An unintentionally good popcorn flick
I kid I kid. I actually quite enjoy Star Wars: Episode III. However, I think I enjoy it for the wrong reasons. I look at this film and I see a big, silly, and mindless action flick. Nothing more. Nothing less. And while George Lucas is clearly going for a "dramatic" tone throughout the 140 minute film, he fails at this so miserably that he accidentally creates a damn fun popcorn flick instead. And I love this film from this aspect! I really do. This film has some wonderfully shot action sequences, from the first space battle over Coruscant to the final, dramatic lightsaber battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Which, by the way, is easily the best lightsaber duel of the entire franchise. Just saying.
So yes. I like Episode III. Easily the best film of the prequels, Episode III is an accidentally good film thanks to the action sequences of it. As soon as the action stops and you're stuck with the cringe-worthy dialogue of George Lucas, then this film screeches to a halt. But then again, don't most mindless action flicks have cringe-worthy dialogue? So, what this film essentially proves is that George Lucas is a damn fine action director. Give him a bunch of action sequences and he can direct the s**t out of that. But a director is truly defined by how he directs the mundane scenes: two actors, in a room, talking. And when those scenes take place in this film they are just as bad as they were in the previous two installments. Once again receiving no direction, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen struggle to create identities for their characters, and while Christensen's character arc is definitely better here than it is in the previous two films, it's because he's fine when he's around either Ewan McGregor or Ian McDiarmid, Obi-Wan and Chancellor Palpatine respectively. But these two outstanding actors can survive without a director, and it's clear to me that they really helped Christensen through their scenes. But when Portman and Christensen were together, we had scenes that were just as cringeworthy as most of Episode II.
Fortunately, these scenes are few and far between. The rest of the time we essentially get one big action sequence after another, and in here this film works. It works really well. Cause, after all, it's Star Wars. That always helps. But these big action sequences are shot well. We are given grand wide-shots to feel the scale of the battles, there are hundreds of people/droids fighting them, and there are plenty of lightsaber battles. All of this makes for an extremely entertaining film. And I must say the story line between Anakin and Obi-Wan is actually somewhat emotional. (Though Hayden Christensen does kinda kill the mood with his infamous "I hate you!" line) All of this together makes for a unintentionally good film, and it's certainly unintentional. If I've learned nothing else from watching these prequels critically over the last few days, I have learned that George Lucas is one of the worst directors of all time. But, thanks to the subject matter that he created, he managed to stumble his way to a good film in Episode III.
The Critique: Accidentally good, Episode III is a fun, mindless popcorn flick, even though this is clearly not what it was intended to be.
The Recommendation: Just watch this film from the prequels. Sure you'll be confused why Anakin and Padme are married, but you're pretty confused about that even if you struggled through Episode II.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good.