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(Review originally written at 20 May 2005)

Let me start of by saying that I can understand why one would hate this movie. If you're not really familiar with the five other Star Wars movies and franchise, there won't be an awful lot for you to enjoy in this movie. And don't even think about seeing this movie if you haven't seen Episode I and II yet! This movie literally is the centerpiece of the saga and ties up brilliantly the loose ends between the original and prequel trilogy and answered more questions than I expect. This is also why fans of Star Wars will absolutely love this movie, only they will be fully able to appreciate all of the moments in the movie, such as the transition from Palpatine to Sidious, the extermination of the Jedi, the death of Padmé, the birth of the twins etc. Is there than absolutely nothing to enjoy for the just more casual viewer? Of course there is! Visually the movie looks splendid and the special effects are by far the best ever featured in a Star Wars movie. Everyone should be able to appreciate the immensely large battles and countless lightsaber duels. So seriously, there still is plenty to enjoy for those who don't regard themselves as being big Star Wars fans.

Basically the plot is already well know to everyone, basically because of the reason that this is the centerpiece of the saga, so you already know what MUST happen in order to let this movie and "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" flow perfectly into each other. We know Anakin becomes Darth Vader and that Palpatine reveals himself as being in fact Darth Sidious. We know that Yoda moves to Dagobah and Obi-Wan to Tatooine and that baby Luke will be delivered to his aunt Beru and uncle Owen. There are several other things like this that simply MUST happen in order to make the saga make sense. So in a way the story is very predictable (even though there are more than enough surprising moments in the movie) but still Lucas manages to bring the story in a original, emotional and intriguing way. He delivered the story wholly better than I could ever expected to.

And seriously give Ian McDiarmid an Oscar for this! Without any problems he perfectly reprises his role as the emperor in the same way as he did back in 1983 during "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi". He truly was one of the elements in the movie that reminded me of the original trilogy. There is no way that Ian McDiarmid could ever surpass his performance in this movie. Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman both perfectly reprised their roles and they were actually great as a screen-couple in this one.

However don't expect big roles for Natalie Portman and the other good guys and gals. This movie really is one about the bad guys. The movie's main focus is on Anakin/Darth Vader and Palpatine/the emperor/Darth Sidious. This really is their movie! This movie really is a dark one and there isn't even a whole lot of room for some typical relieving Star Wars humor. C-3PO delivers a few one liners and R2-D2's actions are once more priceless but that's about the only fun moments you'll find in this movie. The movie is really mostly a dramatic and heavy one and let me tell you that this movie got a PG-13 rating for a very good reason. Some of the scene's are quite heavy, even though it never gets really graphic. The emotions in this movie a really powerful and let me tell you that the whole 'Order-66' thing in the movie is really one of the most powerful and emotional moving scene's in all of the Star Wars movies and recent movies in general. Remember the most excellent ending from "The Godfather Part III"? The 'oder-66' scene's really reminded me of those but they are even more powerful in this movie, the music, the images, it all works so perfectly powerful and emotional, especially when Ki-Adi Mundi gets killed, so extremely powerful!

The movie is not just only drama and emotions it also is a extremely action packed one, perhaps the most action packed of all the Star Wars movies. The movie begins with an immensely large space battle and features some large (but short) ground battles and seriously countless lightsaber battles. Overall the pace during the movie is extremely hight and even though the movie is quite long for a Star Wars movie (140 minutes) I wouldn't had minded it being 30 minutes longer, because there are still some things that are wrapped up a bit too quickly during the movie.

Some of the characters are not handled in the best way. The C-3PO scene's feel like an obligation, the Tarkin cameo was a bit well, odd and general Grievous is a cool looking new villain but he doesn't add really much to the already large database of Star Wars villains. But most bad choice was to put Chewbacca in this movie. OK I can understand that the Wookiees were needed in the story and a bit as an homage to the original trilogy but seriously Chewbacca should had been left alone. His character adds nothing in this movie and his character introduction in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" was already perfect. So why bother George?

Still the movie has far more pluses than negative things. The questions that are answered in this movie are extremely satisfying and George Lucas made the story and movie work way better than I could have ever wished for. The transition from Palpatine to Sidious, Anakin to Vader, the death of the Jedi, the 3PO memory wipe (that scene was priceless!). It all was handled 'beautifuly' and made this movie for me an unforgettable experience.

The perfect centerpiece for the greatest movie saga of all time!

10/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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