I finished off the prequel trilogy this weekend. The third movie is probably my favorite of the prequel trilogy, possibly because the most amount of stuff happens in this one. The movie starts in the middle of a giant space battle between Separatist and Republic forces over Coruscant. It’s not immediately clear, but what’s happened is that Chancellor Palpatine has been kidnapped by Separatist General Grievous, forcing the Republic fleet to close in on the Separatist fleet to prevent them from escaping into hyperspace.
It’s that last bit in particular that’s not clear to the audience, I think. Star Wars fleets engage at greater distances normally. Obi-Wan and Annie are in their Jedi fighters (which are clearly proto-TIE Fighters) lead clone fighters on an attack on Grievous’s flagship. There’s some dialog here that I think is mostly dead weight (like it doesn’t develop character or advance the plot) but visually it’s quite cool as giant space ships are blowing up all around them as they navigate the battle. This is where Jedi as protagonists are once again kind of detrimental to the story because Annie and Obi-Wan are pretty chill about the whole thing and that kind of kills the drama little.
The movie spends a long time dealing with offensive droids swarming Obi-Wan’s Jedi fighter, which seems like a really small scale focus for such an epically large battle. Though, honestly, a kind of oblique attack like that is probably far more effective against Jedi than fighting them with droid fighters. Jedi reflexes and precognition means that they’re practically invincible against droid fighters.
The way Obi-Wan deals with the buzz droids is interesting too, because he doesn’t Force push them or anything like that. I wondered about that, does a Force push involve a shockwave of air? Like, are they telekinetically pushing the air or telekinetically pushing the target itself? The situation is complicated because Jedi using abilities like Force Push seem to require a moment to concentrate and maybe Obi-Wan can’t do that and pilot a damaged Jedi fighter.
Annie and R2-D2 (who I guess has become Annie’s personal R2 unit) rescue Obi-Wan at first by shooting off the buzz droids along with pieces of Obi-Wan’s ship, then ramming Obi-Wan’s ship. R2-D2 kills a buzz droid on his own, showing that he’s far far superior to Obi-Wan’s astromech, who was decapitated immediately after the buzz droids boarded the fighter.
In a dialogue exchange that is character development, Obi-Wan tells Annie to go on without him, and Annie refuses to leave Obi-Wan. It’s kind of telling that Obi-Wan is pretty ok with dying for a cause, and Annie is totes not ok with Obi-Wan dying for a cause. You’d think Obi-Wan would understand considering that the death of Qui-Gon obviously hit him pretty hard.
Then comes one of the weirdest least visual moments in the series. They’re approaching Grievous’s ship and Obi-Wan says the shield is still up, and all of this is through dialogue. Annie shoots out part of the wall of the ship, causing the shield to drop, which partially seems like a design flaw. But all of this happens after the dialogue, which is one of the weirdest moments of telling not showing probably in all of Star Wars. I guess there’s always the shield around the Death Star 2, but this stands out more to me.
They then crash land on Grievous’s ship, eject from their fighters, and proceed to slaughter dozens of battle droids. It’s at that moment that I wonder why there’s even air in the hangar since there are practically no people on board that need to breath. R2-D2 proceeds to unlock some doors, basically being the character in a video game who exists to unlock doors for the player.
Obi-Wan and Annie get on an elevator and kill more droids. It seems almost kind of pointless at this point that droids try and fight them. There’s a whole adventure with the elevator that I’m going to kind of ignore except that Annie deals with it by cutting his way out of the elevator, while Obi-Wan is cool with waiting for R2 to fix the situation. R2 has his own little adventure where he kills some super battle droids, it’s not really worth noting other than R2 is a pretty badass droid. It’s implied that he’s partly so badass because Annie’s been modifying him extensively beyond the astromech’s normal specs.
They find the Chancellor on the set of the Death Star scene from Return of the Jedi. Dooku shows up and there’s some kind of funny dialogue.
Obi-Wan is all like, “This time we take him together.” And Annie is like, “Oh, I remember that time this guy shot me full of blue lightning and cut off my arm, so yeah, let’s not do it the stupid way this time.”
Anakin Skywalker: My powers have doubled since the last time we met, Count.
Count Dooku: Good. Twice the pride, double the fall.
I just don’t know how Annie is quantifying his powers. Can he telekinetically bench press twice his max since the last movie? He doesn’t seem observably stronger. Honestly, he seemed more than powerful enough in Attack of the Clones, it’s just that he was dumb.
Despite their pact to fight as a team, Dooku pretty easily knocks Obi-Wan out of the fight in one of the few combat telekinesis attacks that involve lifting a character. It’s weird, you just don’t see that a lot. Annie fights and disarms Dooku on his own, thus showing I guess he didn’t need Obi-Wan’s help. Palpatine tells him to kill Dooku and Annie hesitates but then decapitates Dooku. He’s obviously pretty conflicted by it, but … I don’t know, Dooku’s been a real dick, so I’m not sure I’m that concerned that Annie’s killed him. But Annie is like Jedi Code and stuff like that, but Mace Windu’s actions later on seem to contradict that.
Palpatine tells Annie to leave unconscious Obi-Wan to die but Annie stubbornly refuses, once again displaying probably his most defining trait: he refuses to sacrifice people for a perceived greater good. If it comes down to saving Obi-Wan and they all die, or sacrificing Obi-Wan and they all live, Annie is 100% willing to let people die.
What we’re probably seeing as an audience is Anakin at the height of his life, where he’s the most possible good guy he’s ever going to be. Then they’re captured by Grievous. They have a weird thing where Annie like, “I advise patience,” which is basically Obi-Wan’s mantra. I appreciate that he’s clearly trying to placate Obi-Wan, even though it’s contrary to his instincts, which kind of makes me like him a little because Annie is trying to be what he thinks is a good Jedi (based on his ideal: Obi-Wan).
They get taken to the bridge where Grievous, a pretty cartoonishly evil cyborg, cackles for a bit but then R2 goes nuts, distracting everyone long enough for the Jedi to get free and start destroying all the droids.
Grievous sends his MagnaGuard droids at the Jedi who dispatch them pretty easily and he escapes through a window into space. Then Annie and Obi-Wan crash land the ship on Coruscant. And this is where Jedi mellowness hurts the drama because while there’s banter, neither seem super concerned.
Annie is hailed as a hero, and Obi-Wan ducks out on that because he doesn’t really care about the spotlight and acknowledges that Annie is the real hero of the day. Annie wants Obi-Wan recognized too, so it’s not like he’s being a dick or anything. Obi-Wan just isn’t threatened by Annie’s successes and that’s kind of cool. He seems a lot less of a nag than he did in Attack of the Clones.
Annie sneaks away with Senator Padmé Amidala née Naberrie where he’s really resentful about how she doesn’t want to risk both of their careers over some Public Displays of Affection. Their secret marriage has produced a secret pregnancy and Annie handles it pretty poorly, seeming to not be that in to it, but then acting to try and cover it up.
Mace Windu and Palpatine have a discussion, and Palpatine says the war will continue till General Grievous is captured, so Windu says capturing Grievous is their highest priority.
Later that evening Annie has a nightmare about Padmé Amidala née Naberrie dying in childbirth, which wakes him up. This is probably the first time we see Annie without a shirt and this guy is jacked. He’s also got a really clunky prosthetic arm, and got a cool scar on his face sometime between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Annie says he won’t let her die. Padmé Amidala née Naberrie thinks that should the Queen of Naboo discover she’s pregnant she’ll lose her position as a Senator which seems to imply some nutty standards on Senators for Naboo.
Annie meets up with Obi-Wan too late to make the meeting on the Clone Wars and Obi-Wan assures him things are going cool. Obi-Wan wants the war to end but the Senate is expected to vote more executive powers to Palpatine, which unsettles Obi-Wan. The Jedi seem to have become suspicious of Palpatine since Attack of the Clones. It really makes me wonder what position the Jedi Order has, legally, with the Galactic Republic. Palpatine sent in a request to see Annie personally.
It turns out Palpatine wants to put Annie on the Jedi Council as his personal representative, which is something the Council isn’t happy about but they have to make a concession to Palpatine. It also turns out that Obi-Wan is on the Council, which is like interesting given his master, Qui-Gon, was too radical to sit on the Council. It could be war casualties have opened up positions that need to be filled. Mace Windu says they’ll let Annie be on a Council but they do not confer the rank of Master on Annie, and Annie’s pissed about it.
This is where the movie kind of loses me a little since I can’t really comprehend the scope of the insult regarding a position that I really don’t know much about. Annie storms out and is furious that he hasn’t been given the rank of Master, which is kind of weird given that Jedi are supposed to be emotionless basically. Windu seems a little annoyed by Annie, but that’s about the most Jedi seem to get on the emotional spectrum.
After the meeting, Obi-Wan takes Annie aside and wants Annie to be the Council’s spy on Palpatine, which further enrages Annie. It turns out that Palpatine has been a mentor to Annie all these years which seems weird to me because you’d think he wouldn’t have a lot of access to a Jedi apprentice. Like, did Annie just spend days with him or something? It seems like exactly the kind of thing that the Jedi wouldn’t want: outside attachments.
Later Annie goes to a literal Space Opera. A. LITERAL. SPACE. OPERA. There he meets up with Palpatine where Palpatine reveals that the Jedi are plotting to overthrow him. Palpatine is all about undermining Annie’s loyalty to the Jedi Order. Annie reveals that he’s awful at spying. Like seriously, I don’t know how the Jedi Council expected him to pull off something that required subtlety.
Palpatine drops that good is a matter of perspective, which is a major instance of moral relativism which seems to be central to Sithian thought. Later in the series Obi-Wan kind of pulls similar bullshit with his “from a different point of view, I am telling the truth.” Annie is staunchly a believer in the Jedi as good guys, so Palpatine shifts his tack by talking about a Sith Lord who could prevent people from dying, but then got murdered by his apprentice. I’ve read some stuff about theories that Darth Plagueis actually created Annie (hence the virgin birth thing). There’s really nothing to really put much evidence to it.
At this point I realize I’m just recapping the entire movie, but whatever.
Annie gives the Council Palpatine’s intel on the location of Grievous and then kind of nervously stammers that Palpatine wanted him to lead the campaign. That of course ticks off Mace and Yoda who then choose Obi-Wan because Obi-Wan is a Master and more experienced. That last part is kind of bullshit because if you watched The Clone Wars you know that Annie, by this point, is a veteran of a long and crazy war, and arguably as experienced as Obi-Wan if not more so, since he has a real penchant for taking the initiative and being aggressive.
Palpatine set a lot of this up because he says the Jedi Council would be nuts not to send their most qualified warrior: Annie. It seems like the Council is just acting to spite Palpatine.
Meanwhile, on Kashyyk, Yoda is leading the Wookiees and Clones against a Separatist attack. All I can think about is that there were a whole lot of happy nerds dressed up as Wookiees that day on the set.
Annie sees Obi-Wan off. Annie apologizes for being arrogant, and Obi-Wan is like, “you’re a cool guy, just wait and the Council will give you what you want.”
It’s a pretty cool moment because it’s one of the points in the movie where I buy that Obi-Wan and Annie have a real bond. That sense is pretty pivotal to making the entire movie work. It’s also nice to see Obi-Wan not henpecking Annie.
Annie goes home and is pretty hostile about both Obi-Wan and the Council, which is a real 180 since the very last scene with him and Obi-Wan. I assume it’s kind of a symptom of Annie’s growing emotional instability. He’s kind of all over the place emotionally.
Meanwhile Obi-Wan goes to Utapau and discovers where the Separatists are. Seriously, the first person he talks to give him all the information. Which, honestly I’m ok with since why waste movie time on some kind of long mystery. Grievous is meeting with the heads of the Separatists and General Grievous is sending them to Mustafar.
Also, Obi-Wan is riding a bird lizard horse thing and it’s awesome.
Obi-Wan decides that the best way to handle the situation is to drop down in the middle of like a hundred droids and say hi. Grievous calls off the droids and decides to take Obi-Wan on, which is pretty cool since he has four lightsabers, but loses almost immediately because Obi-Wan is awesome.
Obi-Wan, with one lightsaber, pretty easily defeats General Grievous. Grievous flees on a giant wheel motorcycle when the Clones arrive and attack. So Obi-Wan has to pursue on his lizard bird horse, and suddenly the entire movie is that scene from True Lies where Arnold on a horse chases a terrorist on a motorcycle.
Palpatine laters meets with Annie and is all like, “Yo dude, I’m evil.” All considered, Annie takes it well, and leaves to turn Palpatine over to the Council. He goes to Mace Windu and Mace takes it well too all considering. He orders Mace to stay behind and he and a group of Jedi go confront Palpatine.
Palpatine immediately kills the three Jedi accompanying Mace. I realized this time of watching this that Mace totally beats Palpatine in a straight up fight, something not even Yoda managed to do. I guess it makes sense given Mace’s background lore is he’s basically a Dark Jedi hunting machine. There’s subtle ways that he fights Palpatine that we never see anyone else do, specifically Mace can deflect blue lightning back on the caster. It looks like it’s hard for him to do, but it means he can basically make Palpatine melt his own face off.
Annie shows up and chops off Mace’s arm because he believes that Palpatine can save Padmé Amidala née Naberrie but immediately after doing that, Palpatine reveals that he doesn’t really know how to do that. But Annie swears his loyalty to Palpatine and together they decide to wipe the Jedi out. Annie will take out the Jedi remaining in the Temple and Palpatine will use the Clones to kill those Jedi off world.
This all leads to a confrontation between Palpatine on Coruscant with Yoda and Obi-Wan, Padmé Amidala née Naberrie, and Anakin on Mustafar.
Also it turns out that all Anakin needed to do to save his wife from death was find the cure for him force choking her. Yoda loses to Palpatine. Obi-Wan brutally dismembers Anakin and leaves him to burn and/or suffocate to death on Mustafar. It’s really messed up.
Padmé Amidala née Naberrie dies in childbirth (as prophesied) and Annie becomes Darth Vader. The children are divided between Senator Bail Organa and Obi-Wan. The end.
I really enjoyed this movie, it’s probably my favorite of the prequel trilogy. I’ve watched it like two times now. I do wonder, though, due to the nature of Annie’s prophetic dreams, is there free will in the Star Wars universe?