Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

directed by George Lucas

Star Wars Episode III : Revenge of the Sith poster  
Arguably the most anticipated film of 2005, Revenge of the Sith had the expectations of hordes of Star Wars fans riding on it. Already we know that this is the film where former golden-boy Anakin becomes an anti-hero, so the tone is a lot darker than in any of the other movies. This is reflected in its 12A rating.

The clone wars are drawing to a close, and General Grievous has kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. Obi-Wan and Anakin are despatched to rescue the politician, who is looking remarkably calm for someone who is being held by a dangerous separatist. Palpatine's power has grown, and the Jedi council fear that he will not lay down his emergency powers once the war is over.

Anakin's powers are also on the rise, and there's no shortage of lightsaber battles to demonstrate his skill. He's not as fond of politics as he is of fighting, but he has become close friends with Palpatine, who he has come to regard as a mentor. When Palpatine recommends that he should be appointed to the Jedi council and asks Anakin to use his position to spy on the other Jedi, Anakin's loyalties are tested.

Meanwhile Padmé discovers she is pregnant. Her marriage remains a closely guarded secret, since Anakin is forbidden to marry by his Jedi code. But Anakin begins to dream about her death, and his fears for Padmé push him closer to the dark side.

There's little screen time for the likes of Jar Jar Binks and C3PO, and thankfully they aren't allowed to make any jokes. Revenge of the Sith is one of the most emotionally charged films of the Star Wars series. Haydn Christiansen is excellent as the angst-ridden Anakin, filled with self-doubt, fear and jealousy. His defection to the dark side is understandable, and it even seems like a reasonable thing for him to do.

This movie deals with political themes in an accessible way that film and literature snobs will detest. As Padmé says, "So this is how democracy dies". The machinations involving Count Dooku, General Grievous and Chancellor Palpatine all tie together very clearly at last. We begin to see hints of the Nazi imagery that were prevalent in episodes IV to VI, and the parallels between the world of Star Wars and our own are hard to ignore. This political message elevates Revenge of the Sith above mere hack and blast space opera.

This is a film in which the personal and the political are inseparable. Ultimately the new Empire turns on the fate of one woman and the actions of one man.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Revenge of the Sith is the dialogue, which tends towards the hammy and stilted. From talk of younglings to nearly everything Darth Sidious says, it tends to ruin the atmosphere. There are some very poignant moments towards the end, but a few scenes would have had more impact if they had been more carefully worded. And not forgetting "I have a bad feeling about this", a line which George includes in most, if not all, of the Star Wars films like a mantra.

The settings and actions scenes are great spectacles, something which is almost a given for this type of film but will please younger audiences nonetheless. Meanwhile the blend of tragedy and Machiavellian power struggles will appeal to older filmgoers, making this one of the best crowd-pleasers Lucas has offered audiences in a long time.

Film Details

Year: 2005

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

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4 star rating

© Ros Jackson

More about George Lucas


Strepsil Salesman     16th August, 2005 22:40pm

Hmm, crispy skywalkers. Good thing this is the last one, cos if it gets any worse, I will be forced to keelhaul Lucas. Gaar, me hearties!

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