The Force is strong with this sixth and final piece in George Lucas’ galactic saga, which represents a welcome return to the ideas and the spirit that made his original “Star Wars” a pop-culture juggernaut 28 years ago. The circle is now complete, as Lucas’ characters are fond of saying, and much of the film’s joy comes from watching these familiar names and events fall into place. It is enormously satisfying to see what pushes young Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) – the would-be Chosen One – to the dark side, and to see him get the name Darth Vader.

The iconography is powerful to behold, even more so when compared to the horrendously disappointing Episodes I and II. Lucas’ writing still clangs, though, notably during the romantic exchanges between Anakin and his secret bride, Sen. Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman). But he uses the digital technology to far greater advantage than he did in the first two prequels, especially in depicting a swashbuckling, scene-stealing Yoda, voiced by Frank Oz. Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid and Christopher Lee also return as co-stars. Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images. Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP movie critic


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