InsidePulse DVD Review – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith


(Credit: DVDSoon.com)

Directed by:
George Lucas

Starring:
Ewan McGregor……….Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman……….Padmé
Hayden Christensen……….Anakin Skywalker
Ian McDiarmid……….Supreme Chancellor Palpatine
Samuel L. Jackson……….Mace Windu
Jimmy Smits……….Senator Bail Organa
Frank Oz……….Yoda (voice)
Anthony Daniels……….C-3PO
Christopher Lee……….Count Dooku

The Movie
After almost 30 years the saga comes full circle and its time for Lucas to put his money where is mouth is and really pull out all the stops and make Star Wars fans happy with their last hurrah at the theater. The entire purpose of these three movies was to show the audience what a tortured and misguided soul Anakin Skywalker really was and not the malicious monster they all saw him as for all these years. For the past four years people have been anxiously awaiting what Lucas had in store for them, after the first two movies most fans had very little hope for the final movie to be anything above mediocre. What he put forth here is certainly going to please some and is guaranteed to wash away the bad taste the last two movies left in every ones mouths.

Set almost three years after Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith opens up with the clone wars heading towards an end. In the movie Anakin is met with a difficult decision, he’s been having nightmares, flashes of the future where he sees the untimely death of his wife Padme. Only there’s nothing he can do to stop it, no way to alter the future or to rescue the one he loves from death. Well he can’t help her with anything he’s learned from the Jedi that is. As many know, the movie is about the fall of Anakin Skywalker and the emergence of Darth Vader, The demise of the Republic and the rise of the Empire.

The story is too condensed, watching you can just tell there’s a much larger tale that should have been told. And that is the fault of one man, George Lucas. He turned what was suppose to be three films about the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker into two prologues with the story everyone wanted to see crammed in to an almost two and a half hour film. Revenge of the Sith has a lot on its plate to accomplish, Anakins turn to the dark side, the birth of the twins, Jedi’s going into exile, transitioning from fully CGI sets to practical locations and while it does get a few right, it never is able to hit all of the necessary marks. I think George had his story mapped out for episodes I, II, & III but I don’t think he ever took a step back and accounted for the little things that he needed to do over time to bridge the gap instead of just throwing them all in one single film.

Another problem is the fact that in order to get the whole picture you need to read and watch multiple mediums to get the full story. Like the animated Clone Wars series which not only set up the General Grievous character but the entire plot as to how Anakin and Obi-Wan create such a brotherly bond. That shouldn’t be necessary, if anything it shows Lucas’ lack of story telling. It’s sad when what is suppose to be footnote of the three films over shadows all of them. The Clone Wars should have taken the middle portion of the new trilogy instead of being relegating it to a series of short animations shown on the Cartoon Network channel.

Acting has a huge advancement, but then again that’s not saying a whole lot with the abysmal level of work from the previous films. Christensen finally shows why Lucas hired him, his portrayal as the full blown dark side Vader is exactly what the movie needed to be memorable. McGregor does the stand up job he’s been doing since the first movie and is a testament to Guinness performance over 25 years ago. If Alec were alive to see it he’d be proud. Portman has been given shorter screen time than usual and watching her you can tell she’s uncomfortable with everything. Shame because with her performances in Leon, Garden State and Closer she’s better than this. But above all the rest, Ian McDiarmid solidifies his place as the all-time most manipulative villain to ever appear on the big screen.

Maybe the largest attribute for why everyone just seems off their game is the fact that 80% of their environment on set is a green wall with a few green colored props. Even their onscreen counterparts are created on computers in post production. It’s only when we either see two human together or on a real set that they have something to work off of and perform at their best. This is why certain scenes like Anakin talking to Yoda just don’t come off all to well. Lucas can digitally insert what ever grand environment he want but if the performances don’t reflect on it the movie is doomed.

Speaking of Yoda, What happened to him in this instalment? His once lovable character has been turned into some sort of mini Confucius where no matter how simple the line he finds a way to flip it backwards and reverse it. That sort of stuff just isn’t necessary, “clouded your mind has become” makes sense “in to exile, I must go” yeah that’s simple to understand but lines like “Not if anything to say about it, I have. At an end your rule is. And not short enough it was.” are just ridiculous. Why has Yoda become a shadow of his former… future … self?

The writing is still poor and at times it’s down right cringing to listen to (like the Yodaisms pointed out above). Through all three new movies villains never feel like villains, they’re merely a stepping stone and are taken out with little hassle. Grievous is no different, the entire movie he is talked about as the most notorious person from the separatist forces, however all he does on screen is run away when ever bad things start to happen. Camera work and editing are both still lacking, it’s nothing to hurt the overall impact of what’s happening but if you really take a look at it from alternate point of views the camera setups are pretty poor.

As much as I’d like to give the movie a higher score, what’s given is just. It only appears to deserve better when compared to the atrocities that were The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. While not as magical or heart warming as episodes IV-VI, Episode III does deliver a story we’ve been waiting years to see and the long rumored mythical battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan is finally presented to us, and it is a truly a sight to be seen.

Score: 6.5/10

The Video
(Presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen)
Remember how Attack of the Clones was praised as a benchmark for its video presentation? Well step aside Clones because Sith is the new standard for which all other movies are to be based upon. Since this much like Clones is a direct digital-to-digital transfer, not a single flaw is noticeable during the entire movie, this is without a doubt the best looking movie you’ll see all year.

The Audio
(English & Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
Much like the video, audio here boosts a nice mix of front and rear speakers along with a bass track that is out of this world. Lightsaber give a nice rumble through the speakers and the opening battle sequence put you right in the middle of the madness.

The Extras
Feature Length Commentary – Writer-director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett all appear to have been recorded in separate groups then cut together as one track. McCallum and Coleman both provide plenty of interesting facts when it comes to the effects and the rest of the behind the scenes stuff. Lucas on the other hand is one you would assume has plenty to say, this being his final entry in to the Star Wars sage and all. however it’s the exact opposite, he seems to get bored with what he’s saying and most of his sentences slowly begin to fade away in to mumbles.

Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III (1hr 20mins) – Mustafar Duel, scene #158, 26 shots, 1185 frames, 910 artists, 70441 man hours. That’s what crawls across the screen at the very start of this piece and what is talked about from start to finish is all of the people that made the 49 second scene a reality. Every job imaginable is highlighted, from animatics and art design to editing and the audio effects, esentially every person that made the scene possible, even food services and accounting. This documentary is all about the making of the Mustafar battle and because of that they tend to skip over other parts of the movie that may have been more entertaining to hear about. Shame they felt they needed to limit themselves like this. A big problem with the documentary is while what’s being shown and talked about are very fascinating, Rick McCullen the producer of the movie chooses to be a voice over for the piece and lets just say it’s a good thing he’s a producer because narration is not his strongest suit.

The Chosen One (15 mins) – George Lucas, Hayden Christensen and others talk about the downfall and eventual redemption of the Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader character through out all six instalments of the story.

It’s All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III (11 mins) – Nick Gillard the stunt coordinator talks about coming up with the unique sword fights that were needed for the movie and how he orchestrates them as telling a story. Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen talk about their work together for the films climactic lightsaber duel. Nick then reveals how he makes test footage of his stunt work and sends it to George as a rough cut of what he envisions the scene to be and then they go back ad forth on what will work and what won’t.

Web documentaries (1hr 15mins) – A 15-part collection of short “webisodes” that were all available on the official Star Wars website during the movies production. Sadly most of the pieces here are reused in the Within a Minute documentary and get boring when you already know what they’re going to show or say next. Each part ranges from five to eight minutes but the average out to around six and a half minutes each and give the bare essentials of what they’re talking about. Some things touched upon are the creation of General Grievous, the creation of all the props and weapons, a nice short focusing on a day in the life of C-3P0, a look at a recording session for John Williams score, and Ian McDiarmid talks about playing the role of Darth Sidious for five films.

Deleted Scenes (10 mins) – There are six scenes total with introductions by George Lucas and Rick McCallum most were cut due to time restraint but one sub plot that was completely eradicated should have most definitely stayed in the final cut, and that is the creation of the rebel alliance with Padme and other senators. Another that is sure to put a smile on long time fans is a short 30 second clip of Yoda landing on Degoba.

“A Hero Falls” music video, hard to believe we’ll never hear another John Williams Star Wars score isn’t it?

2 Trailers and 15 TV spots

production photo gallery, poster art gallery and an outdoor print campaign gallery.

Two trailers for Star Wars: Battlefront II and Star Wars: Empire at War video games.

A Star Wars: Battlefront II Xbox game demo is the last part the disc has to offer.

Score: 8.5/10