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'Star Wars' From Worst to Best

5. "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith"

“Revenge of the Sith” aims for the classic tragedy -- familiar as Oedipus -- where the hero risks everything to avoid a horrible future, only to bring it to pass through his own efforts. Haunted by a glimpse into the future --Padmé’s death in childbirth -- Anakin gives up his very soul to save his wife, and ends up dooming her to her fate.

As in “Attack of the Clones,” weak dialogue and character development plague “Revenge of the Sith.” The film presents Anakin’s difficult position well -- his concern for his secret wife (Jedi are not allowed to get married) conflicts with his loyalty to the Jedi Order, even as his ambition to become a Jedi Master conflicts with his loyalty to Chancellor Palpatine (who is the Dark Lord of the Sith). Events force the hero to choose his wife and Palpatine over the Jedi Order, a decision which costs him Padmé’s and nearly his own life.

The Official Theatrical Poster for "Revenge of the Sith," Copyright Lucasfilm The Official Theatrical Poster for "Revenge of the Sith," Copyright Lucasfilm

The story works, but the pacing fails spectacularly. Mere moments pass between Anakin’s action of incredible loyalty to the Jedi -- revealing Palpatine as a Sith Lord -- and his oath to destroy the order completely. While Palpatine tells Anakin, “Do not hesitate -- show no mercy -- only then will you be strong enough with the dark side to save Padmé,” it does not follow that the former Jedi would so quickly turn to kill other Jedi without any strain of conscience.

When Anakin does become a Sith, his expressions from the Dark Side sound more like the mewling protestations of a frustrated teen, rather than the cunning dictates of a forceful villain. Anakin laughably tells Obi-Wan, “I have brought peace, justice, freedom, and security to my new empire,” then warns, “don’t make me kill you.”

The worst dialogue in the entire series then commences: “If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy!” Obi-Wan responds -- to the confusion of everyone. “Only a Sith deals in absolutes. I will do what I must.” Isn’t it an absolute to kill a Sith? Anakin cockily responds, “You will try.” Then comes a tremendous lightsaber battle -- one of the best action sequences in all Star Wars, but one completely devoid of compelling dialogue. It’s evil Anakin against good Obi-Wan, no questions asked as to why or what they’re really fighting about. Action for action’s sake.

Nevertheless, “Revenge of the Sith” features some fascinating world building -- from the Nordic landscape of the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk to the volcanic Mustafar, which features the epic Obi-Wan/Anakin duel. While the destruction of the Republic comes off as trite (with Padmé's “This is how liberty dies -- with thunderous applause”), Palpatine’s use of senate platforms as weapons in his duel with Yoda is particularly apt.