I saw Revenge of the Sith in the theater three times, two of which were by myself. The first two times were for a journalism class, the second of which a friend tagged along because he wanted to see the movie but was embarrassed and needed an excuse (“she didn’t want to go alone” was the story he told people), and the last time was because I actually wanted to enjoy it. The only real reason that RotS isn’t my favorite of the prequels is because of the romance, which isn’t even a major part of the story somehow, because this truly is a far better movie than the two before it. It has better action, pacing, and acting*, and I actually did feel the hopelessness that Padme felt (even though I still maintain her death was so anticlimactic and antithetical to who she is as a person) as the world she loved fell all around her.
That being said, though, my favorite scene happens to be one of the goofiest, even if it isn’t trying to be. Nay, it is trying to be the exact opposite of goofy. Funnily enough, it actually includes one of the same characters from yesterday’s favorite scene – Mace Windu – but it’s Ian McDiarmid, playing Chancellor Palpatine, that steals the scene. When Windu tries to arrest and then kill the Chancellor, McDiarmid could have taken the easy way out and just delivered his lines as lifelessly as Hayden Christensen’s Anakin did, but nope, the veteran actor manages to go all-out apeshit fanatic. Somehow he manages to do this in a non-comedic, non-cringeworthy way, which is a weird line to toe, but he embodies this dogmatic, evil Sith in a way that I don’t think any actor could have.
Film School Rejects published an amazing and hilarious article by Scott Beggs, who wrote one of most most incredible sentences regarding Palpatine and Anakin:
Palpatine is a perfect Hitler, and Anakin is a moron. A true idiot. An even stupider Harry Potter.
Honestly, that’s why this scene delights me so. It’s a reflection of that very sentiment. While looking at one of his mentors – that, sure, he doesn’t like all that much because “he’s holding me back” or whatever – fighting against lightning coming from a man who just admitted to being the very evil that Anakin is supposed to be fighting, Anakin still figures that the guy who’s been lying to him the whole time about his identity is the person to keep alive, which partially tracks with Anakin’s terrible decision-making skills throughout the trilogy. I mean, he lucks into blowing up the Nemoidian ship in The Phantom Menace, he goes to save Obi-Wan from insect people after somehow finding his mom at a Tusken raider camp and then slaughtering all its inhabitants in a fit of hormonal rage, he whines about how “it isn’t fair” that he’s not made a Master Jedi, even though the job on the Jedi Council was basically given to him through connections. But he seems to think he’s owed people’s respect or whatever … for reasons. I mean, the animated Clone Wars does go into detail about his skills, but there’s nothing in the movies to show he deserves any accolades, other than the fact that he’s assigned to go on dangerous missions – like saving the Chancellor – which is very clearly because the plot said so as opposed to any actual evidence that he’s good at anything other than glowering.
Lucas and Co. did such a better job on establishing Palpatine as the obvious future Emperor, though, even if his plan was convoluted, at best, and nearly impossible to accomplish, due to the sheer amount of “this has to happen in order for other things to happen, even though there’s no way to predict that this is the thing that needs to happen.” You can almost waive it away as just Shreev’s (I hate that name and will hate it until the day I die) sheer will making it come to pass, culminating in his lightninging Mace Windu out of a window to his apparent death.
Art Credit: 99 Designs, Mike Sapienza
* I maintain that Ewan McGregor’s performance in the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin – let’s forget that it takes place on a lava planet, which is OMG so fucking stupid – was the best in any of the Star Wars films. Granted, it is in contrast with Hayden Christensen’s hormone-driven, whiny bullshit, but still.