Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) Director: George Lucas
Revenge of the Sith is the third and painful final installment of the “prequels” to the Skywalker Star Wars saga. It finishes the trilogy and you can almost hear a gasp of relief among the staff and actors, as if desperately wanting to put this series behind them and forget it ever happened.
The story takes place three years after the Clone Wars. A civil war is underway beterrn the Separatist faction of County Dooku, and the defenders of the old Republic. Obi-Wan and Anakin go on a special mission to rescue Palpatine who has been captured by a new villain, a mechanical villain under Count Dooku called General Grievous. They believe they are walking into a trap (and they are correct). They rescue Palpatine and are ambushed by Count Dooku, and Obi-Wan is injured and left unconscious, but this Anakin defeats Count Dooku. In anger, and at Palpatine’s urging, he decapitates Count Dooku while General Grievous escapes, and the Jedi crash land Dooku’s ship back on Coruscant. On the planet, Padme reveals to Anakin that she is pregnant (their marriage is still a secret). Anakin begins having nightmares that she dies in childbirth. He becomes motivated to save her at any cost. Meanwhile, Palpatine appoints Anakin as his personal representative to the Jedi Council, as he breeds distrust in Anakin of the Jedis who are skeptical of their relationship, and they deny Anakin a seat as a Master on the council. Over time, Palpatine tells Anakin of the sith power to avert death, and he reveals to Anakin that he is a sith lord. Conflicted, Anakin tells the Jedi Council of the truth of Palpatine, while Obi-Wan travels to Utapau to defeat General Grievous (in a ridiculous fight scene that ends with Obi-Wan shooting Grievous in the heart causing him to incinerate) and Yoda travels to Kashyyk, the wookie planet, to battle an invasion of Separatists. Mace Windu and three other Jedi confront Palpatine to arrest him. Palpatine kills three of them, but is overcome by Mace Windu who returns his force lightning with his lightsaber, thus disfiguring his face (which explains his frightening appearance as the emperor in Return of the Jedi). At the last moment, Anakin intervenes and cuts off the hand of Mace Windu and the emperor sends him flying out a window to his death. Anakin feels deeply tormented but he knows he needs the emperor to save Padme. At this moment, Anakin is dubbed Darth Vader, the new apprentice to Darth Sidious. Palpatine then orders “Order 66” which instructs all clone warriors to attack the Jedi instead. This eliminates the old Jedi order. Darth Vader then goes to the Jedi Temple and kills everyone, including the younglings in training. He then travels to the fiery planet of Mustafar to kill the last remaining Separatist leaders, as well (the old Trade Federation leaders who have now been double-crossed by Darth Sidious). Palpatine, then, goes before the senate and claims there has been an attempted coup by the Jedi that has left him disfigured. He declares himself emperor of the galaxy. The only two lingering Jedi left are Yoda and Obi-Wan. They return to Coruscant and witness the carnage at the Jedi Temple. Obi-Wan goes to confront Anakin on Mustafar with Padme who is distraught at what he has become (Anakin then chokes her) until Obi-Wan defeats Anakin after gaining the higher ground and cutting off his legs and his body gets lit on fire, while Yoda goes to confront emperor Palpatine. Obi-Wan leaves Anakin suffering and on the brink of death. Yoda and Palpatine battle until Yoda falls, nearly to his death, and he flees Coruscant believing he has failed. Yoda and Obi-Wan regroup with Padme who delivers twins (which are surely premature): Luke and Leia. Padme then dies in childbirth. Palpatine takes the mutilated body of Vader and covers him in mechanical limbs and a black suit with a breathing apparatus. The emperor tells him that he killed Padme. At the end, Yoda and Obi-Wan go into exile. Obi-Wan goes to keep watch over Luke on Tatooine as he is cared for by his step-uncle and aunt, Owen and Beru Lars, and Leia is given care by Bail Organa on Alderaan. The film closes with a funeral for Padme on Naboo, while Vader and the emperor oversee construction of the beginnings of the Death Star.
Lucas wrote and re-wrote this script several times, eventually settling on a focus: the downfall of Anakin. He originally had several side plots, such as a young Han Solo on Kashyyyk. Several of the plot loopholes in the film series (such as how or why Kamino disappeared from the Jedi library from Attack of the Clones) are left unexplained and were given permission from George Lucas to be explained by novelists. Originally, Lucas was going to have the emperor explain to Anakin that he created Anakin from midichlorians and is thus Anakin’s father (in a parallel to Empire). Another scene was going to involve the ghost of Qui-Gon communicating with Yoda – perhaps why Yoda explains to Obi-Wan that his old master has been communing from death through the force at the end of the film.
The film is entertaining, I suppose. The overarching plot of the film focuses on the detestable and whiny brat, Anakin, as he falls to the dark side. Again, Hayden Christiansen’s acting and the dialogue is wooden and uninspiring. Padme is an unfortunate character (she has descended from the confident queen of Naboo, to a petty and forgettable waif). The bulk of the film’s interesting action happens altogether at the end as the plot seems to be quickly slapped together to connect the story to the original series. The film is filled with terrible cliches, confusing and irrational plot loopholes, awful dialogue, an unbelievable and sudden descent of Anakin into evil, and even the heroes are not likeable – Mace Windu and the Jedi Order appear to be weak and disloyal to their own (all of this could have been avoided if they had simply trusted and supported Anakin) and the battle scene between Mace Windu and the emperor is laughably goofy as is the cartoonish battle scene between the emperor and Yoda. The Jedi appear to be a fallen and incapable group of warriors whose powers could not foresee nor prevent the rise of evil. Also, why is the film called “revenge” of the sith? What are the sith exacting vengeance for? The film leaves much to be desired.