So the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived, after some 27 years. Was it worth the wait?
Note: while the review tries to be spoiler-free, it’s almost a given that spoilers will abound in the discussion. Like it matters, because you’re all gonna see this movie no matter what I write.
Cast & Crew
The big stars are the same as in Episodes I & II:
Hayden “Hey, at least I’m not Jake Lloyd” Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, and Samuel L. Jackson. Joining them are a lot of special effects.
Star Wars Episode III was written and directed by George “Richer Than God” Lucas.
Well, if you saw the ones before, and the ones after, this pretty much fills in the gaps. Anakin Skywalker is slowly seduced to evil by Darth Sidious, the Jedi are more-or-less extinguished, and a lot of things explode.
Let’s face it, Star Wars is a big part of modern culture. There have been people waiting for the big blowoff here for longer than some of my readers have been alive. Is there any way at all that anything could possibly live up to all this hype and buildup?
Well, no, not unless the theaters somehow put liquid sex into the popcorn butter.
But, as blowoffs go, this wasn’t bad at all. We get a plausible excuse for “cuter-than-thou” young Anakin to turn into the ultimate bad guy of our age, good fight scenes worthy of the Star Wars legacy, and at long last a sense of closure.
Just because it’s what we all knew would happen, but it’s still spiffy to see it: The first time Darth Vader, in full armour, appears. Right on its heels is the scene that follows with Vader and the Emperor.
The scenes with Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen. These two have no chemistry at all, they didn’t in the last one, they still don’t, and it’s so much harder to believe they’re in love, which is definitely a big part of the story. You can’t really feel the sense of loss Anakin feels, and that’s a big loss.
Well, let’s face it, this movie is basically the middle of the story, so originality isn’t gonna be its strong suit. But there were plenty of nice “intermediate” touches — ships that are the predecessors of the X-Wings and TIE fighters we’ve all seen in the later movies, and I’ve just gotta give some love to General Grievous. Dorky name, but four-saber kung-fu is definitely spiffy. So I’ll give it 3 out of 6.
Special effects: It’s Lucasfilm, It’s Star Wars, do you really have to ask? The thousands of little touches that you barely notice do add up. The only reason I’m only giving this one 5 instead of 6 points is because the computer-generated Yoda just “seems” off in some way I can’t quite pin down.
Story: This is the big payoff, folks. While we all knew what would happen here, at least in broad strokes, all the details add up. 5 out of 6.
Acting: Aside from that little chemistry thing, the acting is fairly solid throughout. Ian McDiarmid, of course, has probably the most important role, and his subtly insidious portrayal of the kind, well-intentioned Chancellor who’s also the evil mastermind is worth the price of admission all by itself. Even Hayden Christensen, who’s been mocked in the past for a somewhat wooden performance, turns in a passable performance. It seemed to me like Natalie Portman almost phoned in her performance, though; for a role so important, no amount of Ian McDiarmid can really balance it out. Thus, 4 out of 6 here, and that includes a bonus point for “no speaking role for Jar-Jar”.
Emotional response: To borrow from fiziko’s review of Episode II: There is just something awe inspiring when you see the words, “A long time age, in a galaxy far, far away…” and then having it cut the Star Wars logo right as the music queues up. And that just about says it all. This is such a big part of modern pop culture (do I even need the “pop” part in there?) that it’s hard not to have some kind of response to the music, and to the movie that follows. My Low Point above still holds, though… to truly appreciate how far Anakin has fallen, we really need to experience how much he had to lose. 5 out of 6.
Production: You barely notice it, and that’s the whole point. 6 out of 6.
Overall, this is the culmination of a whole generation’s hopes and fears. (Specifically, hoping it’d be worth it, and fearing it would be a stinkfest like Episode I.) Everything all ties in fairly nicely, though, and I’ll give it 6 out of 6 here.
By the numbers, that’s 34 out of 42, the same score as Episode II. Let the “so, was it really better or worse than that” debate begin.