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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) - 4K blu-ray Review

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

2005 saw the end of the prequel trilogy, and what a job it had before it to finally deliver what we’d been promised since the trilogy was announced: the descent of Anakin Skywalker to the dark side and the rise of Darth Vader.

So far audiences had soured on Lucas’s previous two entries, which inexplicably offered nothing more than great action scenes, grains of promise, and a whole lot of empty noise. As I write the previous line, it strikes me as unappreciative—offered NOTHING MORE? But as a life-long Star Wars fan, I had watched with frustration Lucas form the basis of this trilogy on a very character-reliant premise: a long and winding transformation of Anakin to Vader. Only character, the choices of what to depict, when in the timeline, and how it was depicted, is the prequel trilogy and Lucas’s most glaring weakness.

"Revenge of the Sith is far and away the best of the trilogy, but instills in this Star Wars fan the most schizophrenic emotions. It’s at times enthralling, evocative and wonderfully dramatic, but cements emphatically how tenuous Lucas’s grasp on his own logic and continuity really was"


As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, the time and moments are there, but the execution of them is so frustratingly off the mark. Lucas strengths are action, imagination and a cracking fast pace. Darth Vader is one of the greatest villains in cinema history, and a badass. Showing VADER and the purge of the Jedi would have played to Lucas’s strengths. He didn’t play to his strengths, however, but fortunately no matter how I pined for a completely different execution of this story, this is where the point of this trilogy finally arrives.

Set several years into the Clone Wars, Revenge of the Sith sees Obi-wan and Anakin balls deep in a spectacular battle above Coruscant to rescue the kidnapped Chancellor Palpatine. The Jedi, now Generals, leading the clone armies (‘We’re protectors the peace, not Soldiers’ –Mace Windu *cough), have the Separatist army on the back foot, and are nearing victory. The war is nearing its end. After Palpatine’s successful rescue, and the defeat of Dooku, Anakin starts having nightmares of Padme’s death—just like the ones he had about his mother. The Jedi are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Palpatine’s hold on ‘emergency powers’ and asks Anakin to inform on him. This leads to the ‘revelation’ that he is fact the Sith Lord behind the war and all the misery in first place; and with his promise of having the power to save Padme, Palpatine seduces Anakin to the dark side. Shit goes bad.Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

This narrative is the sum total of everything this trilogy needed to say, and although messily established, this is where we finally get some decent drama, and moments of absolute brilliance. Let’s kick this off with some positives. What worked: the set up of Anakin’s prophetic dream ability from AOTC and the fear it cements in him about his wife in ROTS is brilliant. ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’ –Yoda TPM. Palpatine’s expert manipulation of this and some of the lines he spouts in this film are malevolent gold. The emotional disconnect of Anakin from the Jedi Council, due to their discomfort with him, works so well. One of the finest acting moments for Christenson is when he is told he is on the council but not granted the rank of master. His delivery of one line “What?” is so organic and so succinctly expressive to his character it shows he’s not a bad actor when given good stuff to say. Anakin is fed up with not being trusted or appreciated. McGregor is given more of a reactionary role this time out, but he also gets some truly great moments and lines that affect you. (You were my brother, Anakin! I loved you.—Brilliant) I also loved the Yoda vs Palpatine fight up to it conclusion. The effects of this one are mind blowing in both their intricacy and their variety. No matter what environment, whether space or mushroom planet or hellish lava landscape, it’s a thing to behold. {googleads}

Then, there is McDairmid’s character rise to the fore and this is very much a Palpatine movie in many respects. His performance I found inconsistent: at times brilliant, such as the opera scene and his reveal to Anakin scene, and pure ham in the latter scenes. I was looking forward to the more sinister version of the Emperor in this one, and we didn’t get him. Also there is Padme’s character reduced to simply a plot device. She is there as a tool for Anakin’s seduction. There was an entire subplot foolishly excised from the film where she helps to form what will become the Rebellion. Also her death is ridiculously written. Here we have a former world leader, a resourceful and highly intelligent fighter for the common good, who according to a robot, gives birth to two twins in the most vulnerable time of the galaxy, and just gives up and dies. Portman cannot have been happy with that. This particular handling of a character perfectly encapsulates the horrible choices constantly made throughout this trilogy; all the good elements were already there! She went to try and turn Anakin back to the good side; Vader force-choked her in misguided jealousy. She was already injured! Why could they have not played that out? Given her a scene where she fights to stay and raise her kids, but succumbs to her injuries! It would have made a hell of a lot more sense for her character than her just dying of a broken heart! And the rise of Vader as we know him is beautifully juxtaposed as his children are born, but then completely undermined with one line: ‘NOOOOOO!’ This is not operatic, classic or anything but SHIT (and then they doubled down the shit and placed it in the re-re-re-redo of Return of the Jedi. SIGH.Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Then there is the always constant ropey dialogue; and logic and/or continuity issues. The line Anakin/Vader spouts at the end is flat out embarrassing. ‘I HATE YOU!’ The continuity of the back story, again contradicted with a lot of old Kenobi’s lines from ANH: ‘I haven’t gone by the name Obi-wan since before you were born’ Obi-wan was ringside for Luke’s birth! ‘I don’t remember owning any droid’ R4 in both AOTC and ROTS and R2’s memory was never wiped! He knows you! Tattooine sand makes you senile or a fucking liar. Leia’s ROTJ comment about remembering her mother ‘She was very beautiful, yet sad’… one can maybe let this go, as perhaps she is referring to lady Organa, her adopted mother, but it goes to show how many vague or plain contradictory elements come into the story with each new movie produced. Then again character logic: the Padme quandary already mentioned. Why, after fighting the Emperor does Yoda then decide Obi-wan and he need to go into hiding? It’s not like they won every battle in the Clones Wars and that didn’t stop them trying again. It’s to shoehorn in that the story continues now with Luke, and it’s contrived as all get out. Why couldn’t they have had a scene with Yoda and newborn Luke and Leia infer a message from the force—a vision—and have Yoda reluctantly go into hiding? THAT is Yoda; THAT mirrors and reinforces his caution to Luke in ESB about the cost of impatience… so frustrating. The elements and consistency were there for the taking.

Again, Lucas’s overuse of digital effects, when it came to the two principles, raises its ugly head. Obi-wan’s take down of Anakin is pretty spectacular when the two actors are simply just going at it. But of course, Jedi leaps and completely digital versions of them have to come into it—and its overkill.

Revenge of the Sith is far and away the best of the trilogy, but instills in this Star Wars fan the most schizophrenic emotions. It’s at times enthralling, evocative and wonderfully dramatic, but cements emphatically how tenuous Lucas’s grasp on his own logic and continuity really was. Sith, as a singular film, is a great ride. Sith, as the third part of a (then) six part saga, is rife with holes and a failures.

3/5 stars

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

4K

4K/blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Disney / Buena Vista
Available on Blu-ray
- March 31, 2020
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K Blu-ray: Region free; 2K Blu-ray: Region A

VIDEO:

Pretty damn spectacular. This film makes leaps and bounds on finer detail compared to AOTC. Whether organic or synthetic or digital or flesh and blood, attention to detail in this completely digitally shot presentation is vastly improved. There is more dimension and depth of picture, so the upscale benefits this one, instead of showing up limitations of the time. HDR again lifts this high above the blu-ray and from the opening scene to the sunset on Tattooine at its conclusion, everything pops off the screen. Mustafar has never looked so threatening with the spitting lava practically leaping off the screen. Digital environments blending into the rest of the picture are far better in this one. Black levels are top notch this time, deep and cavernous, helping to contrast against the laser fire and blazing lightsabers at the resolution. I think this, as an upscale re-master, is about as good as it gets.

AUDIO:

AMAZING. Just like AOTC, this is complex, nuanced and thrill a second DOLBY Atmos mix is unbeatable. The opening battle wastes no time in unleashing amazing base and layers of sound that hit you from each and every speaker. Dialogue is on point and adjusts effortlessly to the environment where the characters are. More weighty than the Disney+ comparable mix, it’s a definite check out my sound set up go to for DOLBY Atmos. Show it off!

Supplements:

As always the 4K gives you squat. The included blu-ray has a piddling amount of ‘NEW’ featurettes, none of them running a length longer than ten minutes. They’re interesting, but far too brief and they’re not ‘NEW’—not really. There are also, as with all the discs, previous releases extras.

Commentary:

  • With George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, and Roger Guyett
  • With cast and crew

Special Features:

  • Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was
  • Discoveries from Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
  • "Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III" Feature-Length Documentary
  • The Journey Part 1
  • The Journey Part 2
  • ILM Episode III Siggraph Reel
  • Star Warriors
  • Star Wars Tech
  • Interviews
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
  • The Collection

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3.5/5 stars

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

MPAA Rating: PG-13 on appeal for crude sexual content and language.
Runtime:
140 mins
Director
: George Lucas
Writer:
George Lucas
Cast:
Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor
Genre
: Action / Sci-fi / adventure
Tagline:
The saga is complete.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Goodbye old friend. May the force be with you."
Theatrical Distributor:
20th Century Fox
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 19, 2005
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 31, 2020.
Synopsis: Three years into the Clone Wars, the Jedi rescue Palpatine from Count Dooku. As Obi-Wan pursues a new threat, Anakin acts as a double agent between the Jedi Council and Palpatine and is lured into a sinister plan to rule the galaxy.

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Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

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