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Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Full-length documentary produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. Two new featurettes – one exploring the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker as the Chosen One, the other providing an in-depth look at the movie’s eye-popping stunts. 15-part collection of Lucasfilm’s groundbreaking "web documentaries."

IT'S fair to say that Revenge of the Sith is the Star Wars movie that everyone has been waiting for ever since George Lucas announced that he was to film the prequels in 1999.

Yet given the relative disappointments of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, few could have imagined that the director could end the franchise on such a high.

In returning to the Dark Side, however, Lucas has created a masterpiece to rival The Empire Strikes Back; one that succeeds in drawing the saga to a richly spectacular finale that delivers on a visual level, as well as emotionally.

The film's grim sense of inevitability is its biggest asset, completing Anakin Skywalker's transformation to Darth Vader with effortless aplomb and providing fans of the series with everything they could wish for into the bargain.

Lucas' complex tale has always been laced with tragedy, yet Revenge of the Sith unfolds in such a fashion that the fine line between good and evil has seldom seemed so heartbreaking.

Set a few years after Attack of the Clones, the film finds Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) increasingly at odds with his own ambitions - torn between his marital obligations to his pregnant wife, Padme (Natalie Portman), and his swashbuckling exploits as (potentially) the greatest Jedi of them all.

Haunted by horrific visions of Padme's death during childbirth, Anakin gradually falls under the evil spell of the Republic's Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who suggests that her safety can only be guaranteed by exploring the dark side of the Force.

Yet such power comes at great cost and involves the betrayal of the Jedi, including Anakin's friend and mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor).

The ensuing deception results in much bloodshed, as Anakin almost single-handedly massacres his former allies, while becoming blinded to the values he once held dear.

One of the most surprising aspects of Revenge of the Sith is just how grown-up the whole thing feels. It is not a film for children and is a frequently violent affair.

While the previous two prequels have pandered to the younger generation in terms of look, tone and performance, Revenge of the Sith finally comes of age in remarkably involving fashion.

So while there are plenty of crowd-pleasing set piece moments, the film never loses sight of the emotional cost of what's involved, providing a number of performances that serve to ensure that the climax is as memorable as audiences hoped it would be.

The chemistry between Christensen and McGregor is particularly strong, ensuring that their final lightsaber duel is given the impact it merits, while the political machinations of McDiarmid's evil chancellor provide some wonderfully malevolent moments.

Even the long-awaited emergence of Darth Vader is given the right sort of gravitas, being neatly offset by the birth of Padme's twins that offer the New Hope of the next film in the series.

Along the way, Lucas provides a near-perfect blend of passion and excitement, including glimpses of Chewbacca and his army of Wookies, the building of the Death Star and, best of all, plenty of seminal Yoda moments.

Those who thought that the Star Wars phenomenon was becoming a spent Force in cinema folklore had better think again as Revenge of the Sith is a mighty return to form that brings down the curtain in masterly fashion.

Lucas has repaid his fans' patience with an epic that is certain to become a classic.

Feel the Force: The George Lucas interview
The Emperor on being worse than Satan

Hayden Christensen recalls 'Vader's day'

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