This article will contain some spoilers, but I don't really consider them spoilers since we all know where the story and characters have to go. Keep that in mind as you read on.
Is it better than that first two? Absolutely. But that still only elevates it to average.
Is it darker than the others? Hell yeah. Lucas promised us Attack of the Clones would be a darker film as well but I haven't met anyone who considers Anakin killing a few Sand People as making a film "darker". This one, however, is the darker film we were promised.
The whole sequence of the Great Jedi Purge with Anakin assaulting the Jedi Temple and killing all the Jedi within (including the younglings in a scene that is all the darker for what it doesn't show) and the montage of the various Jedi around the galaxy being killed (including the lovely Twi'lek Jedi Aayla Secura, played by the equally lovely Amy Allen) is great and brings home Anakin's fall, leaving an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Of course the film has its problems.
The romantic subplot with Padme and Anakin was laughable in Attack of the Clones and is just a bad in this one. It doesn't feature as heavily, but is still just plain awful - due solely to Lucas's script. As one astute lady in my group mentioned "It must be a long time since Lucas has been involved with anyone because I can't see any other way he could write something so bad and think it romantic."
And speaking of bad dialogue, there is one moment towards the end, nearing the birth of the Jedi twins, that almost caused me to vomit it was so stupid and contrived. I thought about whether or not to reveal it but I will because I think it will help if you are prepared for it.
We all know Padme dies soon after the twins are born. Anyway, we are nearing the birth when a medical droid comes out and tells Obi-Wan and Senator Organa that her life signs are failing yet there is nothing physically wrong with her. "How can that be?" someone asks.
"She has simply lost the will to live."
I kid you not. She effectively decides (while unconscious it seems) "I don't want to live anymore."
Ack! I can taste the bile just thinking about it again.
You had characters as well as some subplots wasted (especially the Wookies), and other things not properly explained, but my biggest problem was how easy Anakin's fall is. Quite literally it is
Anakin: "I shouldn't do it. It doesn't feel right.
Palpatine: "Do it."
Anakin: "Ok." [He does it.] "Oh I shouldn't have done that."
Palpatine: "You did it. Now I can teach you... blah blah"
Palpatine: "I now name you Darth Vader."
This actually takes place over a couple of specific events but it really does seem like it is that easy.
What happened to this great tragedy, this great struggle he was to have with himself? I blame this, and all the wasted and unexplained characters and subplots on the fact that Lucas wasted the first two films and then realised "Holy shit. I have a lot to do to tie all this into the original films. No time for subtlety - better just do what is required."
That being said, it does tie in well to the original films, and that is probably the most important thing. While it may seem that I hated this film - I didn't. Yes there is a some crappiness to it but then there are some great moments as well, and there really is an energy to it that never let's up.
Ewan McGregor really takes centre stage in this one and it is good to see. Obi-Wan's final dual with Anakin and seeing how Anakin got so messed up and deformed and crippled is good stuff as Lucas doesn't pull any punches or try to ease the intensity by quick cuts and edits.
Anakin and Dooku, Obi-Wan and Grievous, Yoda and Palpatine - all great duels and action sequences.
As a film, it is only average, but as an action piece it is a great adventure and a suitable finale to the trilogy. If you are a fan of Star Wars, then despite its problems, you will not be disappointed in it.
One last thing is the leftist wank about the parallels to Bush and the War on Terror. Oh there is a parallel there between the films and the real world but, as usual, all the leftist dipshits are wrong about it.
Once his victory is secure, Palpatine sends Anakin to kill the leaders of the factions who made up the Separatist Movement. Back in Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku promises them peace, freedom and a commitment to absolute capitalism if they join him to force the Republic to accept their departure. Just as Anakin is about to kill the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, he makes a plea "But your master promised us peace if we helped him..." but is cut short.
Let's just examine that shall we. They wanted peace away from the Republic and entered a pact with someone they knew to be evil and probably shouldn't have been dealing with (their misgivings about the pact is evident in The Phantom Menace) but they go along and all the way try to appease the Sith in the hope they will get their peace once Palpatine has control, but instead they were betrayed and killed.
Sounds just like what will happen if these leftist arsehole traitors are successful in selling us out to their muslim terrorist allies. The Left's terrorist allies will turn on them the second they are able but these moron leftists can't see it.
(cross-posted at The Asylum)