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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 May, 2005, 00:24 GMT 01:24 UK
Review: Star Wars - Episode III
By James Bregman
BBC News website

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Anakin Skywalker succumbs to the dark side in Episode III
The sixth and final film in the Star Wars saga outdoes its recent predecessors in style and brings the series to a conclusion that is largely satisfying.

This long-awaited finale is imperfect, with flashes of absolute brilliance sitting side by side with shockingly silly moments.

However, Revenge of the Sith is breathtaking more often than it is ridiculous and shouldn't disappoint the fans who have waited 28 years for the series to come full circle.

It is the episode linking the new trilogy of "prequels" with the original three films that kicked off with 1977's Star Wars.

Cocky youngster Anakin Skywalker must complete his transformation into the monstrous Darth Vader, who has already been the villain of the earlier movies and father of its twin heroes.

Jedis abandoned

When last we met in 2002's Attack of the Clones, the universe was on the brink of all-out war and Anakin was beginning his journey to the dark side, signalling his intentions with frowns and gratuitous acts of violence.

Now he's in full flow, abandoning the guidance of Jedi tutors and succumbing to the influence of sinister Senator Palpatine, whose lust for power is becoming increasingly clear.

Against a backdrop of intergalactic conflict, Anakin agonises over which path would best serve him and pregnant wife Padme.

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Yoda is vexed by the rise of Darth Vader

It would be hard to dispute that Revenge of the Sith feels meatier than the previous two films of the second trilogy, thanks largely to a notably darker tone.

A purposeful plot ticks along at speed, dispensing with needless action interludes and comedy characters. The plentiful death and destruction mean this is not a movie for small kids.

The action scenes have real freshness about them, shot with more motion and vigour than Episode I and II's oddly flat battles, and many set-pieces are nothing short of magnificent.

An impressive opening space dogfight is swiftly trumped by lightsaber duels in which several key players get to face off.

Hayden Christensen does a fine job as the declining Anakin, playing him as a complex tragic hero rather than just a bad egg. The chemistry between him and the delightfully nefarious Palpatine is far greater than the rapport he had with noble-but-dull teacher Obi Wan Kenobi.

'Cheesy lines'

Wheezing new cyborg baddie General Grievous is entertaining enough and there are strong performances from brooding heroes Samuel L Jackson and Jimmy Smits.

The biggest annoyance comes from an unexpected source - Yoda. His backward-constructed sentences start to grate unlike ever before, and by the end you'll be desperate for the little green sage to shut up.

Cheesy lines make a comeback - the more stoic the debate, the less elegant the dialogue becomes, and even actors as good as Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman can do little about it.

There are probably more lame utterances in this film than the other five put together.

But other inevitable ingredients are more welcome.

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Chewbacca and friends give it some serious Wookie
It's beautiful to look at, with director George Lucas making typically fruitful use of his arsenal of digital movie-making tools.

The Wookie planet of Kashyyyk - a computer-enhanced take on Phuket in Thailand - is particularly pleasing and, as usual, every last inch of screen space is loaded with detail.

John Williams' score is subtle but delivers many a familiar sting and a new theme for the burgeoning menace of Darth Vader.

When the final scenes roll with characters and locations familiar from the original 28-year-old film, you'll certainly feel that the series has been brought to a worthy close and that the maligned Episodes I and II retrospectively make a little more sense.

But most of all - and appropriately enough - you'll feel compelled to re-watch the original trilogy.




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