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Out with a bang!
on July 2, 2010
I just re-watched Revenge of the Sith on my new widescreen flatscreen screen in 5.1 surround and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I purposely avoiding watching any Star Wars movies in the last year or so (too much Star Wars is overkill) so it was fairly fresh and enjoyable, albeit not without flaws.
Star Wars Episode III (in case you didn't know, but I imagine everyone does) is the "final" film in the Star Wars saga to be made, and completes the transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. It also illustrates for the first time ever how the Republic decayed into the first Galactic Empire. Along the way, there are some of the greatest lightsaber battles in Star Wars history.
First of all this transfer is great, as is the 5.1 surround sound. I have no complaints there. The surround sound is especially effective during the opening battle when things are exploding all over the place around you.
As per usual, the acting and dialogue leave something to be desired and the plot is ham-fisted at trying to connect the two trilogies together. For example, Chewbacca: I don't know anyone who didn't think it was great to see Chewbacca defending his home planet from an invading droid army, but meeting Yoda was a moment that nobody needed and failed to achieve any kind of spinal shivers. It felt ham-fisted, it is ham-fisted, and it's just an example of many such moments.
Other scenes are quite well written and performed. In particular I single out the scene at the Coruscant opera, when Palpatine is relaying the tale of Darth Plageus the Wise to a naive Anakin. Ian McDiarmid's performance here is among the best in the entire series. McDiarmid could be spellbinding just reading out his grocery list. Unfortunately, Hayden Christonsen remains complete uncharismatic as Anakin. This renders the emotions felt during his fall to be flat and one-dimensional.
Other scenes are horrifically badly scripted, such as the final battle between Yoda and the Emperor. "I've been waiting for this a long time, my little green friend." "Not if anything to say about it, I have!" Just terrible dialogue for a battle scene that seemed extraneous at best.
The climactic duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker truly was everything we dreamed of for so many years. Aside from that bad in-battle dialogue ("It's over for you, my master") this is the fastest paced most exciting lightsaber battle we've ever seen, and rightfully so. After this battle scene, which sets the stage for the next three movies, the film somberly settles into a series of scenes designed to give fans everything they wanted to see since 1977. The film ends very satisfactorily.
DVD extras are vastly inferior to previous Star Wars discs. The "big" documentary that we always look forward to this time was a boring expose into everything that went into the making of a brief moment of film, from the top on down to the caterers. Very dull considering the bonus features on Phantom Menace were so good. Of course, you also get your typically dull Star Wars audio commentary track. Why does Lucas and company feel they have to repeat the same talking points over and over? Some finished "deleted scenes" redeem the disc. The best of which shows Yoda finally arriving in exile on Dagobah.
Quibbles aside, Episode III is the only film of the prequel trilogy that lives up to the original films. It has the same imperfections as Episodes I and II, but greatly reduced. I feel that eventually it will be almost as well appreciated as the classic trilogy, perhaps moreso than Return of the Jedi. Time will tell.