In a word, “Wow.”
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time imagining how the original “Star Wars” story would end.
Some of my imagining was half-baked. I was convinced that Darth Vader was lying about being Luke’s father, for instance. I figured Vader as a bit player in the final movie, set to be killed off by Luke and “the Other” about halfway through, just a warm-up for the real confrontation with the Emperor (“the Other,” by the way, was almost certainly a sprightly young guy of about my age, height, and looks). Luke and the Rebels would storm the Imperial Palace, overthrow the Empire, and have one hell of a party–with no singing teddy bears.
I imagined a vast, sweeping final battle, but instead we got a Death Star rehash and Ewoks. It took another 22 years for something very close to that last adolescent vision to come to the screen: “Revenge of the Sith” is in scope, story, and spectacle, everything “Return of the Jedi” should have been, but wasn’t.
It’s also something the first two prequels ought to have been: story-rich and emotionally engaging. Where “Episode I” elicited virtually no emotions from the audience beyond disappointment, and “Episode II” only brief delight when Yoda joins the fray, the final film grabs you to the point of being wrenching. Even better, there’s not a single utterance from the dreaded Binks in the entire two hours and 22 minutes of “Episode III.”
That’s probably enough before jumping into spoiler territory; more after the jump. I strongly suggest that you stop here until after you see the movie. I went in almost entirely spoiler-free, beyond knowing what everybody knew from the previous films, and it was worth it. But suffice to say: see it. As I suspected, The Pod is full of crap. At long last, this really is the one we’ve been waiting for.
Oh, wait, one more thing: the alleged Bush-bashing stuff has been completely overblown. Trust me on this one. If you get offended by this movie on political grounds, you probably also go into a frothing rage when the car in front of you turns on its left-turn signal. If it weren’t for the dumb press coverage, you wouldn’t even notice the supposed “controversial” bits.
Okay, here come the spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Regarding the original films, I never really bought into the redemption of Darth Vader. The character never showed any sign of wanting to be redeemed, for one thing. Vader enjoyed being evil–which was, of course, why he was such a memorable villain in the first place. There was never any context for his redemption, no reason to think he deserved or desired it