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Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Bloody hell! Revenge of the Sith (2005) isn't that bad! A welcome, surprsingly solid conclusion to the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Sith — clunky dialogue notwithstanding — is an almost-stately slice of message sci-fi about how tired, dithering bureaucracies can be torn down by people with firm agendas. It's also self-contained enough to render the first two chapters almost completely irrelevant. Though one can recognize plot holes and flaws on repeat viewings, Sith has a discipline missing from Episodes I and II; it tries to jettison every supporting character or subplot that doesn't move the story forward. Important things are said with images instead of words, and the special effects are better — but draw less attention to themselves. And, because it has to seamlessly bridge the way to A New Hope, some much-needed and rather operatic plot dynamics make up the meat of the film. Here, the Clone Wars come to an end, Anakin is seduced by Palpatine and the Dark Side of the Force, the Anakin/Padme romance ends tragically, twins are born and hidden, Darth Sidious' co-conspirators and the Jedi Knights are wiped out, and there's an absolutely bitchin' lightsaber duel (with lava) that ends, as it must, with Anakin being set ablaze. Unlike the previous two prequels, in Sith vast swaths of story are told without words, with tons of skillful cross-cutting missing from the other prequels. In fact, this film is arguably preferable to Return of the Jedi (1983) — if only because Sith lacks Ewoks, and because Sith's Emperor comes off as more than a cackling, flour-dipped prune who speaks in sound bites while lightning spews out of his fingers. In short, this is the only prequel actually worth discussing — and not just in those exhausting "did it rock or did it suck?" back-and-forths where everyone's a loser; it's a film of ideas with a surprising ambivalence about Anakin's evil and the flabbiness of the Jedi bureaucracy. While it doesn't exactly redeem the prequel trilogy, it's a perfectly fine first film in the the discriminating fan's Star Wars movie marathon. Fox's two-disc DVD release of Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith features a flawless anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio, up to the standards we can expect from a Lucasfilm product. Supplements include a commentary with writer/director George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, and others, the documentary "Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III," featurettes "It's all for Real: The Stunts of Episode III" and "The Chosen One," six deleted scenes, an Xbox game demo and trailer for "Star Wars Battlefront II," a game trailer for "Star Wars: Empire at War," a still gallery of production photos, galleries of one-sheet posters and the outdoor print campaign, Web documentaries, trailers, TV spots, DVD-ROM content, and Easter eggs. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Alexandra DuPont

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