A co-worker and I took a three-hour lunch today to go see SWE3:ROTS. I'm reserving my final judgment on how good I think it is until I see it again in a couple of weeks and it all sinks in a little. But it's DEFINITELY better than the two most recently screened installments. Combined. Maybe.
I most appreciated the fact that in this film the characters drove the story rather than the story driving the characters, which not only was the case with Episodes I & II, but also would have been exceptionally easy, given that this film is the only of the three that had a pre-determined ending.
In fact, Lucas hit all the marks he needed to with this one, even though E3 is still in action overdrive. I wish at least one of the films had a beginning similar to Empire or Jedi in the sense in both of those films you had the first reel or two of the film to focus on the characters and how they relate to one another. Too much lately, Lucas has treated his actors like chess pieces; foils he plays off of one another in service of the plot. The end result is that even when you reach the finale in which the characters are more of the focus (because the plot is pre-determined), their relationships seem strained and unnatural. You believed Han Solo and Princess Leia were in love not only because Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had chemistry between them, but because the bickering and insults that characterized most of their relationship belied a depth and range of passion and a conflict of desire that made their interactions all the more interesting. But then, there's not been a character as interesting as Han Solo in the new trilogy, and Hayden Christiansen and Natalie Portman might as well have been filmed on different soundstages for all the chemistry they deliver on screen.
So, in essense, my major gripe with this movie lies less with what occurs in this movie and more, still, with what failed to occur in the last two.
That said, this is the only one of the first three episodes I've wanted to see again almost immediately after the film ended. If my initial feeling holds up I think I think this one will be regarded more closely with Episodes IV-VI. And I have to admit, I teared up a little when the twins were born near the end of the film.
My co-worker Philip's nine year-old son has seen Episodes I & II, but not IV, V, or VI. So, when he comes for his summer visit in June, Philip's plan is to show him I & II on dvd, take him to see III in the theater, and then show him IV, V, and VI. Sounds like a real father/son bonding experience.
I realized a couple of weeks ago rewatching my dvd of RETURN OF THE JEDI that you experience the old trilogy differently after seeing the new one. for example, when the Emporer is using the Force lightening to fry young Jedi Luke, you now have a broader context in which to understand why Vader turns against the Palpatine. You call to mind Anakin's love for Padme, the lies told to him by the Emporer, his personal guilt for betraying the Jedi (not to mention the true horror and depth of his attocity) and the conflict that initially led Anakin to the Dark Side. In Luke (a Jedi whose passions are an ally with the Force) and Leia, you see how it is that Anakin brings "balance" to the Force and why the Jedi Order must also perish along with the Sith for this balance to occur. I also realize I am a tremendous geek and that it's a miracle I've ever been kissed.
Anyone else see it already? Did you spot the Millennium Falcon? And, if you haven't already, pay a visit to The Darth Side.