Published Jun 01, 2005Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans are a strange breed to be sure, ones loyal past the point of fault. Forget about the dressing up, the ardent dedication to any reality but this one, the obsessing over every minute detail of those escapist worlds, and the less said about the toy/DVD/game/book/etc. collecting the better. Also, like a poor misguided lover in an abusive relationship, they'll put up with all types of cruelty and keep coming back over countless years of pain and suffering for more (the Matrix sequels, Star Trek: Enterprise), praying for that small token of affection that proves "they still love me " and it was "worth it."
Make no mistake, during the ill-conceived but eagerly anticipated Star Wars prequel trilogy (namely The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars), Lucas had lost all respect for his fan base, treating them like he was the Ike Turner of yore on a rampage and they were well, you get the idea. But, although it took him nearly six years of horribly wooden dialogue, incredibly stilted acting, offensively stereotypical alien characters, a plot Swiss-cheesed with holes and, yes, mountains and mountains of impressive effects and battle scenes, Lucas has finally given his fan base what they wanted: Darth Vader killing Jedi. Well, kind of.
While Anakin does finally become Darth Vader during the course of ROTS, he's in the iconic armour for only a few minutes and the bulk of the Jedi killing is done by the Republic Commandos. But, thankfully, Revenge of the Sith is undeniably the best of the three prequels, even though those ranking it second overall in the series (behind Empire, of course) are misguided and doing so probably because of the "since it's not utter crap it's got to be brilliant" factor, especially in comparison to what has recently come before it.
Revenge is the loose-end destroyer, the film that connects this trilogy to the original; it's the final chapter in Anakin's journey from annoying child to whiney teen to iconic bad-ass, and with its completion, changes the entire arc and focus of the original trilogy. It's the climax of the "love story" between Padmé and Anakin, it's the answer to how all the Jedi were wiped out, how the Republic and a certain senator from Naboo became the Empire and the Emperor through an orchestrated battle with Separatists and a clone army that allowed him to seize control. It's the origin and separation of the fabled twins, and the exile of the last remaining Jedi, Yoda and Obi-Wan. It's the explanation of why the droids have no memory, although why Vader and Obi-Wan don't remember them is never explained.
Unquestionably, it is also the darkest of the series. And while it's fulfilling to finally see the climatic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan that results in the legendary incarnation of Lord Vader (in Lucas's homage to Frankenstein, no less), or the visually overwhelming space battle that begins ROTS, or basically anything involving the Emperor (the battle with Windu or Yoda), ROTS still has its share of flaws that keep it from greatness.
Unquestionably ROTS stumbles whenever Lucas returns to the love story between Anakin and Padmé, and although it's his fear of losing her that drives him towards the dark side, the emotional weight and impetus for such a dramatic moral realignment never seems convincing. Then there's the dialogue, which again sometimes stumbles into horrific clichés ("hold me like you did on Naboo") and stiff delivery, although, granted, it's probably at its least worst here. Some huge plot holes remain (why does the Emperor have the Separatists kidnap him? Why are the Jedi such jerks?) and the appearance of characters without any thought of introduction, exposition or back-story (i.e., General Grievous) assumes everyone watched the Clone Wars cartoon (they didn't) or read the literature. And what ever happened to the Force and its philosophical underpinnings?
There's also one of the worst cinematic clichés ever in ROTS, where, after learning that Padmé is dead, a freshly armoured Vader unleashes his remorse and lets out a "nooooooooo!!!" as the camera pulls out and up. Of course, since he's in the mask and now voiced by James Earl Jones, the "nooooooo!!!" is utterly flat and emotionless, and almost cringe-worthy. Thankfully, the cringe-worthy factor has dropped considerably since Phantom Menace.
In the end, ROTS isn't the greatest Star Wars movie ever told, but it's good, and the best of the current trilogy. With fans being fed shit and being told it was chocolate for six long, long years, anything that isn't crap will be greeted with open arms and reconciliations. After nearly alienating his entire fan-base, Lucas has finally given them something that shows them he still cares, although, not enough to actually kill off Jar-Jar. Damn you, Lucas, damn you. (Fox)