The Good

A thoughtfully put together DVD that will really satisfy fan tastes.

The Bad

It would have been cool to have the characters from the early Star Wars films featured in a retrospective documentary of some sort.

Lets be honest with ourselves, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the DVD release of 2005. If for no other reason than the fact that it finally “puts to bed�? the Star Wars saga as we know it in it’s film form. Yes, there will be TV shows and Mr. Lucas will no doubt keep fiddling with the films until the 6 DVD set of all of them come out, or he shuffles the mortal coil. One way or another, we at least have the whole vision of his creation and for those folks who have been rabidly picking up all the DVDs, they can sit back and watch all 6 Star Wars movies as one. While I am sure that that process will give way to much speculation and unevenness about both trilogies, I think at the very least we can acknowledge that Revenge of the Sith is a very good movie.

On DVD this film is extraordinary. Packed with a boatload of extras (including an insightful commentary track) this digital film was made for this new medium of home entertainment. This movie is a swan song of sorts. I know that Skywalker Ranch is going to continue to push out it’s various products, but this film signals the end of something that began almost 30 years ago. For many people, they are seeing the final chapter in something that was an indelible part of their childhood. If this doesn’t make Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith the DVD release of the year than I don’t know what does.

Features

Disc One

Audio Commentary Track

The Audio Commentary on this DVD features George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett. I really enjoyed this because it was done very well. The people participating don’t talk over one another, and the comments they make are insightful and intelligent. Of particular note for me was when they talked about how Lucas works with the footage. They described it as “armchair directing�" where essentially he sees a shot, and then just asks for changes based on what he thinks it needs. The FX wizards then take those changes and implement them to the final shot. Hearing all these guys talk is like placing yourself on the cutting edge of technology.

Disc Two

Deleted Scenes; “Within A Minute�? Documentary and “The Chosen One�?

What I love about the Deleted Scenes is that they aren’t just thrown together. Much time and work has gone into making the sound and picture look as good as possible. There are six scenes in total and my favorite ones were a 3 parter, of sorts, that was cut from the film that focuses on Padme’s character (Natalie Portman). These are “ A Stirring in the Senate,�" “Seeds of Rebellion�" and “Confronting the Chancellor.�" All of the scenes on here are well done, and seem like they were basically excised from the film more for time reasons than anything else. The Within A Minute documentary really takes the discussion of the use of digital technology in films a step forward. This featurette looks at one minute of Revenge of the Sith, and then shows us everything that went into making that one minute look as good as it does in the movie. The Chosen One featurette was in a word, touching. In this segment, we see how the character of Anakin Skywalker evolved into being Darth Vader. This is all bolstered by how they mix footage from the recent movies with that of the ones that came before it. Personally, this is one of my favorite things on this DVD.

�"It’s All For Real�"; Web Documentary and “A Hero Falls�" Music Video

It’s All For Real is an in-depth look at the stunts in the movie. We are taken behind the scenes to watch Ewan McGregor (Obi Wan) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader) at work. This movie might be bathed in every facet of CGI imaginable, but these guys still had to engage one another as human beings and the fact that they did these awesome battle scenes themselves is very impressive. The Web Documentary could have come out on a DVD all by itself and I don’t anybody would have complained too much. Comprised of 15 parts, this portion of the DVD initially appeared on StarWars.com. I can think of few DVD documentaries that go so far to bring you inside every aspect of the making of the film. A Hero Falls is actually really cool. We get to hear John Williams’ “Battle of the Heroes�? track, and along with that we get to see a montage of clips (mainly featuring Anakin) from the movie. While not the greatest music video in the world, it’s a lot better than most of the music videos that come on DVDs these days.

Print Campaign; Photo Gallery and Star Wars Battlefront II Demo

The Print Campaign features the various posters that were used to promote the movie worldwide. These are mostly the same poster with the title and credits list switched out for each country. The Photo Gallery is my idea of what a real “gallery�? on a DVD should be. Mixed with very few shots from the actual movie, there are a lot of behind the scenes shots of everything. From the actors working within the scenes, to the people at ILM preparing the film, to just shots laid against the various green and blue screens. This is by far the best use of the term “Photo Gallery�" I have seen for any DVD. Lastly, the Star Wars Battlefront II option lets those people with an Xbox console play a demo version of the game that is currently in stores. While I couldn’t play it because I don’t have an Xbox, I have to admit that the ability to fight the “greatest Star Wars battles anyway you want�" is a pretty cool sounding feature of this game.

Video

Anamorphic Widescreen - Aspect Ratio 2.35:1. This movie looks awesome. When you watch Yoda and realize that this is a CGI creation and not something real, it almost takes your breath away. What I love about this movie (and it’s a point bolstered in the commentary) was how at every instance, they were concerned with both the look and the story. One didn’t suffer because of the other. There was always a discussion had in every scene about how to make it more interesting, or what they should have going on in the background. As a result, this film feels so rich because of all the technical work and foresight that went into it. Lastly, when you realize that this has all come from the mind of one man, it makes this six film achievement seem that much more amazing.

Audio

English Dolby 5.1 Surround EX - English Dolby Surround 2.0 - French and Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0 - Subtitled in English. This is one of those DVDs that makes you appreciate not only the sound in the foreground, but also the sharpness of all of the sounds that just seem to be happening in passing. Everything about the audio is crystal clear. Whether we are hearing the sounds of a ship shooting off a gun, or the opening of a lightsaber, or just a ship moving through space. Everything on this DVD seems to be heightened to create the most engaging viewing experience possible. Okay, so it’s mastered digitally in THX sound, I really think that this film embodies what Lucas desired when he first spoke about wanting to elevate the medium of film through the direct use of sound and images.

Package

The cover used here was one of the many posters used to publicize the theatrical release of this film, I believe. We have Anakin in the foreground with Padme, Obi Wan and the Emperor all seeming to vie for his soul. Underneath that is a shot of Anakin and Obi Wan fatefully dueling it out, while the mask of Darth Vader looms in the background. The back features some panoramic-type shots of the movie, as well as a breakdown of all the extras that come on this 2 disc set. There are technical specs, a description of the film and a cast list as well. Inside, both discs are housed in a standard amaray case with each of them having their own tray. There is also a one page index that gives more information about the supplemental contents of this DVD. All in all, a well packaged and well put together addition to any collection.

Final Word

Why do people feel the need the have such negative feelings toward Hayden Christensen? This poor actor was placed in the most unenviable position. How in the world could his performance have ever pleased so many people? After living with the original Darth Vader for so many years (and even seeing him behind the mask in Return of the Jedi), how could Christensen ever measure up to that? As viewers we have no way of really imagining this “man/boy�" becoming the person he eventually becomes. Personally, I really liked how Christensen played Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith and Attack of the Clones.

For my money, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, was just as good as a big screen experience as it was as a small screen one. In fact, in some ways I liked it even better at home because on a smaller screen I could better focus on everything that was happening in front of me.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was released May 17, 2005.