When Revenge of the Sith first came out I was admittedly less excited than I had been for the two previous Prequels. I found myself focusing on the negative aspects of the previous movies instead of the many positives. Basically I was slowly becoming a prequel hater. After the first showing Revenge became my favorite prequel far and away, I thought it was the closest to old school Star Wars and was so freaking happy about it. However now it trades places with TPM as to which is my favorite of the prequels depending on the day. In some way the faults of AotC hurt the potential of RotS and it has it own faults but is still a great movie.
Lets start with a technical and story aspects that work, I’m going to focus on characters and the lightsaber battles after. The opening battle’s effects are just spectacular. I loved every visual they gave me. Once Obi-Wan and Anakin are on the ship there is a great mirror scene where Destroyers roll up on them just like in TPM, it just makes me smile. The comedy R2 adds by being a badass works in RotS in ways earlier comedy attempts did not, maybe because its R2? Who knows but it works. Also the interaction between Anakin and Obi-wan seems much more familiar than it did on AotC. When the Jedi spurn Anakin and then ask him to spy on Palpatine… well it was just another nail in their coffin. The effects on Utapau are also really well done and hold up great. Once Anakin has finally realized the Chancellor is a Sith lord, I absolutely loved how the Jedi seal their fate by excluding Anakin in the arrest. Mace is a total badass in his fight with Sidious but based on Mace’s actions I can believe Anakin would save the Sidious. I find Anakin’s fall completely believable while I know others don’t. The Jedi have consistently undervalued and mishandled Anakin while Sidious has played him perfectly. Of course Anakin would believe him and think the dark side could save his wife. Yoda’s answer was let go of attachment, Mace straight up said I don’t really trust you. Yoda and Obi-wan’s assault on the Jedi Temple was a great example of what teh Jedi SHOULD have been to me. Also Yoda is a badass again. Finally the funeral of Padme when she has the Juniper necklace in her hands… the feels man, right in the feels.
Lets talk about Sidious/Palpatine, holy cow was this a great character and performance by Ian McDiarmid. This is his movie more than any other charcter. Honestly he just chews up every scene and piece of dialog he has. When Obi-wan takes out the two guards during the battle with Dooku and Palpatine gives that lil “Yes!”, it is funny and believable. And after Anakin has Dooku in his grasp, Palpatine is convincing and just works Anakin so well. Honestly I would do what he told me too. I did like how Palpatine seemed nervous about the landing and had a certain amount of contempt for Grevious. The legend of Darth Plaguies is another example of Palpatine being so damn awesome. That scene places one more domino in the final downfall of the Jedi and Anakin. The line “Not from the Jedi”… damn! It is no wonder that Anakin joins him, why wouldn’t he?
Obi-wan once again is great. Pretty much any scene he is in is better because of it. Ewan seems to really be enjoying himself too(Sith lords are our specialty) . Anakin is much better written than in AotC and his interaction with Padme is believable and not creepy like before. I found Anakin’s rage more believable this time also. You tell he has continually been held back and viewed unfavorably and has become frustrated and resentful.
Lighsaber battles. Man o man is this one full of them. Obi-wan and Anakin vs Dooku. Obi-wan vs Grevious, Windu vs Sidious, Anakin Vs Obi-wan, Yoda vs Sidious. And they are all freaking awesome! I will say this the first two were better on the written page than in the movie. The background given about fighting style and subtle uses of the force in O+A vs D made it a much better fight. And Mace’s pep talk to Obi-wan before he leaves to find and destroy Grevious would have been great to see on screen. That said both fights were still really well done. Windu vs Sidious was great on screen. And the finale of Sidious yelling Unlimited power was spine chilling. Now of the two big battles I liked the Yoda vs Sidious better. Sacrilegious I know. Anakin vs Obi-wan was fast paced and just great fight choreography but I wanted to see Anakin getting the better of Obi-wan more. It seemed much more even of fight than my personal head cannon had always pictured it. What I love about the Yoda vs Sidious fight was Sidious’s reaction to everything. When Yoda force pushes him across the room then prevents him from leaving… He laughs! Once the fight is in the Senate chambers he is maniacal in his laughter and just seems to be enjoying the wanton destruction he causes. He even seem annoyed when Yoda fights back. Its is just awesome. Plus the dialog during the fight between the two is very OT style.
What didn’t work
I hate the opening crawl on this movie. I can’t explain what exactly it is maybe its the “War!: start or Heroes on both sides line but it just isn’t Star Warsey to me. The dialog and opening space battle why beautiful is choppy and slow. It could be more dynamic on the action front. I really did not like Padme’s portrayal in RotS. She seems like more of an Anakin prop than anything else and I absolutely hate that. This character carried the first movie, it was hers and in the final movie she merely there to push Anakin into uncomfortable situations.
I also didn’t like how Mace just up and decided Sidious had to die. The Chancellor being killed by a Jedi is good for no one. It makes no sense at all for him to do so. Anakin’s fall to the darkside is great however having him kill younglings right away doesn’t match up and leaves no “good in him” for Obi-wan to think there may be some (RotJ cannon). Anakin should have just let the troopers in and maybe handled any full Jedi there. Padme getting injured by Anakin should have been accidental similar to how they show at the end when Vader destroys everything around him. Padme should have been caught up by his rage focused on Obi-wan not the focus of it herself. Yoda didn’t lose his fight with Sidious he just gave up. Cheap. Having Padme die at the end also ruined RotJ cannon. They could have said she’d never recover fully and might live a couple more years. Have it her as part of the decision to separate the twins to hide them from their father. Let her have some agency in their lives. My final complaint is the complete lack of Jar-Jar. For gods sake he had a quarter of the dialog in TPM and in RotS he has all of one line and two scenes. I don’t care if you hate him its a disservice to the character that was important to the first movie.
No matter the faults I see in RotS, half of which are really just my own head cannon really, its still a great movie. I do like that the prequels are billed as the Story of Anakin but are really the stories of those who shaped him. The first is Padme’s story the second is Obi-wan’s mixed with Padme and Anakin’s courtship and the third is Palpatine’s. While none of these is really about him they all let us know how he became Darth Vader and I think the real fault people have with the movies is they wanted it to be 3 Anakin Skywalker movies and George told us the story we wanted in a way that we weren’t expecting.