May 04, 2019
I always liked the "Revenge of the Sith" and Hayden Christensen's Anakin always worked for me (in the "attack of the Clones," too). Sure, there were some quibbles with ROTS. The slapstick was not great, nor were the Jar-Jar cameos, but these were not a deal-breaker. It was, I felt and still feel, the best of the PT movies.
For me the problem in ROTS was not Anakin, or Padme, or Palpatine, or Jar-Jar. It was always the Jedi Council, as it waffled and whinged and seemed unable to see what was going on in front of its collective nose, leaping off to far-flung star systems at the drop of a hat, while ignoring the threat across town and the Sith Lord who pops in for chats. To be fair, this problem did not start in ROTS, but it seemed more starkly obvious in the context of the ROTS narrative, which exuded dread and doom. It's hard, reading the script again, to find exactly the exact words and moments when this image of the Council emerged. Perhaps it was partly the result of the bloated exposition that dragged the film to a crawl at times. Perhaps it was partly a carry-over from the preceding prequels, where no one seemed to get a sense that Anakin's problems went a lot deeper and were a lot more serious, than a dash of fear and anger. After all, Luke had both in spadefuls, but they did not translate into paranoia, rage, jealousy, massacres, almost strangling a pregnant wife etc. The whole "Chosen One" narrative was never an adequate cover for this ongoing inability to read the situation -- something everyone does at times, but not altogether what you might except of a powerful military-mystical order with thousands of years of experience, an endless war with a dangerous rival, top-ranking military generals and a big dose of precognitive abilities.
Well, this fan-edit nails the problems. It pounds along at a relentless pace, it's clear upfront and from day one that the Jedi know Palpatine is a serious danger and don't trust Anakin, and are actually taking action. There is more silence, more brooding, less spelling everything out in triplicate. Palpatine is more subtle, Anakin is darker from the start, Yoda and the Council are more dynamic, Padme is tragic. The descent of Anakin is more subtle, too: his fears entail far more than the possible loss of his wife and child, his motives likewise are more complicated. Rages and paranoia burst out of him, and are clearly framed as way more than a doting dad-to-be worried about his wife's upcoming labour or someone with a bit of work stress, and passed over for a promotion. His descent includes thinking, really believing, that what he does in the end -- an apprenticeship, a coup, massacres of friends and children and allies -- is necessary but still awful. It is not just a means to an end. This complexity and contradiction, also on display at times in the OT, makes him more than a cartoon villain. He is sincere in his horrors.
Last, the spectacular set-pieces stand out with crisp cutting ... and let me say here, wow, this is a smooth edit, immersive, really just incredible.
What can I say, I loved this version! Miss it at your peril! Now if only I could see the "Sanded Down" AOTC fanedit, which some have called a worthy companion to this masterly job.