Good news first: George Lucas has delivered the film Star Wars fans have been praying for. Yes, it's true: Revenge Of The Sith kicks geek botty. The final episode of the prequels completes the cycle begun in 1977. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is reborn with the familiar face furniture and bondage leathers of Darth Vader, the Emperor (a splendid Ian McDiarmid) reveals his nefarious plot, and we discover the true origins of Leia, Luke, Yoda and a certain walking carpet.
The relentless tedium of The Phantom Menace and appalling acting of Attack Of The Clones can be forgotten. Revenge Of The Sith strings a complex plot onto a framework of practically non-stop action. The first 20 minutes - a breathtaking rollercoaster of space battles, lightsaber duels, explosions and acrobatics - rivals anything we've seen in the series. There's an impressive new villain, the Dickensian cyborg General Grievous, a galactic holiday brochure of new locations and, as Anakin succumbs to the dark side, a bleak, bloody atmosphere that's shocking and occasionally even moving.
"WHAT WE WANTED ALL ALONG"
Even those perennial failures of the series, dialogue and performances, have improved. Christensen, who pouted through Clones as Kevin the Teenage Sith Lord, has matured into a convincing lead, and Ewan McGregor as Anakin's mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi finally seems to be enjoying himself. The script has its share of moronic howlers, and the gloss of CGI in every shot becomes wearying after a while. But, lapses aside, Revenge Of The Sith is what we wanted all along: a chunky, funky space opera spectacular.