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15 Years Later: Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

19 March 20 words: George White

It's been 15 years since Revenge of the Sith brought the prequels trilogy to a close. Not everyone's a fan, but over time this film has become a favourite for a lot of Star Wars fans, including our Screen Co-Editor, George White... 

Ah, the Star Wars prequels. Everyone’s favourite target of cinematic hatred. Producer of pod racing, Jar-Jar Binks and iconically awkward lines of dialogue that continue to haunt us to this day, with “I don't like sand. It's coarse, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere” being chief among them.  Yet despite their many, many flaws, the prequels did at least cough up Revenge of the Sith, a genuinely enjoyable and surprisingly intelligent movie that still holds up a decade and a half later. 

Combining the words “prequels” and “intelligence” is likely to trigger a look of dismay from a lot of people, and perhaps rightly so, but it’s difficult to ignore the impressively intricate storytelling that takes place in Episode III. It is deeply interesting to see the backstory of the most iconic villain in sci-fi history - even if it does simply show him as a petulant little brat - and the origins of the dynamic between Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and his awfully angry apprentice. 

The tale of manipulation and control is rather fascinating, and McDiarmid’s performance is so encapsulating that fans openly screamed with excitement when they found out he was in The Rise of Skywalker (we’ll ignore what happened when the film actually came to cinemas). 

The action sequences in the film are also incredible. In both the original and sequel series the lightsaber duels are almost non-existent - but in Episode III, the filmmakers go to town. From almost the very start the audience is treated to a gripping battle between Obi-Wan, Anakin and the absolute silver fox that is Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), setting the scene for the rest of the movie. In the remaining couple of hours, there are plenty more impressive set pieces, not least the one where Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson) and Emperor Palpatine awkwardly stand opposite each other while one lightning blasts the other. 

Yet the most enjoyable sequence is the final battle on Mustafar. The fight choreography in these scenes is remarkable, and the set design equally so. The use of the planet’s fiery, explosive landscape as a backdrop to the heated, passionate fight between the two former friends is poetic, and the action in the foreground is equally majestic. One of the surprising things about Star Wars overall is the lack of actual action scenes, but Episode III makes up for lost time to say the least. 

Over a decade later the film has left a mark on the hearts of Star Wars nerds

Revenge of the Sith also sparked a new generation to fall in love with the characters of Star Wars. While Ewan McGregor’s English accent still leaves much to be desired, his performance in Episode III officially cemented his position as an icon within the franchise, combining snarky, tongue-in-cheek humour with genuinely impactful moments of emotion as the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin falls apart, and he sees his apprentice for who he truly is: a bit of a dick. 

The love for McGregor’s Kenobi still courses through the Star Wars fandom - and was strong enough for Disney to eventually greenlight his own series on their streaming platform - with countless sci-fi nerds greeting each other with the iconic “Hello there” line ever since the film’s release. 

The movie also introduced us to other beloved characters, such as Obi-Wan’s unfortunate victim General Grievous (Matthew Wood), who quickly became every fan’s favourite asthmatic cyborg and a producer of top quality memes, and Commander Cody (Temuera Morrison), a leading figure in the super successful and highly-rated spin-off series The Clone Wars

Finally, Revenge of the Sith gives the legendary John Williams the chance to stretch his music-making fingers once more - and he delivers. Sith’s score is one of the most impressive in the franchise, giving viewers the full range of his seemingly limitless abilities. Many of the film’s most engaging moments are not as effective without Williams’ work, and it is clear to see why millions have listened to the soundtrack since its release in 2005. 

The prequels get a lot of hate but, 15 years since its release, Revenge of the Sith still manages to hold up. With interesting storytelling, iconic characters and a fantastic John Williams score, Episode III is undoubtedly the strongest in the trilogy and has crept its way to the top of many fans’ lists of Star Wars favourites. It’s far from perfect but over a decade later the film has left a mark on the world of sci-fi, and the hearts of many Star Wars nerds.