I’ve generally avoided the latest outbreak of Star Wars nerd discussion, which started when Kevin Drum decided to publish his heretical claim that ROTJ was the best Star Wars movie, but I felt obligated to offer my support when Seth Masket put in a vote for ROTS. Left the following comment at his blog (edited it a little):
Well done – I agree with your estimation – but one thing I note in all of the nerd discussion is that it’s all very subjectively character- and plot-focused. “Characters you can care about” or “dislike,” or, even worse, “characters that audiences can care about.” So what? Audiences are stupid. A major reason that the Ewoks are so deplorable is that they were technically very poorly executed, or well enough executed only if you are six years old – in other words done down to a perceived audience segment level. Aesthetically, Jar Jar was the same mistake, but with the new digital f/x technologies.
Sith > Any of the Others because by the third time working with virtually unlimited budgets and contemporary technology, Lucas finally got it all mostly right, and produced a cinematic Gesamtkunstwerk beautiful to look at and listen to, as well as to “read.” The final Obi-Wan v Annakin fight that you highlight is a scene on the shores of Hell, but it’s led up to by the action of the entire second half, which, beginning approximately at the fight with Windu sweeps forward, propelled by the score, through a series of masterfully choreographed battles/duels – to the finale and epilogue: During the latter, the multi-leveled birth/deaths – Annakin dying/Darth being born, obviously Luke and Leia being born – while simultaneously ending and giving (re-)birth to the entire series as we know it.
ROTS is not flawless, in my view – I’m not really even a big Star Wars fan – but it is a far better work of cinematic art than ROTJ, and the best of the entire series.