★★★★✫

Reviewed November 22, 2023

I remembered the negative parts of this movie being a lot worse than they really are, though they still bring the experience down for me a bit: the opening on Tattooine feels mostly disconnected from the main plot, and, like people always mention when this movie comes up, the Ewoks feel like an obvious marketing ploy clumsily slotted into a role that would’ve fit better with Wookies. Despite those two issues (and they’re pretty minor issues, really) the main story with Luke still feels like a natural conclusion to his plot, and it carries most of the weight of the story.

Watching this again in the wake of the modern shows, it struck me a bit that Vader had such a complete and satisfying arc across these movies, that continuing to show him as just the intimidating Episode 4-era Vader in other media feels like a step backwards. I haven’t seen Ahsoka and I don’t really plan on seeing it, though I’ll admit part of me can’t help but wonder about how that show depicts him, since from what I’ve heard they show more of his Anakin personality in that show.

I would’ve liked to see them lean a bit more into showing some of Hayden Christensen’s performance bleeding over into the character as Vader, which I think the Obi-Wan show tried to do, but there was never quite enough of that and his performance was buried so deeply under their clearly AI “enhanced” voices that the Hayden parts were barely parseable to me. It’s probably just confirmation bias, but there were a lot of lines in this movie that I could imagine his version of Anakin saying.