Star Wars Episode III

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am

The story's ending is known to all, as is the fact that George Lucas is not the best of story-tellers. But it's impossible to resist queueing outside the cinema to watch Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

That's the strange allure of the Star Wars saga, which comprises at least five bad movies - including this final episode of its prequel trilogy - but has permeated our culture and mesmerised diehard fans for almost 30 years.

For those eager to find out how Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), the righteous Jedi in The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones, turns into the dark warrior Darth Vader, the wait is finally over.

Although Lucas' script lacks depth and creativity, which makes Anakin's betrayal too predictable a twist, the character still commands some sympathy. After all, Darth Vader is an extraordinary monster who fills our childhood imagination. His origin is one of sci-fi cinema's biggest mysteries.

The film has a promising beginning, with plenty of action involving Anakin and his mentor Obi-wan (Ewan McGregor) fighting against General Grievous and the droids to save the kidnapped Palpatine, the head of the Senate of the Republic. The spectacular fighting scenes, filled with weird robots and fighters, are entertaining.

But then comes the darkest hour for movie-goers - and perhaps Christensen and McGregor. In an attempt to bring more humanity to his simple-minded epic, Lucas has his characters spill out line after line of wooden dialogue musing on complicated issues of evil, democracy and love.

Perhaps it says a lot about the quality of Lucas' writing that the only interesting character in Revenge of the Sith is C-3PO, a droid that makes annoying high-pitched noises.

Fortunately, the duel between Anakin and Obi-wan lives up to its billing, and the mutilation of Anakin and his rebirth as Darth Vader, which parallels scenes of Princess Padme (Natalie Portman) giving birth to the twins, is a well-crafted ending that symbolises hope and redemption.

Lucas is no doubt a shrewd businessman. But it will be no loss to cinema if he never directs again.

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith opens today