Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.

Trade embargoes and senatorial debates, romantic dialogue with less passion than a passed kindergarten note and the black hole that’s known as Jar-Jar Binks.

In terms of Star Wars, George Lucas’ delay of the inevitable had been, until 2005, about as much fun as that of waiting until April 15 to file taxes. But Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the final filmic bit of Star Wars, turned out to be the most thrilling, enthralling and tragic episode of the saga since Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back.

Everyone knew Anakin Skywalker, a precocious pod-racing kid who was the next big Jedi, would become the evil mouth-breathing Darth Vader. Sith became wholly involving by finally grounding the how-and-why details in tangible love, hope, guilt, doubt, sadness, betrayal and fear, not stilted talk of politics, philosophy and “midi-chlorians.”

Lucas’s coffers couldn’t have been padded this way, but he should have done one movie — an hour of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, five minutes of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, and the entirety of Sith.

Neither gratuitous nor neutered, the violence in this buzzed-about conclusion isn’t just lopped-off Jedi arms anymore — it’s decapitations, dead kids and burning flesh. And for once, the wretched cutesy-poo dialogue between Anakin and pregnant wife Padmé actually masks their mounting sadness and pain.

Ending on a note of hope, this prequel conclusion built a fitting bridge to subsequent episodes (which chronologically arrived beforehand). Here, Lucas rediscovered this universe’s wonderment and imagination, finally delivering the Star Wars film for which fans had waited so long.