It finally comes to this. Like a drowning man clinging to a piece of straw, George Lucas, goes all out in 'Revenge of the Sith', allegedly the last of his Star Wars movies. The light saber battles are spectacular and the opening space fight one of the most phenomenal ever, but the movie also has all the life of a barren land and the atmosphere of an empty room.
While being in much the same realm as the previous prequel episodes, in terms of both overall entertainment and execution complete with shoddy performances and a dialogue heavy storyline, 'Revenge' is at once the grandest and most ambitious of all Star Wars movies containing the single best segments and aspects of the 3 movies combined (Anakin Skywalker vs Obi Wan Kenobi with erupting volcanic lava as a fitting backdrop) and also probably the worst as well (the embarrassingly tasteless and ridiculous Palpatine vs Mace Windu battle). This unevenness and lack of consistency diminishes what can otherwise be rightly considered, albeit in parts, Lucas' swan song.
Those parts include some fine storytelling techniques, particularly the use of misinformation, fear of personal loss and the blinding promise of wielding unrivalled power, and even an extended, muted segment where Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Padme (Natalie Portman) stand on opposite ends of a room while Anakin makes an unspoken decision about which side he pledges his allegiance to.
Because Lucas, Hayden Christensen et al are all trying so much harder this last time, the results are even more disparaging than in the first 2 attempts, which though hamfisted, were never hollow or gloomy. That bare feeling of nothingness is apparent throughout this film The Vader we see towards the end is clunky and unnatural, not daunting and appealing the way I remember from the sequels. Even John Williams, who has been the dependable constant of the saga as a whole creates a montage of musical sequences patched together mostly from his work on 'Star Wars' over the last 6 years, and uses surprisingly little of the new theme made for 'Revenge'. For any Star Wars fan, the clone wars is the epicenter and threshold of what shook the foundations of that universe, but as finally seen in this movie it can't even hold a light to the Jedi battle at the end of 'Attack of the clones'
Perhaps my biggest gripe with Episode 3 is that it offers none of the newness and surprises that the previous films managed to because it's merely a connecting film. We know everything that will happen, just not how it will happen, and apparently, finding that out isn't nearly as exciting as meeting new characters in new places. Lucas also crams this one with too many small overlapping scenes, particularly those set in Coruscant with Anakin hopping from Jedi council to the chancellor. Too much happens in the span of this one film that should have occurred elsewhere in the collective time span of the prequels. Of the new faces that we see, General Grievous, a cyborg driod, has the speech, mannerisms and charm of an East European military dictator.
If 'Phantom menace' offered the fantastic pod race and the kinetic battle with Darth Maul and 'Attack of the clones' showed us why Yoda was a Jedi master with unparallel light saber skills, the best parts of Episode 3 offer much of the same only differently, except when Anakin and Obi Wan finally cross paths in magnificent fashion and with known consequences, intercut with Yoda taking on the Emperor. At the end of it though, the feeling of closure is a very strong overwhelming one and it is certain to affect the viewing experience of anyone watching the originals from this point forth. For that the viewing of this film is not only very commendable but also worth recommending. - Faizan Rashid