Star Wars - Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
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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.
Ending the most popular film epic in history, Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith is an exciting, uneven, but ultimately satisfying journey. Picking up the action from Episode II, Attack of the Clones as well as the animated Clone Wars series, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), pursue General Grievous into space after the droid kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
The Star Wars Family Tree (click for larger image)
But then it all changes.
Star Wars Time Line (click for larger image)
After setting up characters and situations for the first two and a half movies, Episode III finally comes to life. The Sith Lord in hiding unleashes his long-simmering plot to take over the Republic, and an integral part of that plan is to turn Anakin away from the Jedi and toward the Dark Side of the Force. Unless you've been living under a rock the last 10 years, you know that Anakin will transform into the dreaded Darth Vader and face an ultimate showdown with his mentor, but that doesn't matter. In fact, a great part of the fun is knowing where things will wind up but finding out how they'll get there. The end of this prequel trilogy also should inspire fans to want to see the original movies again, but this time not out of frustration at the new ones. Rather, because Episode III is a beginning as well as an end, it will trigger fond memories as it ties up threads to the originals in tidy little ways. But best of all, it seems like for the first time we actually care about what happens and who it happens to.
Episode III is easily the best of the new trilogy--OK, so that's not saying much, but it might even jockey for third place among the six Star Wars films. It's also the first one to be rated PG-13 for the intense battles and darker plot. It was probably impossible to live up to the decades' worth of pent-up hype George Lucas faced for the Star Wars prequel trilogy (and he tried to lower it with the first two movies), but Episode III makes us once again glad to be "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." --David Horiuchi
Say what you will about the new Star Wars films--and plenty has been said already--but the DVDs continue to set the standard for technical excellence. From the opening of the first scene, the Dolby 5.1 EX sound is thrilling, and the picture, transferred directly from the digital source, is fantastic. A commentary track is again provided by a combination of people, including George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett. Lucas admits that the film is political and that he was influenced by Vietnam, but makes no mention of the Bush administration, as is widely speculated.
The main documentary on the second disc is probably the most granular DVD feature ever. "Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III" takes 67 minutes to deconstruct one minute of the film, an excerpt of the duel on Mustafar. The idea is to cover all the aspects that go into creating that minute, from writing to set construction to accounting. Fortunately, many of the concepts such as costumes apply to the movie as a whole, but having producer Rick McCallum tell us the importance of food seems a bit overkill. Two other featurettes are "It's All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III," an 11-minute discussion focusing mainly on the lightsaber duels, and "The Chosen One," a 14-minute examination of Darth Vader's evolution over the six films.
The six deleted scenes were no great loss from the film but are all worth watching. Natalie Portman in particular gets some much-needed screen time as one of the co-plotters of an anti-Palpatine movement, and an early action scene ties in to the Clone Wars animated series. There's also a 15-part series of 5 to 7 minute Web documentaries on topics such as the creation of General Grievous and Ewan McGregor, and an Xbox sampler of Battlefront II (if you're lucky, you can play as Obi-Wan Kenobi cutting through an army of droids) among other supplements. --David Horiuchi
The Complete Star Wars Saga
Episodes 4-6 Trilogy (widescreen)
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episde II: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Clone Wars Vol. 1
Star Wars: Clone Wars Vol. 2
The Star Wars Store
Stills from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (click for larger images)
When Wookiees attack
Yoda, Jedi master
Mr. and Mrs. Vader
Saber training with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen
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It's interesting watching Anakin be manipulated by Palpatine. Knowing the end result, it's still intruiguing to watch him misunderstand most situations in favor of the Emperor's twisted agenda. Watching the light saber duels in this one is awesome. The best are between Yoda and Palpatine, and Anakin and Kenobi. There are a few other ones that aren't quiet at the same level, but are still darn enjoyable.
The idea of watching all six Star Wars films in sequence sounds fun, but from my subjective perspective, it's not the best plan. Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones are weak films, and unless you are a completest, unnecessary. Of course, many will disagree with that assertion, but I'll stand by it. Best to approach the saga with the mystique generated by A New Hope, and gradually work back around to Revenge of the Sith, which fills in a lot of the crucial blanks and does bring you full circle in a mostly satisfying way. [/End of Edit]
As a long-time Star Wars fan, and to clarify: someone who did not really enjoy episodes I or II, watching episode III was one of the most dramatically thrilling film experiences that I have ever had. Tons of action and fast-moving storylines, juxtaposed with the agonizing slow-motion of Anakin's internal turning point. The weight of the Jedi Council's realization that Palpatine is the Sith Lord that they have been trying to identify, and that he has been pulling the strings the whole time to manipulate the entire scope of galactic politics, is tremendously heavy. It gave me goosebumps to watch this for the first time, even already knowing basically what was to happen. The anticipation of which moment would be *the one* had me on the edge of my seat. Seriously. This film is pretty dark at times; there is almost nothing comparable, in even small doses, in any of the other five films. That is worth taking into account, and I would not fault anyone (especially parents of small children, but adults as well) for not wanting to watch certain scenes.
I only gave this four stars because there is still a little of the cartoonish CGI that we saw so much of in episodes I and II. However, only a little of that shows up here, and the special effects are generally both (a) pretty good, realistic, and appropriately stylized, and (b) serve the story rather than taking away from it. The special features are very good (what?) and the inclusion of the deleted scenes is very much appreciated. They deal with, among other things, the formation of the eventual Rebel Alliance (including Mon Mothma! Oh that she had more screen time here!) and Yoda's exile on Dagobah. Completely relevant scenes, but I understand that there just was not room for them. Episode III has so much going on that it had to concentrate on Anakin, but it could have easily been three or four hours long based on all of the concurrent storylines.
Again, I am not someone who just generically loves every Star Wars everything. I did not think that episodes I or II were very good, but this is a horse of a different color. I personally rank it at least the third best Star Wars film, and in terms of pure honest entertainment value (if not artistic merit), it might compete with the original Star Wars "A New Hope" film. Do not let your feelings about episodes I or II cause you to discount this without giving it a chance on its own merits.