George Lucas. Release Date: May 15, 2005. DVD Release Date: November 1, 2005.
I lived in Augusta, Georgia when this came out. In my circle of friends, there had been a lot of anticipation for this movie's release. My duty partner and I agreed to split our shift that evening. He would do the first half and then go stand in line to get us and about five other guys tickets, and I would do the late half and show up for the midnight show. Since we got off at 11, that meant I had to get home, change out of my Navy uniform, and get to the theater in approximately 60 minutes, which was pushing it. I got to the theater with about twenty minutes to spare thanks to a blitzkrieg attack on my closet, my car's ambitious effort to break the light barrier on I-20, and the chance occurrence of no red lights between base and home. I'm walking up to the theater, looking for my friends and not really paying attention to what's in front of me. I trip over something, stumble a bit then straight up and look into the eye of a camera. I say a really, really bad word before my brain has totally put the data together. Belatedly, I notice the pretty boy in the suit holding the microphone. He looks pissed. He looks like I might have just seriously messed up his chance at a Pulitzer. He looks a little delusional.
I'd just stumbled into the local (and it gets even better... live) news coverage of the crowd and dropped the F-bomb. Admittedly, this was not my proudest moment, nor would I like the aftermath, since my Division Chief happened to be watching the newscast. She liked it even less when I mentioned that hadn't been my television debut. There was a bit of chaos and drama until I pointed out that with the exception of my haircut, there was nothing that affiliated me with the military in general or my command, nor (surprisingly) was the clip re-aired. If I'd been missing a tooth, grown out a straggly mustache, and wore a shirt that read "who farted?" I could have been a local. My 15 minutes of local fame washed out to more like two minutes. Was the movie worth all the lectures? You bet.
So, I like Star Wars. I'm not the kind of fan who reads books or actually knows anything about that universe, but I dig the series. I didn't love the two prior movies in the trilogy: Episode I was, I think, far more enjoyable than Episode II, but both had some major problems in the form of Jar Jar as well as a few others. Episode III , on the other hand, managed to solve most of my problems for me. The story tightens up, sealing the 'prequel' deal by wrapping up the many loose ends of its predecessors and setting the stage chronologically for Episode IV on the off chance that some insane person or persons are watching these in story order.
It was a risky gamble for George Lucas. America seems to love Ewen McGregor, but his talent sputters. No one's ever sure if he's going to shine or suck, and he sucked his way through both prior films in the trilogy. Finally he shone. The final confrontation scene alone makes up for a number of his sins, and is in my opinion his best performance to date. America seems to hate Hayden Christensen, because I've never heard anyone talk about his talent. I usually hear (and use) words like whiny to describe his on-screen appearance. I do hear tweenage and teenage girls talk about how cute he is, but by that logic, he should be relegated to the pages of Teen Beat and left to rot in obscurity. He isn't so whiny here. Somehow, Christensen manages to pull off not only a serious rage-on, but an effective effort at a mental break, which suggests that driving him crazy might not be such a long trip. If these guys had both been their usual terrible selves, even the comeliness of Natalie Portman wouldn't have saved this from being an aggressive disaster... that's a disaster with light sabers.
This is one of those rare sci-fi movies that I think everyone should watch. It has something to appeal to just about everyone: murder, intrigue, distemper, romance, tragedy, fighting, and an old guy who looks half in the bag throwing hover platforms at a green midget. See? What's not to like?