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MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Lucas
Cast:
Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels, Christopher Lee, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew
Writing Credits:
George Lucas

Synopsis:
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.

Box Office:
Budget
$115 million.
Opening Weekend
$108.435 million on 3661 screens.
Domestic Gross
$380.209 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 6.1
English Dolby Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Quebecois Dolby Digital 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Dutch
Portuguese
Finnish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Dutch
Portuguese
Finnish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish

Runtime: 140 min.
Price: $139.99
Release Date: 9/16/2011

Available as Part of “Star Wars: The Complete Saga”

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary by Writer/Director George Lucas, Producer Rick McCallum, Animation Director Rob Coleman, and ILM Visual Effects Supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett
• Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith (Star Wars Saga) [Blu-Ray] (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 28, 2011)

Back in 1999, geeks all over the world rejoiced when the Star Wars franchise resumed with The Phantom Menace. Since exactly 12 people over the age of nine – myself included – actually liked the movie, this put more pressure on the two flicks that would follow it. 2002’s Attack of the Clones failed to measure up to those expectations. Most preferred it to Menace but still believed it fell well short of the heights reached by the original trilogy.

That left George Lucas and company with one last shot to regain glory: 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Lucas promised a darker affair than the often light and goofy Menace and Clones and actually delivered. Sith still garnered complaints, but most fans accepted it as a good conclusion to the prequel trilogy.

How well Sith will hold up years down the road remains to be seen, but I agree with the sentiments that like it. Flawed but mostly successful, Sith acts as a quality sendoff for this series.

At the end of Clones, we saw the beginning of the Clone Wars. These took place between films and can be checked out via a very good cartoon series. Sith starts as the Clone Wars end and the combatants pick up the pieces.

We learn that Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) leads a Separatist Army of droids that battles against the Galactic Republic. To that end, droid leader General Grievous (voiced by Matthew Wood) kidnaps Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Jedi knights Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) head off to rescue him. They succeed, and Dooku ends up dead. However, this doesn’t end the war, as Grievous remains at large.

Palpatine uses the renegade General as a reason to escalate his emergency wartime powers, a factor that concerns many who fear that he takes more control than he needs. Palpatine recruits Anakin as part of his quest, for reasons that become more complicated due to Palpatine’s dual identity as Sith Lord Darth Sidious. He wants to bring Anakin on board as his new apprentice.

Along the way, Anakin learns that his secret wife Padme (Natalie Portman) is pregnant. Due to some premonitions, he fears that something bad may happen to her and tries to protect her as well as he can. Palpatine convinces him that he needs to take extreme measures to do so, and this leads Anakin on a route toward the Dark Side of the Force. The rest of the movie follows Anakin’s choices and their repercussions as well as the fate of the Jedi and the Republic as a whole.

That synopsis simplifies things and omits some elements. I did so for one main reason: the first act of Sith is a mess, at least until you’ve seen the movie a couple of times. I don’t think of myself as an expert on all things Star Wars, but as a fan since the first flick hit in 1977, I believe I know a lot more than the average moviegoer.

That said, when I initially saw Sith, I was pretty lost during the first act. Sith digs such a complex narrative about who fights who and who wants what that it becomes very easy to get confused along the way. I admit that I scratched my head more than a few times as the flick followed its dense tale.

This is a problem since it increases the potential that the movie will lose viewers. After a few minutes of nonsense, one may become tempted to give up on the story and zone out before much happens. That would be a mistake, since Sith takes off after a while, but the confusion will likely distance some folks.

All of this was unnecessary, since the first act machinations don’t matter a whole lot in the greater scheme of things. The movie needs to get into Anakin’s state of mind and his feelings. Some extracurricular material matters, but not as much as we find here.

Once the flick settles in, however, it becomes quite powerful. The turning point comes when Anakin performs an action so heinous that he clearly can’t turn back from the Dark Side. To avoid spoilers, I don’t want to specify what he does, but suffice it to say that his actions are terrifically evil.

To his credit, Lucas doesn’t wimp out and tame this sequence. The film goes all the way in its attempts to have Anakin turn toward the Dark Side. When I saw the movie theatrically, I marveled at the intensity of this section. For all Lucas’s promises that Sith would be a dark film, I never really believed him – until I saw this scene. It lives up to expectations.

The rest of Sith follows that trend. The occasional misfire still occurs, and the series continues to be hamstrung by Lucas’s awkward dialogue and some stiff performances. However, these don’t do nearly as much damage as in the prior flicks. The drama and intensity of Sith makes up for the flaws to present a passionate, moving narrative.

We feel Anakin’s torment as he descends – mostly. One problem comes from the series’ portrayal of that character. He always seemed kind of squirrelly and devious, so one wonders why the others seem surprised when he goes all nasty. The series never did a good job of establishing his positives; we hear about them but never feel them.

Nonetheless, Sith does a good job of conveying Anakin’s intentions and his dilemmas. We can see him as well-intentioned but misguided and impressionable. He neatly displays his conflict as he battles between ambition and responsibility. It’d have been nice to get a better feeling for his pleasant, engaging side, but I still think the movie depicts his path fairly well.

Does Revenge of the Sith live up to the levels reached by the original trilogy? I don’t think so. Some folks place it above Return of the Jedi, but I wouldn’t give it that much credit. Just because Sith is darker than Jedi and lacks fuzzy-wuzzy Ewoks doesn’t make it a better movie. Jedi delivers a more coherent narrative and a slightly more satisfying emotional punch, mainly because we cared so much more about the Original Trilogy’s characters.

A few hardy souls have placed Sith above Star Wars, and I suppose at least a couple prefer it to The Empire Strikes Back. On both accounts, that’s crazy talk. Though Sith is very good, it doesn’t merit a place on the same level as those two classics.

But it definitely outdoes its two immediate predecessors, and who knows? Maybe some day I’ll prefer it to Jedi. As it stands, Sith exists as a flawed but mostly satisfying conclusion to the prequel trilogy. For all its faults, it delivers the goods in the end. For the first time since 1983, I left a Star Wars movie with a feeling of satisfaction.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio A+/ Bonus NA

Revenge of the Sith appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was the best of the Star Wars bunch, as it presented a consistently stellar image.

Across the board, sharpness was excellent. Virtually no instances of softness materialized here, as the flick remained tight and concise at all times. I saw no jagged edges or edge enhancement, and shimmering failed to occur. No source defects appeared either, so the movie was always clean and fresh.

Since Sith took place in many different settings, it offered a great deal of visual variety. That meant a broad palette that encompassed lots of vivid hues. From the searing rears of Mustafar to the lush jungle of Kashyyyk to all points in between, Sith boasted dynamic hues that popped off the screen. The colors consistently looked great.

Blacks demonstrated excellent depth, while shadows were clear. Low-light shots depicted solid delineation of the elements and never came across as too thick or dense. Sith looked stunning and gave us a dynamic, dazzling visual presentation.

I awarded “A+” grades to the audio of both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I hate giving “A+” grades but couldn’t see anyway around it in regard to those excellent mixes. Did the DTS-HD MA 6.1 soundtrack of Revenge of the Sith match up with its predecessors? In a word – yup.

Sith featured the same audio production team as its predecessors, and that consistency showed with its smooth and seamless soundfield. From start to finish, the movie demonstrated a broad affair that utilized all the available channels. That didn’t mean it was stupidly active, though; it backed off appropriately during the film’s quieter dialogue sequences.

When it needed to kick into higher gear, though, the soundtrack was more than up to it requirements. The mix contributed a strong sense of place at all times and made the various settings come to life. Occasional examples of directional dialogue occurred, and the score offered a dynamic presence with good stereo imaging as well as support from the surrounds.

Of course, the effects created the best parts of the track, and they worked exceptionally well. All the many action sequences offered great definition and scope. They also blended smoothly and came together quite nicely. If forced to pick my favorite sequence, I think I’d go with Obi-Wan’s battle against General Grievous. Both their saber fight and their chase opened up the spectrum very well and turned into a demo-worthy scene.

No problems with audio occurred. Speech was crisp and natural, and I noticed no intelligibility problems or edginess. Music was bright and bold throughout the movie, as the track replicated John Williams’ score well.

Effects depicted the expected levels of detail and aggression. They were lively and accurate as they presented strong definition. Highs sounded concise and tight, while lows were rich and firm. There was virtually nothing about which I could complain, as Sith ended the Star Wars saga with yet another standout soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2005 DVD release? Both demonstrated upgrades. Audio was great on the DVD, but the Blu-ray seemed richer and smoother. Visuals gave us a strong shot in the arm, as the Blu-ray appeared tighter, more dynamic and clearer. I liked the DVD a lot, but it couldn’t compare with the killer presentation of the Blu-ray.

This Sith Blu-ray comes as part of a nine-disc package called “Star Wars: The Complete Saga”. It features one disc each for the six movies and three additional platters of extras.

Because so many of the film’s supplements show up on other discs, I won’t give Sith a specific grade for its bonus materials. I’ll wait until I get to a single “wrap-up” page to look at the three discs and award an overall supplements mark.

We do find some extras here, though, via two audio commentaries. The first comes from the original DVD and features director/writer George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors Roger Guyett and John Knoll. Although the commentary remains fairly screen-specific - the speakers clearly watched the movie as they spoke - most of the participants appear to have been recorded separately. I get the impression McCallum and Guyett sat together but the rest remain on their own, though I could be mistaken.

Two subjects dominate: story/characters and visuals. That breakdown makes sense given the work done by the participants as well as the nature of the film itself. Lucas provides quite a lot of good notes about the plot, the roles, and connected elements. He gets into a nice discussion of how the whole six-part saga fits together as well as character concerns, story points, homages, allusions to other flicks, and general production notes. He even offers a humorous explanation of why it took so long to build the first Death Star. Lucas provides the strongest material in this track.

Not that the others were chopped liver. They offered good notes about technical challenges and the movie’s design choices. Some good trivia appears along with the nuts and bolts of creating the effects and issues connected to the visual decisions. Another very good commentary, this one ends the series well.

New to the Blu-ray, a second commentary collects material from archival sources. This one features George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, Ben Snow, John Knoll, production designer Gavin Bocquet, composer John Williams, costume designer Trisha Biggar, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard and actors Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Temuera Morrison, Anthony Daniels, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, Silas Carson and Christopher Lee. As was the case with the other two archival prequel commentaries, this one uses outtakes from the sessions for the 2005 DVD and mixes them with other interviews.

The various elements combine well. The commentary hits on a lot of the same general topics discussed in the 2005 piece, but it adds new details and alternate perspectives. As always, it’s good to hear from the actors, and the other new participants help deliver many useful notes. This “archival commentary” serves as a solid compliment to the 2005 track and is a worthwhile listen.

How history will view the Star Wars “prequel trilogy” remains to be seen. However, it seems likely that Revenge of the Sith will go down as the strongest of the three. While it suffers from some of the same flaws that marred its two predecessors, it packs much more of an emotional wallop and ends the series well. The Blu-ray boasts top-notch picture and audio along with two useful, intriguing audio commentaries. I’m pretty happy with the movie and its presentation on Blu-ray.

Note that Revenge of the Sith can be found in two different packages. As mentioned when I went over the supplements, my copy came from “Star Wars: The Complete Saga”, a nine-disc set with all six movies and three platters of extras. However, it also appears in a package called “The Prequel Trilogy”. That one only includes the three prequel movies: Sith, 1999’s The Phantom Menace and 2002’s Attack of the Clones. It throws in the audio commentaries found on the movie discs but none of the other “Complete Saga” supplements show up on it. It’s the way to go if you only want to own the prequels – and I’m sure someone out there likes those three movies and not the Original Trilogy – but realize that you lose a lot of extras in addition to the other flicks.

To rate this film, visit the orignal review of STAR WARS: EPISODE III - REVENGE OF THE SITH

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main