Format: DVDSurround Sound, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC
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Ending the most popular film epic in history, Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith is an exciting, uneven, but ultimately satisfying journey. Picking up the action from Episode II, Attack of the Clones as well as the animated Clone Wars series, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), pursue General Grievous into space after the droid kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). The Star Wars Family Tree (click for larger image) It's just the latest maneuver in the ongoing Clone Wars between the Republic and the Separatist forces led by former Jedi turned Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). On another front, Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) leads the Republic's clone troops against a droid attack on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. All this is in the first half of Episode III, which feels a lot like Episodes I and II. That means spectacular scenery, dazzling dogfights in space, a new fearsome villain (the CGI-created Grievous can't match up to either Darth Maul or the original Darth Vader, though), lightsaber duels, groan-worthy romantic dialogue, goofy humor (but at least it's left to the droids instead of Jar-Jar Binks), and hordes of faceless clone troopers fighting hordes of faceless battle droids. But then it all changes. Star Wars Time Line (click for larger image) After setting up characters and situations for the first two and a half movies, Episode III finally comes to life. The Sith Lord in hiding unleashes his long-simmering plot to take over the Republic, and an integral part of that plan is to turn Anakin away from the Jedi and toward the Dark Side of the Force. Unless you've been living under a rock the last 10 years, you know that Anakin will transform into the dreaded Darth Vader and face an ultimate showdown with his mentor, but that doesn't matter. In fact, a great part of the fun is knowing where things will wind up but finding out how they'll get there. The end of this prequel trilogy also should inspire fans to want to see the original movies again, but this time not out of frustration at the new ones. Rather, because Episode III is a beginning as well as an end, it will trigger fond memories as it ties up threads to the originals in tidy little ways. But best of all, it seems like for the first time we actually care about what happens and who it happens to. Episode III is easily the best of the new trilogy--OK, so that's not saying much, but it might even jockey for third place among the six Star Wars films. It's also the first one to be rated PG-13 for the intense battles and darker plot. It was probably impossible to live up to the decades' worth of pent-up hype George Lucas faced for the Star Wars prequel trilogy (and he tried to lower it with the first two movies), but Episode III makes us once again glad to be "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." --David Horiuchi DVD features Say what you will about the new Star Wars films--and plenty has been said already--but the DVDs continue to set the standard for technical excellence. From the opening of the first scene, the Dolby 5.1 EX sound is thrilling, and the picture, transferred directly from the digital source, is fantastic. A commentary track is again provided by a combination of people, including George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett. Lucas admits that the film is political and that he was influenced by Vietnam, but makes no mention of the Bush administration, as is widely speculated. The main documentary on the second disc is probably the most granular DVD feature ever. "Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III" takes 67 minutes to deconstruct one minute of the film, an excerpt of the duel on Mustafar. The idea is to cover all the aspects that go into creating that minute, from writing to set construction to accounting. Fortunately, many of the concepts such as costumes apply to the movie as a whole, but having producer Rick McCallum tell us the importance of food seems a bit overkill. Two other featurettes are "It's All for Real: The Stunts of Episode III," an 11-minute discussion focusing mainly on the lightsaber duels, and "The Chosen One," a 14-minute examination of Darth Vader's evolution over the six films. The six deleted scenes were no great loss from the film but are all worth watching. Natalie Portman in particular gets some much-needed screen time as one of the co-plotters of an anti-Palpatine movement, and an early action scene ties in to the Clone Wars animated series. There's also a 15-part series of 5 to 7 minute Web documentaries on topics such as the creation of General Grievous and Ewan McGregor, and an Xbox sampler of Battlefront II (if you're lucky, you can play as Obi-Wan Kenobi cutting through an army of droids) among other supplements. --David Horiuchi The Complete Star Wars Saga Episodes 4-6 Trilogy (widescreen) Episode I: The Phantom Menace Episde II: Attack of the Clones Star Wars: Clone Wars Vol. 1 Star Wars: Clone Wars Vol. 2 The Star Wars Store Stills from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (click for larger images) Anakin When Wookiees attack Yoda, Jedi master Mr. and Mrs. Vader Saber training with Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen The cast