The Long-Awaited RC2 Review of Revenge of the Sith

Father's Day gift --thanks to an obliging friend who took in the baby for 2 hours-- was a family outing to see the final Star Wars installment (Spousal Unit's achilles heel is his weakness for Star Wars).

My expectations were very low (I like acting, and George Lucas couldn't care less) and maybe that explains my reaction, but --it's not so bad! The special effects carry it of course --it's George Lucas. Take out the battle scenes and the 2 hour flick would be down to about half an hour, probably. But give the man credit, the effects are stunning. And Hayden Christiansen's acting is indeed improved, his range now stretching from A to say, E.
A nice surprise, however, is that Lucas manages a terrific evocation of the seduction of evil. I could hardly have asked for a better portrait of it to discuss with my kids. Ian McDarmid's Sith Lord/Chancellor Palpatine behaves just like the serpent in the garden.
The object of Palpatine's seduction, Anakin Skywalker, has a good heart and youthful idealism, and Palpatine insinuates himself by praising these, just as Satan makes pals with Eve. Having once established a friendship (Anakin says to him more than he ought, just as Eve engages Satan more than she should), Palpatine manipulates Anakin's pride, turning his idealism into a reason to doubt the good: everyone knows you are the best, and if the Jedi are so good, why do they stand in your way? Why are they hiding the full truth from you? (Devil to Eve: "God knows well the moment you eat of the tree of knowledge, your eyes will be opened.") He doesn't do it all at once --just an idle thought or question planted here and there.
The ultimate temptation is even the same. The serpent tempted Eve with the power over life and death, and so Palpatine tempts Anakin --with the power to prevent his dark visions about his wife from coming true. How beguiling is the serpent's whisper: "God doesn't have your best interests at heart; sieze the moment, you yourself make things the way they ought to be!"
Of course, Anakin is blinded to the fact that the vision he's had is probably planted by the devil himself. And once doubt in the Good is planted, it is hard for him to see where truth lies; he sees conspiracy everywhere, and every incident can be read from two perspectives. (Palpatine's version of things is like blog comments pages!)
Once he falls, his every subsequent act hardens him in his choice and puts him increasingly under the Evil One's spell. [Spoiler coming]. In a singularly well-observed detail, after Obi-Wan has defeated Anakin and left him for dead, the Evil One rescues him and his deformed body is transformed through machinery into the Darth Vader we all know and love. Awakening from his surgery, and unaware of what has transpired, his first thoughts are of the wife he sold his soul to save. "Where's Padme?" he asks. Comes the answer (false!): "It seems that in your anger, you killed her."
Thus we see how utter is the Dark Lord's contempt for his apprentice. He lures him with a promise that he has no intention of fulfilling, and then snatches it out of reach, devastating his dreams and leaving him utterly devastated with guilt, as the seal of his future depravity.
Isn't that just the devil's way with us? He tempts us to do what we ought not, and the instant we do, he turns on us with the weapons of despair and guilt, making us feel the world has ended, it's all our fault, and there's no going back. No one laughs at our depravity more than the evil one, because he hates us, and guilt itself can often keep us marching further down the same dark path.
Well, I don't want to overdo it. It's not a great movie; the limitations of the script that all the other critics have mocked are definitely there. But I felt I had to give credit where it's due --there's food for thought amongst the SummerMovie stomp-n-chomp.
Oh, and the anti-Bush stuff? Lucas may think it's there, but it isn't.