Blu Ray Film Reviews – Revenge Of The Sith

Revenge Of The Sith – Blu ray film reviews.

The lizard that Obi-Wan rides is Boga, thats the name of a soft drink in Tunisia and just happens to be the place that stands in for Tatooine. George Lucas toyed with the idea of using old footage and digital technology to re-create Peter Cushing as Tarkin, the idea was scrapped due to the stock footage having deteriorated too much. During Anakin's battle with Count Dooku, the imprisoned Palpatine was originally going to shout that Dooku paid the Tusken Raiders to kidnap and torture Shmi Skywalker, Anakin's mother.

Liam Neeson filmed a cameo as Qui-Gon Jinn that was never used, it was to be a scene featuring Yoda meditating on the secret asteroid base just before Bail Organa informs him of Obi-Wans return with Padme.

The original cut of the film ran for nearly four hours with the opening battle/rescue running over an hour. The Wookiee army scene has 10 men in Wookie suits, they were repositioned multiple times and the shots then combined in the computer to make it look like there were far more.

A young Han Solo was originally going to be seen living among the Wookie's on Kashyyyk.

Steven Spielberg helped design some sequences during pre-production, mainly because he wanted some experience of using new pre-visualization techniques developed by Industrial Light and Magic for his remake of War Of The Worlds, Spielberg's work can be seen in the climatic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin.

Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen trained for two months in fencing and fitness for their epic lightsaber fight sequences seen at the end of Revenge Of The Sith.

Gary Oldman was to be the voice of General Grievous, he pulled out because actors who do not belong to the screen actors guild were in the film and Oldman is a member of the guild.

The movie was shot using Sony HDV-F950 high definition camera's and the HDCAM SR digital video format, George Lucas had been working closely with Sony since the mid nineties on the development of a digital camera that could give acceptable image quality for making films.

General Grievous has breathing problems in the film, these are explained in an episode of The Clone Wars animated series, that episode see's Grievous fighting Mace Windu who uses force grip which crushes the cyborg's chest panel, Grievous still gets away with his apparent kidnap of Palpatine and this of course sets up the scenario seen in Revenge Of The Sith.

This is the only Star Wars film to get a PG-13 rating in North America and a 12 certificate in the UK.

General Grievous is trained in the Jedi ways due to the fact that when he was constructed he was given the blood of a Jedi Master who had a high midi-chlorian count.

The sound of General Grievous coughing is in fact that of George Lucas, he had developed a cold during production and recorded it and used it as the cough, he also features as the blue skinned Baron Papanoida who can be seen just outside the entrance to Palpatine's private box at the Opera house.

C-3PO utters the very first words in the original Star Wars film way back in 1977 and he also has the last words in Revenge Of The Sith in 2005.


Film Plot

A massive space battle takes place over the skies of Coruscant as the war between the Republic and Separatists continues, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, and Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, lead a rescue mission to free Supreme Chancellor Palpatine who has been kidnapped by the cyborg, General Grievous, and is now held prisoner on his command vessel, Skywalker and Kenobi board the vessel and once more face Count Dooku in a battle to the death while Chancellor Palpatine looks on and goads Anakin to kill Dooku.

The clone wars are nearly at an end and soon a new galactic empire will be formed and order 66 will be invoked, the Jedi will fight for their existence and the Sith shall have their revenge.


Positives

The cast of Star Wars episode 3 - The Revenge Of The SithAfter the space battle we get a couple of enjoyable lightsaber duels, all the time this is happening we have John Williams fabulous music score playing, he has always delivered the goods when it comes to epic music scores, classical in every sense of the word and the music fits well with the images onscreen, i enjoyed some of the interplay between Obi-Wan and Anakin during these early scenes.

I enjoyed the lightsaber duel later on in the movie between Obi-Wan and General Grievous, there was also a pretty good chase sequence leading up to the actual duel, full of CGI but it entertained me nonetheless.

The scene at the opera where Palpatine tells Anakin a story about how Darth Plagueis used the force to create life and then his apprentice killed him in his sleep, although he never actually says it straight out, he is talking about himself and this means that at some point just before his death Plagueis was responsible for the creation of Anakin, he was then killed by Sidious who at this point was training Darth Maul, this speech tells us so much and we can speculate that perhaps the Jedi have become lazy and a little arrogant in believing good will always triumph over evil.

I thought the scene where Mace Windu takes some Jedi to arrest Palpatine was a highlight of the film, we see just how dangerous a Sith Lord who is cornered can be, all the while he is thinking two steps ahead and allowing Windu to dominate him, look at the scene where he breaks the glass window, he is thinking ahead, when Anakin arrives his plans are complete and we as the audience know there is only going to be one outcome, its one of the better scenes in the film.  It was nice to see the Wookies homeworld and the return of Chewbacca ties this film in with the original.

The end duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin plays out on the volcanic planet of Mustafar, its quite spectacular and John Williams has composed a nice bit of music for this scene, i also enjoyed hearing Duel of the Fates again as Yoda and Darth Sidious battle each other.

When Order 66 is invoked we see Jedi on different planets being killed by clone troopers, some of the images during those scenes was powerful and beautiful to look at.


Negatives

It's been a while since we saw an extended space battle in a Star Wars film, sure The Phantom Menace had a small scene at the end but the last film to feature a really epic battle was Return Of The Jedi in 1983, the one featured in Revenge Of The Sith is in my opinion boring, it just didn't do it for me, i felt it lacked excitement, its not a large scale battle as such, it focuses on Obi-Wan and Anakin's attempt to get onboard the vessel holding Palpatine.

I enjoyed the lightsaber duels that followed much more than this space battle, for me Return Of The Jedi still has the best space battles in the entire Star Wars saga. I think the modelwork of Jedi trumps the CGI spacecraft of Sith.

I didn't completely buy the way Anakin turned to the dark side, i felt it was too quick, i think the script was a bit heavy handed and poorly written in explaining the reason that Anakin chose to go to the dark side, perhaps if they had been more subtle and some of the scenes leading up to this moment had been written better, then i could have accepted it easier, when you take the film series as a whole and the fact he had been getting close to Palpatine for over three years since the last film ended then i can just about buy into it.

Tell me i am hearing things, a Wookie makes a Tarzan sound during one of the battle scenes on Kashyyyk, simply awful joke and it spoils the scene.

Obi-Wan is easily overcome by Count Dooku in this film and yet we are supposed to accept he has improved his Jedi skills and also that he can take on Anakin at the end of the film and beat him, i know they needed to use that plot device so that Palpatine would push Anakin closer to the dark side but i feel they should have kept him occupied by perhaps giving him another fight which leads him off the main part of the bridge, how this scene was scripted and filmed was problematic for me and i felt it was cheap, lazy and convenient.

Further to the above i feel using the plot device of Padmé dying and linking it with his grief over the way his mother died was a good one, it made sense and its something that Palpatine could use to push his buttons, no problem with the actual concept, my problem is the way the script was written, it felt a little basic and forced, if the script had been a little better then it would have worked but it felt like they used a sledgehammer to put this point across.

Some of the dialogue where Anakin tells Padmé how he is not going to let her die was excruciating, that dialogue felt childish, Anakin has been training to be a Jedi for many years now, he would be more mature, yet they wrote a script that gave the character immature and childish lines, he still threw temper tantrums, i couldn't buy into this, his training and experience of war would have took such behaviour out of him, Palpatine would have needed to be far more resourceful to turn him to the dark side, i just feel the script should reflect the fact Anakin must now be more mature than we last saw him in Attack Of The Clones.

Natalie Portman didn't have that much to do in this film other than stand around and spout some pretty poor dialogue, i felt her character was mostly underused, i felt they made Padmé weaker in this film. Darth Vader shouting Nooooooooooo at the end of the film, i don't think it works very well, its an example of the heavy handed script i discussed earlier, some may argue the scene is a Frankenstein's monster type of moment, i certainly agree that these films have dialogue and idea's that are inspired by films made in the 1930's and 1940's and i get all that, i just thought that particular cry of noooo didn't work so well in this film, i think one quieter no would have worked better.


Image Quality

They used improved digital camera's for this film and it shows, the detail levels are higher than seen in Attack Of The Clones and they have added a very fine grain over the image which helps make it a little more film like than its predecessor, this grain does help give the perception of even more detail in the image.

Check out the scene around 29 minutes in where Anakin wakes up from a nightmare, Padmé goes to comfort him and they then talk, she is wearing a metallic blue negligee with pearl jewellery at the top, the colours on this really stand out against the dark background of the scene and there is lots of fine detail evident in both medium and closeups of Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen, black levels looked spot on too.

I always thought the Mustafar scenes suffered a little on DVD, well they look excellent on blu ray, the reds of the lava come alive and the detail is so much more impressive, as Anakin and Obi-Wan fight we see a shot of a volcanic waterfall that they are heading towards, the camera pans down it, Obi-Wan jumps to safety, as does Anakin and what follows is a fight scene on the red hot sea of lava, i was impressed by how clear, detailed and beautiful this scene was on blu ray.

At the 1H 15 minutes and 37 seconds mark i thought i spotted some frozen grain on the light red walls behind Anakin, the reason i'm not marking the films image quality down because of it is that i consider it an isolated incident, you can see what appears to my eyes to be frozen grain patterns on the wall and then beneath that is moving grain, strange really but its not something that plagues this release, if you have hyper sensitive eyes you may spot more of this than i did.

If you read my review of Attack Of The Clones you will notice i mention the contrast and give some examples from the DVD and Blu Ray editions of the film, well i have checked this film out carefully and i think the contrast is fine on this release, colours look spot on to me and as intended by the film makers, you really should not look at your old DVD and use that as a guide to how this film should look on blu ray, they are using the original digital files for this release and its much closer to what the image should look like, on these prequel films the lightsabers look superb, i'm hoping this trend continues with the original trilogy. I would have to say that i think this is the best transfer of the prequel trilogy.


Sound Quality

Darth Vader, Moff Tarkin and Emperor Palpatine look on at the building of The Death Star in Revenge Of The SithI felt the sound mix on Revenge Of The Sith could have been better, i felt that The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones had a more dynamic mix, better use of the surround channels and deeper quality bass.

I felt this film was a little lacklustre with it's sound mix not being up to the same standard as those two films, it's not bad, indeed in places it can be very good, it's just not as great as i had expected it to be considering the amount of onscreen action we see taking place.

I really think the bass should have been deeper and had more impact than it did and i felt there should have been more use of the individual surround channels, for large sections of the film i felt the bass was lacking.

The opening moments have this great bassy low end rumble and you get another deep bass moment as the ship Anakin pilots breaks in half, the moment that follows as he tries to land the ship on Coruscant was lacking in the bass department, now don't get me wrong, there is more to a good sound mix than low end bass, you just expect it to be there based on the previous films.

The lightsabers do not sound as meaty either, they also lack the bass of the first two films, there are numerous scenes in the film where i thought it should have had more surround sound and better bass and i had hoped this film would get a re-mix for the blu ray release, it has not, it sounds like it is the same mix used on the DVD edition, better quality in lossless form but the same mix, maybe i have been spoiled by the mix for The Phantom Menace and Attack Of The Clones but this sounds weaker to me and it should be as good.

I felt that even the wonderful music score was not as dynamic as the previous two prequel films, it sounds good, but it should sound great, they seem to have downplayed the surround channels and bass for this sound mix, either they didn't have the time to really mix it properly when it came out in 2005 or they decided the story was strong enough and a sound mix that gives your speakers a workout was not needed, they were wrong as the script isn't strong enough to take your attention away from the fact the sound just isn't as good as the two films that preceded it, i feel they have wasted an opportunity to fix what i see are issues with this soundtrack.


Final Thoughts

I must admit that when i first viewed this film several years back that i enjoyed it immensely, this repeat viewing has changed my opinion, i feel its one of the weaker entries in the Star Wars saga, visually its impressive, sonically i felt it was a letdown, script wise i felt it should have been better, a handful of scenes involving Anakin should have been re-written, i also don't get why these films always seem to get dumbed down with silly jokes, this one has a Wookiee making a Tarzan call, thats just plain dumb and tells me that George Lucas needs to reign himself in and make better creative decisions, i get that its his sense of humour and some will find it funny but it doesn't fit with this particular film.

I was so looking forward to this, based on a previous viewing i had the rose tinted glasses syndrome of thinking it was a great end to the prequels, i was wrong, yes it ties up loose ends, and yes there are several individual scenes that work but when you take the film as a whole then i feel it fails, is it possible they could give us a lightsaber duel in these Star Wars prequels where someone doesn't do backflips and just uses it like a sword, just a minor criticism as i still enjoyed the lightsaber duels.

Not a bad film, a few revisions of the script and maybe even cutting down some of the scenes and adjusting the pacing and it could have been a very good movie.