"Though this is the end of the age of heroes, it has saved its best for last."
- After the opening crawl, a single Republic Star Destroyer rolls across the screen, to the sound of lone drumbeats. Two Jedi Starfighters race over it to the most bombastic and cheer-inducing take on the Force theme ever: we know exactly who's piloting those starfighters, what they're about to do, and in the space of a single scene, that this is the movie we'd been waiting twenty years for.
- To quote the novelization: "few of the younglings need any comfort...Don't worry. It'll be all right. Anakin and Obi-Wan will be there any minute."
- The two starfighters fly over the Star Destroyer before flipping over and going under it, straight into a spectacular space battle, with thousands of ships engaged in battle, lasers flying everywhere, and explosions at every corner. Easily the biggest space battle in Star Wars since the Battle of Endor, and likely one of the biggest ever to be depicted on film.
- As the Jedi fly through the engagement, most of the capital ships are engaged in a Standard Starship Scuffle. Then, out of nowhere, one of the Star Destroyers fires a turbolaser beam from its ventral hangar bay, obliterating one of the Separatist frigates.
- Expanded Universe sources makes it even better: during the war the Separatists had noticed the firepower of the Venator-class Star Destroyers is concentrated on the dorsal turbolaser turrets and had started trying to fly under it, where there's only point defense guns... So at one point Anakin took the initiative to install a SPHA-T heavy turbolaser (short ranged but stupidly powerful) to deal with that precise tactic, with the devastating result we saw on-screen.
- Anakin really gets to show off his Ace Pilot skills. He tricks two high-precision homing missiles on his tail into hitting each other, pilots his interceptor so finely that he crushes a buzz droid between his and Obi-Wan's fighters without damaging either ship, and blasts the Invisible Hand's hangar shield generator right as he's charging in.
- And while skidding across the hangar deck, Obi-Wan leaps out of his starfighter to cut several battle droids with his lightsaber.
- After Anakin has crushed most of the buzz droids on Obi-Wan's ship, the last one gets on board Anakin's ship and stands right in front of R2, drill spinning up. Then R2, being R2, produces a taser from a hatch in his dome and shocks the buzz-droid twice, with enough power to leave it staggering. Obi-Wan tells R2 to aim for the center eye on the buzzdroid, which R2 does, and kills the buzzdroid without Anakin's starfighter suffering as much as a scratch.
- When R2is cornered on the Invisible Hand's hangar by two super battle droids, he squirts them with oil, engages his booster jets and sets them on fire!
- Anakin utterly destroys Count Dooku in what quickly becomes single combat, and carries an unconscious Obi-Wan on his back like a rag doll.
- Grievous escapes a confrontation with Anakin and Obi-Wan by shattering the control room's window and exposing the entire room to the vacuum of space. As smug as he may be, that takes balls - or in his case, lack thereof.
- And then Anakin manages to crash-land the wreckage of the Invisible Hand on a Coruscant runway. To reiterate: he landed a 1080-m long dreadnought that was never designed for a safe landing!
- Special mention must go to the four fireships that appear on either side of the burning forward half of the Invisble Hand. They're so effective that they've completely extinguished the flames before the ship hit the ground!
- The Legends novelization gives one to no else but Lorth Needa (the Imperial captain from The Empire Strikes Back that, after being fooled by Han, went to Darth Vader to take personal responsibility for the failure so the Sith Lord would spare his crew from his wrath, knowing he'd die for it), by showing why the Invisible Hand was where it was when Anakin and Obi-Wan boarded it and why the Guarlara then went and shot it down: a strike group composed by a Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser and three Carrack-class cruisers, that together didn't mass half of Grievious's ship, attacked the Invisible Hand, pushed it into position and damaged the engines so it couldn't escape, at the cost of the Dreadnought and one of the Carrack, and when contact was lost with Obi-Wan and Anakin, Needa, as the highest-ranking officer left in the strike group, went and demanded Grievous' surrender on pain of death. Grievous obviously refused... And we all know what Needa called in.
- Then Fridge Brilliance kicks in, and makes the whole situation more awesome for Grievous: according to Palpatine's plan he was supposed to get bogged down after kidnapping him so that Anakin and Obi-Wan could rescue him, except that Grievous' assault on Coruscant was so effective that it took a suicidal action that disabled his ship's engines to actually get that to happen.
- During the Grievous confrontation, special credit should be given to Grievous' Magnaguards for briefly holding their own against Anakin and Obi-Wan. In a universe where droids are semi-comical Cannon Fodder, it's impressive to see some that can actually give two of the Order's strongest Jedi a decent fight. It isn't until the Void Jumpers help take back the Jedi Temple that was see an average non-Force-user fight against a Sith/Jedi so well again.
- Palpatine's meeting with Anakin at the opera house is as creepy as it is awesome. The music already sets the intensity of the scene, but Ian McDiarmid's acting adds to it with the "Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise". Perfect storytelling, and the little evil smirk he gives while recalling his master's death shows how creepy he is even before his face gets fried.
- At long last, a Wookie army appeared on the screen.
- Speaking of Palpatine, he set up Obi-Wan's duel with Grievous at Utapau to not only off the latter for outliving his usefulness, but also keep the former away while Anakin falls to the dark side.
- Still doesn't diminish what happens later: Obi-Wan Kenobi, alone, almost unarmed, jumps into a room full of battle droids and their commander, who splits his cyborg arms into four to quadruple-wield lightsabers against Obi-Wan. The duel only ends when Obi-Wan pries open the armor covering Grievous's torso and shoots the remaining organs inside with a blaster, with the following Bond One-Liner:
- Look closely while they're racing through the tunnel: Obi-Wan fended off Grievous's electrostaff attacks with his bare hand.
- 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, Chancellor.
Palpatine: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?
Mace: The Senate will decide your fate.
Palpatine: I am the Senate!
Mace: Not. Yet.
Palpatine: (Slowly stands, then pops his lightsaber out of his sleeve with a "shink!" sound, like he's revealing a shiv.) It's treason, then. (Ignites his lightsaber with care, then suddenly lunges at the Jedi with bloodcurling scream)
- While we've seen Palpatine's mask drop a couple of other times before, this is when he truly stops holding back. Since the Sith draw on their emotions and passion to lend them strength in fighting, seeing the normally collected Palpatine become wall-chewingly evil, especially in the first part of the fight when he still has his "normal" face on, is equal parts unnerving and awesome. The point is clearly made when he murders two of the four Jedi before anyone else even makes a move, after letting loose a demonic snarl. The transition is instantaneous.
- 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, blasting him out of the skyscraper window. While some find this moment extremely narmy, others defend it as one of Palpatine's best moments for his devouring the scenery with such aplomb that it's hard not to let loose and root for him. All together now, you know the words:
- This is when Palpatine wins. Not when he issues that fateful order to the clones. Not when he makes himself Emperor. Not when he defeats Yoda, the Jedi Order's Grand Master. Its here, when hes corrupted the Chosen One to the Dark Side. In this moment, he is truly about to gain unlimited power.
- 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.
- At one point, a lone clone trooper takes out two crab droids by jumping on their backs and unloading on them from above. It's easily missed since it happens just before Order 66 is carried out, but it's a great one.
- Also at Utapau, a clone trooper gets into a fistfight with a battle droid and WINS.
- Anakin, now Darth Vader, marching up the steps of the Jedi Temple, at the head of the 501st Legion, to kill some Jedi. It's terrifying but still incredibly powerful to see.
- Credit must be given to the Padawans of the Jedi temple. Everything indicates that they went out fighting. One Padawan chops down several clone troopers who were barricading Bail Organa before getting gunned down, probably saving his life, and a couple of Padawans are seen temporarily holding off Vader with their lightsabers before being cut down. The latter cannot be understated, as two boys barely into their teens took on one of the most powerful Force users in the whole galaxy in a lightsaber duel and temporarily held their own.
- 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, in Legends, 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 for their pragmatism and thoroughness: 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 s/he's most likely still alive and start searching.
- A Fridge Awesome moment for Obi-Wan. The first clone commander Sidious sends the command out to isn't the one working with Yoda, or Ki-Adi-Mundi, or Plo Koon—it's Cody. He annoyed Sidious so much that the Sith Lord wanted him dead even before the more senior High Council members!
- As a consequence, the fact Yoda and Obi-Wan survived and reached Coruscant, then defeated a ton of clone troops to break into the occupied Jedi Temple.
- Yoda decapitating the clone troopers who were about to kill him in a single stroke - and this is after he's sensed his fellow Jedi being slaughtered through the Force.
- Yoda jumping from one clone trooper to another to retrieve the lightsaber he had just telekinetically embedded in his chest, then his look of disappointment/resignation after the scuffle.
- The whole slaughter of the Separatist council, without Vader 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." Finally, Gunray and his ilk are paying for their crimes.
- The moment that the saga had been building up to since the famous reveal of The Empire Strikes Back: Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- The Force parry between Vader and Obi-Wan - both of them use the Force with their all, and it creates a momentary stalemate where both of them strain to gain an advantage over the other, until they both go flying back at the same time. And considering how Vader here is at his absolute prime in terms of pure strength, the fact that Obi-Wan managed to equal him in this instance without even utilizing the Dark Side shows how the Sith's folly of being stronger is ultimately pointless.
- After part of the structure collapses and falls into the lava river with Vader and Obi-Wan on it, it begins to float downwards towards a lava fall. Obi-Wan quickly grabs onto a wire and swings down from it as if he were in a Swashbuckler movie, and briefly crosses lightsabers with Vader while doing so. He then swings onto a platform floating on the lava nearby as Vader is left on the structure, which is beginning to go over the falls. Vader then takes the wire and swings to the other end of the platform as it goes over, then runs up it and jumps through the flames onto a mining droid to resume the duel between him and Obi-Wan.
- 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, and someone he's said before is stronger than he'll ever be, and wins. It's true that Vader probably isn't in the best state of mind to be fighting at full force, but it's still damn impressive.
- What's more, Obi-Wan won so decisively that Vader lost his remaining limbs and was slowly burning to death. Vader only survived by Palpatine's intervention.
- Meta: That's actually Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen throughout most of the fight, not their stunt doubles, with both having trained in the choreography until they could do it together at full speed.
- For all of the mocking it gets, the 'high ground' moment deserves mention as it's essentially Obi-Wan reading Vader like a book. After being told not to try it and knowing Obi-Wan's past as well as he does, Obi-Wan knows there's only one option Vader will do: the same one Obi-Wan used to beat Maul. Obi-Wan reacts accordingly and the duel is over. While only implied in the movie, Expanded Universe materials confirm that Obi-Wan's warning was intended to goad Vader into making this mistake.
- Meanwhile, Yoda decides to do what he does best; kick ass, unleash all of the shit, and personally try to 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?"
- Palpatine 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, 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.
- 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 that insignificant to him.
- Initially, Sidious is the attacker, throwing thrusts and slashes while the nimble Yoda dodges them, but when they actually lock blades in the podium on the Senate hall, Sidious stops smiling and grimaces in shock at noting Yoda is overpowering him in the hold. A small alien that barely reaches his waist actually proves stronger than Sidious at hand-to-hand, and the latter can only scream in rage while Yoda pushes his blade away and keeps fighting.
- In that scene, them fighting on the Chancellor's Podium as it rises and brings them to the Galactic Senate Chamber alone is breathtaking. This place appears 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.
- The best part? Yoda actually wins the fight. He first makes Palpatine run for his life, later equals him in swordfighting and forces him to forfeit that field with much less struggle than Windu, and when Palpatine unloads all of his admittedly impressive Force powers, Yoda still stops them and deflects them back to him without the help of a lightsaber. Yoda and not Sidious being forced to retreat (although that was precisely what Sidious had been trying to do through all the fight) is due to the fortuitous factor that Sidious, with his greater weight and longer arms, can avoid being blasted off their pod, while the much lighter Yoda cannot and falls all the way down to the central podium.
- Conversely, if you're rooting for the Sith side, consider this: Palpatine was at least able to go toe-to-toe against a Jedi Master with 800 more years of experience than he did (and before, several Jedi Masters who have had the past 3 years to hone their skills in active combat duty) while spending most of his time working a day job as a politician, and balancing a dozen other schemes. Sidious was both the smartest and most badass person in any room, equal to Windu as a warrior, equal to Yoda as a mystic, and yet neither was his chief job. His chief job was making those fights happen in the first place - making it so that the Jedi came to him desperate, disgraced, flatfooted, off-balance, and then as the cherry on the cake, failing to eliminate him even in personal combat. In surviving and equalling Yoda, Palpatine has faced the most terrifying weapon of the Jedi Order, the epitome of all they were, and personally beat it back.
- Sadly, the instance in which Yoda disarms Palpatine is not shown in the film (though it is in the script and novelization), which makes it an Offscreen Moment of Awesome. However, what we see onscreen actually makes Yoda even more badass: if Sidious still had his lightsaber on him by the point he stopped using it, it implies the whole reason he resorts to trolling Yoda by throwing stuff at him is that Palpatine has realized he cannot win in a direct clash and that, unlike Windu, Yoda is not going to get distracted in the task of butchering him.
- 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.
- The symbolism in the fight is not to be dismissed, either. As they move into the Senate chamber, they fight first on the Chancellor's podium, then in the Senate boxes, throwing the platforms at each other and wrecking many more. It's a fight for the soul of the Republic, and no matter who wins, there will be wounds to heal and scars to live with.
- The music that plays during their fight? "Duel of the Fates", this time with a full choir singing Ominous Latin Chanting the whole way through. Not only that, but the music that plays during their initial confrontation in Palpatine's office? A reprise of "Clash of Lightsabers" from The Empire Strikes Back, originally heard during Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's fight on Cloud City.
- 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!". Bonus points go to Vader's first breath for the fact that, because of the haze in the room, not only does the viewer hear Vader's first breath, they see it.
- 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...
- When informed of Padmé's death, Vader uses telekinesis to destroy everything in the room (including the medical droids) and break out of the restraints of the operating table, like some Force-attuned Frankenstein. Big "NO!" or not, that was an impressive showing of the Force from a man who is barely alive and had lost much of his Force potential.
- 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.
- "The dark is generous, and it is patient, and it always wins but in the heart of its strength lies weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back. Love is more than a candle. Love can ignite the stars."