Okay, I have to admit. I love the opening scenes of all of the Star Wars films, but this one rivals the iconic opening scene of ANH. Like ANH, the crawl tells you the galaxy is knee deep in war (“War!”). While ANH’s opening scene awes the audience with the overhead shot of a huge Star Destroyer pursuing the Tantive IV, ROTS awes with a single tracking shot as you first see the battle above Coruscant then Obi-Wan and Anakin’s fighters flying in tandem. They don’t just fly in a straight line either. They go above and below different craft, right side up, upside down. Lucas intended to show the partnership between Anakin and Obi-Wan, one that would be sundered forever by the end of the film, which is why they fly in tandem. It seems like nothing separates them, no matter what comes their way, but we know that’s about to change.
This kicks off a great action sequence as Anakin and Obi-Wan try to get to General Grievous’s ship and rescue Palpatine. Since it’s almost a seamless sequence from the opening crawl to the time Anakin crash lands the remains of the ship on Coruscant, I’ll end my discussion with Anakin and Obi-Wan landing inside the Grievous’s ship. There’s a classic Star Wars space dogfight where clones are lost and Anakin, ever one to look out for his rank and file (a trait that carries over as Darth Vader), is nudged by Obi-Wan to focus on the mission. They battle buzz droids then crash land in a battleship hangar and the camera captures Obi-Wan ejecting and landing, lightsaber at the ready in one amazing shot.
In many ways, I think Lucas was at his absolute best artistically in ROTS and the first scene of the film makes a strong argument for that case.