Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
8 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman as Padmé
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa
Frank Oz as Yoda (voice)
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
Christopher Lee as Count Dooku
Keisha Castle-Hughes as Queen of Naboo
Silas Carson as Ki-Adi-Mundi & Nute Gunray
Jay Laga'aia as Captain Typho
Bruce Spence as Tion Medon
Wayne Pygram as Governor Tarkin
Temuera Morrison as Commander Cody

Special Features:
Commentary by: writer-director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett

Exclusive deleted scenes with introductions by George Lucas and Rick McCallum

"Within a Minute" documentary film about the making of the Mustafar battle

"The Chosen One" featurette: George Lucas traces the myth of Darth Vader through episodes 1-6

"It's All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III"

A 15-part collection of Lucasfilm's Web documentaries

Star Wars Battlefront II trailer and Xbox game demo

Star Wars Empire at War PC game trailer

"A Hero Falls" music video

Poster and print campaign

Trailers and TV spots

Never-before-seen production photo gallery

DVD-ROM content includes a free trial of Hyperspace, the ultimate online Star Wars experience

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby 5.1 Surround EX
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
Theatrical Version Running Time: 140 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is the description from the DVD cover:

"The Star Wars saga is now complete on DVD with Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Torn between loyalty to his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the seductive powers of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker ultimately turns his back on the Jedi, thus completing his journey to the dark side and his transformation into Darth Vader. Experience the breathtaking scope of the final chapter in spectacular clarity and relive all the epic battles including the final climactic lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Bring home this 2-disc set featuring over six hours of bonus materials and discover how Episode III connects the entire Star Wars saga."

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images.

The Movie:
I reviewed Revenge of the Sith when it first came out in theaters. Rather than rehash what I said then, I'll just direct you to the original review here.

On some of the other Star Wars DVD's, you had the option of watching the movie with additional scenes included. That's not the case this time around. Instead, the deleted scenes are all viewed separately. I thought I'd use this space to discuss those deleted scenes which are probably the highlight of the DVD as far as Star Wars fans are concerned. Each one is preceded by an intro where George Lucas and Rick McCallum explain what happens in the scene, how it fits in with the film, and why it was cut:


Grievous Slaughters A Jedi; Escape From The General (Animatic) – In this scene, Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive on Grievous' ship to discover Jedi Shaak Ti held hostage by the General. After Grievous springs his trap and kills Shaak Ti, Anakin and Obi-Wan use secret hand signals to try and figure out how to get out of the mess. After a little comedic bickering, they settle for cutting a hole in the deck and falling into a fuel tank. (Great idea!) In the second half of the scene (which is mostly in animatic form), they get out of the fuel tank just as Super Battle Droids start following them. They crawl out a narrow shaft and Anakin seals it with his lightsaber just as the fuel explodes and dents the hatch. It's a good scene because it features more humor, action, and interaction between Obi-Wan and Anakin. However, Obi-Wan and Anakin's antics seem out of place after they watched the death of a fellow Jedi. Plus it doesn't make a lot of sense that there would be fuel tanks with giant arcs of electricity shooting around inside them (then again, Star Wars hasn't always followed the rules of science or engineering). The scenes also break up the pacing of the opening of the film. Overall, it's an entertaining deleted scene but it was a wise decision to remove it.

A Stirring In The Senate (Bail's Office) – One of the female formed servant droids arrives in Bail's office and delivers drinks to the meeting senators. Mon Mothma, Bail, Padme, and the others discuss the decline of the Senate. (George's daughter Amanda Lucas is also in the scene.) They start talking about how they plan to oppose Palpatine. However, Padme expresses dismay at the discussion. They all agree to keep their discussions private and Padme agrees not to tell anyone, even Anakin, about their talks. I was really glad to see the formation of the Rebellion and I was also glad to see Padme get more to do in the film than cry and be pregnant. However, like most of the political talk in the Star Wars movies, it was boring. To make matters worse, Jimmy Smits performs as Bail with oddly effeminate mannerisms. You'll just have to see it yourself.


Seeds Of Rebellion (Padme's Apartment) – Again, the Senators gather to discuss Palpatine's rise to power. In attendance are actors Bai Ling and Katie Lucas (George's other daughter). C-3PO is also briefly seen performing his duties as a protocol droid. Padme suggest discussing their concerns with one particular Jedi that she trusts. Again, it's good to see the beginning of the Rebellion and Padme doing more, but it's more Star Wars politics.

Confronting The Chancellor (Palpatine's Office) – Padme and the senators finally bring their concerns and petition directly to Palpatine himself (who has Anakin prominently at his side). Padme says they represent the Delegation of 2000 and they give Palpatine their petition. He gives them more assurances that he'll relinquish his power and he abruptly cuts off one of the senators that tries to push the discussion further. As they leave, Padme gives Anakin a betrayed looking glance. After the senators leave, Palpatine discreetly suggests to Anakin that Padme is hiding something from them, thus planting the seeds for his suspicion. Overall, it's a great scene. It develops the relationships between Palpatine and the Senate as well as the declining relationship between Padme and Palpatine. We also see more of why Anakin feels suspicious of Padme and it seems less abrupt later in the film. The scene also reveals more of how Palpatine is pulling Anakin's strings.


A Plot To Destroy The Jedi? – Mace, Yoda, and Obi-Wan meet in the Jedi Temple to discuss their feelings that there is a shift in the Force. Mace states the obvious…that he senses a plot to destroy the Jedi (a line heard in the trailers but cut from the film). The three Masters agree that defeating General Grievous is key to uncovering the plot. If not, they may have to arrest Palpatine. There's nothing terribly significant about the scene, but it does feature a great close up of Yoda. It helps to show the detail in the CG animation of the character.

Exiled To Dagobah – This is my favorite of the deleted scenes. We see a ship descend to Dagobah from space. On the dark swamp floor we see flying creatures, creatures with glowing eyes, and other critters. The pod lands as they scatter and it opens, revealing Yoda who prepares for his exile. Lucas explains in the intro that he thought the scene wasn't important because we all know already that Yoda ends up on Dagobah. However, that argument doesn't hold up in my opinion. If people are expected to watch all the Star Wars films in order, then they DON'T already know he hides on Dagobah. Plus, at a running time of less than 30 seconds, the cut didn't help the overall running time of the film. Maybe it was cut to give something to include on the DVD?

Overall it's a nice selection of deleted scenes, but nothing as major as the waterfall sequence deleted from Episode I or meeting Padme's family in Episode II.

On a side note, it's worth pointing out that Anakin's face on the DVD cover doesn't have his trademark scar. How did that get missed? Despite the blooper on the cover, the menus featured in the DVD itself are again cool. They feature the environments of Mustafar, Utapau, and the Coruscant Senate building. They deliver great animation and cool side action that makes even the menu entertaining.


The Extras:
Besides the aforementioned deleted scenes, there are a number of other bonus features included on the DVD.

Commentary by: writer-director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett – Unfortunately, none of the actors take part in the commentary, but the guys that do contribute have a lot of interesting things to say. They point out cameos of themselves and family members, discuss the more controversial moments of the film, and even the fact that they almost forgot to have Obi-Wan pick up Anakin's lightsaber after the final duel to give to Luke in A New Hope. Coleman also mentions that they got a Navy SEAL to do the motions of the clonetroopers in order to make their movements more realistic. Lucas mentions that Bail's speeder was modeled after a Tucker automobile. There are all sorts of great bits of trivia here. It sounds like the commentary of each of the men was recorded separately (except for McCallum and Guyett who seem to be together). It means that the commentary lacks the spontaneity of them talking together, but it also mean that only the best comments from each of them get pulled out. Star Wars fans will definitely want to check it out.

"Within a Minute" – This 80 minute documentary is really the centerpiece of the bonus features. It takes a clip from the final duel on Mustafar and shows what all the cast and crew had to do to make the scene come to life. It essentially runs down the entire list of credits for the movie and states how every single one of the people were involved in the scene. They cover everyone from the director to the caterer. Costumers, model makers, animators, stuntmen, production assistants, editors, composers, and more are all shown playing their roles in making the scene. (Although I still don't know what the heck the 'best boy' does!) There's a ton of behind the scenes footage here as we see George Lucas initially envision the scene all the way up to the music being written for the final film. It's incredibly detailed. Highlights include seeing Lucas talk to the art department about how Steven Spielberg came up with the idea of the giant lava collector arm breaking, the sound guys and music supervisor battling over how loud each of their contributions should be during the scene, and a film crew shooting lava eruptions at Mount Etna to use for Mustafar. On a completely side note, it's kind of fun to see what all is in the background during the interviews. You see a huge stack of Cliff Notes in Lucas' office while he's writing and an inordinate number or George W. Bush dolls in both Sydney and Skywalker Ranch. Overall it's a fantastic look at the making of the film and how hundreds of people help to make less than a minute of film come to life.

"The Chosen One" – This 20 minute (or so) featurette highlights the rise and fall of Darth Vader. Lucas discusses how the character started out in A New Hope and how he evolved into the focus of the entire saga. You see Hayden training for the role, rehearsing for the final battle, and dressing up as Darth Vader. You also see him made up into "crispy Anakin" and an amusing moment where Ewan McGregor plays with a piece of flesh dangling from his face.

"It's All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III" – Since the duels are the highlights of the film, it's only appropriate that they should get their own feature included on the DVD. In it we see Nick Gillard training everyone from Hayden to Ian McDiarmid. An interesting moment occurs when Lucas decides that he wants to show more of McDiarmid doing his own swordfighting. Gillard scrambles at the last minute with Samuel L. Jackson and McDiarmid to come up with new moves that the actor could handle without a stunt double. It's also cool to see the stunt double get some recognition.

A 15-part collection of Lucasfilm's Web documentaries – If you've already accessed Hyperscape over the years and viewed these videos, then there's nothing new here for you. However, if you haven't, then these videos really help to fill in the gaps of what isn't covered by the main documentaries. The web docs cover the creation of General Grievous, C-3PO, production design, pick ups & reshoots, Obi-Wan, Wookiees, the music, and more. Without these web documentaries covering such a wide variety of other topics, the DVD would be significantly lacking.

Star Wars Battlefront II trailer and Xbox game demo – I'm not a gamer, but these trailers sure make me want to give it a try. You can play any character in any environment from any movie. You can have classic trilogy character battle prequel characters and more. It's quite exciting stuff and it can be played as a multiplayer game, too. It's even cooler that it features the 501st, a group of Imperial stormtroopers created by real life fans who create costumes based on Star wars characters.

Star Wars Empire at War PC game trailer – Again, this is another cool game well worth looking forward to. Rather than a first person player like Battlefront, this one features a command and conquer format. Looks fun!

"A Hero Falls" music video – This is simply the theme "Battle of the Heroes" shown to clips from the film. There's not much of note there.

Poster and print campaign – There are a few cool posters that most people never saw in the US. If you're not familiar with the imagery, you'll want to check it out.

Trailers and TV spots – I never realized how many commercials there were until I saw them all listed on this DVD. They're included here for the sake of completeness though I have to wonder if people really look at them after having seen the movie. I've been told, though, that the "Nostalgia Trailer" features an alternate take of Obi-Wan's discussion with Luke about his father in A New Hope.

Never-before-seen production photo gallery – I typically skip photo galleries, but this one had pictures that even I, as a Star Wars geek, had never seen before. They include shots of the Emperor and Darth Vader clowning around on the set, shots of the stunt doubles, and more. There's even a shot showing Temuera Morrison dressed as a Jedi Knight with a pistol drawn.

DVD-ROM content – These features weren't available at the time I reviewed this.

Easter Eggs – I've only found one DVD Easter Egg so far. It features Yoda dancing to the rap song "Don't Say Nuthin" by The Roots while clonetroopers groove in the background. It's quite funny and a nice addition to the DVD.

The Bottom Line:
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith should please fans of the saga as well as DVD aficionados. The bonus features are great, but it's apparent that there's plenty more for them to include on future editions of the DVD.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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