Upon its 2002 release, Attack of the Clones received better reviews than The Phantom Menace but wasn’t as financially successful. While it did pull in almost $650 million worldwide, it was vastly overshadowed by the previous film’s financial success. Domestically, the film was outgrossed by Spider-Man and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which were more well-received. Internationally, it was outgrossed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and ranks as the lowest-grossing Star Wars film. Before its release, however, Lucas already began writing the final installment in the prequel trilogy before filming in 2003. In between the two films, an animated miniseries, Star Wars: Clone Wars, was released to fill in the story gaps. Interestingly, this next installment was the first one to receive a PG-13 rating, whereas the others were rated PG. Finally, 2005 saw the release of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) attempt to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). They manage to rescue him, but unfortunately General Grievous (Matthew Wood), commander of the droid army, escapes their capture. Anakin learns that Padmé (Natalie Portman) is pregnant and gets worried when he has visions of her dying in labor. Palpatine appoints Anakin to be his representative on the Jedi Council, much to the dismay of the other Jedi. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan travels to the planet Utapau to confront Grievous while Yoda (Frank Oz) assists the Wookies on Kashyyk. As Anakin starts to get closer to the Chancellor, he learns that Palpatine is secretly a Sith Lord. Palpatine manages to convert Anakin to the Dark Side and makes him his new apprentice, christening him Darth Vader. It all culminates in the extermination of the Jedi and the formation of the Galactic Empire.
Though the prequels overall aren’t great, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is easily the strongest one. Right from the opening scene, this gets right into the action and keeps things engaging for the first 30 minutes. Once the Chancellor is rescued, things start to slow down for a bit, but this time, it’s not boring. Granted, there’s still some stilted acting and bad writing on display, but it’s nowhere near as bad as before. As with the other films, Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, and Frank Oz are giving solid performances. Natalie Portman also does a good job, but even she can’t save some of the terrible writing here. While his acting still isn’t great, this is easily the best performance Hayden Christensen’s given in these movies. His best moments are when he has no lines and acts specifically with his facial expressions.
Admittedly, the way that Christopher Lee and General Grievous are killed off so suddenly is a bit anticlimactic. However, that ties in with a larger problem the prequels as a whole have: there are no real surprises. If you’ve seen the original trilogy, you already know where the story is ultimately going to lead, making it pointless. That said, seeing how the Empire formed, how Darth Vader came about, and what happened to the Jedi is interesting. It helps that this film has easily some of the best action sequences of the prequels, especially towards the end. Plus, John Williams’ score is by far some of his best work, particularly “Battle of the Heroes”. Even if it’s not saying much, this is still a pretty good film compared to the other prequels. Overall, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith is the strongest in a less-than-stellar trilogy.
Buy Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RTay6z