No one entered into my first discussion topic based on the film, so I'm not sure anyone will be interested in this. I finally saw the film a second time, so I feel competent to write my review.
With both episodes one and two I greatly enjoyed watching the movies on opening night and liked them, despite all the obvious flaws as films. I did not feel the same with this movie. On opening day, I didn't like it. I liked most of it, but not all of it. I liked it more the second time, but still feel that my basic objection is correct.
Most of the movie is good. It still has the typical problems of the prequels -- bad writing and bad acting. Has such a serious, heavy plot ever been carried by so many simple sentences? And Lucas has the amazing ability to take fine actors and get the worst performances of their careers. That said, I thought that the acting was better than the last film.
As with the previous two, it is visually stunning. The opening sequence is incredible. The camera follows the Jedi Figthers as they move across the top of a ship. When they dive over the side, you enter this amazing battle. The screen is full of ships flying and firing. It is quite something to behold. I've gasped both times.
Plus the overall plot is incredible. Lucas doesn't pull any punches. It is at times a brutal film to watch. My only complaint here is that I think there is too much in the one film. Three years ago I felt that Episode II had not advanced the story enough and that there was too much left to do in Episode III. The film would have benefitted from a slower pace of plot and character development, especially since it seems that the story covers something close to six months of time.
For twenty years we have debated how Anakin turned to Vader. This is not exactly how I thought it happened, but my version wasn't as dark and disturbing. I like Lucas' version better, because it reveals the moral ambiguities that haunted Anakin (see my previous post).
However, I think the film fails at the crucial moment, in what is, in fact, the crucial moment in the six film narrative. Taken as six films, the central plot is the damnation and redemption of Anakin Skywalker. As such, the two most important moments are his turning to the Dark Side and his destruction of the Emperor. The latter is very well played. In fact, given that we now have the entire story, the end of Return is even stronger.
But I don't think the scene where he turns to the Dark Side works. Up to that moment he is filled with confusion at the moral ambiguities around him. All the groundwork is laid. But the actual moment just doesn't work for me. It doesn't make sense. He wants to be a master, so why so easily give allegiance again? He seems morally confused, so why 30 seconds later does he clearly pitch his tent with the enemy. He seems to want to defend the Jedi Code from Mace Windu's violations of it, but then himself slaughters Jedi only minutes later.
I love the movie before this moment and love it after this moment. But this moment doesn't work for me. Which means the film doesn't work for me. Which, sadly, means that the entire narrative arc of the six films has a gaping hole, for me.