The prequels are at an end, this was the end of Anakin Skywalker and the beginning of Darth Vader, so this film needed to be something truly special, and honestly, it was pretty good, but overall, it’s still not as great as it could have, and should have been.
During a rescue mission, Anakin (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor), must face Count Dooku once more. However, this time round, Obi-Wan is knocked unconscious and Anakin is left to display his power as he strikes down Dooku, but despite knowing the Jedi way, under the influence of his close friend Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin decapitates Dooku without trial of judgement, which pushes Anakin one step closer to the dark side of the Force.
Upon his return to Coruscant, Anakin discovers that Padme is pregnant with his child(ren), but after a nightmare of Padme’s death through childbirth haunts Anakin’s mind, much like the visions of his mothers death from Attack of the Clones, Anakin promises to find a way to save her. After being told a story of how a Sith Lord learned to create and save lives using the force, Anakin is persuaded to learn the ways of the dark side.
Later in the film some dark secrets are revealed that uncover the truth about the return of the Sith, which forces multiple characters to take more drastic actions. Windu goes head to head with Darth Sidious, but just at the point of victory, Anakin defeats Windu and takes the final step to the dark side, as he is renamed to Darth Vader by Sidious. Shortly after his reveal, Sidious commands the clone army to execute order sixty-six which turns out to be the command for a Jedi genocide. We discover just how far and wide the Sith influence has reached, as the Jedi order falls and the tables are turned as the Senate is easily manipulated into believing the Jedi are to blame for recent attacks.
Obi-Wan discovers something far worse, after he and Yoda, the only suspected survivors of Order 66, return to Coruscant and find a hologram that sees Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan’s padawan and closest friend, slaughter younglings within the temple. Yoda informs Obi-Wan that he must find Anakin and stop him. On the volcanic planet of Mustafar, Obi-Wan has his first show down with his former apprentice, which ends with Kenobi on the high ground.
The plot to Revenge of the Sith is much more refined than the previous two films. It knows what it wants to say, and knows where it’s going, BUT, that doesn’t mean it was perfectly executed. It still feels very rushed, and there are some very questionable decisions made which could have been done much better if they took the time to iron out specific details, or if they had put much more effort in the previous two films.
Until this point, we had only truly seen Anakin perform one truly bad deed that would lead him to the darkside, which was kill the Tusken Raiders that kidnapped his mother. We also saw him go against the Jedi code by falling in love with Padme and marrying her. That feels like a much smaller step compared to genocide of a tribe of raiders, but it’s a step none the less.
In this third installment, the film practically kicks off with him being influenced by the darkside, with him decapitating Dooku under the instruction of Chancellor Palpatine, but the transition from point A to B from Attack of the Clones to Revenge of the Sith, is simply unclear. There’s no clear reason why Anakin is suddenly just doing what he wants no matter the cost. Sure he’s always been a loose cannon but he even says that it’s not the Jedi way, so why would he suddenly decide that he can just ignore this one rule, especially considering he already cut off Dooku’s hands. It simply doesn’t make much sense to have him transition so quickly before we’ve seen the rest of the film which does a slightly better job at evolving Anakin’s character, just slightly. There’s still a few jumps here and there but it’s somewhat better understood if you really focus on it.
The prequel trilogy, in it’s entirety, is the story that shows us the downfall of the Jedi, the failings that lead to their own demise. From the disbelief in the Sith returning despite all of their encounters in The Phantom Menace, to them suddenly trusting in a clone army they previously had no clue about in Attack of the Clones, and now, despite knowing the truth about Anakin and Padme’s relationship, and Anakin’s tendency to disobey Jedi protocol, Obi-Wan and the Jedi Council failed to realise that he was going to be a real problem.
I know this is a film and it’s all for plot development, but I’ve always said, if Windu just killed Sidious instead of talking to Anakin, it could have been done with and Anakin would have been dealt with accordingly, OR if Anakin did what he was told instead of showing up, Windu would have respected Anakin and maybe Skywalker would have been a master on the council, but that’s just my opinion when I watch it. I’m sure there’s a theory out there by someone far more experienced in the Star Wars universe than I but a film is all about how an individual views it and that’s just how I saw it.
What I like
The action and CGI in this film is superior to the first two films in my opinion. The showdown on Mustafar is an exciting, edge of your seat display of acrobatic duelling that really hits home with the awe I felt as a child watching it for the first time. I always loved the originals first, because my Dad showed me them in the right order, by starting with the originals and then watching the prequels, but when you see the superior special effects that were top tier at the time the film was released (one thing Star Wars has always thrived on), which gives us two Jedi fighting on a planet covered with lava, it really does grab your attention.
Each film gives us new characters to love, be they good or evil, and Revenge of the Sith gave us the wheezing sith droid known as General Greivous, but much like Maul, his reign was packed into one singular film that doesn’t give us time to really appreciate his character. Greivous really shines when you watch The Clone Wars series, but that series didn’t come out until 3 years after Revenge of the Sith, so we only had the film and a few expanded universe stories to give us what we needed from Greivous. Seeing a droid with not one, not two, but four lightsabers and the ability to move and fight against the Jedi, really changed the universe of Star Wars and now we have more and more droids that are far superior to the previous three droid types (Battle droid, super battle droid and droideka) from the first two films.
What I didn’t like
Anything I didn’t like has probably already been said in the story section of this review, but that’s not everything. The ending is disappointing with this film. There I said it. After Obi-Wan leaves Anakin for dead, and Sidious is giving him his new armour and limbs, we see the birth of Luke and Leia, but there is no real set up to this and one of the worst decisions ever made, is having Padme dying simply cos she has lost the will to live. If that was a thing, a lot of the worlds population in the real world, would be decreased very quickly. It’s a poor excuse for killing off Portman’s character, especially since we just saw Anakin force choking her not long before the end, so you could have easily used some excuse about crushed airways or internal damage of some sort. The will to live is a poor excuse in a technology filled world especially when they literally have the ability to rebuild entire people.
The most exciting point in the film is learning of Qui-Gon’s message to Yoda about how to use the force to return from the ethereal plain as a ghostly figure. There was due to be more of this scene but it was cut.
The decisions made in the prequels really take away the joy that could have been shared over what should have been a truly special trilogy. The writing and editing decision made them a poor, half-assed far cry from the Star Wars we were all hoping for. I enjoy these films for what they gave us, but they are by far, some of the most missable films I have ever seen. I could easily watch the original trilogy, and the sequel trilogy without watching the prequels, but I hope that the new projects being released by Disney Plus will help mend the broken stories and give us a real journey.
All of the Star Wars films, including Attack of the Clones, are available to watch on Disney Plus. Just visit the Star Wars section and find the films category.