Here we go with the final installment of my revisit to the Star Wars prequels. Here’s my “live blog” while watching Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Here’s a link to previous posts in this series:

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

What a great opening shot that tricks you into thinking you are only looking at two small fighter ships but as the camera moves down, we see a massive space battle with a larger scale than anything we’d ever seen in the series.

This is where things immediately go wrong though, Anakin and Obiwan’s banter is just horrible. “I have a bad feeling about this”, “you’re going to get us both killed”, etc. There’s just no chemistry between them and as much as I like Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Obiwan, Hayden Christensen’s Anakin is getting worse in every scene.

General Grievous is such a missed opportunity. He should have been the character that explained how the emperor was able to create Darth Vader from Anakin’s remnants.

The kill of Count Dooku by Anakin is handled well and is at least slightly believable that he is conflicted as to what he should do. Love Palpatine’s performance in this scene. Ian McDiarmid was so good as the Emperor in these prequels. He’s one of the best parts of the series.

Grievous’s personal guards have a cool design. Feel a bit like the throne room guards for the emperor.

The CG has come a long way by the time this film was made. The robot movements, Jedi tricks, and ship designs are so much smoother and have more weight to them.

As usual, the love story between Padme and Anakin is an absolute disaster. There isn’t an ounce of believability or chemistry between them.

I’m not a big fan of dream plot devices so I’m hating the whole “Padme may die” motivation that is driving Anakin’s decisions.

I feel like George Lucas’ directing in this film is much stronger than the previous two. Good shot selections, great color-grading, nice compositions.

It feels like the entire battle with the Wookies is just there as a crowd-pleaser and makes no sense within the plot. Also, it looks like you are playing Star Wars Battlefront instead of watching a movie.

It’s so frustrating to see the scene where Anakin apologizes to Obiwan and give them this character moment, then have him completely change within less than 40 minutes of screen time with no clear motivations. So poorly handled. It’s just not believable.

Ian McDiarmid is so great in this series. He’s the glue that’s holding everything together. His scene with Anakin where he finally reveals that he is the Sith Lord is actually quite good. Great dialogue and Hayden is pretty great here too. I like that George wrote Palpatine’s character not just to be “evil” but to actually have valid reasons for he’s doing what he’s doing (even if they are immoral).

Again, the CG has come so far in this series. Really complex technical sequences are realized in excellent detail.

Great battle between Obiwan and Grievous but I wish General Grievous had gone out with something more interesting than a blaster shot.

The showdown between Mace and Palpatine could have been so much more epic. Three Jedi masters killed by Palpatine in the first 15 seconds? Come on! He’s powerful but it would have been so much more interesting to see all of them fighting against Palpatine and he still holding his own. Sam Jackson does a good job here though. George sure does love dismemberment.

Why is Anakin so sad that he killed Mace but then only moments later, he’s ready to serve the Emperor? I know he wants Padme to live but it just doesn’t all fit together for me. Seems so rushed. This is where things really fall apart in Anakin’s character arc. How can he go kill all of those Jedi? How does he become completely evil nearly instantaneously?

Just realized that when Palpatine says that the Sith will rule the galaxy and there shall be peace, he’s actually not wrong. He brings the whole war to the end. It might be a horrible fascist regime but he did end the war. The current Senate & Jedi wasn’t doing very good of a job. They really did it to themselves.

When Anakin kills the younglings (really don’t like that name by the way)… oh man… it’s so cheesy. Why would he not only be ready to follow Palpatine’s every word but also kill innocent children? Just bizarre. George had to know this wasn’t working in the script or the edit. Why didn’t he fix it?

George certainly keeps things moving in the final act as most of the Jedi are killed in the next 10 minutes of running time and the Jedi’s suddenly switch from trying to fix the Republic to abandoning everything, giving up, and running. Total surrender.

Mustafar (the lava planet)’s design is brilliant. Exactly, when growing up, as I always imagined it would be.

Poor Obiwan, he has no idea what kind of horrible, dangerous person he’s been mastering. His facial expression when he finds out what Anakin has done is priceless.

As usual, the editing is fabulous. George is so good at balancing lots of storylines, plots, and scenes and cutting seamlessly between them, yet the audience can totally follow everything. This might be Lucas’ best talent, making the movie come together in the edit.

C-3PO will look after me? What’s what Padme says. What was she thinking? She has to know C-3PO is a walking basket case.

Once Padme finds out Anakin killed the younglings, why wasn’t she completely repulsed. Her character would lose it completely. Instead, she talks to Anakin about “helping” him. Crazy.

What really kills me is when Anakin chokes Padme. The ENTIRE REASON Anakin is doing all of these horrible things is to keep her alive. Then in less than 5 seconds, he decides she is a traitor to him and force chokes her?

The fight between Obiwan and Anakin is well staged and pretty epic. Great job there.

I wonder what happened to the guy who had the horns that was Palpatine’s right hand man. He’s nowhere to be found in the original trilogy.

I would have rather seen Yoda and the Emperor do battle with wits and force throws than lightsabers. We’ve seen so many lightsaber battles, it would have been nice if George has surprised us with something truly clever for the showdown between these two Jedi masters. They are so old and there’s so much CG that their sword battles don’t resonate the way the Darth Maul scenes did. Would have been a nice counterpoint to the battle between Anakin and Obiwan to break up all the sword swinging.

I guess they do “throw the senate” at each other but Yoda gives up so quickly (especially when he seems to be winning) that the whole thing becomes kind of anticlimactic.

Ewan McGregor really does a killer job with his final monologue, pleading with Anakin. It’s one of the few times there’s any emotional connection in the film. He’s so good as Obiwan.

I wonder why Obiwan leaves Anakin to suffer and burn? I would expect him to end it quickly because he still feels for Anakin. I realize the plot had to do this for continuity but it could have been explained in a better way.

I like the juxtaposition between Padme’s child birth and Anakin’s retrofit as Darth Vader. Again, great editing and nice dichotomy.

Love the shot of the helmet coming down onto Darth Vader’s head for the first time and then the classic breathing. That’s awesome.

Love the whole “frankenstein” motif of Darth Vader finding out Padme is dead (even the “Noooo” part doesn’t seem so bad in that context).

Overall, this is my 2nd favorite of the prequels (behind Phantom Menace). It’s definitely better than Attack of the Clones in nearly every way but I still have misgivings, mostly because for me, the story of the prequels is all about Anakin’s character arc, and it is so poorly handled here in every way. The jerking character motivations and confusing decisions he makes, throw me completely out of the story and I have difficulty finding my way back in.

So the final tally:

1) The Phantom Menace (pretty great)

2) Attack of the Clones (a disaster)

3) Revenge of the Sith (better but misses the opportunity for greatness)