Took in Star Wars Episode III last night at a 10 pm showing. Not bad. Not great. I found it overall enjoyable, but the challenge was that the plot hinges on a supposed love story between Anakin and Padme that is thoroughly unbelieveable. Natalie Portman has acted well before, so I’m left to conclude that Hayden Christensen isn’t a very good actor. Every seen in him tends to drag, to be awkward, but scenes with Chancellor Palpatine, Obi Wan, and Mace Windu are more tolerable since their acting chops are able to lift Anakin’s performance to near tolerable, particularly Ewan McGregor’s portrayal of Kenobi.
This is the movie where the pieces snap into place, connecting you with the Star Wars you think you remember from episodes IV-VI. Kenobi becomes the powerful yet humble Jedi you’ve seen before. Anakin’s anger grows (and seething is one of the few things Christensen does well), and the sense of awe is still there as he shows up in the cape and mask of Darth Vader. Several parallel scenes are nicely interwoven in some of the best editing of any of the 6 films. Visuals are stunning, yet still obviously CGI in some places. State of the art isn’t quite to photorealism yet.
In brief, if you’ve slogged through episode I and II, you owe it to yourself to see Episode III with guarded expectations. In some ways, this is Lucas’ love letter to his original fans, and it almost makes up for the insults from the first two. If the last name Organa means something to you, go. If you know something about a pilot named Antilles, go. If you want to see a planet of wookies (though not nearly enough), go. If you want to be convinced once and for all that Yoda is the most masterful Jedi, and understand why he became a hermit on Degobah, go. The connection to the original trilogy will be enough for most fans to enjoy this movie.