Nostalgic fans of the original Star Wars (1977) may have been disappointed by prequel Episodes I and II, but most agreed that Revenge Of Sith was a crowning achievement in this new-fangled trilogy. Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) finally goes to the Dark Side in this "shocking and occasionally even moving" sci-fi spectacular. After years of hype it took a blockbusting $380m in ticket sales, notching up around three-quarters of that in the first weekend. Without a doubt, that makes creator George Lucas a force to be reckoned with.
The Final Frontier
Unlike Episodes I and II this release features the original theatrical cut of the film (spread across two discs to preserve the full glory of sound and visuals). While some fans may be disappointed by the lack of a re-edit, they can find solace in six deleted scenes. These are mostly weaved together from a combination of finished and raw CG footage and find Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa leading the early stages of rebellion. Elsewhere Shaak Ti (Orli Shoshan) falls foul of General Grievous (Matthew Wood) and Ewan McGregor (as Obi-Wan) and Samuel L Jackson (as Mace) put on their best serious faces for a conference with Yoda. Disciples of the little green guru will also be thrilled to know that this section includes his exile to Dagobah.
McGregor talks about shedding the "Jedi mullet" in one of 15 behind-the-scenes featurettes, which together provide a detailed insight into production. Putting on the Obi-Wan garb is obviously a religious experience for the Scottish thesp who explains, "It's been more important this time to get an Alec Guinness feel and look." Delving deeper into the Star Wars mythology, George Lucas explains the thinking behind the various kinds of weaponry. For example, the lightsabre signifies romantic ideals about honour and virtue. "Each culture", he says, "has to have its own weapon that reflects the ideology of that culture." Naturally there's also word from the props department and elsewhere in this section are featurettes on C-3PO, the wookiees, the film's soundtrack and a look at re-shoots.
Shedding Light On The Dark Side
Lucas and Christensen go into depth about the motivations for Anakin's ominous transformation into Darth Vader in the featurette The Chosen One. Lucas boils it down, saying, "Here's a guy who has lost everything," which serves to make Anakin a character that elicits sympathy more than loathing. There's less talk and more action in It's All For Real, which investigates the huge array of stunts in Episode III. For those of you who are guilty of dismantling mum's mop to imitate the Jedi knights, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard breaks down the choreography behind those breathtaking lightsaber duels.
Within A Minute actually runs at a whopping 78 minutes to convey the truly epic undertaking of producing just 49-seconds of screen time. The scene under examination is the Mustafar lightsaber duel, which apparently employed 910 artists working 70441 hours. In terms of the bigger picture, this documentary brings home the meticulous attention to detail that goes into every single frame. Obviously not all of those 910 people get equal screen time (after all we've only got two discs to cram this in), but this is still a rare chance for film buffs to learn what all those people in the end credits actually do.
Despite their demanding schedule, the effects bods at ILM seem to have had a lot of time on their hands. An Easter egg on the main menu of disc one features a break-dancing Yoda that'll have you rolling on the floor as well. (Select the Options menu on your remote then press 11 + 3 + 8). Effects honchos John Knoll and Roger Guyett are on slightly more businesslike form for the audio commentary along with George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum and animation director Rob Coleman. With more bonus material than you can shake a lightsaber at, this DVD reveals the true scope of producing a bid-budget effects movie and fully encapsulates the passion of the filmmakers. For Star Wars devotees, it is simply unmissable.