Maybe it was the lowered expectations, but damn it I love this movie. I have seen it twice and enjoyed it more the second time. In fact, flame me all you want, but I agree with A.O. Scott of the New York Times – this is the finest of the Lucas directed sagas. It is only outclassed by Empire Strikes Back.
Lucas’s eye here is in fine form. The worlds here are absolutely believable and in some cases quite beautiful. His writing is still weak (none of the Star Wars films have great scripts to be honest) but the actors for the first time feel comfortable getting their mouths around the dialogue.
Speaking of the actors, Hayden Christensen is much better this time around. He is much closer to his performance in Shattered Glass than he was in E2. His reaction to Padame’s pregnancy is actually perfect. Ewan McGregor is also great here; for the first time he shows the affection he does have for Anakin. Ian McDiarmid is so wonderful here that his performance makes me hate E2 even more for not showing him interact with Anakin enough. R2 and Yoda are also completely believable sentient beings.
The problem with E3 is how it makes you feel. Does it make you sad or does the knowledge of E4 make you feel sad. If it is the latter, then really the movie is a failure. For me, what came before it, is what really moved me.