Revenge of the Sith
20th Century Fox
Released November 1, 2005
Reviewed by Adam Pawlus
Reviewed on October 21, 2005
After finally caving in to pressure, George Lucas released the original trilogy on DVD in 2004, leaving fans with but one hole in their collections: Revenge of the Sith. Come November, the void will be filled and the story will be, more or less, complete. The two-disc set isn't as jam-packed as previous entries in the series, but it's still quite good and as the movie is arguably much better than previous installments, odds are you've already preordered it anyway.
Disc One: Commentary (George Lcuas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, Jon Knoll, Roger Guyett), Anamorphic Widescreen transfer, English subtitles, and the following Dolby sound options: English 5.1 EX, Spanish 2.0 Surround, French 2.0 Surround.
Disc Two: Six deleted scenes, fifteen web documentaries, "Within a minute" documentary, "The Chosen One" featurette, "It's All For Real" featurette, "A Hero Falls" music video, posters, 15 TV spots, Xbox stuff, and more.
Numerous Easter Eggs are on this disc as well, I assume not all have been discovered but I could be wrong. While we mention some here, my favorite listing of all DVD Easter Eggs is at DVD Review, and I suggest you check there for the latest.
After the first film in 1977, fans weren't exactly left wondering "so what's the deal with this Vader guy?" They were watching Luke, Han, and Chewbacca be heroes against faceless forces of evil in a sort of space opera, space western wrapper. They wanted to know what was next for Luke and friends, and 28 years later, after everyone finally found out what happened to everybody, we got to find out just where Darth Vader came from. By de-pantsing the mystery of the character, fans are now being given the chance to watch the original trilogy with a new set of eyes, as Darth Vader will no longer be the shouting, angry, faceless evil from space... but a kid that got tricked. Darth Emo, if you will.
Revenge of the Sith was given the task of humanizing the character, taking him a step back from being the somewhat creepy kid in Attack of the Clones and pushing him a little more toward the Jedi Knight fans most likely envisioned after seeing Jake Lloyd's protrayal of Anakin as a young boy. The film succeeds in this arena, and on numerous levels. So much so, in fact, that the previous two prequels may not hold up quite as well as it seems Revenge of the Sith will to long-term fan scrutiny.
By starting the film on an action-packed space battle that kick-starts a train of adventures that never let up, fans will no doubt be reminded of the original films. Things happen, and they happen frequently. If something is introduced, you aren't often left wondering "why?"-- because two seconds later, whatever it is was resolved. Dooku is introduced and smited. General Grievous exists as a prototype of Darth Vader. And you even get to see Darth Vader hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights. Virtually every throwaway line in the original trilogy surrounding this era connects to something in this film, and when combined with the non-stop speed of the film-- short of a few dialogue bits between Anakin and Padme-- there's so much to love, it's disgusting.
If The Phantom Menace was the movie George Lucas made to satisfy his need for back story, and Attack of the Clones was the movie to set up the fall of his tragic hero, Revenge of the Sith is where all the stops are pulled out to just make a fun movie. Sure, the Wookiees seem like a fan wank, but they serve a purpose and unlike the Ewoks, they don't steal the movie from the human heroes. Clones are everywhere, doing all sorts of cool things while Jedi try to save the galaxy from itself. On repeated viewings, the film seems to hold together better and better, and there's very little that seems like throwaway footage.
The movie's cut itself is the same as the theatrical cut. No surprises, unlike the previous five films on DVD.
If you were one of the many fans left wondering what the real origin of the Clone Army may have been, congratulations, you now have an answer. George and friends address numerous things, like Qui-Gon, excised scenes, pacing, and their undying love of the green screen. The quantity of trivia on this track should make it a must-listen, although it appears some things-- like just who the heck Syfo-Dyas really was-- will remain a mystery.
And after all these years, we still don't know what species Yoda is. Let the speculation continue. But you do get a fun snarky answer about why the Death Star took 20 years to build, and it's the little things like this that make the entire commentary worth listening to at least once.
When DVD first came to the market, I was thrilled. Deleted scenes of my favorite movies? I was hooked-- but sometimes, I was let down.
For Episode I, I was treated to some gems like Anakin fighting with Greedo, and a really neat scene involving the Bongo. For Episode II, I wasn't exactly feeling like a winner, with lots of talking head scenes and little to really inspire the imagination or to make the viewer feel like he or she is watching some lost gem. Episode III falls somewhere in the middle.
There are two scenes of Rebellion-foundation, neither of which is particularly grand. While it is astounding that Lucasfilm cast the perfect Mon Mothma, she's dead weight in the context of the bulk of the movie. While it's great to see the Petition of 2,000, and a few other elements, these don't feel like scenes you were denied on the big screen.
Yoda touching down on Dagobah, while awesome, feels like a dual echo. The first time a similar scene was seen was in E.T., while his arrival on Dagobah also mirrors his departure from Kashyyyk. It's one of the neatest things to see, but it begs so many questions, like did Yoda ever leave if his ship still worked? Who knows he's there, and why? It's so short you won't miss it from the feature, but it would have been a nice "after the credits" thing if George Lucas believed in such things.
The Jedi talking about the plot to destroy them was dull, easily skippable.
The gem of the set is an extended, unfinished scene involving Obi-Wan and Anakin talking to each other in code, jumping in the fuel tanks, and witnessing the death of Shaak-Ti. I would go on, but so much awesome stuff happens over the span of a few minutes, you'll be sad they didn't edit it back in the film and finish the scene completely. It's a real winner.
The overall value of them seems pretty high-- it's interesting to see pre-release, preproduction images of scenes that were never completed being shown to the public, as it seems to be a lot of the "sneak peaks" of the prequels ended up being of things you never really got a good look at on the big screen.
The most shocking thing is seeing those clips of Episode I with the digital Yoda. There was talk about it having been done, but as far as I know, this is the first I've seen of it. The whole "magic wonderment of the green screen" thing is getting quite tired, and thankfully, the quantity of extras on these discs reflect that the DVD production team probably realizes it as well. I'm sure many a college drinking game has been developed out of "magic of the green/blue screen" and also Pixar stating that they do, in fact, use the actors when doing the animation. OK guys, we get it. Now show me something else.
There's a real feeling of "oh, we need to finally give some attention to the crew." The digital galleys that support hundreds of workers to make a single minute is in the aptly titled "Within a Minute," which has a lot of overly complicated graphical flourishes but is about as if not slightly more informative than you would expect from a documentary of the DVD persuasion.
Everything else was more or less neat-- not fantastical, but cool enough to watch as you get to see protowookiees, early ship designs, and a glimpse at things being developed with the ability to figure out what the heck they are. The behind-the-scenes look at Grievous' development is especially enlightening.
These are always a mixed bag, the highlights of them generally come from the form of unfinished scenes and a glimpse at various stunt doubles. This time around, you can get an idea of what's practical and what's digital, who stood in for what where, and some other interesting things.
What was the biggest "wow, golly!" moment for us was a shot of Temuera Morrison dressed up in Jedi garb for reasons unknown. Number two was an animatic for the Birth of Darth Vader scene that involved Hasbro's 12-inch figures-- something I hope is buried somewhere in the discs in video form.
Like with Episode I and Episode II, this one's in the same basic style that doesn't look at all like the movie poster. While Jar Jar was famously excised from the first DVD, this one has absolutely no sign of General Grievous-- which is a little odd as he got some decent screen time and abundant action.
On DVD only (no VHS or UMD, kids) at stores near you on or about November 1, 2005.
Overall, it's a great package of the greatest of the three post-1980s Star Wars films. There's quite a bit of behind-the-scenes stuff here and thankfully there's a lot that hasn't been covered by Hyperspace, countless behind-the-scenes books, and other supplemental media and merchandising tie-ins. It will no doubt be available for as low as $13 somewhere, and for that, the movie itself is a great deal. The commentary and deleted scenes will no doubt constitute gold for long-time fans, although the documentaries aren't as exciting as one might have hoped given that this is the third time out and the best Star Wars documentary ever was made just last year on the Trilogy DVD set.
With extras being less and less of a draw on a DVD for most casual buyers, it's good that so much care was put in to making sure the print and sound quality was cranked up beyond what fans are used to, but hey, it's nice for the movie itself to be the biggest draw on a Star Wars DVD, right? If you didn't like the movie, you won't like the DVD. But if you enjoy plunging into extra features to confirm just who ordered the Clone Army to be made, and confirm that it wasn't just your imagination that none of the press materials or credits ever linked Ian McDiarmid with playing Darth Sidious (much to the delight of many, MANY gullible-as-all-get-out fans out there), you'll love this. If you want to be a smarter Star Wars fan, the extras on this disc are a great crash course. Pull up a chair and pay attention, because there aren't many other opportunities to get answers to a few lingering, nagging questions.