Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

When I’m watching an opera, I never read the lyrics. Oftentimes, they are hackneyed and melodramatic, as one might expect from, well, an opera.

Instead, I try to focus on the feelings or even the plot. One should do that with Star Wars, the ultimate example of a space opera. Sometimes, when you do that, you realize how much you actually like it.

Unlike the first two prequel episodes, I have always found Revenge of the Sith to be excellent. The special effects are genuinely realistic to me, and George Lucas seems to have finally found his narrative footing. It centers again on Anakin Skywalker and Chancellor Palpatine, and they are so close to where we meet them in later films.

The Separatists have captured Chancellor Palpatine, and the film opens with an action-packed sequence where Anakin “saves him from Count Dooku.” Anakin soon has visions of his wife, Padmé, dying in childbirth, and he is willing to do anything to prevent that from happening. The Jedi Council charges Anakin to spy on Palpatine, and doing so brings the man closer to the chancellor, who ends up being one of the darkest Sith Lords of all time.

As Anakin listens to the promises made by Chancellor Palpatine, he begins to lose faith in the fair-minded Jedi, and this film chronicles his shift to the Dark Side of the Force, along with his fateful coronation as Darth Vader. Everything about this film is tragic but inevitable, and I wish this were the only film released narratively before A New Hope.

As I mentioned above, the special effects are among the best in the series here. In fact, a lot of the digital creations are so finely textured, they make the humans seem artificial by comparison. John William creates an enthralling, monumental score; Ian McDiarmid gets to ham it up as Palpatine; and Samuel L. Jackson gets to fully solidify his purple-sabered, powerfully awesome Mace Windu.

Also, compared with the other prequels, I was actually interested here, fairly consistently. This narrative has more in common with the classic trilogy than with Episodes I and II, and I’m so thankful for that.

Revenge of the Sith succeeds where the other prequels did not, showcasing a storyline that reminds me how easy it is to love Star Wars. It’s as operatic as they come, sure. But it’s so well done here, that just might be why I love it.

3.5 Green

The first six Star Wars films are airing on TNT and TBS this week. Check your local listings.

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