- First things first: the entire movie is Palpatine/Darth Sidious's moment of glory, being the final stage in his plan to exterminate the Jedi Order and place the galaxy under true Sith rule.
- The quiet opening, a single Star Destroyer rolling across the screen to the sound of lone drumbeats. Two small fighters race across the screen, and the most bombastic and cheer-inducing take on the Force Theme ever blares across the screen. We know exactly who these two Jedi Knights are, we know exactly what they're about to do, and we know in the space of a single scene that this is the movie we've been waiting twenty years for.
- To quote the novelization: "Though this is the end of the age of heroes, it has saved its best for last."
- The 2 starships roll over the edge of the capital ship, and right underneath, you see....WAR! Tens of ships engaged in battle, lasers flying everywhere, explosions, destruction, fighters flying around randomly! Easily the biggest space battle we'd seen in Star Wars since the battle of Endor, and my is it grand.
- Artoo destroying the buzz droid that landed on Anakin's fighter, with some advice from Obi-Wan. Even better in the novelization where Artoo busts out every tool on his person and leaves the buzz droid in pieces.
- The Battle of Coruscant was one big Moment of Awesome for Anakin. He tricks two high-quality homing missiles tailing him into blowing each other up. He is able to pilot his interceptor with such precision that he crushes one of those tiny little buzz droids between his fighter and Obi-Wan's, causing no damage to either vehicle and utterly destroying the droid. And he does this at the risk of getting a buzz droid on his own fighter. When told the hangar shields are still up on the Invisible Hand, he isn't worried at all. He just blasts the generator like nobody's business.
- Obi-Wan leaps from his starfighter while it skids across the hangar deck and takes out several droids with his lightsaber, as he lands among them, with effortless grace.
- At one point in the Invisible Hand, R2 is cornered by two super battle droids and probably about to get shot. So what does he do? He squirts them with oil, engages his booster jets, and sets them on fire. And then (st)rolls away while they explode.
- Later, Anakin kills Dooku in what quickly becomes single combat. After that, he carries the unconscious Obi-Wan on his back like he's as light as a rag doll, and finally, he safely crash-lands half a cruiser that was never designed to be able to land safely.
- The duel with Dooku is made even better in the novelization. It's told from Dooku's perspective, and it shows him going from a complete Smug Snake through his Oh, Crap! moment when he realizes that Obi-Wan and Anakin aren't fighting like he expected to his final realization of his betrayal by Sidious.
- And his realization, after taunting Anakin, why Sidious wants him as an apprentice: the boy is half-Sith already. Immediately following, he taunts Anakin again, this time to deprive him of Dark Side power, only to have Palpatine encourage him. Dooku immediately wonders "Whose side is he on?" Well, Count, you're about to find out...
- When Anakin and Obi-Wan confront Grievous, he escapes by smashing a window and exposing the entire room to the vacuum of space. As smug as he may be, that takes balls. (Or in his case, complete lack thereof.)
Anakin: "I think we lost something."
- As the novelization states: "This is, put simply, impossible. It can't be done. He's going to do it anyway." And finally, "This is Anakin Skywalker's masterpiece."
- Palpatine and Anakin at the opera. Sheer creepy, slightly Squicky win. Bonus points here for Ian McDiarmid's acting. The intensity of the scene is already set by the music, but he only adds to it with his "Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise". Perfect storytelling, and the subtle, evil smirk he gives as he recalls his master's demise at his own hands shows Palpatine to be every bit as creepy before his face gets fried.
- Palpatine's "Jedi trap" at Utapau is his Crowning Moment of Magnificent Bastard, which the novelization sums up.
- First, he picks a planet way out in the Outer Rim that he couldn't care less about, but has geography that helps funnel the action into certain areas, making it easier to predict.
- Second, he baits the trap with something that will guarantee the Jedi will rush in. This bait is General Grievous, whose death or capture would end the war and Palpatine's emergency powers, two things the Jedi desperately want.
- Third, he makes the trap's Jedi-killer the same as the bait, guaranteeing that even should the Jedi spot the trap they will continue to put themselves in its teeth of their own volition.
- Fourth, the bait/Jedi-killer is a pawn that has outlived its usefulness, ensuring that whatever happens, Palpatine benefits.
- And lastly, none of it really matters because the real purpose of the trap is to ensure the Jedi - Obi-Wan Kenobi - isn't around to keep Anakin Skywalker from falling to the dark side.
- Which doesn't make what happens any less awesome: Obi-Wan Kenobi, alone, nearly unarmed and without backup, facing up to a room full of bad guys including one with four lightsabers. Han Solo would be proud.
- His entrance in that scene: "Hello there." Best entrance ever. Then dropping that huge thing on Grievous' guards. Then strolling on, twirling his lightsabre like a walking stick.
- Grievous: "I've been trained in your Jedi arts by Count Dooku." Obi-Wan might have been thinking: "Good, because I trained the Jedi who killed Count Dooku." (In the movie, he might be thinking it. In the novelisation, he says it in his own inimitable Deadpan Snarker way.)
- More: he wasn't trapped, ambushed, or backed into this situation. Obi-Wan Kenobi saw a huge hangar filled with droids, and with General Grievous, went "Hmm", and jumped down into the middle.
- Though Grievous having four arms was slightly spoiled by the cartoon miniseries that bridged Episode II and Episode III, you have to admit that the way he advances towards Obi-Wan on Utapau, four lightsabers in his hands, all four of them spinning like saws as they carve up the floor, is a hell of a way to start a duel.
- To cap off the battle, Obi-Wan kills Grievous with a blaster and then delivers a hell of a Bond One-Liner-cum-Call Forward:
Obi-Wan (after killing Grievous): "So uncivilized."
- The novelization makes it even more awesome by explaining why the Jedi sent Obi-Wan, and not Mace Windu or Yoda, to take down the slayer of Jedi: Grievous has copied all the lightsaber combat styles of the Jedi he has fought and is just as skilled as Mace and Yoda while being faster, but Obi-Wan is the master of the form focused on blocking. The end result: in less than a minute from the start of their brief duel, Grievous had lost two of his four blades to Obi-Wan's parries, and Grievous has stopped being smug and is now desperately fighting for his life. Even so, Grievous regroups and eventually Obi-Wan is disarmed. But Grievous, like most people, believes that Jedi will use nothing but their lightsabers and The Force to fight. What finally does in Grievous is that Obi-Wan, when push comes to shove, is willing to go Combat Pragmatist and finish him off with a blaster. His Bond One-Liner was for the fact he had to resort to such "uncivilized" weapons to win, but it still meant he won.
- Obi-Wan fends off Grievous' electrostaff attacks with his bare hand while they're racing through the tunnel.
- Mace Windu vs. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. The dialogue before the duel set the mood perfectly:
Mace: In the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, you are under arrest.Palpatine: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?Mace: The Senate will decide your fate.Palpatine: I am the Senate!Mace: Not yet!
- In the novelization, when Anakin arrives to see Mace and Palpatine fighting, he can only make out the blades of their lightsabers. They're moving so fast that The Chosen One can't keep up with their movements.
- When cornered and disarmed, Palpatine fires a torrent of Force lightning at Mace, who deflects it with his lightsaber and throws it all back into Palpatine's face.
- Then when Anakin disarms Mace, the now "scarred and deformed" Palpatine kills Mace with another glorious torrent of lightning. While some find this moment extremely narmy, others defend it as one of the best, if not the best, Palpatine moment when he starts devouring, and we mean devouring, the scenery with such aplomb that it's hard not to let loose and root for him. All together now:
Palpatine: POOOWEER! UUNLIIIMIITEEED POOWWEEEER!!
- Legends sources give some more insight into that duel: the Sith use a tactic called dun möch, where they taunt and push base emotions into their Jedi opponents, thus disrupting their ability to call on the Force. On the other hand, Windu's fighting style, Vaapad - which he helped invent - has a mental aspect to it that enabled him to deflect those emotions at Palpatine.
- Say what you will about Anakin, but marching up the steps of the Jedi Temple at the head of the entire 501st is pure win.
- A small moment, and one easily missed as it occurs between scenes of Order 66 being carried out, but an example of why clone troopers aren't just cannon fodder: a single clone trooper takes out two spider droids, where previously they had been annihilating entire squads in seconds, by jumping on their backs and shooting them at full auto from above.
- Let's face it, the culmination of Palpatine's plan. Once the war was won, he would have had to resign or show himself as a Sith... And yet he manipulated the Jedi into giving him an excuse to become The Emperor and have them exterminated. What's more awesome, according to the Expanded Universe the Jedi knew of Order 66: it was one of at least 150 contingency orders to the Grand Army issued for a number of specific circumstances, with Order 66 being basically "I, the Supreme Commander (Chancellor), have proof the Jedi Order has mutinied, Kill 'em All" and Order 65 being "The Supreme Commander (Chancellor) is unfit to issue orders, arrest him and shoot him if he runs". And yet, they were caught flat-footed when Palpatine, using official channels (because he had to identify himself as the Chancellor and Supreme Commander), ordered their own soldiers to assassinate them.
- Some for the clone troopers themselves due to sheer Genre Savvyness: they shoot them In the Back with all the necessary firepower and then some (Cody had Obi-Wan shot with an anti-tank weapon); once they kill their commanders, they continue shooting, check the body, and if they can't find it, they conclude it's most likely still alive and start searching.
- As a consequence, the fact Yoda and Obi-Wan survived and reached Coruscant.
- Yoda jumping from one clone trooper to another to retrieve the lightsaber he had just telekinekally embedded in his chest, then his look of disappointment/resignation after the scuffle.
- The whole slaughter of the Separatist council, without Anakin making a sound, is one of the best scenes in the movie, especially when Nute Gunray not only gets what's coming to him but is brutally cut down mid-whiny plea for mercy.
- Without seeming to be even aware of it, Vader deflects a blaster bolt that would have hit him in the back, casually sweeping his lightsaber down from his shoulder. This is one of the most subtly effective demonstrations that he is nearly invincible at this point.
- Equally satisfying is the fantastic contempt in Palpatine's voice when he commands Anakin, newly-minted as Darth Vader to "WIPE OUT. VICEROY. GUNRAY. And the other separatist leaders." It's a great reminder to the audience that these sniveling characters are still hanging around and haven't paid for any of their crimes yet. Admit it, you were rooting for Anakin in that scene.
- And now, the duel we've all been waiting for: Anakin Skywalker vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi, ending with Obi-Wan hacking off Anakin's remaining limbs. Even better: that's actually Ewan MacGregor and Hayden Christensen throughout most of the fight, with both having trained in the choreography until they could do it together at full speed. On the commentary, Lucas gushes over how amazing it was to watch them during filming. The fact that Obi-Wan wins this fight is a huge moment of awesome for him, despite what it means for the two of them. Obi-Wan fights the Chosen One, the most powerful Force user in the galaxy, and someone he's said before is stronger than he'll ever be, and wins. It's true that Anakin probably isn't in the best state of mind to be fighting at full force, but it's still damn impressive.
- Meanwhile, Yoda decides to do what he does best; kick ass, unleash all of the shit, and personally put a stop to Palpatine's reign of terror, starting off with a Force push so powerful that it scares the Sith Lord, but Yoda won't have any of it.
"If so powerful you are, why leave?"
- Upon entering the Chancellor's Senate office, Yoda effortlessly disables the two door guards by telekinetically dashing them against the wall without even seeming to notice them, they are so insignificant to him.
- Them fighting on the Chancellor's Podium as it rises and brings them to the Galactic Senate Chamber alone is breathtaking. We've seen this place many times throughout the trilogy and now the Big Good and Big Bad are fighting in it. Even though no one is in the room, it gives the sense that everyone is watching whether good or evil triumph.
- Even better when viewed as part of the series. Those who know Palpatine know that he is a man who is absolutely in control of everything around him. He never panics, always thinks about a dozen steps ahead and never acts intimidated or worried. And he is running scared for his life from someone he had taunted only moments ago. For the first time in the series, he has met someone he cannot intimidate or bully, someone who will never be swayed by his words or fall under his spell. He has encountered someone who can destroy him and is damn sure going to try.
- The best part? Yoda actually wins the fight. He overpowers Palpatine's lightning and proves he's stronger. So strong, unfortunately, that the explosion ends up knocking him away and giving Palpatine time to recoup and get back up while Yoda is injured. Yoda was literally undone because he was too powerful with the Force, which is both really sad and really awesome all things considered.
- Yoda, like all Jedi, is a pacifist. He'd rather talk than fight. In his encounter with Sidious, it's quite possibly the first time he's wanted a fight like this, and it's a good indicator of how far Sidious has pushed him.
- At the end, all it took was Vader taking one deep mechanical breath and every hair on your body stood on end, followed by a heart-wrenching Big "NO!".
- Or the look on Vader's face as the mask lowers, eyes widening as he realizes what his world will look like from then on...
- The first LEGO Star Wars made this scene even more awesome; instead of the Big "NO!", Vader goes on a rampage.
- The novelization's version of Vader's awakening is wonderfully nightmarish. Here, take a Vader Breath:
This is how it feels to be Anakin Skywalker, forever:
You can hear yourself breathing. It comes hard, and harsh, and it scrapes nerves already raw, but you cannot stop it. You can never stop it. You cannot even slow it down.
You don't even have lungs anymore.
Mechanisms hardwired into your chest breathe for you. They will pump oxygen into your bloodstream. Forever.
- Vader and Palpatine observe the first death star being constructed. Vader crosses his arms, and the emperor just stands watching. What an awesome image depicting the evil the galaxy will have to deal with for the next 22 years.
- The very ending. Binary Sunset. There could have been no better way to link both trilogies.