Review by Gene
There is little disagreement among fans that episode III is the best of the prequels. I would definitely agree with that, and I’ll even take it one step further. For me, Revenge of the Sith comes pretty close to the quality of the original trilogy.
The evolution of Anakinn Skywalker becoming Darth Vader took its greatest strides in this film. We saw suspicion grow to doubt, doubt grow to rebellion, rebellion done out of anger, and finally anger taking hold in succumbing to the dark side of the Force. We saw far less of Anakin as the boyish creeper in Attack of the Clones, and more of a young man trying to assert himself and seeking confirmation and acknowledgment of his power. The romance with Padme still had its problems but it was a far cry from what we had already seen. Combine that with space battles, light saber duels, and Olympic floor routine Yoda and you have at least a decent foundation for setting up A New Hope.
Troubled by dreams of Padme’s death in childbirth, Anakin begins looking for answers. Finding none from the Jedi Council that satisfy his urge to save her life, he turns to his next closest confidant; Chancellor Palpatine. The Chancellor uses this moment of despair and Anakin’s existing frustrations with the Jedi Council to further drive a wedge between them and encourage him to give in to his anger and hate. Anakin trusted in the hope that Palpatine gave him and abandoned the higher standards set by the Jedi way in order to seek that which his heart most desired.
It’s a difficult notion to accept, but often times the thing which we desire most is the thing which causes us the most heartache, pain and stress. We feel utterly convinced that we know exactly what will give us the greatest happiness and give our lives a sense of fulfillment. Yet as we come closer to that thing, we come to desire more, or all together different things. Our hearts are never satisfied because we haven’t learned to guard our hearts with the peace of God (Phil. 4:7) Paul says there to the Philippians that we should be anxious for nothing. Not worrying and dreading over the things of life, but turning to God in prayer and thanksgiving in order to learn the peace of God despite what amount of wealth or satisfaction we may or may not obtain in this life.
As we watch Anakin gravitate toward the dark side I think we see Hayden Christensen find his groove. Not that he’s changing all our minds about how good an actor he is, but he’s doing his best work from about when he and Obi-Wan said their goodbye before Obi-Wan went to fight General Grievous, to when they have their showdown. Visually, his shift from suspicion to anger is good even if his boyish, passive voice is at odds with the intimidating, authoritative voice of James Earl Jones once he is Vader. There is a lot about that transformation to take note of; how he grew suspicious of those who actually had his best in mind, how began to assume bad intentions by those who had shown themselves to want nothing but the most peaceful and democratic outcome, and how what he wanted eventually trumped any idea of justice. To sum it up simply we could turn to Isaiah 5:20, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Anakin’s desires betrayed him and drove him to substitute darkness for light, leading him directly to the thing he feared most; losing Padme.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Like I said, I would place this close but just below the original trilogy. I wouldn’t rate any of them lower than a 4. Conversely, I wouldn’t rate episode one or two about a 2.5. So Revenge of the Sith finds a spot almost squarely between them all. The chemistry between Christensen and Portman did get a bit better. We weren’t exposed to cartoonish my ridiculous characters like Jar Jar. The Force got back to being an “out there” thing rather than something subject to scientific measurement. In this movie the plot also becomes far less convoluted than in the first two, particularly the second. This movie had one concise direction throughout; the creation of Darth Vader. The shot of the mask coming down onto Anakin, the oxygen equalizing in a ping fading into the air, and the first breath taken is as iconic, in my opinion, as any shot from the original trilogy. It’s not great, but for me it was very satisfactory.