Okay, the hype was a little overrated. But only a little.
Not better than the OG Star Wars. But way better than Phantom and Clones. As promised, this chapter is dark and lovely. A sumptuous feast of death and dismemberment.
Ian Mcdarmid steals the show, as advertised. And I never thought I'd be saying this but Hayden Christiansen actually stepped his game up. Outside of the scenes with Natalie which were brief but painful as ever, he was quite tolerable as Anakin this time.
Everyone else, uhh, does their best with the lines and guidance they are given. As always with Master Lucas the dialogue is brutally (often hilariously) clunky, and the only good performances from his actors seem to come despite his work directing them.
The weaknesses of Master Lucas are as obvious here as they were in the other 2, the other 5, really. All these flaws were there in the old ones too (go back and peep young Luke whining about his "power converterrrrrs"), but back then the flaws were outshined by his strengths.. and after Master Lucas' dark side overpowered him in the last two, his strengths finally won out again this time.
George has never been adept at manipulating the little pieces of storytelling, writing lines of dialogue and such.. but when it comes to working with the big pieces, molding the basic elements of a story into a structure that holds together and resonates, he's never lost his touch. Or maybe he did lose his touch and we're just lucky he wrote this whole story back in the 70s. Either way it all works out in the end.
That mastery of mythmaking combined with his gift for visual splendor has allowed him to create a mythology with truly lasting power.. The Matrix seemed to promise this before ultimately betraying us, and Lucas flirted with the same disaster but I think he's pulled it together in the end.
Just as parts 4-6 must now be viewed as the story of Anakin's redemption, for me the end of this trilogy brings the redemption of Jedi Master Lucas. Balance has been restored at last.