Monday, November 21, 2005

Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith on DVD

In a year when the most widely anticipated movie was not the latest Harry Potter, a big budget adaptation of C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or a remake of King Kong (by Peter Jackson, no less), it could only mean one thing: the final chapter of the first trilogy of Star Wars had come out. Being the most widely anticipated movie of the year, Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith was naturally also the most widely anticipated DVD release of the year. Fortunately, the DVD release has also proven to be worth the wait.

I've already reveiwed Revenge of the Sith (you can read that review here), so I am not going to talk about the film itself. I will say that Revenge of the Sith could possibly be the best transfer of a film to DVD in the short history of that medium. The picture is clear and crisp. The details are sharp and easily seen. The sound also made the transition to DVD very well. Indeed, one can hear Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX or Dolby Surroudsound. And in English, Spanish, or French at that. While many films fare poorly when transferred to DVD, Revenge of the Sith did not.

The Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith DVD set would be a "must buy" even if it only contained the movie alone. Fortunately, Lucasfilm saw to it to provide some truly sterling bonus materials. There are naturally the expected movie trailers and TV spots (my favourite--"In Three Days...Sith Happens...."). And there is also the expected audio commentary. In this case, we not only hear from director and creator George Lucas, but from producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, visual effects supervisors Jack Knoll, and Roger Guyett. Between the five men the audio commentary provdies insights into the film ranging from character development to the inspiration behind various scenes to the many techinical aspects from the film (from animating Yoda to creating the various special effects). Unlike many audio commentaries, it is truly entertaining and a must for any Star Wars fan to listen to.

As might be expected, the Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith DVD set also contains the expected "Making of..." documentary. That "Making of..." documentary is anything but expected, however, as it takes a completely different track than most. Rather than documenting the making of the entire film, it instead focuses on one pivotal sequence--the climatic battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader (I think he had pretty much ceased being Anakin by that point...) and just how many people were involved in the making of that sequence. Within a Minute further breaks away from the traditional "Making of..." documentary in not only discussing such aspects of film making as acting, special effects, cienmatography, and editing, but even discussing such members of the crew as the caterers, accountants, and production staff. Anyone who has ever wondered how films are made would be well educated by this documentary. There are also two other featurettes. "The Chosen One" discusses Anakin's transformation into Darth Vader and his final redemption at the end of the Star Wars trilogies. "It's All for Real" discusses the stunts that went into the making of Revenge of the Sith.

The Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith DVD set also features six deleted scenes, with introductions by George Lucas and Rick McCallum. Among the most interesting are two scenes which involve the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance and a discussion between Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Mace Windu regarding Chancellor Palpatine.

The Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith DVD also has web doucmentaries and a preview of the Xbox game Star Wars Battlefront. Not owning a PC equipped with a DVD-Rom drive or an Xbox, I couldn't view either of these.

The Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith DVD set is one that befits a movie some have considered the best of the series (or at least the second or third best...). Even if they had only released the movie alone, with no bonus materials, Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith would be worth getting. That they provided the DVD set with the bonus materials they did makes it all the better.

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