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Re-evaluating Revenge of the Sith

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 (Edited)

I saw the Prequels when they first came out, and was mostly disappointed (for the usual reasons). I haven’t really watched them too much in the intervening 15 years.

To my surprise, Revenge of the Sith seems to be considered a masterpiece nowadays. Anecdotally, it seems like at least 2 out of 3 modern Star Wars fans are likely to consider it amazing, ranking it close or equal to The Empire Strikes Back in quality. Many fans rank it higher than the OT. This is pretty strange to me, because my opinions about Star Wars movie quality generally have aligned with majority fan consensus, e.g. my ranking of the OT is ESB, ANH, ROTJ (with ANH and ROTJ possibly interchangeable). So I thought I must have missed something about Revenge of the Sith. My hazy memories of it basically made it seem like a partially unwatchable CGI fest with an unsatisfying fall for Anakin. But since I now strangely appear to be in the minority with this opinion, I decided to re-watch it just to see if I totally misjudged it.

So I re-watched it and found… it’s not exactly as terrible as I remember, but not exactly great in any sense. I like the opening scenes with Anakin and Obi-Wan in the space battle over Coruscant and inside the ship. I feel like the action and banter between them in this scene should have been what we saw in the first two Prequels. Still… parts of this sequence are a bit weird. Palpatine is tied up in an evil-looking chair that’s supposed to remind us of the Emperor’s throne in ROTJ, but there’s no plot reason for him to be tied up in that chair. He’s a prisoner in an enemy vessel (at least he’s pretending to be) so why is he not locked up in a cell or something? Whatever. Then Anakin beheads a defenseless Dooku, which seems to want to signify that Anakin crossed a line - but it didn’t really land for me because it doesn’t really play into his later downfall. Maybe it’s supposed to show us that Anakin sees the Jedi as hypocrites when Mace Windu wants to kill a defenseless Palpatine. Or maybe it’s just that it activated Anakin’s dark side and made killing defenseless people easier for him, but he already killed a tribe of defenseless Tuskens in the last movie so I don’t know.

Anyway, the opening space battle and scenes aboard Grievous’ ship were overall pretty decent - and probably the best sequence in the Prequels, even if they contain some strange or uneven moments.

But the whole middle part of the movie then reminded me why I didn’t like Revenge of the Sith originally. The movie rapidly degrades into a series of over-the-top CGI action sequences. At one point we actually see Obi-Wan riding a giant lizard while fighting a cyborg in a uni-cycle with sparkling energy sticks. I mean it’s just insane - the whole sequence comes off as visual noise to me - it’s pretty much the archetypal example of “CGI action scene that looks like a video game”. There’s also a meaningless battle on Kashyyk that has no connection to the rest of the movie.

I remember Anakin’s fall being very sudden, but it wasn’t quite as sudden as I remember. In fact, when Palpatine first reveals he’s a Sith lord, Anakin just turns him over to the Jedi council, and apparently even wants to kill him. It’s only after Anakin (inadvertently) helps Palpatine kill Mace Windu that Anakin decides to go full Sith. Still, it does seem pretty sudden, considering that Anakin was just involved in fun, swash-buckling action and light-hearted banter with Obi-Wan, and now he’s willing to murder Jedi children.

But I’m not sure if I think his turn to evil is necessarily too sudden. It’s more like Anakin’s fall is too… incoherent. I mean Anakin is just all over the place. He was already unstable and psychotic in Episode 2 (he slaughtered a whole tribe). But then the opening scene in Episode 3 depicts him as a heroic, well-adjusted person. But then he kills Dooku, but then he feels bad about it, and then he saves Obi-Wan’s life. It’s just really hard to get a reading on Anakin by the time he’s bowing down to Palpatine. But it’s difficult to buy he would be willing to kill Jedi children at this stage.

Anyway, the Order-66 scenes are pretty cool though. The ending lightsaber battle really SHOULD be amazing, but I just didn’t feel like Anakin/Obi-Wan spent enough time together as good friends for it to have a significant emotional impact. But it’s still sad when Ewan McGregor breaks down in tears.

Overall, it’s not as bad as I remember - but I really can’t understand how so many people consider this a masterpiece on par with the OT. I’m envious, because I always wanted an Anakin Skywalker movie that I could love. The story itself is so compelling, but I just can’t get past all the flaws in the actual implementation. Regardless, it’s fascinating to me that mainstream consensus about this movie has changed so much. I pretty clearly remember back in 2005 or so, my opinion about this movie pretty much aligned with the majority fan consensus. It’s really interesting how ROTS is nowadays considered one of the best Star Wars movies - and also very hard for me to understand or explain.

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Funny to read this. I consider ROTS to be considerably lesser than the OT. I just can’t put my finger on it. I think that the script just wasn’t polished enough. Lucas didn’t have any help on this film and I think it shows. He needed script help to make a good film. Someone to edit his work and curb his worst ideas. I definitely don’t consider ROTS to be a masterpiece. The best of the PT for me is TPM because I think it captured the right mood. I feel the script is polished. I know some people don’t like Jar Jar or some other characters, but those things have never bothered me.

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I saw RotS in the theater as a kid. It was my first time being truly hyped on my way to a movie theater, and the whole experience was very memorable for me, and I’m glad I got to see the movie that way.

But it’s not a very good movie. The writing is sloppy, and the story is often rushed and overstuffed. I enjoy the hell out of it. But the sentiment shared by a lot of Gen Z’ers that RotS is some sort of magnificent work of fiction just isn’t backed up by reality. The film has become overrated, at least on places like Reddit and in the Star Wars fandom, in general.

The movie has the big emotional payoffs that everyone had been anticipating, and it’s a more straightforward story than the other two prequels, so for a lot of people, that puts it way above the other two. But I’m not so sure about that now. In fact, you could definitely argue that TPM is the better made film, overall.

I read the novelization of RotS, and it was fantastic. Much better than the movie it’s based on. It made me realize that RotS is like the embryo of a great film, but it simply didn’t get enough time in the revision stage. Time that it badly needed.

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ROTS’ novelization is the best way to experience it’s story. Having the space of a novel allows the rushed nature of the movie to dissipate.

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God, that final lightsaber duel was way too long. And dumb.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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I think a lot of goodwill towards ROTS comes from the fans which grew up with the Clone Wars animated series. I never saw a single episode of that series, but as far as i heard, Anakins characterization is a lot more likeable than the prequels. So maybe for a Clone Wars fan, Anakins downfall in ROTS is much more engaging and heartbreaking, thus the drama is actually working for them.

Rogue One is redundant. Just play the first mission of DARK FORCES.
The hallmark of a corrupt leader: Being surrounded by yes men.
‘The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.’ - V.E.S.
‘Star Wars is a buffet, enjoy the stuff you want, and leave the rest.’ - SilverWook

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Haarspalter said:

I think a lot of goodwill towards ROTS comes from the fans which grew up with the Clone Wars animated series.

I’m a fan of the clone wars series, and yes, it gives necessary context to the PT as a whole and the characters. As much as I like the series though, it wouldn’t be needed if the PT was written better

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The lightsaber dual should have been more psychological like Empire and Jedi. Instead it was all flash of spinning blades of light. I’ve never been more let down by a lightsaber duel other than in the Disney movies.

They never really connect, you never believe in the action of what is going on the way you did in Empire. Videogame physics, cgi nonsense. Style over substance.

The lightsabers should have heft and weight and be used with both hands.

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Grievous was a huge letdown after enjoying his character in the 2003 Clone Wars mini-series. Why not just go with how he was portrayed in that? More menacing voice, no stupid cough. Jesus Christ!!!

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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I thoroughly enjoyed the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar and still do to this day.

What’s wrong with loosening up and enjoying some spectacle? This is an adventure after all, not some psychological thriller.

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Aside from an unnecessary twirl here and there, the choreography for the fight holds up really well. My main issue with it is that it becomes too focused on the volatile environment they’re fighting in and not enough on what’s going on between the characters, which is what should have been center stage for a fight like this.

I remember a story I heard about how Richard Marquand wanted the duel in RotJ to be bigger and more elaborate than the one in Empire, but George told him that wasn’t necessary. Ultimately, the actual sword swinging should be secondary to the character interaction.

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fmalover said:

I thoroughly enjoyed the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar and still do to this day.

What’s wrong with loosening up and enjoying some spectacle? This is an adventure after all, not some psychological thriller.

Well a spectacle without any feeling to back it up is a boring thing. What may have been “neat” for 2005 audience’s grows stale over time.

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Fan_edit_fan said:

fmalover said:

I thoroughly enjoyed the lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar and still do to this day.

What’s wrong with loosening up and enjoying some spectacle? This is an adventure after all, not some psychological thriller.

Well a spectacle without any feeling to back it up is a boring thing. What may have been “neat” for 2005 audience’s grows stale over time.

Exactly. Apathy towards the characters means apathy as to what they are doing.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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Really liked the opening shot…until the dialogue starts.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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Haarspalter said:

I think a lot of goodwill towards ROTS comes from the fans which grew up with the Clone Wars animated series.

I hear this a lot, but I don’t think it’s the case. Most people just really enjoy the movie regardless of the EU. Anecdotally I know more people that like the movie better than the show than the other way around.

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Omni said:

Haarspalter said:

I think a lot of goodwill towards ROTS comes from the fans which grew up with the Clone Wars animated series.

I hear this a lot, but I don’t think it’s the case. Most people just really enjoy the movie regardless of the EU. Anecdotally I know more people that like the movie better than the show than the other way around.

I’m the opposite - the show made me like the movie even less!

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Omni said:

Haarspalter said:

I think a lot of goodwill towards ROTS comes from the fans which grew up with the Clone Wars animated series.

I hear this a lot, but I don’t think it’s the case. Most people just really enjoy the movie regardless of the EU. Anecdotally I know more people that like the movie better than the show than the other way around.

So strange, as the characters were so much more likeable in CW then any of the live-action Prequels. And CW is no more juvenile in content than a lot of the antics in those films.

“It is only through interaction, through decision and choice, through confrontation, physical or mental, that the Force can grow within you.”
-Kreia, Jedi Master and Sith Lord

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RotS is overrated. People give it a pass cause it did the “OT setup” things it was going to have to do anyway after TPM and AotC “kicked the can,” in that regard. And it doesn’t even do those things well. Anakin’s turn to the dark feels very forced (pun intended).

Visually-speaking, TPM is my favorite of the three.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Budu1ux09Rs

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There is so much I agree in here, and a quality OP by Channel72.

One of main issues for me is I don’t like that Anakin was basically tricked into joining the Dark Side in ROTS. He wasn’t really seduced by the Dark Side as we were told by Obi-Wan in Star Wars. Instead we just that the Emperor basically played him for a fool and tricked him.

“The other Sequels were the result of an over-anxious press. The original intention was to make three [films], and that was really the end of it. It was not until 10 years after the first [film] that I thought of doing a back story.” - George Lucas, speaking at the Premiere of ROTS in 2005

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Darth Retcon said:
One of main issues for me is I don’t like that Anakin was basically tricked into joining the Dark Side in ROTS.

This is very true. Still, if ROTS fails at basically everything it was “supposed” to tell, all the rest surprinsingly works fine. it works terrific as the conclusion of the PT; it doesn’t quite capture being the sort of introduction of the OT. Real pity because only a few minor script adjustments would sell it totally. It still qualifies as my favorite PT chapter and probably my favorite SW released since ROTJ (TLJ, its twin brother movie, is almost as good).

« Sie sind das Essen… wir sind die Jäger! »

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I know that a bullet may or may not have been dodged by having David Lynch not direct Return of the Jedi, however I think that Lost Highway is the Revenge of the Sith that we never got.

Mystery Man = Palps
Fred Madison/Pete Dayton = Anakin
Alice Wakefield = Padme Amidala
Mr. Eddy = Mace Windu
Phil = Obi Wan

Basically Obi Wan and Anakin fight together in the Clone Wars but the whole mentor/mentee thing is off of the table, maybe Anakin is past all that.

I had this epiphany last night and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Lost Highway the same way again.