Plot: What’s it about?
It’s all come to this. The final chapter in the second trilogy of George Lucas’ Star Wars series has arrived and many fans have their own take (judging from where we left off on Attack of the Clones) as to how things will result in this entry. The lights dim down, the long version of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare plays with the logo and the gold Lucasfilm logo shining at the same time. As I look at the screen with those famous words one more time in blue letters on black background reading “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, it finally dawns upon me that I will be seeing those words in first run for the last time and then, BLAST OFF, the Star Wars letters stretch out to the starfield and the third chapter commences entitled on the scroll Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith.
When we last left our friends Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), our heroes were getting ready to prepare for war in the galaxy. Unknown to Obi Wan, Anakin married Princess Amidala (Natalie Portman) with only the two droids R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) as witnesses. The war is brewing to an even bigger scale and Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) has been kidnapped by the sinister General Grievous. Their task to rescue the Chancellor is a risky one but it’s the result following that task that our beloved characters will take chosen paths in the midst of it all and Palpatine will break thru the special plans he has for young Skywalker.
There are appearances of places and people Star Wars fans adore and they are all well represented as a great bookmark to a most intriguing trilogy. Nevertheless, George Lucas and the Intergalactic Bunch truly, as Sam Fuller once said to director Peter Bogdonovich on filming Targets, save their money for the finish as this chapter fills enough action, tension, suspense, twists and a more gritty feel than any of the previous chapters have been able to do in the entire run of the series. This viewer is glad to see that George Lucas can cinematically bring the mood properly to the Dark Side of the Force warts and all without any sugar coating.
The special effects are on an all time high here from the opening battle seen by the two spaceships to some things that feel familiar about all of this as the film progresses. It’s also good to see many of the characters out of their element in more ways than one in chosen scenes of this film. As this viewer watched on opening day, there was a feeling of being entertained, into the whole experience that led to this very day (first screening in the daytime) and a sense of being choked up at certain parts thanks to another great collaboration of director Lucas and score maestro John Williams as parts of all films are incorporated into the score and the film.
As for our main players, Ewan McGregor fits nicely into the skin of Obi Wan in voice, appearance and manner and Hayden Christensen plays his complications better in this entry as Anakin being led down a path that unknownst to him will mean almost eternal doom for him. All the other side characters play there role as small or large as there are, but special note should be made of a great performance by Ian McDiarmid, playing the Chancellor that will become Emperor.
His presence and the things he tells to young Skywalker had me convinced as well as Anakin for that when the result of his half truths are revealed, it sends a chill up both Anakin and this viewer’s spine at the right moments. He put this audience member in the place of Anakin and for that he should be well commended. He and the nominated makeup crew (I hope they win as this viewer is writing this) make one of the best character revelations possible and leads into a scene afterwards that’s only reminiscent of a certain one-by-one planning that was done by a fellow Zoetropian.
The film ends with one on one battles that are so smartly intercut that put together truly holds the audience breath from one moment to the next wondering what will be the fate of our beloved characters and the ones we’ve grown to hate and now started to hate as well and breaks the taboo that have haunted third films in any series/trilogy/saga/legacy (The Search for Spock, Rocky III, Matrix Revolutions and Return of the Jedi doing the same as well).
With the familiar feel towards the end of things to come, being a partial viewer and a appreciator of the series, this viewer is fair to say if an audience doesn’t get choked up towards the end of this entry, the chances that the person is a true Star Wars fan are slim for this viewer felt it in more ways than one and felt satisfied that Revenge of the Sith, in this trilogy, saved the best for last as this third chapter makes it to a level that is worthy to the original trilogy (and for those fans out there who are curious to my rankings of the six, they are Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, Return of the Jedi (SE version/Original was at #3), and The Phantom Menace) but all fareness, I love them all for different reasons and they are all worthy!)
Video: How does it look?
Once more, Episode III is given the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment with flawless results. With the use of digital technology and the great look of the most recent trilogy, the transfer on all three of these entries have been down the line most impressive to say the least. Not a scratch, tear, speck, flaw or discoloration has come in the way of the look of this film which is awe dropping and a thing to see. The multi color use of special effects on this transfer does not give way to the phantom squares that haunted the original trilogy and overall eye popping do not give way that we’re always looking at an obvious special effect (in all honesty robbed at nomination time). The film carries a grand look and it is nicely replicated on this DVD.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 (head blasting in Simpsons theater viewings) track is solid in all the sound effects, score, ship passings and the many transitions of the different worlds as well as the dialogue which comes out clear and throughout all channels can be heard. The smallest of special effects are not wasted in the outer channels and John Williams’ stirring score (also sorely overlooked) interlocks beatifully on this track, even with Yoda’s theme being a great precursor then and a great companion piece now to the main theme that would become E.T. Throughout it all, every crash, burn, and breathing exercise(hoooo-paaaah Vader breathing sound) are well demonstrated here and can be well tested on any home theater system for it is well represented in the series and on here as well. This disc also has a English, French and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround track along with English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Here’s a big section that has few on disc one and Revenge of the Sith starts with a commentary track by George Lucas and company that covers a lot of ground in terms of enthusiasm, character motive, information, history and where this entry falls into the galaxy far far away. All five participants (Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett) make their valued comments at the right spots with little room for gaps and come off smashingly well giving a very good start to this 2-disc title.
Disc 2 has many to mention (and this is a title first and foremost to buy right away so experience it all!!!) so going thorugh sections.
First, there are deleted scenes (six to be exact) and these can all be seen individually or all with or without intros. They are all good individually and this viewer recommends viewing them all at once with the intros for they give a great lead in to the scenes especially after viewing the film. I also share in Rick’s comments on Deleted Scene #6 (I’ll let you the audience see it for yourselves, you’ll know which one fans).
Next is the documentary and featurettes section and begins with Within A Minute, that runs a little more than one hour and goes into the climatic scene of Episode III seen through the planning and eyes of the different divisions for the scene to become a moving reality. It’s good for those who want to be familiar with the process of one little scene all around and the overall result is decent. Two featurettes make their way here starting with the Stunts of Star Wars showing the actors and the stuntmen’s involvement in key scenes and their comments throughout their different sets. The standout of the three parts of this section however is “The Chosen One” which in fourteen minutes shows in the best light all the incarnations that is Darth Vader and the comments that flow along it. It also shows within these three that less is more.
After that section are fifteen web documentaries that has only one flaw. It covers all the in betweens of the making of this chapter better than everything in the documentary and featurettes section, but this viewer wishes a “play all” function were included for all of them played together (same beginning different background images and all) make for a better bookmark for The Beginning (documentary of Episode I) than the documentary on the one scene.
Next there is the Trailers (2 of them) and TV Spots (15 of them) section along with one music video incorporating John Williams’ “Battle of the Heroes”. All are great views and a great entry into this second disc. (It’s hard not to love the nostalgia trailer)
Lastly, there is a Video Games and Production Photos section which gives trailers to both Star Wars Video games Battlefront II and Empire at War with the former given a demo for X Box owners and there are Production Photos with sections of an amusing Still Gallery. decent One-Sheet Posters, and Outdoor Print Campaign.
In conclusion, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith certainly didn’t leave this viewer having a bad feeling about not only “this”, but about the entire film and DVD overall giving sterling treatment again and a great concluding chapter to this most recent trilogy.