Alas, Poor Scrappy: Nute Gunray wasn't well liked as an antagonist in The Phantom Menace, with the questionable stereotypes doing him and the Trade Federation no favours. Still, it's hard not to feel a smidgen of sympathy as he pleads for peace and an end to the war, right before Vader brutally cuts him down. The same counts for most of the Separatists.
Many see Padmé's role in this theatrical film as a severe let-down after the previous two films, considering she spends most of the time moping about in her residence, denying Anakin's crimes and the infamous "dying of a broken heart". To be fair to Lucas, though, a) it would have been pretty hard for her to play a very action-oriented role as she did before, considering she's heavily pregnant throughout the story (pregnancy hormones may partly explain her crying, depressed mood, etc), and b) scenes which were left on the cutting room floor showed that she tries to curtail Palpatine's power, and has a hand in the beginning of what will eventually become the Rebellion.
General Grievous gets this in an odd way. In Star Wars: Clone Wars he was a badass unstoppable Jedi killer. However, at the end of the series, his few remaining internal organs were severely mangled by Mace Windu, resulting in him gaining a chronic cough and seeming much weaker in the film, as he was intended to become a Fallen Hero and a precursor of sorts to Vader.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars gives Dooku's death this. Yes, it's still tragic in the context of pushing Anakin to the dark side, but after all the horrible things Dooku did throughout the series, it can feel gratifying knowing Dooku gets what he deserves.
It's similar with Grievous too. After watching The Clone Wars and seeing him repeatedly escape capture, death, or any sort of retribution for his actions time and time again, it is quite nice indeed to finally see him get his comeuppance in this film.
Say what you want about Anakin, but watching him slaughter those cowardly slimy Separatist bastards is immensely satisfying. And he does it all silently while epic music plays. Unless you consider the Separatists too pitiful at that point.
Even if you do pity some of them, it's still undeniably satisfying to watch Wat Tambor in particular get killed after all the horrible things he pulled and got away with in The Clone Wars.
Palpatine's duel with Yoda. It is incredibly cathartic to see Sidious being brought down to earth and seeing him, not only manhandled (thrown away, disarmed, and electrocuted) but actually scared for his life (he clearly would have preferred not to fight Yoda), after all the monstrosities he committed, and him acting like he is invincible. Even if he "wins" the duel, he gets a rough beating by his equal in power.
If you dislike Anakin, or consider his crimes too monstrous to make him sympathetic, being mutilated, burnt and locked in his Darth Vader suit for the rest of his life might do the part. It helps the fact Vader has none of his previous hot headiness and arrogance from when he was Anakin after this point.
Contested Sequel: Like the other two Prequel Trilogy theatrical films, though leaning more towards the positive end of the spectrum. Many fans regard the film as a Surprisingly Improved Sequel to the previous Prequel Trilogy films, although opinions are all over place. In general, Revenge of the Sith is one of the most polarizing of all nine Star Wars films, from both ends, only behind The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. Some fans love the film for its Darker and Edgier tone and multi-layered, intriguing and tragic plot. Others hate it for the craploads of narm and bad acting and dialogue and idiotic character decisions that it retains from the other two prequels, as well as for trying so hard to make Vader into a tragic figure when many people come away thinking that Anakin was bad news all along and he had little to redeem himself (most notably killing children and his wife). Others Take a Third Option and state that while the film definitely falls short compared to the Original Trilogy and has plenty of narm to go around, it's still the best entry in the Prequel Trilogy and is fairly enjoyable in its own right.
Critical Dissonance: It gets enough flak from the fans that its Rotten Tomatoes rating of 80% might surprise some people, especially considering this was nearly identical to Return of the Jedi's former score of 79%. The score of the latter film has since gone up, but it doesn't make much of a difference. Though for what it's worth, even the film's haters usually concede that it isn't as bad as the other two prequels—see Surprisingly Improved Sequel below.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Darth Plagueis proved to be a tremendously popular character without even appearing in the film, based solely on the story Palpatine tells to Anakin (which is often regarded as one of the best scenes in the entire prequel trilogy). His presence in both the Legends continuity and the Canon countinuity is extremely limited, but there has been no short order of fascination with the character.
Evil Is Sexy: Anakin/Vader, thanks to his portrayal by the fangirl-friendly Hayden Christensen. The period between his becoming a Sith Lord and becoming disfigured is where he commits some of his greatest atrocities in the franchise, and is also where he's at his most attractive according to many.
Fan-Preferred Cut Content: There were two scenes that many felt should have been retained. The two being "A Stirring in the Senate" and Exiled To Dagobah. Largely due to both scenes being important scenes that tied into the original trilogy, with the former scene planting the first seeds for what would grow into the Rebel Alliance (on top of fleshing out Padme and Bail's characters) and the latter scene showing Yoda's exile to Dagobah.
Fanon: Many fans like to believe that Darth Plagueis' life-creating experiments caused Shmi Skywalker's unexplained Mystical Pregnancy, and that Anakin has abnormally powerful Force abilities because he's essentially a Human Weapon created by a Sith Lord. The Legends novel about the character suggests that this is the case, although the Force itself created Anakin in response to what Darth Plagueis was doing. The comic Dark Lord of the Sith from the new canon suggests that it was actually Sidious who created Anakin, (although Word of God has clarified this is only what Vader has come to believe.)
Fight Scene Failure: This was the effect when the film tried to show how easily the Jedi go down when it had previously been established that every last one of them is a One-Man Army:
The duel in Palpatine's office starts with him pausing and taking his sweet time to stand still for a second, doing an incredibly awkward looking spinning jump (it really is a good trick) and then stab one of the four Jedi masters (Agen Kolar) who doesn't react at all, then cut down the second one (Saesee Tiin) with an Offhand Backhand (this guy doesn't even move). Meanwhile, the third one (Kit Fisto) just waves his saber around, managing to clumsily parry once before getting stabbed. Only then does Mace Windu, who has been standing quietly to the side, join the fight. It becomes hilarious when watched on slow motion.
The executions shown as part of Order 66. Jedi, the best of the best, are assassinated in seconds without at least taking one clone trooper with them. We're also supposed to be impressed that Yoda sensed the two troopers standing right behind him to shoot him at point blank, and decapitates them. It becomes hilarious a while later when a Padawan puts all the Masters to shame and manages to kill no less than seven clone troopers in a few seconds before he gets gunned down.
Obi-Wan and Anakin are also big providers of memes.
General Grievous deserves a mention for density. He's only in a handful of scenes, but practically every single line of dialogue he has in them is a meme ("Your lightsabers will make a fine addition to my collection", "General Kenobi, you are a bold one", "I have been TRAINED in your Jedi arts... by Count DOOKU!", etc.).
"She lost the will to live" is one of the most infamous moments of the Prequel Trilogy, but it becomes heartbreaking when in December 2016, Carrie Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds said "I want to be with Carrie" shortly before her fatal stroke. Several fans reacted with the exact quote when they heard the news.
Order 66, while already bad enough on its own, become even worse once you've seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Bad Batch because the clones are being forced by inhibition chips to fire on those that considered them to be actual people and not expendable (such as Plo Koon). Twisting the knife further, is that most of them suffered PTSD as a result.
He Really Can Act: Hayden Christensen is genuinely scary as Darth Vader... at least when he isn't talking. While this is also a polarizing performance, many fans who don't hate the film point out how the way Hayden Christensen acts is a lot more appropriate than in the previous film, where it was more narmy. It should also be noted that he's done films outside the franchise where he has garnered critical praise.
Was claimed about Mace Windu and Aayla Secura, even though they're both killed onscreen. Mace's survival is at least somewhat plausible. He loses his hand, gets zapped by lightning, and tossed from a significant height, all of which Jedi are shown to be able to survive throughout the saga (although never all at once). And, of course, Never Found the Body. Secura, however, gets shot in the back by at least a dozen troops at near point-blank range, and her body continues to be shot as the camera pans out.
After the announcement of The Force Awakens, a lot of people began to apply this train of thought to Darth Plagueis, based on Palpatine's comments that his old master was able to conquer death. The Tarkin book dropping a couple of details about the enigmatic figure into the canon also helped the theory gain some support. A number of people are convinced that he was somehow Faking the Dead and could be the Big Bad of the Sequel Trilogy as a way of raising the stakes from his apprentice. This theory gained greater credibility when fans found that "Snoke's Theme" from TFA's soundtrack sounded very similar to "Palpatine's Teachings" from this film's soundtrack.
The film starts with a massive space battle in low orbit above Coruscant, a world whose entire surface is essentially one ginormous city with one trillion inhabitants. In other words, there's millions upon millions of tons of metal being blown up in the sky in short order, and that stuff is very unlikely to stay up there for more than a few minutes after it's separated from whatever was keeping it airborne. Even if not a single stray shot is produced by all the More Dakka and Beam Spam being traded between the capital ships, the duelling fleets' falling debris will hit Coruscant like an entire barrage of meteor strikes, flattening huge urban areas and invariably killing countless millions in the process. Nothing of the sort is ever mentioned on-screen, however, and scenes showing Coruscant after the battle depict the city as flawless as before, which makes this trope cross straight into No Endor Holocaust - oh, the irony. (The novelization makes it clear that falling debris has caused a great deal of damage and civilian deaths.)
Later materials retroactively explains the 'stray shots' issue, at least. Since Star Wars Legends was decanonized, ship-to-ship firepower has been drastically downgraded in canon (and keeping more in line with what's seen in the films) to basically on par with modern warship ordnance, fitting the aesthetic of World War II IN SPACE. Furthermore, turboblaster bolts are significantly reduced in power after crossing significant distances of even a few hundred kilometers in the Disney canon (which becomes a major plot point in both The Last Jedi and Thrawn), and being in orbit, all the ships exchanging shots were at least several thousand miles from Couruscant's surface. So it's unlikely their regular shots (as opposed to strategic bombardment weapons which aren't usually used in ship-to-ship combat, like giantplasma bombs) caused very much collateral damage at all. Star Wars Rebels further confirms this by showing the anemic effects of even sustained turbolaser orbital bombardment from capital ships on a planetary surface.
As far as the fandom concerned, Obi-Wan can defeat any enemy whenever he has the high ground. Even if the enemy had the high ground, he'd still win and tell them the high ground only belongs to him, as Darth Maul and General Grievous found the hard way. The reason why he's killed in A New Hope is because he and Vader are on the same level. Likewise, fans would often forget that Obi-Wan's Underestimating Badassery on Dooku cause him to lose after a short fight while dismissing Anakin (who actually killed Dooku on his own) as Memetic Loser.
Mace Windu, due to Samuel L. Jackson's own Memetic Badass status. Fans would often forget that Windu's rash and reckless decision to fight Palpatine is the final bait Palpatine needs to rationalize the execution of Order 66.
Palpatine is a Chancellor, a Sith Lord, and the entire Galactic Senate.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 7) retroactively turned Obi-wan and Yoda into this when fans noticed their approach to Order 66 in contrast with Ahsoka: while Ahsoka tried to spare as many clones as she could while escaping from her Star Destroyer, Obi-wan and Yoda had no trouble killing them by the dozens when they needed to infiltrate the Temple. The fact that Ahsoka knew that the clones were brainwashed while Obi-wan and Yoda did not does little to dissuade some fans from portraying them as murder-happy psychos who don't give a damn about the men they used to lead.
"I HATE YOU!!!" Sure, it sounds ridiculous on paper, but it's still gutwrenching to see Anakin on the ground with his legs cut off, writhing in pain, unable to do anything to his former mentor and best friend other than scream at him in impotent rage.
On that note, "You were my brother Anakin, I loved you!" shows how heartbroken Obi-Wan is from everything and makes it all the more tragic for him.
Pretty much every scene with Palpatine. Ian McDiarmid is devouring scenery left and right in his performance, and the delivery of some lines (such as the infamous "Do it" and "POWAH") is a little weird. But Palpatine is such a deliciously evil villain (and McDiarmid is so obviously enjoying himself in the role) that they end up as some of the most awesome and likable scenes in the whole prequel trilogy.
John Williams' score is some of his most amazing and most overwrought work on the franchise. The music is essentially the orchestral version of Large Ham.
Wayne Pygram's 10-second cameo near the very end as a younger Grand Moff Tarkin appearing alongside Vader was also appreciated by fans.
Padding: The final Obi Wan vs. Anakin duel goes on for almost ten minutes. There's no denying that the film tries to make it interesting throughout the fight by constantly moving around the Mustafar mining facility, but the continued use of lightsabers clashing throughout became tiresome about half way through the fight. And that doesn't even include the fact that the duel was constantly interrupted by the Yoda vs. Palpatine fight that was going on at the same time, which adds around another five minutes of waiting for the former duel to reach its conclusion.
While Hayden Christensen's performance, though notably improved, remains divisive, many fans note that Anakin himself is more bearable and even sympathetic in this films compared to how he was in Attack of the Clones.
The politics hall in Coruscant gets an epic battle between Palpatine and Yoda, giving it a scene full of adrenaline after the long bore-fest in The Phantom Menace and the shorter, but still somewhat austere scenes in Attack of the Clones.
"Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: While still highly polarizing, the film was very popular at the time of its release for having a very dark tone and tragic plot that let it stand out from the other two prequels, not to mention depicting Darth Vader on-screen as a villain for the first time in ages.note While Anakin spends roughly half of the film as "Vader", he only appears in his iconic suit of armor for one scene at the end of the films. However, Disney's Star Wars films have caused the film to go through Uniqueness Decay; contemporary Star Wars films are consistently PG-13 and are less blatantly "toyetic" than the prequels, and the suited Vader reappeared in Rogue One with a much more impressive and terrifying scene than theone he was given in Revenge of the Sith.
Signature Scene: Amongst all the Star Wars films, Revenge of the Sith has probably been the biggest offender of fan memes generated for certain scenes. As a result, a lot of these scenes are quite memorable for viewers.
The opening clone vs. droid space-battle sequence over Coruscant.
The scene where Padme announces her pregnancy to Anakin, it's considered even by detractors to be the best acted scene in the trilogy between the couple.
The Opera scene between Anakin and Palpatine, and the iconic line, "Did you ever hear the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?"
The Jedi council denying Anakin the rank of master.
Obi-Wan and Grievous' exchange before their duel, if only for the sheer meme value of the scene. Grievous whipping out four lightsabers is also highly memorable, but the dialogue is what people truely remember.
The brief scene where Anakin and Padme seemingly stare at each across the skyline of Coruscant, either out of force connection or serendipity. It's the key moment that precedes Anakin's decision to intervene in Mace Windu's arrest of Palpatine.
The confrontation with Palpatine and Darth Sidious complete with "Unlimited Powah" and Anakin submitting to the Sith and becoming Darth Vader.
"Order 66" and the montage of the Great Jedi Purge, complete with Williams' special music, and the heartbreaking scene where Anakin ignites his lightsaber in the room with the Younglings.
The Wookiees' gathering and roaring Battle Cry at the beginning of Battle of Kashyyk. Why? Not only because this is the first time we finally got to see the Wookiee again in a Star Wars film since 1983, but also because this is the first time we see multiple Wookiees appearing on the same place and at the same time! Not counting a certain special, of course.
The final duels between Obi-Wan vs. Anakin and Yoda vs. Palpatine. The former especially because of the "high ground" moment.
Darth Vader getting his signature suit put on. His Big "NO!" sure helped.
The last couple minutes getting everything set up for A New Hope.
The opening battle is very pretty and beautifully shot, but loses some of its impact when you realize as the beginning ship is traveling across the screen, Coruscant can be seen below it...and there is no battle occurring or any other ships visible, yet when Anakin and Obi-Wan's ships descend from above and cut across the ship before diving down, suddenly a massive battle is there with dozens and dozens of ships (which should have easily been seen before, but weren't).
At the beginning of the fight between Dooku, Obi Wan, and Anakin, Dooku's jump, backflip and landing was unconvincing. Later into the fight when Count Dooku drops part of the walkway on top of Obi Wan, it looks really fake. Obi Wan was just moved down on the screen when it fell on him without any of his limbs reacting to the impact.
Palpatine's backflip during his fight with Mace is also rather unconvincing. In fact quite a lot of the duel comes off as a bit silly as Palpatine is supposed to be drawing on the force to gain incredible speed and strength, whilst Ian McDiarmid is quite clearly not, resulting in three apparent Jedi Masters all replicating Maul's snail-like reaction speed from The Phantom Menace.
When Grievous is getting his lightsabers out in front of Obi-Wan, it's pretty easy to tell that Ewan McGregor is looking at a green screen the whole time, as he shows little reaction to this and keeps his guard down the whole time, just awkwardly standing there. He doesn't even flinch when Grievous waves the lightsabers dangerously close to his face. This could be Justified as Kenobi's expression indicates this was not the first or second time Obi-Wan had faced Grievous in combat.
Grievous' fight with Obi-Wan is very poorly choreographed, with the cyborg only swinging with two arms at a time despite having four, acting like his weightless laser-blade would benefit from large downward swings with lots of momentum, and generally being very slow and plodding to accompany McGregor's movements (as noted, he couldn't see what he was doing), while also refusing to take several easy swipes that could have him won him the fight instantly if he had the chance. This is likely because Grievous's whole design is Awesome, but Impractical from a filmmaker's point of view and a Story-Breaker Power in-universe. Sure, it looks cool when he whips out four arms, and him being seven foot tall with strength sufficient to toss armored soldiers one-handed like hacky sacks and dent starship armor with punches adds to his intimidation factor, but it makes him losing any fight without looking like a putz impossible. If he had any sense he'd just swing from four angles at the same time and instantly win as Obi Wan would be unable to block everywhere. Or simply pin Obi Wan's lightsaber with two of his, then stab him in the back with his third, and through the gut with his fourth. The fight does actually pick up when Grievous is down to three lightsabers, but it doesn't last long before he's disarmed.
During the final duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin, when the two land on and fight between two platforms hovering over a river of lava, the green screen action is quite easy to detect.
During the scene where the medical droids start operating on the severely-injured Darth Vader, he can be heard making a series of grunts and screams of pain, which are undercut by the fact that his mouth is shut the entire time.
Also during the above scene, when the Vader mask and helmet are being placed on him, the "neck brace" part of the mask is absent while the mask is being lowered, then magically appears in the next shot.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: While generally not regarded as being on par with the Original Trilogy (much like the previous two entries), most fans agree that Revenge of the Sith is a significant improvement over The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones and consider it the best of the prequel trilogy. Some fans even consider it to be on the same level as Return of the Jedi, or even The Empire Strikes Back, in terms of quality. Much of this has to do with the significant reduction in focus on the slow-paced political drama, a greater amount of action-adventure and character study, and the actors having had enough time to figure out how to make their roles work within the confines of George Lucas's stilted writing and direction.
Uncanny Valley: During the Mace/Palpatine fight, there's a couple of shots where Palpatine is completely rendered in CGI, and it's quite noticeable.
The Un-Twist: Unless you theorized that Padme was Romantic False Lead for Anakin or that, even after their marriage from the previous film, the mother of Luke and Leia would somehow be another woman out-of-wedlock, the film outright confirmed in the beginning that she's pregnant with Anakin's child and she (but not Anakin/Vader) only learned it's twins near the ending, with her naming them Luke and Leia. She also diedfrom childbirth (and despair), explaining why her twin children were adopted into two different families in the Original Trilogy.
Viewers in Mourning: Fan-favorites Mace Windu and Kit Fisto die in this film, much to fans' dismay.
A lot of the "rise of the Empire" sequence was interpreted as references to then-contemporary politics (Revenge came out in the middle of the the Bush Administration), despite George Lucas having developed the basic plot when he was making the original trilogy in the 1970s (if not all the details).
Ditto Anakin's line "If you're not with me...then you're my enemy." This has been interpreted as reference to (one formulation of) the Bush Doctrine that countries that support terrorist groups are to be treated as if the terrorists are acting on their behalf. (It's also a re-phrasing of the classic liberal political saying, "You're either part of the solution, or you're part of the problem.") The line goes back toThe Bible if not earlier.
It's also been noted that Palpatine's rise to power has more in common with that of Caesar Augustus, or Adolf Hitler. And George Lucas has admitted an American president is also one of Palpatine's influences but it's Richard Nixon, not Bush.
Win Back the Crowd: Fans who felt underwhelmed by the other two Prequels but enjoyed Revenge feel that this film justifies the entire Prequel Trilogy.