Star Wars Revisited: Revenge of the Sith

The Rise of Skywalker is almost here, and it’s supposedly the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. So, I’ve decided to attempt a full canon rewatch before it releases, reviewing each chapter as I go. That’s all the movies, as well as the Clone Wars, Rebels, and Resistance TV series. We continue today with Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way because I know folks who swear this movie isn’t that bad. I know folks who swear this movie is good. So I watched this one with as much generosity as I could possibly muster. What’s my verdict?

Revenge of the Sith is a complete mess. It’s leagues better than Attack of the Clones because it doesn’t make me physically uncomfortable when I watch it, but at the same time, this movie is so incredibly damaging to the whole Star Wars mythos it’s darn near impossible for me to concentrate on its few legitimate good points. 

I’m going to try and judge this movie on its own merits as much as I can, but I have to get this out of the way first. Watching this after watching Clone Wars was rough. In particular, Hayden Christiansen’s performance as Anakin comes off as somehow even worse than it was in Attack of the Clones with the direct comparison of Matt Lanter’s performance in Clone Wars. What’s worse, Lanter actually physically LOOKS like he’d be a better Anakin than Christiansen too. Regardless, by the time Clone Wars was over, Anakin was an interesting, layered, likeable, sympathetic character who would be heartbreaking to see turn to the dark side, but was portrayed with enough anger issues and qualms with the Jedi council that his inevitable turn would also be believable. Clone Wars had the luxury of hindsight on its side, and being a multiple season TV series instead of a finite movie trilogy, but it doesn’t make seeing Anakin’s regression any less difficult to watch when viewing this in chronological order. 

To a lesser extent, Count Dooku is surprisingly worse off here than where he was at the end of The Clone Wars too. I hate to say anything negative about Christopher Lee because he was fantastic. The trouble is that they developed the poise of Dooku in Clone Wars far more than they did in the movies. He was such an imposing figure who never lost his cool. Christopher Lee was more than capable of being that, but they hadn’t developed Dooku enough when they made this movie. This isn’t something I actually hold against Revenge of the Sith, but it is something worth pointing out. 

Grievous, well, I’ve touched on that before. They did terrible things to this character when they made the original Clone Wars cartoon non-canon. Still, I have to hand it to Clone Wars for maintaining that Anakin never met Grievous before Revenge of the Sith. Oh the other hand, they kind of make it seem like Dooku hasn’t fought Anakin since Attack of the Clones, which definitely isn’t the case. So I guess that’s a bit of a wash.

So yeah, there are aspects of this movie that legitimately seem worse after the vastly superior Clone Wars. But let’s brush that all aside and get to the movie itself, shall we?

Things start off pretty good. With the exception of Anakin’s crappy personality, the opening action sequence is pretty fun. I still don’t like that R2 can fly all of a sudden, and I’m not sure why the droids seem to be so affected by the fire R2 creates on the floor. It’s not like these things have pain receptors in their legs. But maybe they do. What do I know?

Anyway, I said I was going to try and judge this movie on its own merits and compare to other stuff as little as possible, but when this movie outright contradicts the original trilogy, I have to say something, because (and I’m going to say this a lot) that should have been rule #1. If you’re making a numbered prequel like this, you need to make sure that what you do isn’t contradicting what was established in the existing content, which is something these prequel movies don’t seem to take into consideration at all. 

So to everyone out there claiming The Last Jedi is the worst thing ever and it breaks Star Wars, I’m sorry, but you’re 100% wrong. Revenge of the Sith actually breaks Star Wars, and it does it over and over and over again. 

My best guess is that Lucas wanted to tell a specific story, and had a checklist of things he wanted to explain away before the end of the movie. Anything that wasn’t on that checklist didn’t matter. 

The checklist is as follows:

  • Anakin and Obi-Wan were good friends
  • Anakin turns to the Dark Side
  • Palpatine reveals himself as as the Sith Lord
  • Palpatine creates the Empire
  • Anakin and Obi-Wan fight
  • Padme gives birth to the twins
  • Padme dies (for some reason)
  • Physically turn Anakin into Vader
  • Get Obi-Wan to give Luke to Owen and Beru on Tatooine 
  • Give Leia to Bail Organa on Alderaan
  • Erase 3PO’s memory
  • Get Yoda on Dagobah
  • Teach Obi Wan about force ghosting

As you can see, this list leaves out a LOT of important stuff. But we’ll tackle that as it comes. Now back to the movie.

So in this opening scene, where we have a very clear relationship between Obi-Wan and R2, we come across the movie’s first major bump, because in A New Hope, Obi-Wan meets R2 and doesn’t seem to recall ever owning a droid. Sure, Obi-Wan never “owned” R2, but he never “owned” Luke either. That’s not a disqualifier for recognition. And yes, people love to say that Obi-Wan didn’t care much for droids, so he wouldn’t remember R2 because he didn’t think anything of him. Except that he knows R2’s name, and has frequent active conversations with Anakin about his personality. Obi-Wan not recognizing R2 on Tatooine therefore literally makes no sense. But even if I bought that he somehow forgot R2, or that he’s intentionally pretending he doesn’t know him for some reason, why doesn’t R2 recognize Obi-Wan? If Padme can recognize Anakin in the beginning of Attack of the Clones, R2 should absolutely remember Obi-Wan in A New Hope, unless his memory were to be erased at some point, which is very specifically isn’t. 

Revenge of the Sith beaks Star Wars.

Back to the action, Anakin and Obi-Wan face off against Count Dooku. Like I said, this scene is somewhat problematic thanks to the Clone Wars cartoon, which I can only fault to an extent because it was made after these movies, but if you’re going to have Dooku be a character in your ongoing cartoon about The Clone Wars, it would be inevitable that he and Anakin would meet again at some point. Seriously, this movie takes place how many years after Attack of the Clones and we’re supposed to believe Anakin hasn’t run into Dooku once in all that time? It never even occurred to me the first time I saw it because the Clone Wars cartoon wasn’t a thing, but when that gap was filled in, it only serves to point out how silly and ultimately poorly thought out this premise is. 

Anyway, this battle is fun, especially Christopher Lee’s face when Palpatine tells Anakin to kill him. After all Palpatine has put Dooku through, with Ventress and Savage specifically post-Clone Wars, the shock at his betrayal is hysterical. But then Anakin beheads him. Why? He cut off his hands and had him dead to rights. He kills a literal unarmed man because Palpatine tells him to? I can’t imagine this wasn’t intentional, but after Anakin kills him and immediately regrets it, Palpatine tells him he did the right thing because he was too dangerous to be left alive. REMEMBER THAT LINE, FOLKS! Because it’s either a colossal failure at being clever, or some cosmically crappy writing. 

As the escape continues, it’s honest to goodness fun. They take on Grievous, get caught in ray shields, cut down more droids, crash a giant ship with no brakes (Serenity did it better. I’m a leaf on the wind!) and it all ends with a really nice conversation between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Look at that. He was a good friend. 

But then we take this movie’s first foray into the dumpster fire that is Anakin and Padme’s loveless, chemistry-free marriage, and wwwwhhhhuuuurrrrggggghhhhh…..

Padme tells Anakin she’s pregnant. Yeah? How does she know? The fact that she’s carrying twins at the end of the movie is a freaking surprise to everyone so clearly she’s never seen a  doctor, but whatever. Don’t think about these things, the writers sure didn’t!

Thankfully there’s a much smaller amount of these two trying to act like they’re in love in this movie, but what is here is still way easier to watch than Attack of the Clones. It’s bad, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t as actively gross, so I guess points for that?

*shudder

Moving on, Yoda heads to Kashyyk to help out the Wookies. Cool! We get to see the Wookie planet and watch a bunch of Wookies kick ass. This is the kind of fan service I can get behind. As the story goes, back before Return of the Jedi, it was stated that the Wookie homeworld was going to be a location, and we would get to see Wookies kicking ass and taking RUUUUARGHs, but the decision was eventually made to send everybody to Endor instead and give us Ewoks in place of Wookies. Because if you say Wookie backwards, you get Ewok. Is George Lucas Dracula or something? (That’s a Castlevania reference, kids!)

So yeah, this is pretty fantastic. Their ships and technology are really cool-looking, but again, I have to ask, WHY ARE THE CLONES CG? Some of the action sequences, sure. Putting them in weird flying machines and doing crazy stunts, go for it. But standing around and talking to one another? WHY ARE THE CLONES CG?

So we’re getting all this good action stuff, when in the middle of the whole thing they make one of the Wookies do the Tarzan yell while swinging on a vine. 

Really? 

No, no. Really? You had this whole awesome thing going for you and you throw a Tarzan reference in? Not even Shia Lebouf in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did the Tarzan yell when he was swinging on vines. This is stupid. You’re stupid. Stop being stupid. 

Speaking of stupid, Anakin and Padme almost have a conversation! Anakin is having a hard time with the stuff going on with the Jedi council. They don’t trust Palpatine (with good reason) and they want Anakin to spy on him for them because he’s his friend. So they put him on the Jedi Council but don’t make him a master because why would one have anything to do with the other? (Sorry, getting frustrated with this movie’s lack of reasonable motivations and reactions again…)

Anyway, he starts talking to Padme about this stuff and Padme brings up that maybe the Republic has turned into what they’ve been fighting against this whole time (it has). Anakin responds by getting pissed and in a shocking display of human interaction, Padme puts a stop to his nonsense straight away. “Don’t do this. Don’t shut me out.” Look guys, good dialogue! Things that people in a healthy relationship would say to one another! But no, nevermind. 

“Hold me, like you did on Naboo.” 

…what? 

No, back up. I need an explanation. She starts to try to make Anakin actually talk to her about his feelings, like a rational adult, then immediately gives up and decides that asking him to hold her is the best way to handle this situation? People don’t work this way. I get that you’re trying to be cute by having Padme say something Leia said in Return of the Jedi, but that line didn’t work in that movie either, and that was a GOOD movie. This is worse than 10 jokes about General Hux’s mom. How did this get past the people responsible for making this movie?

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars. 

Oh, but then we get what is definitely the best performance Ian McDiarmid gives in all of Star Wars. The opera scene. 

This beautiful scene is so good not even Hayden Christiansen can ruin it. Palpatine telling Anakin about Darth Plagueis is absolutely fascinating. The way he has manipulated this poor guy over the years is simply magnificent, and this scene. This freaking scene is killer. 

But it raises the question, how in the world does Anakin not sense the evil happening here. I don’t care how powerful you are politically, If you’re talking to someone who tells the people around him, at a freaking space water show no less, “leave us” and they all immediately get up without so much as a glance, how do you not know this dude is up to no good? This scene will always get a pass from me because it’s good enough to make up for any and all shortcomings, but come on now, Palpatine is playing his hand a little too forcefully here, and the Anakin I know (yes, from Clone Wars) would have been able to sense something by now.

It isn’t long after this scene where Anakin finds out about Palpatine’s true nature anyway, so I guess him sensing how evil he was is kind of moot, and here we have another scene that is really well put together. Anakin is in the hallway and Palpatine decided to lay his cards on the table, offering to teach Anakin how to stop people from dying via his knowledge of the Dark Side. Anakin makes an uncharacteristically good decision to go tell the Jedi council that Palpatine is the Sith lord, but he inexplicably just leaves him there. He doesn’t try to take him into custody or anything. He doesn’t even politely ask him not to go anywhere. He just casually leaves to tell his boss.  

What?

While this is going on, we get the absolutely delightful battle between Obi-Wan and Grievous. Yes, Grievous being completely nerfed sucks, and yes, having him just show up in this movie with no sort of introduction is kinda lame, and yes, his coughing is a sad and sorry attempt to make him seem more like Vader with some sort of breathing affectation, and yes, that dumb lizard thing Obi-Wan is riding on looks and sounds completely absurd, but barring all that garbage, this scene is just plain fun. 

Obi-Wan jumping down in the middle of everyone saying “Hello there” is an absolute delight. Grievous spinning his lightsabers around in live action is an incredibly cool shot. Obi-Wan shooting him in the chest with a blaster then tossing it away saying “so uncivilized” is fantastic. Well done, movie. You took some lemons and made a mostly cool action sequence. (The chase scene in the middle is trash.)

Anyway, Anakin tells Mace Windu about Palpatine, and Windu senses Anakin is a bit too close to this one and tells him to stay at the council. But he does so in a completely unsympathetic manner. Which, sure. Windu doesn’t trust Anakin, but him coming to tell him about Palpatine should have been enough to at least let him come along, and even if it wasn’t, he’s a freaking Jedi. He should have enough chill to be able to explain to Anakin why he shouldn’t be involved when trying to arrest Palpatine, which, why was he left alone again? Whatever. 

Obviously Anakin doesn’t listen and goes after them anyway, which leads us to this movie’s “Martha” scene. (That’s a Batman V Superman reference, kids!)

Mace Windu and a couple of his Jedi friends go to arrest Palpatine and he doesn’t take too kindly to that. He whips out his lightsaber and kills the lot of them, except Windu because he’s pretty handy with that purple lightsaber of his. This is a great fight until Anakin shows up. Palpatine gets knocked down by Windu, but starts tossing force lightning at him to even things up. For some reason this makes Palpatine’s face all messed up. Not sure this needed to be a thing, but whatever. Have some unnecessarily forced “continuity” folks. Why was the emperor’s face all gross looking? A BURNING QUESTION THAT MUST BE EXPLAINED!

So Palpatine starts faking being too weak to fight off Mace Windu to get Anakin to jump in and save him. Mace Windu says he’s going to kill Palpatine and Anakin, being the good Jedi he is, says that’s not the Jedi way, and that he needs to stand trial. Of course, he has ulterior motives because according to Palpatine, he’s the only one who can teach Anakin how to save Padme from his bad dreams. Which, okay. Sure. 

Windu says he’s going to kill him anyway because, and I quote “He’s too dangerous to be left alive.” REMEMBER THAT LINE, KIDS? And that right there is the heel turn, folks. When Windu says that, Anakin cuts off his hands. He doesn’t go in to block the saber, take out his knees, nothing. He straight up cuts off his hands. Don’t de-escalate the situation. Don’t think more than 2 seconds in front of you stupid face. Just cut one of the head council member’s hands off. That should solve the problem. 

Palpatine then delivers his deliciously ham-encrusted “UNLIMITED POWER” line, Mace Windu is killed and tossed out a window, and boom. Dark Side turn inexplicably complete. 

I say inexplicably because Anakin immediately regrets his actions. “What have I done?” he says like the freaking cartoon character he is. But he wants to save Padme’s life, right? And that must mean doing whatever this obvious lunatic says without haste. But hold up a moment, Mace Windu just used the exact same line Palpatine used on Anakin when he killed Dooku, and he was fine with it. Are we supposed to be drawing some sort of parallel here? Because if so, you did it wrong. The bad guy said this earlier in the movie, so when the good guy says it later, it should seem obvious that maybe the bad guy wasn’t the bad guy all along, right? Except Palpatine would only be a more obvious bad guy if he had the words “bad guy” tattooed on his forehead. Why then, does Anakin look at Palpatine and decide to side with him? 

I know what the movie’s intention was. Just like I know what Batman V Superman’s intent was with the Martha line. The problem is that it doesn’t actually work. The movie wanted us to think that he was doing whatever it takes to save Padme’s life, except if you follow that line of thought more than 2 inches ahead, you see how incredibly flawed that is. He’s thinking about Padme? Sure. But what’s Padme going to think of this? In what universe would Anakin ever be allowed near her again if he follows this course of action to its conclusion? 

None of this was considered in the writers room, and if it was, those people were probably immediately fired and asked to leave the room. 

Anakin is now a mopey mess, and accepts that he’s a Sith Lord. He just admitted he made a mistake with the “What have I done?” line. So the movie is establishing that Anakin knows this is wrong, which would naturally lead to him thinking about how Padme would feel about this situation, which would naturally lead to Anakin getting the hell out there and turning to his friend Obi-Wan, who has very specifically not given Anakin any reason to doubt him, even when he gave Anakin his mission to spy on Palpatine earlier in the movie, and try to fix this problem. He’s  clearly past the whole not being a Jedi anymore thing since he kneels and becomes a Sith, so why not just come clean instead? Tell everyone about the baby (babies) and solve the problem. Find out how to actually stop Padme from dying. But no, we’re supposed to believe that this guy, this sniveling unlikable turd of a man, who only wants what’s best for Padme, is going to trust the murderous lying lunatic to MAYBE teach him how to magically stop people from dying instead of turning to the MULTIPLE BETTER SOURCES readily available to him to save Padme’s life. Like, I don’t know, a freaking hospital? Maybe then you’d know she was carrying freaking twins, you idiot!

It’s this movie’s insistence on dropping the ball on the simplest things to get right that’s endlessly infuriating. Yes, it’s an interesting story that occasionally has fun doing what it’s doing, but it keeps trying to fix a broken school bus with a half-eaten taco when all it really needed to do was turn on the light switch because the bus wasn’t broken to begin with, and that taco is really just a bunch of bees held together with Elmer’s glue. It’s so astonishingly inept at the most basic of the basics it’s constantly exhausting to even wrap my head around. 

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars.

So now Anakin, apparently incapable of thinking about the consequences of his actions, and completely unbothered by the fact that he has no idea if Palpatine can actually keep his word about saving Padme from… something … is full on ready to start murdering folks. He goes to the Jedi temple and gets to work, killing everyone he can find, including children. 

I’m sorry again, but no. For as evil as he was, I can’t even imagine the original Darth Vader walking into a room full of children and just straight up slaughtering them. I just can’t. Dude was ultra efficient and filled with rage, but killing a bunch of 6 year olds? I don’t know man, that’s a hell of a line to cross, especially for a man whose motivation is supposedly saving his wife and unborn child (children). And this is, what, a couple of minutes, an hour tops, after he told Mace Windu he couldn’t kill Palpatine because it wasn’t the Jedi way? DID YA FORGET?

Ugh.

After Anakin leaves, Palpatine calls the clones and tells them to execute Order 66, which as we learned in The Clone Wars is something pre-programmed in the Clones without their knowledge that basically makes them murder any Jedi they see and act completely loyal to the Emperor. What follows is far and away the best scene in the movie. It’s beautifully shot, scored to perfection, and incredibly sad. Watching the clones turn on the Jedi is brutal, and it should be. Of course, when they try to take out Yoda on Kashyyyk, Yoda beheads all of them in a single jump. This right here, this would have done the job the Dooku fight did in Attack of the Clones much better. You want to show Yoda use his saber, this is it, kids. Use it sparingly, and use it like a freaking boss. 

AND WHY ARE THE CLONES CG?

Anyway, like the lumbering moron this movie is, it just can’t get itself out of its own way and wouldn’t you know, the two Wookies who help Yoda get off Kashyyyk consist of some dude who’s name I forget and freaking Chewbacca. So you’re telling me Chewbacca not only knew multiple Jedi personally in Clone Wars, AND was on a first name basis with freaking Yoda, but Han Solo doesn’t believe in the force? In that scene in A New Hope, with Chewbacca sitting right there, I’m supposed to believe that Han Solo is going to stand there and say the Force doesn’t exist, and Chewie is just gonna sit there and not say Rrrauuuuuaughhgihhghguh (Translation: Bro, I’ve seen things. The Force is real, and it wasn’t even that long ago.) Setting aside the whole concept of how it’s possible for anybody to be alive in this universe and not realize the Force is a real thing considering it’s only been what, 19 years since Revenge of the Sith? Chewbacca being shoehorned into this movie was so freaking cheap and completely unnecessary my head is still spinning. Have a Wookie planet. Fill it with cool Wookies. Don’t specifically make Chewbacca one of them. 

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars. 

Meanwhile, Anakin (I can’t call this sack of tomatoes Vader, I just can’t) heads to Mustafar to kill the trade federation for… reasons… and I guess hang out and wait for his next order from his new psychotic murderous boss. 

WHY ARE THE CLONES CG?

Obi-Wan, meanwhile, finds the dead kids, looks at the security footage of Anakin killing said kids, and is sent by Yoda to take out Anakin while Yoda takes out Palpatine. Obi-Wan goes to talk to Padme to find out where Anakin is, and sticks around for a remarkably well-acted scene that reminds us that Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman know what they’re doing. Padme decides to go see if she can find Anakin and get to the bottom of all this supposed evil stuff he’s been up to, because he’d have to be a complete idiot to believe he could stay with Padme after murdering a bunch of kids, right? And Obi-Wan stows away on her sahip, leading to such a great confrontation it’s hard to be mad at the rest of the stupid that keeps burbling all around the scene. 

But I’m going to do it anyway!

First though, let’s have a look at our checklist, shall we? We’re about to get to the Obi-Wan/Anakin fight, so we must have checked a few things off by now…

  • Anakin and Obi-Wan were good friends
  • Anakin turns to the Dark Side 
  • Palpatine reveals himself as as the Sith Lord 
  • Palpatine creates the Empire 
  • Anakin and Obi-Wan fight
  • Padme gives birth to the twins
  • Padme dies (for some reason)
  • Physically turn Anakin into Vader
  • Get Obi-Wan to give Luke to Owen and Beru on Tatooine, 
  • Give Leia to Bail Organa on Alderaan
  • Erase 3PO’s memory
  • Get Yoda on Dagobah
  • Teach Obi Wan about force ghosting

Huh. 4 items deep and there’s not a whole lot of movie left. I’m sure they’ll get there. I mean, some of this stuff isn’t even all that important, right? We don’t actually need to acknowledge Force Ghosts. We don’t need to know why Yoda ended up on Dagobah, right? I’m sure it’ll be fine. 

Anakin and Obi-Wan have a pretty neat exchange where Ewan is acting his ass off and Hayden is… doing whatever it is he does, and they start fighting because Anakin thinks Obi-Wan turned Padme against him, again, for reasons. This comes immediately after Obi-Wan tells Anakin that only a Sith deals in absolutes, which itself is an absolute. 

Good job guys. Way to bring it home. 

So we get the fight to end all fights, they’re really going for it and it’s honestly pretty darn cool at first. The problem is that the fight gets to the point where it’s compleetly ridculous, and since the fact that these two are trying to kill one another despite their past instead of, you know, having a non-stupid conversation, it’s pretty unbelievable that the fight goes on for as long as it does before we get a break. They’re climbing stuff, avoiding lava waves, jumping on tiny little floating metal islands in the lava stream, and doing… this…

No, seriously. What is this. 

Meanwhile, Yoda goes to confront Palpatine, and the ensuing battle of the old frog man and the old white dude jumping around like ninjas is downright comical. Palpatine is hamming it up as usual, Yoda is trying to deliver badass one liners which absolutely does not work, and while you have to marvel at the choreography, there’s no denying that nobody needed to see this. Also, now that we’ve seen what the Emperor is capable of, it kinda makes Return of the Jedi seem a little anticlimactic, doesn’t it? Like, if the Emperor can lightsaber around like a freaking ninja, his whole sequence seems just a little less impressive. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. 

Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Anakin’s fight rages on to the point where they actually do stop to exchange a few words. Unfortunately they’re even dumber than the words that started the fight in the first place. Obi-Wan tries to apologize saying he’s failed Anakin, which let’s be real, he kinda did, but not to this extent. Anakin spouts some bologna about how the Jedi were plotting to take over the Senate, a plot that he knows for a fact wasn’t true because the only source was Palpatine, WHO IS EVIL, and Obi-Wan says as much. 

“Anakin, Palpatine is evil” 

“From my point of view the Jedi are evil.”

Okay movie. Explain. 

No, I demand an explanation of this line. Anakin was a Jedi just a few hours ago, and has REPEATEDLY fought alongside other Jedi as a peacekeeper. The Jedi, for all their faults, were dedicated to ending the war and bringing peace and freedom to the galaxy without oppression. This isn’t even up for dispute, he was freaking there! Sure, Anakin can think the Jedi are jerks, Mace Windu in particular, but he straight up helped Palps murder that dude, so where does this come from? You’ve had 3 whole movies to get here, and you didn’t! Anakin just thinks the Jedi are evil now! Reasoning be damned! We gotta make him Vader, why think about how, right? AAARRRRRGGGHHHH I’m so mad at this movie.

…sigh…

So they fight some more and Obi-Wan jumps over to a land mass. Obi-Wan has the high ground. Get it? He’s the one with the high ground in the argument AND the literal high ground in their battle. Anakin foolishly tries to jump over Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan basically removes all his limbs. So that’s fun. 

Anakin catches on fire, screams about how much he hates Obi-Wan, again for… reasons…? Obi-Wan takes Anakin’s lightsaber to give to his kid someday because clearly Anakin wanted him to have it, right? Because that’s a thing that Obi-Wan said in A New Hope. 

…sigh…

So here we are. There’s 13 minutes left in the movie. Let’s look at the checklist, shall we?

  • Anakin and Obi-Wan were good friends 
  • Anakin turns to the Dark Side 
  • Palpatine reveals himself as as the Sith Lord 
  • Palpatine creates the Empire 
  • Anakin and Obi-Wan fight 
  • Padme gives birth to the twins
  • Padme dies (for some reason)
  • Physically turn Anakin into Vader
  • Get Obi-Wan to give Luke to Owen and Beru on Tatooine, 
  • Give Leia to Bail Organa on Alderaan
  • Erase 3PO’s memory
  • Get Yoda on Degobah
  • Teach Obi-Wan about force ghosting

Not lookin’ good, guys.

Meanwhile, Yoda doesn’t exactly win his fight with the Emperor, so when he escapes he decides to go into exile, again for reasons. Sure, the galaxy is going to hell in a handbasket and the presence of a wise, powerful Jedi would be nothing if not extremely helpful, so why track down the remaining Jedi? Why work to create a resistance? Why do anything but go into exile because he couldn’t beat the Emperor one on one this time? Makes perfect sense to me (typed in sarcasm font). 

Padme goes into labor and the medical droid tells Obi-Wan she’s having twins. Then she dies. Not for any particular reason, she just lost the will to live. Must have been because of Anakin, which let’s be real here, there’s no way this woman has lost the will to live having just given birth to twins. I’m sure she’s tired as hell, but lost the will to live? She died of a broken heart? Has George Lucas ever met a parent before? There’s a 0% chance Padme would have given up on being there for her freaking children because Anakin turned out to be a colossal douche. Not only that, but Leia remembers her! Not much, but enough to have at least some small memory of her, meaning as it was originally written, Padme probably survived and went to live on Alderaan with the Organas or something. But no! She dies in child birth for reasons so stupid they defy description. 

Obi-Wan, Bail Organa, and Yoda have a quick meeting about what to do with the kids. Bail agrees to take Leia, Obi-Wan agrees to take Luke to his family on Tatooine, Yoda tells Obi-Wan Qui Gon taught him how to Force Ghost, Anakin gets the Vader suit put on him (which magically makes him like a foot taller… whatever), and they all live miserably ever after. 

Oh, and in a stroke of absolute genius, when Vader wakes up in his iconic outfit, he asks where Padme is, and Palpatine, the mad genius, looks at him and says “uhh… you killed her.” There we have it, ladies and gentlemen. Palpatine has completely broken Anakin Skywalker. This is of course immediately followed by the cringeworthy “NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO” that still haunts me in my sleep to this day.

Then Bail says to have 3PO’s memory erased. NOT R2’S though!!! Which… nevermind. We did this already. 

So the last 13 minutes of the film are this idiotic rush to cram as many connective threads as possible into this dumpster fire of a movie, and it comes off as rushed, which is completely insane! They had three whole movies to weave these threads, and instead they made… this, this abomination that forcefully creates a metric ton of incontinuities between it and the original trilogy, WHICH IS RULE #1. 

Let’s have a look at what was left over, shall we?

Owen and Beru have no relationship with Obi-Wan, making Owen being afraid Luke would follow old Obi-Wan on some damn fool idealistic crusade like his father did a line that no longer makes sense. Owen and Anakin only have their meeting in Attack of the Clones as their entire relationship, which wasn’t exactly friendly. What crusade did Anakin follow Obi-Wan on exactly? R2 doesn’t freaking recognize Obi-Wan. How did they just skate by with that one? 

There’s more but being this angry is honestly exhausting. This stuff needed to be the freaking starting point. If you’re going to make prequel content, every time you have a character do something you need to take a look at the source material and make sure you aren’t contradicting anything. This. Is. Where. You. START. But they didn’t. They didn’t pay attention to any of the actual relationships people had in the original trilogy. They actively and repeatedly made things worse.

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars. 

If you’ve followed me this far, thanks. Congratulations. We’re about to go further down the rabbit hole here though, so fair warning. 

It’s my opinion that the single greatest sin the prequel trilogy commits is showing Anakin become Darth Vader. This isn’t exactly a popular opinion. I know there are a lot of folks out there who think that’s the best part of Revenge of the Sith. Heck, I’m pretty sure that was the only real item on the checklist to begin with. The rest was all last minute gravy. But here’s the thing, when making prequel content to any existing media, what’s rule #1? You can’t break what’s already there. If you had to think of one defining moment in all of the original trilogy, what would it be? Blowing up the Death Star? Maybe. Vader killing the Emperor? Possibly. Vader telling Luke he’s his father? Bingo. That’s the big mystery, and it’s one of the most successful cinematic twists of all time. Revenge of the Sith, being a movie not just set before Empire Strikes Back, but one that’s numerically placed there, ruins that scene. This isn’t like the watch order of Clone Wars, where it was aired out of order because someone at the network thought certain episodes would test better or whatever. This is a movie that’s labelled as Episode III, meaning it comes before Episodes IV and V. If you watch these movies in what can only be presumed is their intended order, Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars. It takes the franchise’s most iconic scene and sucks a sizeable chunk of its meaning away from it. Sure, it’s still shocking to see Luke learn Vader’s identity, but it’s infinitely more impactful when you learn that fact at the same time as Luke. 

So what’s the answer? Planning. More specifically, thoughtful planning. 

When planning out the prequels, there needed to be a plan in place to check every character interaction and make sure they didn’t ruin anything in the original trilogy. (You want to talk about how the new Star Wars movies don’t have a plan? HAVE YOU SEEN THE PREQUELS LATELY?) Specifically in relation to Vader, the focus should have been on making Anakin likeable, putting him occasionally at odds with the Jedi council, focusing on his anger issues, making sure Obi-Wan has another student at some point who could theoretically be who turned into Darth Vader, at some point make Anakin disappear and then have Vader start wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Keep Palpatine’s rise to power and all that jazz, write a story about the rest of the characters that doesn’t directly contradict the events of the original trilogy, but keep Vader’s identity a mystery in a way that when people watch out of order they see how Vader makes sense and how ultimately sad it is, because making Anakin likable and sympathetic is such an important piece of the puzzle that once again, George Lucas seemingly decided was about as important as pocket lint on a pizza. 

Watching these movies now, and especially seeing Anakin’s fall in Revenge of the Sith, breaks the most important part of Return of the Jedi, Anakin’s redemption. When Vader was just this terrible villain, you could root for him to be redeemed. Now, we’ve seen him abuse his wife, murder children, make incredibly stupid decision after incredibly stupid decision, and be nothing but an unlikeable piece of garbage for 2 solid movies now. Why in the world should I root for Luke to redeem this guy? Why should Vader get a happy ending? You could imagine he was ultimately more good than bad before the prequels existed, but not now! Anakin Skywalker is human garbage, and he should have thrown himself in that pit with the Emperor. 

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars.

But what about actually seeing Anakin become Vader? Surely that’s a story worth telling, and one people would very much want to see! That’s easy too, especially in light of the “A Star Wars Story” movie line. Rogue One works as supplemental prequel content because it does exactly what Revenge of the Sith does not. It enhances what exists and does no damage. It also isn’t necessary to get the crux of the story. Star Wars works just fine without it. Star Wars worked just fine before we saw Hayden Christiansen’s burnt head get stuffed into Vader’s helmet. But the entire mythology is somewhat improved for Rogue One having existed, especially since it works as something you watch AFTER you’ve seen the other movies. There’s nothing wrong with a flashback episode, and that’s how you tell Vader’s transformation story, as its own standalone non-numbered side story. Make it something you watch on its own after you’ve seen the rest of the movies, and make it something that only makes the stuff around it better. Take your time and do it right, do that character right, and use that supplemental movie to do all the little things you crammed into the last 13 minutes of your prequel trilogy. 

For all the loud internet complaints about the new trilogy not having a plan, even their roughest outline at its worst is a damn sight better than the willfully terrible plan Lucas put in place for the prequel trilogy. The Last Jedi didn’t break Star Wars. Poe joking about Hux getting a message from his mother (NOT a “your mom” joke, by the way), Holdo not telling anyone her plan, Canto Bight, Luke not being an all-powerful Jedi god who swoops in and saves the day, these things don’t actually break Star Wars. You may not like them, but for the most part they make a degree of sense (for the most part. We’ll get there in my Last Jedi review). But this? This is inexcusable. 

So yeah, it isn’t the worst movie ever made, and it’s infinitely more watchable than Attack of the Clones, but it does so much unnecessary damage in service of telling an important story as poorly as humanly possible. I enjoy parts of this movie. It isn’t 100% trash, but it’s bad in the more important ways than even Attack of the Clones is. It’s harmful. It makes everything else around it worse by existing. 

Revenge of the Sith breaks Star Wars. 

AND WHY, IN THE NAME OF SANITY, WERE ALL OF THE CLONES CG???

Sigh…

It all gets better from here, as I genuinely enjoy every other piece of Star Wars fiction I’m about to embark on consuming. Man, these were rough to get through. I honestly tried my level best to approach these movies with the most generous lens as possible, but every time I see how hard they needlessly failed it makes me so mad I can’t see straight. I will never understand how the folks in charge let these movies happen the way they did. Say what you will about the new Star Wars movies, but they’re at least thoughtful. Even if you think The Last Jedi is the worst thing anyone has ever committed to celluloid, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Disney wants to make movies that make them money. I have no idea what Lucas and Fox were trying to accomplish with these films, and I don’t think I ever really will. I’m just some dude on the internet and even I could have written a better trilogy than this. Chances are you could have too. The bar is that low. 

Anyway, let’s leave these movies behind us and move onto Solo. I’ve only seen this movie once in total, and I tell ya, I didn’t hate it. It’s probably going to feel like a summer breeze after what I just went through. 

Kris Randazzo

Kris is the Content Supervisor of Geekade. As an avid consumer of all things video game, Kris spent his formative years collecting cartridges, CDs, discs, and assorted paraphernalia in an effort to amass a video game collection large enough to kill an elephant. He works with Stone Age Gamer, writing for their blog and hosting the Stone Age Gamer Podcast right here at Geekade. He's also the host of the WaveBack Podcast, co-host of This Week's Episode, and can occasionally be found in the pages of Nintendo Force Magazine.

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