Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Evil triumphs but fans have nothing to fear as George Lucas completes his saga

Director: George Lucas

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen

Website: http://www.starwars.com/

Revenge of the Sith confirms everything you already knew about George Lucas: he's strong on story, special effects and visuals, but he's a poor director of actors, tends toward unnecessary cuteness, and couldn't dialogue his way out a wet paper bag.

Luckily, in Sith, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

Much of the pre-match hype about Episode III was that this was a dark, dark film. Compared to the rest of the Star Wars series, I guess that's true, but the overall tone of any one of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies is far bleaker than Revenge of the Sith.

That said, Lucas has stripped away most of the childish humor and cutesy characters that blighted Episodes I, II and XI. The much-maligned Jar Jar Binks, for instance, is onscreen for just a couple of seconds - and that's at a funeral.

I'm not a fan of CGI, but Episode III delivers the best computer-generated sequences I've ever seen - the space battles and sci-fi cityscapes are satisfyingly epic, and the all-digital Yoda is far subtler than earlier incarnations.

There's an occasional appearance from one of the unnecessary CGI animals that Lucas seems to love so much but for the most part it's impressive stuff.

The story is clever too, plugging many of the plot holes that Episodes I and II seemed to have opened. (In the process, though, a couple of new ones seem to appear - what happened to Obi Wan's memory during those 20 years on Tatooine?)

Lucas The Storyteller's hard work creating a credible scenario where good Anakin could go bad is almost undone, though, by Lucas The Screenwriter and Lucas The Director. The love scenes between Anakin and Padme are toe-curlingly embarrassing, and Anakin's seduction by the dark side isn't as convincing as it could have been.

While few cast members cover themselves in glory here, Ewan McGregor is perhaps the biggest disappointment, offering more of a mannered Alec Guinness impersonation than an actual performance.

Ian McDiarmid's oily Palpatine and Frank Oz's nuanced vocal turn as Yoda are among the few acting highlights.

None of that really matters though - Revenge of the Sith is visually stunning enough to blind you to its flaws, and cleverly plotted enough to square the Star Wars circle in a satisfying way.

You may even want to re-watch The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones.

PTV Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Czech Title: Star Wars: Epizoda III - Pomsta Sithů
Runtime: 2 hours, 20 minutes

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