I should mention, before I really get going here, that the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, written by Matthew Stover, is a valiant attempt to reconstruct Revenge of the Sith in such a way that things sort of make sense and are the logical result of humans being humans (in most cases: some of the characters are not human, obviously). Stover completely ignores some events in the movie, and totally reinterprets others, and, if given the choice, I would rather read the novel than watch the film because the novel is endurable and, dare I say, enjoyable. The reason why? Good writing.
The film, however, is full of bad writing, and so I begin…
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (00.01.50-00.08.05)
As it is almost two minutes before there is any dialogue, I will take these moments of eye candy to wonder what the heck is happening. According to the opening crawl which just faded into the stars, General Grievous has “swept” into Coruscant and kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. It is strongly suggested later that Palpatine orchestrated this entire event simply to have Anakin Skywalker recalled from the front lines so that he could kill Count Dooku and be ripe for the turning to the Dark Side.
While this sounds good in theory, there are simply too many places where such a cunning scheme could go wrong for the Chancellor. Security would have to be told not to fight back, ships would have to be rerouted, and the Jedi would have to be kept out of the loop and somehow out of the fighting. Put this in terms of WWII and England. If Sir Winston Churchill were actually in league with Adolf Hitler and wanted to orchestrate a plan in which an elite team of Nazi soldiers kidnapped him and tried to make it across the channel, I highly doubt he would succeed without his connection to Nazi Germany being discovered, given the intense security around Churchill and the British Army stationed around England for the purpose of repelling any invasion force.
Furthermore, the recall of Kenobi and Skywalker, and their entire battle group, apparently, would be like Churchill recalling a battle group from the South China Sea. Unanswerable questions would be asked and the gambit would fail. The plausibility of Palpatine’s actions here are very much in question, especially given that at this point he hasn’t yet tried to give orders to the Jedi Council, who seem to be running the war, and it is they who would have to recall Kenobi’s battle group. I wonder if his was the closest most convenient group to recall, especially since there should have been defenses in place already.
I suppose it could be argued that the Republic cruisers we see actually are the orbital defense group and that just Kenobi and Skywalker were recalled, in their Jedi starfighters, to infiltrate Grievous’ ship, but why? Mace Windu and at least one other Jedi Knight are already on Coruscant and available to fly up into the melee, so why recall anyone from outside the system? This entire chain of events makes no sense at all. But, it is what exists, so assuming the extremely unlikely, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi finally quit their pointless acrobatics and are staring down the gullet of spacial chaos at Grievous’ ship.
I must say, apart from being slightly overwhelming, this space battle is very well done, from a technical point of view. It is many things that the comparable battle in Return of the Jedi was, with a few homages to the attack on the first Death Star thrown in (ie Kenobi being Red Leader, and the early X-wing like fighters). It is clear this sort of chaos and setup is what Lucas wished he could have achieved for Jedi because he recreates it so well, down to the Emperor being seated in a throne on a ship with the battle raging behind him and a duel of the fates being fought in front of him. I’ll say this for Lucas: he never stops trying to perfect his films that were, in his mind, incomplete due to rudimentary special effects. That single minded pursuit of perfection is a good trait, for the most part, and one I can respect.
Anyway, at this point Kenobi’s squadron is under attack and a few of their disposable clone pilots are being blown up. For some reason Anakin wants to “go help them out” (00.04.04). Kenobi has to remind him to do his job: rescue the Chancellor. I think this is thrown in here to emphasize the trouble Anakin has letting people in his life die, but it doesn’t work because 1) Anakin has been fighting a war for three years with troops he has come to think of as disposable and 2) given the way he thinks about Palpatine throughout the rest of the film, one would think the Chancellor would rate as slightly more important.
Also going on here is a little banter between Kenobi and Skywalker. it sounds a little forced and superficial, and no doubt was added because, after Attack of the Clones, some audience members had trouble believing that Anakin and Obi-Wan were in fact friends. I’ve got no trouble with the banter, per se, as it isn’t really any worse than any other horrible prequel dialogue, but I point it out as one more thing added to revise what has come before, which is a direct result of failing to plan and write well in the first place.
Anyway, there is some drama with some missiles and buzz droids, and for some reason one of the best star pilots in the galaxy thinks it is a good idea to fire on his master’s fighter and/or physically bump into it. Other than that, I like the idea of the buzz droids because someone was thinking about the infinite options available with an army of droids. Why shoot a normal missile when you can shoot a missile full of droids that create havoc?
Finally the Jedi manage to land in the main hanger bay, and while they chop up some useless droids, Artoo finds the Chancellor. The Jedi immediately sense Count Dooku (and somehow not the evil Darth Sidious) and rightly figure it is a trap and decide to go anyway. Artoo naturally wants in on the fun, but is told to “go back” because Anakin needs him to “stay with the ship” (00.08.00). Um, why? Are they really planning on leaving in one and a half starfighters with three men? Wouldn’t Artoo prove useful? I understand that practically the droid would get in the way of all the running and fighting and madcap elevator fun, but there had to be a better way of getting the droid out of the way, like having him be separated from Skywalker and Kenobi like he got separated from Luke on Cloud City, or something. And then Kenobi tosses him a communicator as if a droid of Artoo’s specs doesn’t have one built in. (How else does Skywalker talk to him while he is sitting in the starfighter wing?)
Anyway, the Jedi go to spring the trap, and Artoo goes to pout about being left out of the action.