Happy May the fourth everybody. On this most celebrated of days for “Star Wars” fans and in a year where we will see the beloved saga continue, lets take a look back at our last journey to a galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” marked the end of the prequels that began with “The Phantom Menace” in 1999. “Episode III” is easily the best of that trilogy as it finally delivered on the promise of seeing Anakin Skywalker turn into the legendary villain Darth Vader. That being said, calling “Episode III” the best of the prequels is like winning third place in an ugly contest.
I’ll admit that at the time I first saw “Episode III” I was enthralled by it; the light saber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin was about all you could ask for and to finally see the transformation of Vader and the beginning of the original trilogy was a euphoric moment. Though it was fleeting.
After the initial shine wears off – and it wears off rather quickly on revisits – “Episode III” may still have been the best of the prequels, but by that by no means saves it from being a mess. George Lucas instituted another middling villain in Grievous, the film is stuffed to the brim with too much CGI and there is essentially no reason to care for any of these characters.
The biggest problem, clearly, is Anakin. Despite the spectacle that “Star Wars” is, the original trilogy relied on the trio of Luke, Han and Leia and the prequels needed that same support to come from Anakin. However, both the character, who was poorly written by Lucas, and Hayden Christensen playing him were a travesty. Christensen was not able to elevate one of the more tragic characters in cinema to much more than a whiny caricature.
It wasn’t all Christensen though, the entire cast is essentially wooden cut outs of fine actors. Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, even Samuel L. Jackson give shell of performances. A large part of that has to do with the awkward script from Lucas, but then again “Star Wars” scripts have always been filled with unusual, moderately awkward dialogue.
Of course, the most awkward of scenes has now come to be remembered in infamy. The one sequence that truly works in “Episode III” is the transformation Anakin has to become Darth Vader, juxtaposed with the birth of Luke and Leia. However, all that comes tumbling down when Vader yells out “no” in despair after hearing the news of Padmé’s death and the physical reaction given. The scene goes from powerful to comical.
At the end of the day, that is pretty comparable to how the prequels ending up being for “Star Wars” fans. The excitement leading up the “The Phantom Menace” could not have been higher, but by “Episode III” the new trilogy had turned into a bad joke. The idea of having “Episode III” being the final chapter for such a massive franchise left a bad taste in our mouths.
There is hope, however. While almost no one wanted to potentially further tarnish the “Star Wars” legacy with another slew of films from Lucas, Disney came in and took the reins to bring the ultimate saga back to the big screen. After the footage from the first few trailers for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” expectations are on the rise once again. Time will tell if this new trilogy will be able to live up to the original, but at least it will be hard to be as bad as the prequels.