After severe fan disappointment with THE PHANTOM MENACE and ATTACK OF THE CLONES, it was obvious that GEORGE LUCAS had to really pull out all the stops for REVENGE OF THE SITH.
This was to be the film, after all, that Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker finally becomes Sith Lord, Darth Vader! A darker approach would be needed, something akin to Irvin Kirshner's monumental THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and although by no means perfect, this third instalment is by far the best of the prequels.
Things begin at breakneck speed with a mighty fleet engagement between Separatist and Republic forces above the planet of Coruscant, where the Separatists have kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine but been thwarted in their escape. Jedi Knights Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker attempt to rescue the Chancellor from the Separatist flagship, only to endure fateful encounters with Count Dooku and new villain, General Grievous.
Events then slow down considerably and we are back to the politics which some thought marred THE PHANTOM MENACE. This time Anakin Skywalker is central to the plot, a pawn in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. He is used by both Palpatine and the JedI Council to spy and report on each other, a role which severely tests his loyalties to both causes. Lots of dialogue follows, but it is the battles which the fans are really waiting for.
When fighting does start, events whiz by at great speed! There are lightsaber duels galore, with even Palpatine showing his combat abilities, and an opportunity for LUCAS to introduce fan favourite Chewbacca (in his pre-partnership days with Han Solo) when Yoda visits the Wookie home world. The jewel in the crown, though, is undeniably the long awaited duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin, newly turned to the Dark Side of the Force and proclaimed Darth Vader! It is certainly worth waiting for.
In among all the action of the film's second half loose ends are tied up which will set future (original trilogy) events in motion. The Jedi Temple is ruthlessly destroyed by legions of Clones, then "Order 66" is given by Palpatine allowing his Clone troops to slaughter their Jedi Generals (in a series of moving scenes), and a now disfigured Palpatine creates the First Galactic Empire with himself installed as Emperor. Meanwhile, Padme gives birth to a certain set of twins while Anakin, critically injured in battle, dons his life-saving, iconic black helmet and armour...
The cast performances are, for the most part, fine. CHRISOPHER LEE sadly has little more than a cameo as Count Dooku this time round, although IAN McDIARMID is superb as Palpatine and EWAN McGREGOR finally puts his mark on the role which SIR ALEC GUINESS had made his own. LUCAS, too, has listened to fan advice and moved hate figure Jar-Jar Binks into the background so his CG creation is barely seen, although he is still heavily dependent on computer animation throughout.
The second disc contains hours of bonus material - trailers and TV spots, several featurettes, a feature-length documentary and the "A Hero Falls" music video. There are also six (rather dialogue heavy) deleted scenes including Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, the future leaders of the Rebel Alliance, discussing rebellion, plus Yoda's arrival on the planet Dagobah.
With a good film and so many features, fans of STAR WARS will certainly find much to enjoy with REVENGE OF THE SITH!