(I actually started writing this the day after I saw it. It's taken a while to get around to finishing it.)
I'm glad I didn't do the midnight show.
First, a little background on my involvement with George Lucas's creation, known as Star Wars. I was not even two when the first Star Wars was unleashed upon the world. Back then, it was just Star Wars—the sub-title "A New Hope" was added later (which is ironic, considering the much more objectionable changes later made to the original films by Lucas.) But I have always known Star Wars. It is the first film I remember seeing. My brother and I had a good percentage of the original toys, we actually still do. I've dressed up as Star Wars characters for Halloween and I've watched every Star Wars spinoff, even the Ewoks movies. I have owned the original trilogy in 3 different incarnations on video. I have a print of Darth Vader hanging in my house and until the last few years I've continued to collect Star Wars merchandise. In short, I've been a fan.
On with the review.
This film, the last we will ever have, may be one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in a theatre. The action sequences, especially the opening space battle, are mind-bogglingly wonderous to behold. The line between CGI and models has been erased in this film.
But it's an awful film. Especially for a Star Wars film. Sure, it may be better than the last two, but what does that say? A ringing endorsement that is not. This final chapter, the one that should have been a slam-dunk, completes the removal of the franchise's soul at the hands of its own creator.
The plot is rushed, because an awful lot has to happen to get to the end game. The dialogue is... I cannot think of an example to convey just how bloody awful this really is. The characters are akin to the life-size cutouts you used to see in theatre lobbies and can still find in tourist traps on Hollywood Boulevard.
In ROTS, Lucas continues to remove everything that was special about the Force. This and the total emasculation of the Jedis are what makes this new Trilogy a pale imitation at best of everything that worked about the first one. Although this is really all just a logical extension of where Lucas started going with Return of the Jedi. Ewoks, a feel-good quickie ending and a second Death Star are all indications of the beginnings of 20 years of mailing it in when it comes to Lucas and his Star Wars films.
The only moments that are at all enjoyable in this film are ones involving Yoda, Chewie and ... well, I guess that's about it. Moments that rely on nearly 30 years of living with these characters--nothing in this movie or the two that have proceeded it have been able to manufacture any emotional involvement in these characters. And as enjoyable as some of the Yoda bits are, Lucas kills those near the end by giving him some of the worst lines imaginable and one disastrous exchange that fully kills the Force.
Obi-Wan is reduced to a one-lining action hero in this film. There is very little here to indicate 20 year transition to the wise knight we came to know in 1977.
Anakin. There's no point in talking about the exchanges with Padme. His transition to the dark side is handled with boxing gloves. It's not believable, it's not compelling, it just sucks.
There's also a problem with the time line. If 20 years later we're supposed to get A New Hope, it doesn't work. This particular film should have happened 10 years later. Anakin going from confused/angry teen to the embodiment of evil and terror in the galaxy would work better. He's too young. The jump from this Obi-Wan to the next would also work better.
The final minutes of ROTS tries to shoehorn everything together to tie this misbegotten trilogy to what came before and it's just awful. Padme's death becomes just a plot device. The naming of the twins is so bad and unworthy of the Star Wars heritage. Yoda's exchange with Obi-Wan about how Qui-Gonn has learned to speak with the living from the other side is a bigger affront to fans than the infamous "midichlorians".
Then there's the plot points. I mean, holes. Not just between this tril and the former (or is that next?), but the weak plotting in this trilogy doesn't hold up, either:
What was the prophecy? Not that we needed this in the first place.
Why were the Sith out for revenge? For what, exactly?
Why doesn't Chewie know about Yoda in the original tril?
What happens in these next 20 years to R2-D2's jets and other enhancements?
Why can't Obi remember the droids in Episode IV? Surely 20 years isn't too long, considering the amount of time he was around them?
Why are the Jedi so stupid? They come across as neither wise or intelligent.
What's with all the flipping?
The list goes on...
I wanted to enjoy this one. I really did. But crap is crap. And the Force is no longer with us.