Of the movie series of our time, "Star Wars" is among the best and most celebrated. Millions across America waited in line Wednesday, May 18 to celebrate the final installment in the series that evolved into a religious following. Nearly 30 years after the premiere of "Star Wars: A New Hope," director George Lucas has brought the saga to an end (or beginning) with a bang.

In "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," Lucas succeeded where both Episode I and II fell short. In contrast to the child geared "Phantom Menace" and the plot heavy "Attack of the Clones," "Revenge of the Sith" successfully blends stunning special effects and edge-of-your-seat action sequences with a complex and long awaited plot that, at last, answers the questions that have plagued the minds of Star Wars fans since the first movie was released.

Specifically, the movie focuses on showing the transformation of young Jedi Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) from Jedi to Darth Vader, lord of the dark side.

The movie picks up about a year after Episode II, with Skywalker and his teacher, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), tracking down Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who has been captured by Sith lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).

After the rescue, Palpatine takes Skywalker under his wing, lecturing him on the powers of the dark side and encouraging him to use his emotions, specifically his anger. This act goes against the wishes of the Jedi council, and when they ask Anikan to spy on his new mentor, he is thrown into a state of confusion and fear. Add to this constant premonitions of his pregnant wife, Padame (Natalie Portman), dying in childbirth and the ongoing Clone War, and you get a recipe for disaster.

The tension continues to build, and with a split-second movement, the entire situation explodes. The result is a 15-minute sequence of the genocide of the Jedi in a scene reminiscent of the assassination/baptism sequence in "The Godfather," complete with heavy music and dark, fiery skies. In an instant, darkness spreads and all opposition to the newly declared empire is wiped out.

Leading this mass annihilation is the newly appointed Lord Vader, formerly Anikan Skywalker who has joined the dark side, ironically, to save his wife from his nightmares.

Like in the other movies of the saga, Lucas fills the plot with symbolism and foreshadowing. The use of shadow and clothing to portray affiliation is fairly obvious, but effective nonetheless. Things like the colors of the light sabers and cloaks come to portray good vs. evil, the entire point of the movie. Other symbols, however, are not as easily noticed and give the movie depth that the first two seemed to lack.

The plot is filled with Biblical references and political undertones. Sadly, Lucas couldn't keep his political opinions out of the movie, and they only serve to take away from the mood. Audiences are drawn out of the fantasy world and into American politics when Skywalker says, "You're either with me in this or against me."

A plus of the movie was that side characters were given chances to develop more, which provided twists and depth. Obi-Wan is taken out of his mentor role and his full character is explored in the conflict between him and Skywalker. Characters such as Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda are brought into a different light and their character motives are revealed.

Also, many characters from the old trilogy are introduced and their back stories are explained. The movie does an amazing job of wrapping up Episodes I and II and introducing the old trilogy. The last 20 minutes or so serve specifically to set up the situations present in the beginning of "Star Wars: A New Hope."

The plot, like many Lucas movies, is dark and depressing. The final fight scene over an exploding volcano sums up the mood of the entire movie. From the time the emperor, whose face is appropriately mutilated by his own power, takes total power, the sky is dark and the mood darker.

Many of the scenes are gloomy and it seems that darkness will prevail throughout the entire movie.

The only real problem with the film was that it contained the limitations of a prequel. The audience found it hard to feel surprised by the outcome, so Lucas had to focus more on the process.

Rather than building to a big surprise or twist in the end, as many movies do, "Revenge of the Sith" is filled with various twists and turns in the middle which explain how exactly things came to be. The two main fight scenes * Yoda vs. the emperor and Skywalker vs. Obi-Wan * have limited excitement because everyone knows how they will end. With this in mind, Lucas did an amazing job of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats during the fights, making them wonder how Darth Vader will become a machine.

Overall, this movie was a great culmination of the amazing success of the previous movies. It seemed fitting that the saga ended with as big of a bang as it began. "Star Wars" fans will be impressed with the cinematography and special effects and stunned by the dark and depressing story. This is a movie for the ages. ---
Andrew Sudimack, a Junior at Bexley High School, is opinion editor at The Torch.