darth Vader, but still sticking to the main storyline of the original (and far better) trilogy. However, if you haven’t seen any of them, watch them in release order first so you’ll gain a strong sense of appreciation for Star Wars by watching the original trilogy first.