Is the Force with George Lucas?
The pressure is on the director to deliver a fulfilling conclusion to the "Star Wars" saga. After the disappointing and confusing "Episode I: The Phantom Menace", and the slow-moving, lack-luster "Episode II: Attack of the Clones", you would think fans would be lowering their expectations and preparing for the worst.
But no... they're still lining up, dressing up and anxiously awaiting opening day with high hopes.
Does Lucas disappoint?
Even with the most critical eye it's hard to find anything to object to in "Episode III". Lucas gets you from the opening frames of the film with a jaw-droppingly stunning battle scene. And once he has you in his grip, he doesn't let go. The film moves seamlessly through multiple story lines and, unlike the prior prequels, this film is not the least bit confusing. In fact, the story is so strong it stands on its own even if you haven't seen the last two.
The darkest of all the "Star Wars" films, there's a reason why this is the first of the entire series to earn a PG-13 rating. This one is not for the younger kids.
Tracing Anakin Skywalker's descent into the Dark Side could easily have been a cliche-ridden bore. We know what's going to happen at the end... no surprises there. It's making the journey worth watching that's the true challenge of this movie. What makes "Episode III" stand out as the best of the series is better dialogue, more defined characters, and compelling story lines.
Hayden Christensen matures nicely into his role of "Anakin Skywalker" and clearly cherishes his chance his chance to embrace the Dark Side.
Ian McDiarmid steals every scene as the gloriously grim "Palpatine" whose evil alter-ego is exposed.
And "Yoda" finally moves beyond super-human puppetry to become a fully fleshed-out three dimensional character.
The movie climaxes with two simultaneous showdowns. Palpatine battles it out with Yoda, while Anakin duels with Obi-Wan Kenobi in the most visually stunning sequence of the film.
After that, everything falls nicely into place setting the stage for where "A New Hope" picks up some 19 years later.
What for this film my rating is? Out of 4 Yodas, 3 1/2 Yodas "Revenge of the Sith" I give.
Editors Note: As entertainment reporter/producer for Fox Chicago, David Viggiano visited George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch in California earlier this month. David was the only Chicago journalist to visit the ranch and interview Lucas.
Photo: Hayden Christensen in "Revenge of the Sith" (Courtesy: 20th Century Fox)