This review is for people like me, namely- those who genuinely grew up with the originals (TRANSLATION: you saw them when they came out in the theater the first time, not on tape 10 years later out of curiosity for the movies all your toys were in) and have tried to focus on the good aspects of TPM and AOTC, almost out of a familial loyalty to George for how important the originals were to your youth. Those of you who agree the beginning of the end started with the EWOKS keep reading, everyone else turn away.
I looked forever in these reviews for a synopsis, because I just didn’t have the heart to go see ROTS until Monday. That may not seem like a big deal to the casual reader, but I saw EVERY OTHER ONE on Opening weekend. I was 4 years old when ANH came out and I saw it with my Uncle and Dad on a Saturday morning- instead of my favorite cartoons. And I saw AOTC late on the opening Saturday midnight even after working all day and being let down by TPM. Those of you still reading will eventually have to see ROTS for closure, but I will spell out below some of the answers I couldn’t find to help you delay what is going to be a brutal experience.
The story behind ROTS is possibly the best of all 6 films. Unfortunately the dark-side arrogance of George kept him from doing with it what made Empire Great: handing off to a writer who could actually write a good script and handing off to a director who could actually HELP actors bring that script to life.
100% Spoilers: Opening-elongated battle as Obi and Ani race to get Palpatine from Grevious. The next 20 minutes are things like CGI “buzz droids” that attack the ships and remind you of Robot Wars on TV, followed by 3 or 4 different kinds of robots at various levels of Grevious’ ship as Obi and Ani essentially give the CGI guys a whole lot of meaningless work to do. Obi and Ani meet Dooku again, who throws Obi around without really going that hard after Ani. He throws Obi across the room, knocks him cold, uses the force to collapse the catwalk above him onto both of his legs, but oddly later, after Ani has chopped off both the Count’s hands easily and been tricked into cutting off his head by Palpatine, Obi gets up and walks out. Okay- There’s literally no room between the collapsed catwalk and the floor Obi is passed out on, so it should be a miracle he even has legs, much less functioning legs. The rest in no particular order because it doesn’t really matter- Mace pretty much has Palpatine in the bag- duels with him and relieves him of his light saber, deflects the Force lightning with his light saber and shots it back at him to scar and burn him into the Emperor we all know and love, Ani comes in and because he wants to save his bride with Dark Side stuff that only Palpy can teach him he chops off Mace’s hand and the Emperor shoots him into the sky with the same lightning that made him look all busted. This is the “critical moment” where Ani realizes he can’t go back to being a good guy ever again. So then Palpy sends the newly named Darth Vader off to the Jedi temple to kill all the kids off and Palpy gives the secret order 66 to the clones all over the galaxy (also known as Robocop Secret Directive #4) to kill every last Jedi. In about 5 minutes of CGI worlds later- They’re all dead but Yoda and Obi. Obi battles with Ani on the Volcano planet, Yoda battles with Palpy in the Senate chambers. Obi wins by chopping off Ani’s legs and remaining arm and leaving him there to burst into flame. Yoda doesn’t kill Palpy but George makes it clear who the biggest baddest practitioner of the Force is (it’s YODA by the way). Yoda goes into hiding, Palpy picks up a pulpy Vader and patches him together as Luke and Leia are born. All the CGI ships and creatures from TPM and AOTC are not so slowly replaced with the ships we see at the beginning of Episode 4.
I really expected better based on all these rave reviews, but all I really can say is at least there’s closure. From the EWOKS until this it was like watching a loved one slowly decline and die in a hospital bed. The good scenes were those rare and brief moments of clarity. With ROTS there is sadness but relief. The myth is dead. The hardest thing to bear is that the myth-maker is the one who killed it. This movie will keep you entertained from start to finish, but it will not satisfy the child’s memory of the what the originals meant. Or what they were before they were recently “improved” by George for the DVD releases.
We’ll always have Episodes IV ; V, but my feeling now is that the prequels were attempted, but never truly made. Not for the movies I remember at least. George will have to make a new Episode 4, 5, 6 to correspond to this new vision. Based on the amount of tinkering he has done with our past (1997 and now with the DVD versions) I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.