Plot: As the Clone Wars rage on, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice Anakin (Hayden Christensen) are dispatched to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who is held prison by the Sith forces. The operation is a success and Anakin is even able to best Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) in combat, so the Jedi seem to have tilted the tide of battle. But Anakin is frustrated, as despite his valor in battle and the belief that he will bring true balance to the force, he is passed over to join the Jedi Council, which Palpatine disagrees with. Anakin is then asked to spy on the Chancellor, a man he feels close to and doesn’t wish to break trust with. Add in his impending role as a father, vivid nightmares that haunt him, and a growing resentment and Anakin seems poised to face some real challenges.
Entertainment Value: While Revenge of the Sith is no sci/fi classic, I would rank it as the best of the Star Wars prequels and a massive step back in the right direction after the total abyss of Attack of the Clones. The movie still suffers from terrible dialogue and low end visual effects, but the overall experience is a positive one and feels like a Star Wars picture. Hayden Christensen is still terrible as Anakin, but at least we get to see him fall to the dark side in a few fun sequences, like the Jedi temple massacre and his encounter with Mace Windu. I also love the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan of course, with an epic locale and a brutal finish. A lot of threads come to fruition here and the stage is set well heading into the original movies, so Revenge of the Sith did what it needed to, even if not enough to redeem the previous prequel installments. But I do think if the other two movies were on the level of this one, the prequels wouldn’t be nearly as unpopular, as this is a solid picture. The lame dialogue and wooden performances are still here, but this time around, there’s enough here to balance that out. So if nothing else, at least the prequels were given a proper sendoff in the end.
As was the case in Attack of the Clones, Hayden Christensen is a massive liability here and his performance hasn’t improved since the last movie. I did appreciate the action scenes, which he handles well enough, but if he is asked to show emotion or play a more dramatic moment, he wilts under the pressure. This is lifeless, wooden stuff and he lacks the charisma and later, menace to pull off the role. If I could change one element about the prequels, it would be to replace Christensen and I think that single change would improve the films immensely. The rest of the cast is fine, but buckle under the weight of weak dialogue, save Christopher Lee. He is able to chew up the lines and dial up his performance, while everyone else seems content to walk through the motions and do little else. I know a good deal of the blame falls on George Lucas as writer/director, but I think the cast has to shoulder some blame as well. Ian McDiarmid is hilarious in a few scenes, as he hams it up, but it is so over the top, it seems wildly out of place with the mostly mannequin inspired performances around him.