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Star Wars: Episode Three

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No especially Objectivist themes here (that my sleep-deprived brain can muster now), but a ripping good end to a great saga.

The last 45 minutes of Sith aptly make up for shortcomings in the previous two movies ... even Jar-Jar. Ooh, and that horrible two-headed sports announcer at the pod race in Ep.1, too. Blech.

There was one nice political moment in Ep.3, though (warning: minor spoiler ahead!) -

When Supreme Chancellor Palpatine announces that the Republic is to be reorganized into a Galactic Empire, the Senate cheers ... Senator Padme is seated with Senator Organa, and she says something like "So this is how freedom dies: to thunderous applause."

I don't know if that was a pointed statement from Lucas or just a necessary component of the story. I couldn't help thinking, though, that such a comment could be applicable in America one day. Let's hope it never gets there, but if it does, count me among the ObJedi.

Yes, I am indeed that kind of nerd. Deal with it.

Edited by synthlord

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No especially Objectivist themes here (that my sleep-deprived brain can muster now), but a ripping good end to a great saga.

Well, on the one hand, the Jedi are clear-cut altruists, and there are lines in Episode III that explicitly reinforce this: the selflessness, the demonization of self-interest, the Buddhist-like renunciation of values as good, etc.

However, I found one of the exchanges between Anakin and Palpatine interesting. In it, Palpatine claimed that in order for Anakin to be truly powerful, he needed to understand both the light and dark sides of the Force and use them both. I found that resonant with the Objectivist stance on moral compromise, since Anakin does, of course, end up turning evil.

This aside, I can't respect the moral philosophy of a movie that has quotes like: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

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This aside, I can't respect the moral philosophy of a movie that has quotes like: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes."

Yeah that quote struck a nerve with me too. But despite Lucas' flawed moral philosophy SW:Ep 3 was thoroughly enjoyable.

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I think Lucas really outdid himself with this one. I felt like he learned from the shortcomings of the first two episodes to make an explosive final. For one, the dialoging is much better. Of course, there is still crappy dialogue there ("Your're breaking my heart, Anakin" comes to mind) but he downplays it. Star Wars on a whole has always had it's groan moments, even in the original trilogy, but he minimalized them in this movie.

As far as I know, Lucas doesn't have any formal education in philosophy or political theory, so his philosophic model comes from what appears to be your everyday generic judeo-christian system of ethics. Good political system = democracy/bad system = totalitarianism, good deeds = charity, being nice/evil deeds = beating up children, desiring power, being selfish.

Philosophically wise, it came from a pretty generic ethical system. But I did find the movie to be thoroughly enjoyable aesthetically. I especially liked how it came together in the end, with the birth of the twins corrolating with the construction of Darth Vader's suit and the construction of the Death Star. That was a good touch which tied the two trilogies together. I at first wondered why Anakin kept his blue lightsaber (as he was now evil and, having the rank of Darth, would have a red saber) until Obi-wan picked it up and walked away with it, making me realize that lightsaber was the one Obi-wan gave to Luke in Episode 4, the same one Luke had up until Vader hacked his arm off in Bespin. That could have been a serious plot-hole, and I am glad Lucas was able to catch that.

One final note that did disapoint me slightly was the minimal presence of Christopher Lee's character in this movie. He is a phenominal actor who ended up getting the short end of the stick in both this and LOTR. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of his character.

But these are minor grips, as I am a big science fiction buff (Heck, I even liked the Starship Troopers movie) so I'd give it an 9 out of 10.

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As far as I know, Lucas doesn't have any formal education in philosophy or political theory, so his philosophic model comes from what appears to be your everyday generic judeo-christian system of ethics. Good political system = democracy/bad system = totalitarianism, good deeds = charity, being nice/evil deeds = beating up children, desiring power, being selfish.

Lucas also wrote his story from an archetype angle, making sure every character would have unversal appeal by being based on age old concepts of "good" and "evil". He was apparantly inspired by "The hero with a thousand faces".

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One final note that did disapoint me slightly was the minimal presence of Christopher Lee's character in this movie. He is a phenominal actor who ended up getting the short end of the stick in both this and LOTR. I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of his character.

I would have like to seen more of all the Jedi/Sith characters through the first three episodes. Episode I would have been so much better if it focused on the Jedi council and the ancient battle between the Jedis and the Siths instead of focusing so much little Anakin and that unmentionable squid-lizard thing.

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Yeah that quote struck a nerve with me too.  But despite Lucas' flawed moral philosophy SW:Ep 3 was thoroughly enjoyable.

Actually, I felt bored to death when I was watching Anakin turning to the dark side. The whole thing is very unconvincing. It presents the viewer with the false dichotomy - either you are a murderer (a Sith) or a suicide (a Jedi). Had he stayed a Jedi, his wife would have died. Turning to the dark side, however, was completely stupid. He succumbs to complete emotionalism and has no longer any regard for what he wanted of the dark side. He wanted to learn, but he became a mindles drone that acts on pure whim (and command). I was appalled by the scene when after turning to the dark side, Anakin walks back into the Jedi temple (and you know what happened there if you saw the movie).

The best characters in my view are Padme and Amidala. Why? Because unlike the Jedi or the Sith, they use their minds. Padme did not know much about either side of the force, but she knew that Anakin could be more than what the two paths presented by the whole mysticism surrounding this "Force" offered him. Apparently she was wrong, but that's because Anakin himself was a fool, not because it was impossible. Queen Amidala always stayed consistent with her convictions. And that's all that this movie has had to offer me.

Another thing that was good is the beginning of the movie. But aside from all that, the movie was horrible. Watching it, I felt either bored or sick. What's wrong with it is the philosophy behind it. It's all rotten and in this episode its rotenness shows much more than in the other five.

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

It presents the viewer with the false dichotomy - either you are a murderer (a Sith) or a suicide (a Jedi). Had he stayed a Jedi, his wife would have died.

Actually, had he not turned to the dark side, she wouldn't have died. His premonition was self-fulfilling: it was his turn to the dark side, in a misguided attempt to save her life, that caused her to lose the will to live.

Turning to the dark side, however, was completely stupid. He succumbs to complete emotionalism and has no longer any regard for what he wanted of the dark side.
Yes. Exactly. He acts without knowing the meaning of his dreams, on the blind feelings they generate. He acts in a way which might be regarded conventionally as selfish, and yet in doing so, he completely disregards that which he started out to save: his life with Padme, which will be made impossible by his actions. He was, therefore, objectively selfless, sacrificing his greatest value.

He wanted to learn, but he became a mindles drone that acts on pure whim (and command). I was appalled by the scene when after turning to the dark side, Anakin walks back into the Jedi temple (and you know what happened there if you saw the movie).

So you're complaining that a character portrayed, by that point, as unmitigatedly evil becomes a mindless, unthinking drone? I'm not sure why that should be apalling. If he was good, if the audience was supposed to sympathize with his motivation, then it would be apalling.

The best characters in my view are Padme and Amidala.
You do realize that they're the same character, right?

What's wrong with it is the philosophy behind it. It's all rotten and in this episode its rotenness shows much more than in the other five.

While the explicit philosphy stated in the movie is indeed apalling (vis Obi-Wan's unfortunate "absolutes" remark, which is itself an absolute, of course), the events themselves have little or no such problems. They demonstrate very starkly the consequences of acting on blind whim and all sorts of other bad premises, as you've already pointed out.

It was Palpatine who urged Anakin to learn both sides of the force, making the distinction between light and dark non-absolute. The Jedi may have been dogmatic, but they didn't hesitate to distinguish between good and bad. For Obi-Wan to say, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes," was not only wrong, of course, but inconsistent with the Jedi's behavior. That it conflicts so starkly with the actual events of the story indicates the lack of thought given to that point on Lucas's part. It is, in fact, the Sith who deal in blurring absolutes like light and dark, as Palpatine's recruitment of Anakin demonsrates.

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I loved Star Wars but that one line almost ruined it for me when Obi wan says "Only a Sith deals in absolutes.?" But the funny thing is that later in the middle of his lightsaber fight Anakin says something along the lines of "Good/Evil is a matter of opinion" and then Obi Wan says "If that is what you think is right then you are absolutely lost" that sounded a bit like an absolute to me. Other then that little part i found it most enjoyable seeing that i think Darth Vader is the absolute coolest bad guy in history.

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Actually, I felt bored to death when I was watching Anakin turning to the dark side. The whole thing is very unconvincing. It presents the viewer with the false dichotomy - either you are a murderer (a Sith) or a suicide (a Jedi). Had he stayed a Jedi, his wife would have died. Turning to the dark side, however, was completely stupid. He succumbs to complete emotionalism and has no longer any regard for what he wanted of the dark side. He wanted to learn, but he became a mindles drone that acts on pure whim (and command). I was appalled by the scene when after turning to the dark side, Anakin walks back into the Jedi temple (and you know what happened there if you saw the movie).

Many critics pointed out that there was not enough plot regarding Anakin's turn to the dark side. If they had shown more of an internal struggle and more motivations then it would have made more sense. <spoiler alert> Anakin simply choose to become this completely evil person, killing his former Jedi friends and children, based entirely on the single promise from a person he just discovered is a Sith Lord. His complete change in self-identity was too extreme to convince any psychologist or decent script writer. Why would he even believe the Sith would deliver on his promise? He went from hating the Sith to complete obedience to them based on a single promise. "Hey I just realized you are a Sith Lord, and sure I will join you and destroy much of what I once was". That is just not enough. I can think of many ways they might have developed Anakin having a more gradual acceptance of the Sith. <spoiler alert>

I also thought that the movie could have dealt a bit more with the corruption within the Senate. How does a Republic suddenly become an Empire based on a the evil of a single person? It took Rome hundreds of years and many corrupt generations to destroy that Republic. Why didn't any of the Senators speak out when Palpatine announced the Empire? If they were too corrupt to speak, then what was their corruption? Political corruption presented correctly is actually a very interesting sub-plot in any movie. Take Gladiator or Braveheart, for example.

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Actually, had he not turned to the dark side, she wouldn't have died. His premonition was self-fulfilling: it was his turn to the dark side, in a misguided attempt to save her life, that caused her to lose the will to live.

Yes, but herein lies another terrible mistake: the premonition itself. I understand that dreaming of the loved one dying is terrible, but to take that dream seriously is a mark of insanity. Dreams are no way of perception or understanding.

Yes. Exactly. He acts without knowing the meaning of his dreams, on the blind feelings they generate. He acts in a way which might be regarded conventionally as selfish, and yet in doing so, he completely disregards that which he started out to save: his life with Padme, which will be made impossible by his actions. He was, therefore, objectively selfless, sacrificing his greatest value.

Yes, that's true, but again he is acting on a dream. You don't really think that dreams can give us knowledge of the future, do you?

So you're complaining that a character portrayed, by that point, as unmitigatedly evil becomes a mindless, unthinking drone? I'm not sure why that should be apalling. If he was good, if the audience was supposed to sympathize with his motivation, then it would be apalling.

The point is - he WAS good. And then he does something completely out of character. That's what's appalling! I don't think that any of his actions prior to this event in the temple were evil, except taking his dream seriously, but that's hardly a reason enough to do what he did there. Even his crossing over to the dark side could be considered good, because he knows why he is doing it - he wants to learn more.

You do realize that they're the same character, right?

[/qoute]

OK, you got me there. They ARE? I thought Padme was Amidala's double.

No it doesn't. The Jedi are selfless. The movie does not show the consequences of their selflessness. Anakin's crossing over to the dark side is selfish (setting aside the problem with his dream, he DID have a desire to learn). The mere going to the dark side is not evil. Yet it was the consequences of his selfish decision that were horriffic - in the movie, that is. That's why the whole part of his crossing over is so unconvincing. Where does the sudden change in character come from? I thought of Anakin as even better man than the rest of the Jedi.

To me the whole movie portrays a battle between the witch doctor and Attila. The witch doctors are the Jedi, the Attilas are the Sith. They hate each other, yet cannot exist without each other. And all the other analogies that Ayn Rand mentions in an essay where she discusses the two (sorry, I don't have the books with me right now so I can't give references), are valid.

But don't you see that here you are accepting the false dichotomy that the movie is presenting? Other than the difference between the witch doctor and the Attila, what other difference is there between the Jedi and the Sith?

What about when Yoda tells Obi-Wan to search his emotions to find someone? Is that inconsistent with Jedi's behavior? What about their belief in the prophecies and premonitions, which are by the way, subject to interpretation? What about other occasions when a Jedi tells another to search his emotions to know that something is wrong? They act on whim too, only the Sith do it more. The same goes for the witch doctors and Attilas. Both are unreasonable.

Do the Jedi not deal with light and dark side of the force? Taking Yoda as an example, when did he state an absolute? He always speaks like the Pythias.

Edit: Tried to fix qoute tags, but I really don't know why they don't work.

Edited by source

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I loved Star Wars but that one line almost ruined it for me when Obi wan says "Only a Sith deals in absolutes.?"  But the funny thing is that later in the middle of his lightsaber fight Anakin says something along the lines of "Good/Evil is a matter of opinion" and then Obi Wan says "If that is what you think is right then you are absolutely lost" that sounded a bit like an absolute to me.  Other then that little part i found it most enjoyable seeing that i think Darth Vader is the absolute coolest bad guy in history.

Yes. All these tiny contradictions that I cannot even think of right now, are what made the movie really boring for me. The characters practice one thing, preach another. Then they do something completely out of character. Then they gain knowledge by scanning their emotions... It's a step towards complete chaos in movies.

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I agree with Source. I found the movie atrocious and I'm a sci fi fanatic. It was the first film in a long while I actually felt like walking out of. Everytime dialogue took place between Padme and Anakin, or Anakin and Palpatine, I felt like chomping down on the popcorn kernels in my lap.

The action and CGI were top notch as always, but I just wish for once that Lucas would hire a real script writer.

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The action and CGI were top notch as always, but I just wish for once that Lucas would hire a real script writer.

Lucas has always been open about the fact that he is more of a visul person then a dialogue person. His inspiration for Star Wars, and the basis for many of the aspects of them, were the saturday morning serials of the 1950's, with bad acting and melodrama galore. Its a matter of personal taste.

The Star Wars DVD box set (for the original trilogy) does have the very good documentary about the Star Wars saga, "An Empire of Dreams", Objectivists should be very happy about the part were Lucas commited himself not to using Union labor for Return of the Jedi after they gave him hell for the way the credits were done in Empire Strikes Back.

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I found that "absolutes" line to be exactly in line with the ethic system Lucas was using; that being your everyday Thomist judeo-Christian post-Nietzsche system of ethics. the "absolutes" line merely shows our society's smattering of pragmatism that has a huge influence on our lives (just take a few law classes and you will see pragmatism in action.) Of course when one focuses on specifics you are going to get some seriously flawed philosophy, so you have to take the face value of the philosophy rather than go to it's roots.

As far as philosophy goes, this is how I saw it. When Anakin gets the vision that Padme is dying. He feels that he can influence reality. Yoda tells him to accept reality as it is, where the Emperor tells him that he can control reality. When he falls to dark side, I.E gives in to evil, he destroys that which he set out to accomplish. When he accepts compromise, in the name of achieving a good, evil occured, and no good ever came to fruition.

In terms of philosophy in Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic 2 had the best philosophy. It completely bypasses the Jedi = good, Sith = evil motif, along with releasing one of the most interesting villains in video game history. It also has a strong anti-determinist message, and will actually go so far as to make you think about your actions. Why is giving to that beggar a good deed? why is the Jedi council always right? If you like star wars and have an xbox, pick it up, you will find a delightful experience.

Edited by the tortured one

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The acting was atrocious. The plot was convoluted. The philosophy is hopelessly muddled, contradictory and at times non-sensical; not to mention thouroughly altruistic. (If the Jedi and the Sith were the only two options open to me, I'd join the Sith - I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.) The characters are as shallow as a puddle. Anakin's fall is completely unbelievable.

The only thing the movie has to reccommend it is the FX which were great as expected. Other than that, the film has little to offer.

I did not see Serendipity yet (the Firefly movie), but from what I've heard, that is a good Sci-fi flick.

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(If the Jedi and the Sith were the only two options open to me, I'd join the Sith - I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.)

If the Jedi and the Sith were the only options open for me, I'd go my own way. I'd rather be happy on my own than laugh or cry with the mindless. :D

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My favorite part about Obi Wan's "Only a Sith speaks in absolutes" remark is that ten minutes later in the movie, during the fight between Vader and Obi Wan is that he switches from relativist to absolutist when Anakin moans that from his perspective, Obi Wan and the Jedi are evil. To which Obi Wan replies that Anakin is truely lost, which could never be known without an absolute definition of good and evil.

Another piece of garbage Lucas put in to the detriment of the film was in the scrolled writing in the beginning where he said there were heroes on both sides of the Clone Wars. How is this possible? One side was populated by the epitomes of good (to Lucas) Jedi warriors leading an army of clones while the other was a load of robots, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Lord Sidious, etc. How can the representative of evil, looking to destroy civilization have anything heroic associated with it whatsoever? More importantly, what heroes are depicted in the movies from the separatist side?

The only real hero of any of the Star Wars movies was and still is Han Solo, his inclusion in the original trilogy was what offered a refreshing alternative to all the Jedi nonsense. This prequel trilogy offers no such alternative and is thus less effective.

All that being said, I have yet to decide which film of the three new ones is the best. I cannot say that Episode III is the best by itself because there is no triumph of heroes, the civilized world has effectively fallen apart. If there were no more films then the result of watching it would be depression. The guy who played the Chancellor/Emperor was great by the way.

I would say that Episode I is probably at the top of my list right now. I will have to reevaluate when I can sit down and watch them all together. Episode IV is the only true film because there was no guarantee of sequels when Lucas made it, and therefore it is the best by default as the only self-contained single episode. V and VI go together as do I-III.

I liked the Peter Cushing clone at the end on the bridge with the Emperor and Vader, made me think of those great Dracula movies he and Christopher Lee were in.

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He was apparantly inspired by "The hero with a thousand faces".

Actually Lucas has admitted that he drew a lot of ideas from Joseph Campbell's works, particularly from Primitive Myths and Oriental Myths as well as from The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Check out a book called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth by Mary Henderson. :thumbsup:

By the way, this is a really great forum.

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I was surprised at how Lucas portrayed the Jedi of deserving their fate.

The Jedi can be most charitably described as willfully ignorant about Anakin and Palpatine.

Yoda tells Anakin to let his love one die, and be happy about it.

Mace Windu attempts to execute Palpatine after he is defeated.

The Jedi council give Anakin a secret order that violates Jedi principles.

And probably others, I found both sides thoroughly distasteful.

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Only a Sith deals in absolutes

I think the scene is very evil when understood in the modern context (as Lucas and non-objectivist viewers would understand it).

Anakin: "Either you are with me or you are against me"

He names the facts - there is no possibility of them going their own ways peacefully (he has an order from Palpatine to hunt and kill all Jedis, and Obi-Wan has an order from Yoda to hunt and kill Anakin, not to convert him back to the light side).

Obi-Wan: "Only a Sith deals in absolutes"

Obi-Wan does not answer him at all and does not try to reason with him, what he says is not a true or false or even self-contradictory idea. He needs to give himself courage to kill his beloved disciple. He needs the strongest damnation of Anakin so that he can do it. In this context, he doesn't choose to say "You are a traitor", "You are a child-killer", or even "You are selfish". The strongest proof of evil is not any of those but "Only a Sith deals in absolutes". His damnation of Anakin is not based on his actions or character, but on the way his mind supposedly works. And he succeeds - it gives him the needed courage and determination - he switches on his lightsaber and fights Anakin.

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:nuke:

Spoilers, including a little Jedi book info.

The "Sith/Absolute" argument has over looked an important aspect of the six-episode movie (one big Star Wars). Obi Wan was contradictory in attacking Anakin for the absolute statement. However, this is the same Obi Wan who explains in Episode VI (Return of the Jedi) that all truth is a matter point of view (also mentioned in Episode III but I don’t remember who said it). Everything in Jedi philosophy is subjective except for the idiom that Jedi are good, and Sith are bad. For instance, the Jedi swear to uphold the republic and democracy by overthrowing the elected leader and taking over in a military coup until a leader they approve of is elected. Also, according to Yoda, any deep emotional attachment to specific people (mothers, wives, friends) over any other person is the road to the dark side. Jedi are to do nothing for themselves and are supposed to live only for the betterment of strangers.

In Episode I Anakin is rescued from being a slave because he met criteria for being the one who "brings balance to the force." Yoda points out that the prophecy probably was misinterpreted. It was. Luke was the one who balanced the force, as revealed in how he chose what was important to him (HIS friends, HIS sister and HIS father's lives) instead of what was best for everyone according to the Jedi code (remaining with Yoda for training in Empire). He rejected the evil and accepted the good of both (one of the reasons he dresses in black like a Sith while all the Jedi dressed in brown).

Also, in the Jedi books (not written by Lucas) that came after the movies, Luke and the Jedi he trains marry, have kids and families, and their main goal is to protect people from coercion from others. In the few that I read three of the best young Jedi are Leia and Han’s kids who are the best because they work as a family (always fighting to save the lives of the others).

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I thought it was great...by far the best prequel, and I really loved how everything tied in to the original movie. They left a few things out though. There was nothing about the origins of Han Solo, nothing else about Boba Fett, and they didn't really explain why C-3PO had to have his memory wiped.

As far as the philosophy, yeah the altruistic Jedi code is crap. I disagree with whoever said it's against Objectivist principles to want to understand all points of view. In fact, it's rather foolish to not make an attempt to do so. Understanding other points of view does not necessitate, as Palapatine suggested, that you hold them in equally high esteem. But you cannot succesfully debate with a Kantian or a Platonist unless you understand the philosophies of Kant and Plato.

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Someone suggested that Windu executing Palpatine would have been wrong and counted against the Jedi. Why? Palpatine had a stranglehold on executive power and the courts were in his pocket, he was no different than any other dictator and he had caused a pointless (except for him) war that had killed millions including many Jedi. He deserved death and it would have perfectly acceptable to kill him on the spot, just as it would have been perfectly acceptable to kill Saddam on the spot, armed or not. Windu's attempt to kill Palpatine was the first rational thing the Jedi had done the whole movie since asking Anakin to spy on Palpatine just pushed him into Palpatine's waiting arms further.

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