The film opens with a big space battle - fair enough. Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor are on a mission to rescue Ian McDiarmid from Christopher Lee in what we presume is a put-up job, although it's never made clear. Lee is killed off pretty swiftly in a scene that is very effective if you've seen Return Of The Jedi, but not to worry - he's in cahoots with the leader of the Seperatists, a half-droid creature called General Greivous. Yes, that is his name.
Two problems with the film present themselves here. One is that, as always the politics are interminable. The other is Greivous. He's an entirely CGI-character, not as bad as Jar Jar by any means, but the problem is that he just doesn't work. The character fails to be either impressive or interesting and as he takes up much of the first half of the movie, we suffer. Still, Lucas has now reduced Jar Jar to two appearances and one line in the whole movie, so it's not all bad news. Ahmed Best's name in the end credits is clearly a cruel joke.
Mcgergor's Obi Wan Kenobi, searching for something to do, goes after Greivous and finds himself in a battle sequence that feels like it's in a Pixar movie. Meanwhile, Christensen's Anakin becomes closer and closer to Palpatine and more and more estranged from Sam Jackson and the rest of the Jedi Council. Oh, and his wife is pregnant. Portman gets almost nothing to do this time around.
The film really picks up at about the half-way stage. McDiarmid reveals his true nature and is allowed a light-sabre duel with half the Jedi Council. He uses the Force-lightning from "Jedi", which backfires and causes his face to look, well, like the Emperor. Jackson buys it only when Anakin finally chooses a side and chops his hand off, leaving Palpatine to finish the job. This film's obsessed with limbs being chopped off! Turned to the dark side, Anakin is dubbed "Darth Vader". No explanation is given. He is then sent off to kill the Jedi in the "Temple". When it gets there, it turns out they're children. He does indeed kill them all - off-screen. But the scene is spoilt by a kid who makes Phantom Menace's Jake Lloyd seem like Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver - after this moppet speaks, you WANT Vader to wipe them out! Meanwhile, the clone warriors turn on the Jedi in a very effective montage sequence that sees all the Jedi wiped out. Sole survivors, of course, are McGregor and Yoda. Yoda has been hanging out on the planet of the Wookkies for NO REASON WHATSOEVER! We get to see Chewbacca give the green fella a piggy-back, but his inclusion in the film is never more than tokenistic.
So things begin to spiral towards the inevitable conclusion. Palpatine dispatches Anakin to a volcano planet named Mustafar (er, James Earl Jones's character in The Lion King) followed by Padme, unable to believe what he has done, with Obi Wan as a stowaway. Oh, C3PO goes too. I can now safely say that 3PO too has NO ROLE in ANY of the prequels and is only here to satisfy fans. R2 at least gets some action (if a little silly).
Palpatine gets into a fight with Yoda. Ooh, boy. Some real good stuff here - the two of them fight in the Republic's council chamber, a very satisfying payoff to having put up with talky scenes on that set for three films now. It does give rise, however, to some unbelievable dialogue. Yoda speaks like a parody of Yoda - he actually says "Not if anything to do with it I have!" I expected him to follow it up with "Feel lucky punk do you? Mmm? Ahead you go - my day make!" On Mustafar, Anakin gets angry at Padme's rejection and strangles her a la Darth Vader in film 1. Obi Wan stops him and them duel. Yes, it is a very good duel, but somehow it doesn't have the sense of occasion that other duels have had. This is fine, though, because at the end we get to see Anakin burning up horribly - this scene probably the sole reason behind the PG-13 cert.
So Palpatine rescues Anakin and puts him into the Vader suit. We get to see Vader walk and hear him talk - briefly. I'd have liked a bit more, personally. Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia and promptly dies. The film ends with a million loose ends hurriedly tied up. A pretty bad lapse sees Yoda inform Obi Wan that Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson's character in Phantom Menace) has returned to tell him how to survive death - but we never see Jinn nor is this built upon. It's the thinnest possible excuse for why Alec Guinness becomes a ghost in the original film. Anyway, ROTS ends with, well Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru staring into the Tatooine suns-set with a baby in their arms.
There's a lot of criticism here. But I'm a Star Wars fan, and this is still a 7/10 film. There are loads of good moments, mainly involving deaths, light-sabres or both. Christensen is absolutely fine, McDarmid is fantastic and the otehrs pass muster. McGregor finally gets to show real emotion when yelling at the dying Anakin. And it does feel like the motion picture event it should be. It could have been better and the first half is a waste of time. But I'm glad I saw it.
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