Yes, I’m one of the millions of Americans who took time off from work to see this on the first day. It was worth it! I wanted to be a “virgin” going in — I avoided all of the previews and tv promos (much to Andrew’s annoyance). Why? Well, going in, we already know the major plot points: Anakin turns into Darth Vader, Luke and Leia are born, the Jedi are decimated, Yoda and Obi-Wan go into exile, Palpatine takes over the republic and declares himself emporer. Since I already knew what the major plot points had to be, I wanted the “how” of them to be a complete surprise.
I really enjoyed this last installment of Star Wars. It was far better than Episode I, and better even than Episode II. I can’t compare it to A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi — those were so integral to my growing-up years, that nothing will ever compare to them. However, it was a very strong finale for the series.
< Spoilers Ahead >
This one, though, was much, much more violent than the others. I was struck by the level of violence. Return of the Jedi had some major battle scenes, but there was still a sense of levity to at least part of them. The battles here were messy (not bloody) with no levity. Lots of limbs went missing. A few heads went missing. Even the young Jedi-in-training were killed (not on screen, but we saw them with Anakin, and next we saw them dead). The scene with a broken and burned Anakin was particularly disturbing. Those are not complaints — this was a film dealing with the Sith and war, so it’s not supposed to be pretty.
I agree with Roger Ebert that the love scenes were painful. It wasn’t the acting — there was no way the actors could have delivered those lines that would have come off as at all natural. Oh well. I’m not a Star Wars fan for the love scenes; I’m a Star Wars fan for the action. And that’s what we got.