I often joke to people that Revenge of the Sith is the best Star War, because it has the most stars and contains the most wars. Episode III is the one film I liked as a child that I’ve kept my nostalgia goggles on for, evolving and informing my own taste as I grow up. It is a highly influential film for me, probably my favourite because it is undoubtedly the most epic in scope. Although even with favourites there are flaws I’ve learned to accept. I remember being annoyed it wasn’t nominated for the Visual F/X Oscar in 2005 (a very competitive year War of the Worlds was nominated and King Kong won). Looking at the film today much of the effects haven’t aged well. The lengthy CGI shot which opens the film would be more impressive had it less of a video-game look. But it’s like Ebert said in his review, it’s not the realism of the effects but the imagination in how they are conceived. Revenge of the Sith is the only of the Star Wars movies in the last 15 years (there have been six) that seems to leverage the technology available at the time to tell the story. The best Star Wars films push the boundaries of cinema. People forget the original won six competitive Oscars.
The finest bits of Revenge are wordless. Padme and Anakin’s wordless exchange, the execution of Order 66; a sweeping montage set across the galaxy that does a better job capturing the scope of the universe than anything in Star Wars ever has. Where the sequels never spent enough time on world building until it was too late, the prequels spend too much. This is particularly gross in the second and arguably worst installment. They third prequel however makes up for it, cashing in on all the setups, however clumsy they may be. The movie is immensely helped by John Williams’ best score, which does more to deliver on powerful emotional moments like Obi Wan’s “Chosen One” speech than any music can be reasonably expected to do. Yeah Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi really comfortably settles into his role after 6 years to make a convincing lived in character and has deservedly gotten kudos recently, but to me Williams is the MVP. I have done more schoolwork set to the prequel soundtracks than any piece of music. Ewan might be the star of the prequels but he’s not supported by Lucas’ direction, rather Williams’ score which is the soul of the series. Those are heart strings he’s pulling on.
I’d go out to say that Episode III or “Star Wars 3” as I bravely declare is easily the best trilogy capper there is. Most third films are exhausting of the charms of their previous films but Lucas, who was rusty in directing The Phantom Menace and experimental in directing Attack of the Clones, actually listened to the fans; adding more action and soap opera without betraying his imagination. I don’t think he’ll ever get much credit for his improvement in III although I’m sure the billions probably help. It was the highest grossing film of its year, which is more than you can say for its immediate predecessor or the last two Star Wars films. It is doing well in the controversial Rotten Tomatoes Summer Movie Showdown on its fifteenth anniversary. It has been said whichever movie you like at eleven is your favourite movie for life. If so then you got me.