Revisiting Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

Generally speaking, Revenge of the Sith tends to be the best received of the Prequel Trilogy. In surely unrelated news, Jar Jar Binks was seen, but not heard, in this film.

Taking place some three years after the events of Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith opens with Chancellor Palpaitne having been kidnapped and Obi-Wan and Anakin leading a desperate mission to rescue him from Count Dooku. Of course we the audience know this is quite the sham with Palpatine being Count Dooku's Sith Master.

The relationship between Anakin, now a full Jedi Knight, and Obi-Wan, his former teacher, is far healthier than it was in the previous movie. Gone are the hurtful put-downs from Obi-Wan as is Anakin's unwillingness to ever listen to Obi-Wan. As their fighter squadron closes in on the Separatist flagship, Anakin wants to go back to help the clones that are protecting them and coming under heavy fire but yields to Obi-Wan's reminder that they are doing their job so the two of them can do theirs. In the previous movie Anakin would probably have pouted and likely gone back anyways... However, even under orders from Obi-Wan or later Palpatine he is unwilling to abandon his former mentor when the mission might go smoother by doing so. It is nice to finally see the friendship that had been indicated in the first released Star Wars film.

However, Anakin possessed some darkness within him - with Obi-Wan unconscious and Dooku helpless (and hand-less) before him, Anakin gives in to Palpatine's urging him to finish him off (we can see Palpatine making a vacancy for the position of Sith Apprentice). However, despite performing this execution, he refuses to abandon Obi-Wan despite Palpatine urging him to do so.

Once they "land" half the Separatist ship on Coruscant, it is Anakin who meets with the politicians while Obi-Wan returns to the Jedi Council. While being able to see his secret wife Padme is the main benefit, one gets the impression Anakin rather likes this attention.

Anakin learns Padme is pregnant, though is currently concealing it. It is fortunate for her there is no paparazzi on Coruscant looking for "baby bumps". Any children they have will make continued concealment of their marriage likely to be impossible. While nothing forbids Padme from being married (though she does consider it unlikely the queen of Naboo will have her stay on as senator once she delivers), Anakin would be expelled from the Jedi Order. The tension increases with Anakin beginning to have prophetic dreams of her dying in childbirth. Anakin actually goes to Yoda for advice on this, telling him of premonitions he is having of someone close to him dying. Yoda advises he let go of the fear of loss and we begin to see how this indeed can be the weakness that brings Anakin to the Dark Side - what he would do to avoid losing the ones he loves.

Anakin soon finds himself a pawn between the Jedi and Palpatine, whose emergency powers continue to grow, greatly frustrating the Jedi. When Palpatine asks that Anakin become his personal representative on the Jedi Council, the Council begrudgingly agrees, but does not grant Anakin the rank of Jedi Master which would be appropriate for such an appointment. This triggers an outburst from Anakin who actually apologizes. But his frustration returns when he learns the Jedi want him to spy on Palpatine, a man Anakin greatly admires.

It is as this is transpiring that Palpatine truly begins to work on pulling Anakin into the Sith. He suggests that the secret of eternal life can be learned, but only with the Dark Side of the Force. He suggests there are secrets of the Force the Jedi do not pursue but that Anakin might under Palpatine's teachings. He does not go out and say "hey I'm a Sith Lord" but allows Anakin to determine it for himself. Wisely, Palpatine waits until Obi-Wan is off-planet pursuing General Grievous, now leader of the Separatists. Clearly Palpatine knows of Anakin's marriage and his dreams.

Anakin tries to do the right thing by telling Jedi Master Mace Windu of the Chancellor being a Sith Lord. Windu takes three Jedi to confront Palpatine but leaves Anakin behind. In one of the better scenes, Anakin wordlessly agonizes over whether to intervene or not, hearing the voice of Palpatine suggesting he is the only way to save Padme from death.

 The Jedi attempt to arrest Palpatine does not go well, with only Windu surviving Palpatine's initial lightsaber attack. It seems Palpatine is at the bring of defeat when Anakin arrives and decides he needs Palpatine alive, no matter what Windu says. Pity Windu was always mean to Anakin... Goodbye Mace as Anakin removes an arm and Palpatine shoots Force Lightning at him. And good bye Anakin, say hello to the newly dubbed Darth Vader, who pledges himself to the Sith.

Palpatine unleashes the Clone Troopers on the Jedi in surprise ambushes while Vader leads an assault on the Jedi temple. Very few of the off-world Jedi survive, though among them are Obi-Wan and Yoda. On Coruscant, Vader leads an assault on the Jedi Temple, with Anakin wiping out children studying to be Jedi.

Events quickly reach their climax with Obi-Wan and Yoda learning of what transpired and return to the Jedi Temple while everyone is paying attention to Palpatine declaring the First Galactic Empire. To thunderous applause.

While Yoda faces Palpatine, Obi-Wan hunts down Anakin. Padme knows where he is but won't tell Obi-Wan, who sneaks aboard Padme's ship while she goes to confront Anakin.

On the lava planet of Mustafar, Anakin is enraged that Padme would believe Obi-Wan's "lies" about him. In his anger he uses the Force to choke her. It is at this point that Obi-Wan intervenes.

Yoda's duel ends in a draw with him fleeing, aided by Senator Organa. Obi-Wan defeats Anakin but leaves him to burn to death beside the lava. Bad move.

Padme gives birth to the twins Luke and Leia and then dies. Emperor Palpatine rebuilds Vader into the armored enforcer we all know and love. And you know the rest.

Revenge of the Sith definitely feels like a movie of transition, of the passing of one age. While the prequels had been dominated by shiny new hardware, in this film we are seeing the well-lived-in universe we were used to in the classic trilogy.

Ewan McGregor starts to seriously channel the mannerisms of Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan he really feels like a younger version of the man in Episode IV.

Palpatine is still a joy to watch. All the planning he has been doing in the prequels pays off here, with the Jedi wiped out and him being absolute ruler of the galaxy. His only real setback is Darth Vader being crippled at Mustafar and needing to be rebuilt. And that unknown to him, Padme did live long enough to produce twins who will help bring down his Empire.

While the relationship of Anakin and Padme was painful to watch in Attack of the Clones and still too awkward here, it is far more palatable than it had been. Anakin's fall meets the definition of tragedy, when he performs hideous deeds to save his wife, but in so doing he loses her.

Greatest Moment(s): The final lightsaber battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader. Palpatine implementing Order 66 and wiping out the Jedi. Palpatine's relationship with Anakin and Vader. "So this is how liberty dies... with thunderous applause."

Cringeworthy Moment(s):  It's better than it had been, but the relationship between Anakin and Padme is still awkward. 

Puzzling Moment(s): Could Mace WIndu have finished off Palpatine had Anakin not intervened?

Image Credits
  • Jar Jar Mourning for Padme from Wookiepeida (originally from Revenge of the Sith Blu-Ray)

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