I’m not a mega Star Wars fan by any means so I wouldn’t say that the prequels ruined my childhood memories or whatever, but there’s no doubt that they deserve the hate they get. This movie has many of the same issues that flattened the hell out of its predecessors, but overall it’s the most watchable one of the three. Which is faint praise I guess, but it does have quite a few things I genuinely enjoy and it manages to have some good moments of pathos and drama, mostly when the actors are spared having to spout Lucas’ stilted dialogue.
The dark vibe
They go overboard with it at times, like did we really need to have Anakin kill the Jedi children… oh sorry not children, younglings? You’re making a space movie for kids, not Schindler’s List. While at other times, the film is too much of a jarring throwback to the more childish, sillier mood of the previous two films, like when Obi-Wan is chasing that ridiculous robot general atop the equally ridiculous lizardy creature. But all in all I think the movie has a great sense of impending doom and tragedy, helped by the shadowy visuals and menacing score.
He’s got his dodgy moments here and there, especially when he needs to act against the blue screen, but he’s been consistently watchable in the prequel trilogy. Even Lucas’ disinterest in human actors can’t extinguish that spark he has.
Ian McDiarmid chews scenery so hard in some of the scenes I’m surprised my rug is not littered with shards of wood coming out of my TV. But no matter how over-the-top he gets, I honestly don’t mind because the Emperor just takes so much joy in being an evil bastard. He’s the only character in this movie who seems to have fun and he certainly has more charisma than the entire Jedi council, who come off as a bunch of clueless, smug sourpusses.
The birth of Darth Vader
Sure it ends in that laughable NOOOOOOOO, but the preceding moments, with that iconic black helmet lowered over Anakin’s burnt face and the sound of that first mechanical breath, are pretty damn powerful.
The one good Anakin/Padme scene
Their romance here is generally more tolerable than in Attack of the Clones, but that scene where they look out over the city thinking about their future is genuinely good. Ironically, it happens when they’re not actually together and don’t speak a word to each other. There are some other dialogue-free scenes that work really well, like when Count Dooku is pleading for his life with his eyes and Anakin is conflicted on what to do with him.
Hot liquid magma
The final duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin goes for far too long, but I can’t deny I dig that fiery volcano-like setting a lot. Some of the environments and worlds in this movie I don’t particularly care for – they’re meticulously designed and rendered but feel too cartoonish for my liking. However there are some gorgeous shots of Coruscant at dusk, and the design of the senate chamber remains incredibly cool.