Watching “Star Wars” is like going to your first baseball game; it’s just good, clean fun. Whatever your level of love affair with “Star Wars” may be, it is hard to deny that the series is more than a movie — it’s a cultural phenomenon. Like its predecessors, this film is pure Americana and damn, it’s a good time.
“Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith”: Hearing those words is like hearing the sound of an old friend’s voice come in through the front door. Once again, we journey to a galaxy far, far away to witness a galactic rollercoaster ride courtesy of writer/director/visionary George Lucas. In their usual roles as savvy Jedi Knights are Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen. Backing up the two leads are Natalie Portman as Padmé and seasoned actor Ian McDiarmid. The actors and their talents take a back seat to the action and an unexpectedly weak script in this final showdown between the good Jedi and their hunt for the evil Sith, which runs almost two and a half hours. Still, by the end, you will want to watch the original trilogy right away.
“Episode III” opens with the usual slow-moving titles that set up each piece of the story. Instantly, we are thrown into a 15-minute space battle that ends with the Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Christensen) landing inside the enemy’s spaceship. They then battle a Sith lord, confront the cyborg general and pilot a crashing space cruiser to safety. This kind of action-packed sequence of events continues throughout the film. It is unbelievable to watch so much extravagant action on top of the seemingly endless series of light saber duels. Upon returning home, Anakin meets up with his secret wife Padmé, who tells him she is pregnant. As in the last film, Portman and Christensen have little chemistry; the flat pages of script convey more feeling than these two actors. In the meantime, in his secret plot to destroy all the Jedi, Chancellor Palpatine (McDiarmid) begins to slowly manipulate Anakin toward the Dark Side of the Force. Preying on Anakin’s fear of losing Padmé in childbirth and his anger toward the older, wiser Jedi, Palpatine reveals that he is the true Sith lord and tries to convince Anakin to join him. Anakin, struggling with his inner conflict, unwittingly helps kill the senior Jedi who try to arrest Palpatine. Not knowing what has done, Anakin helplessly gives himself over to the Dark Side.
McDiarmid is deliciously evil and absolutely steals his scenes as the hissing, croaking emperor. Palpatine then instructs Anakin to kill all of the remaining Jedi. A brief montage sequence occurs as all of the Jedi across the galaxy are betrayed and killed. This is the darkest of all of the films in the “Star Wars” catalogue, which explains the harsh PG-13 rating. John Williams provides the score (as he has for all of the “Star Wars” films), giving these images a more powerful sense of tragedy.
Padmé, learning of her husband’s fall to evil, travels to the volcano planet of Mustafar to plead with her husband to come back from the Dark Side. Obi-Wan, having escaped the massacre, follows Padmé and prepares to destroy his now evil friend. McGregor has always been the best actor in these films, and he continues to play the role of Obi-Wan with sense and dignity. The finale comes after yet another epic light saber battle, which leaves Anakin disfigured. Seamlessly connecting “Episode III” to “Episode IV,” Lucas shows us the birth of Padmé’s twins, Luke and Leia, the start of the construction for the future Death Star and Anakin’s transformation to Darth Vader. The movie captures the adventure of the originals and incorporates the action today’s audiences have come to demand.
By the time you read this review, most of you should have seen “Star Wars.” If not, you will soon enough. It is hard to hide from such a global phenomenon. So that is it: 28 years of pop culture and it is all finally over. It is bittersweet. The grandest adventure in all of cinema history bows out for the last time. It was wonderful, cheesy, exciting and tragic — everything you expected. Still, the mystique and legend of “Star Wars” is by no means over. George Lucas is sure to milk his cash cow in some other shameless way. And we should all be on the lookout for “Indiana Jones 4” in the theaters soon. Until then, so long and may the Force be with you.