Summary: As the Clone Wars come to a climax with the capture of Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi go to the rescue, killing Count Dooku. The Jedi are heroes. Chancellor Palpatine appoints Anakin to the Jedi Council, much to the distaste of the other members of the council, who see this as the Chancellor's attempt to take control of the Jedi Council. They fear that he's prepared to continue to hold onto power. While this is happening, the Chancellor starts to sow mistrust of the Jedi into Anakin. Obi-Wan goes off to hunt down General Grievous, finding and killing him. Anakin finds that Palpatine is the second Sith, and the Mace Windu and three other Jedi move in to kill him. When this fails, due to Anakin's intervention, Anakin pledges himself to Palpatine and becomes Darth Vader. His first assignment is to destroy all the Jedi at the Jedi Temple, which he does with a garrison of Clone Troopers. Palpatine issues an order to all of the Clone Troopers, who turn on their Jedi commanders, killing them. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda are the only two to survive the purge. They are rescued by Senator Bail Organa, who returns them to Coruscant to find out what happened. While they're there, Obi-Wan finds that it was Anakin who was the one who led the attack on the Jedi Temple. He and Yoda split up to try and destroy the Sith, with Yoda going to fight Palpatine. Obi-Wan approached Padme, telling her that Anakin led the attack on the Jedi and she couldn't believe it. She took out her ship to find her husband, with Obi-Wan stowing away. Yoda confronted Palpatine, and the two dueled in the Senate chamber. Padme confronted Anakin, who told her that he didn't lead the attack on the Temple, and that he would overthrow the Emperor, with her at his side. She grew frightened, and when Anakin caught sight of Obi-Wan, he force choked her, and the former master and apprentice duel over the lava flows of Mustafar. Meanwhile, Yoda was beaten back by Palpatine. He runs, and escapes once again with Bail Organa, who leads him off planet. Anakin and Obi-Wan's duel grows fierce and at the end, Obi-Wan slices off Anakin's remaining arm and both legs, sending him sliding close to a lava flow. As he catches on fire, he screams "I HATE YOU" to Obi-Wan, who picks up his lightsaber and leaves. Anakin is rescued by Palpatine shortly thereafter, and is fixed to become Darth Vader. Padme gives birth, but dies during childbirth, leaving the two Jedi to split up the twins. Leia goes to Alderaan with Bail Organa and Luke goes to Tatooine with Obi-Wan.
What worked: This movie was fantastic. It completely met my expectations with most things and exceeded them with others. While it isn't perfect, it was by far the strongest of all the prequel movies. Several things stick out in my mind. First, the movie is well edited, and on a technical level, is probably one of the strongest movies that I've seen in terms of Special Effects. It's amazing how far technology will go in such a short period of time, and everything is a step up for Revenge of the Sith. The space battles, the lightsaber fights, the background scenery, all of it looks completely outstanding. While there are times when things are obviously CGI, overall, it's the most seamless that I've seen. I mentioned Editing a second ago, and this film really stands out from the other movies, with a much different feel for most of the movie, similar in some ways to Empire Strikes Back. Here, the editors cut a lot of scenes together, with much intercutting between important parts of the movie. Two of these scenes really stand out. The cuts between Padme and Vader taking their last and first breaths respectively was a very well done moment. The second, and almost as powerful, the montage of scenes shortly after Palpatine issues his famous Order 66. Following that, we see several well known Jedi cut down by the Clone Troopers under their command, with a wonderful editing and sound behind it that almost brought tears to my eyes.
Storywise, there is no question that this is the best of the Prequels, and the perfect lead-in to the Original Trilogy. Over the past years, I've written a number of essays detailing how I thought this might play out a bit, and I was pleased to see that some of my ideas were correct. We have the final chapter of the story, with the fall of a hero and the rise of the Empire. While we all had a vauge idea of how this would happen, the presentation on the big screen was fantastic, in every regard. The battles, lightsaber and space, the interference of Palpatine/Sideous and the destruction of the Jedi. In some ways, the story, combined with the editing, is almost able to be broken into two parts, the first and second halves. Between the two, there is a very different feel. The first half feels the most like the other five Star Wars movies, with the action, pacing and editing. The second half, however, feels very, very different from the other movies, in an almost artistic way. The colorings and film angles of the shots, but also the storyline, which just carries itself with the momentum from the prior half and other two movies. It's much more fluid and much more depressing than anything else that we've seen. This is not a happy movie, by any stretch.
Acting and Dialogwise, this movie is also the strongest of the prequels. Both Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman have improved greatly with their acting skills, and while neither performs a perfect job, it's much much better than the two that come before it. I was very happy to hear no more lines that were on the level of Agressive Niegotiations from Attack of the Clones, which I still cringe at every time that I watch.
I was thrilled with the movie, and at everything that happened in it. There are some moments there that I just had chills going down my spine, seeing things that were completely outstanding. Things like seeing Alderaan on the screen, the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan, Obi-Wan and Anakin's last moments together, Order 66 and the Jedi Purge, the opening Space Battle, Palpatine's transformation and so much more.
What didn't work: There are several things that I noted that I wasn't pleased with. First, the speed at which some things happend. Anakin's turn to Darth Vader after the fight with Mace Windu, I felt happened too quickly, and much more should have happened there. Anakin essentially goes from What have I done, to I pledge myself to you, in a matter of seconds. There should have been more there. Grievous, I was not very thrilled with at all. He was built up too much in the Expanded Universe and his character fails as a result of that. He felt that he was just there for show, and while some of the fights that he had were spectacular, they were also too short.
Overall: You cannot possibly think to call yourself a Star Wars fan if you do not stop reading this review right now and go out to see it if you haven't yet. Actually, what are you waiting for?!?