It has been 15 years since the final installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Since then, time has allowed many fans to seen the film and the prequel trilogy as a whole in a new light.
On May 5, 2005 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released. It was seen by many as a steady landing to a trilogy that had been divisive to say the least. While many fans who grew up with the original trilogy dismissed the prequels, an entire new generation of fans was raised with them.
The film’s plot is dark and depressing. It sees the end of the Old Republic and the near extinction of the Jedi Order as well as Anakin’s final descent into darkness as he becomes Darth Vader. The film’s sweeping action sequences as well as its powerful drama make it not only one of the best prequel films, but one of the best in the saga.
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The movie begins on a high note as the viewer is placed smack dab in the middle of the Battle of Coruscant (which we now know is happening at the same time as the Siege of Mandalore). John Williams’ score sets the perfect tone for the opening sequence of the film. In that sequence, we are re-introduced to Anakin and Obi-Wan, now battle hardened veterans of the Clone Wars. The pair are sent to rescue Chancellor Palpatine and in doing so come face to face with legions of battle droids and eventually Count Dooku himself.
After the execution of Count Dooku, Anakin and Obi Wan successfully bring Palpatine to Coruscant (despite a not-so-happy landing). This first 20 or so minutes is some of the most action-packed fun in all of Star Wars. After this, darkness is soon to follow.
What follows over the next two hours is some of the most breathtaking storytelling ever put to screen. George Lucas’ vision for the final installment of the prequels is executed to near perfection.
After the Clone Wars end with General Grevious’ death and the the Jedi’s arrest attempt of Darth Sidious, Lucas reaches a level of drama unmatched in any of the other films. The climax of the film culminates in the iconic duel on Mustafar. Once again, John Williams’ score tears into the scene as Obi-Wan and Anakin fight what is known among fan as the “Battle of the Heroes” (after Williams’ score for this scene). The end of the fight produces one of the most powerful scenes not just in Star Wars, but perhaps in all of cinema.
Obi Wan Kenobi’s speech to Anakin after he defeats the new Sith lord is not just emotional. It is a nearly scene that is almost Shakespearean in showing how the now broken bond of two brothers.
The story itself is a fascinating tragedy of rise and fall. Anakin Skywalker was a boy born into slavery and was suddenly ripped away from his family for over a decade. He then had to to watch his mother die in his arms which led him to make a promise to never let anyone he loves suffer. After being rebuked by his elders, he does what any rational person would do, he makes a difficult decision to save the person he loves most.
While many fans argue over the quality of the prequel films, one thing is true: Revenge of the Sith saved the Star Wars prequels.
It helped many fans to see the trilogy in a new light. It has also aged rather well, especially considering its early use of CGI. It brought a sense of completeness to the Star Wars saga (although the sequel trilogy was yet to come). It is seen as among the best of the prequel films and for good reason. The pacing of the movie is much better than its two predecessors and the dialogue does not sound nearly as clunky as it did in Episode I or II. For a movie where viewers knew what was going to happen, Episode III still packs in plenty of twists and turns.
The legacy of Episode III has extended far beyond its release in 2005. Three years after it was released, Star Wars: The Clone Wars premiered on Cartoon Network and has just concluded its seven-season run. The show proved that fans wanted more prequel content and Dave Filoni and his team certainly delivered.
It is said that time heals all wounds and it seems that is beginning to be the case for the prequel trilogy. Episode III has certainly helped in that healing process as it is now seen by many fans as one of best films of the Skywalker saga.
Where does Revenge of the Sith rank on your list of Star Wars movies?