Revenge of the Sith appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Like Clones, George Lucas opted for 1080p digital cameras to shoot Sith, a factor that limited its potential.
Sharpness became the main moderate weakness, as the overall image lacked the clarity one would expect. Though most of the movie demonstrated nice clarity, enough mild softness emerged to create some distractions.
I saw no jagged edges or edge enhancement, and shimmering failed to occur. No source defects appeared either, so the movie was always clean and fresh.
Since Sith took place in many different settings, it offered a great deal of visual variety. That meant a broad palette that encompassed lots of vivid hues.
From the searing reds of Mustafar to the lush jungle of Kashyyyk to all points in between, Sith boasted dynamic hues that popped off the screen. The colors consistently looked great, as the disc’s HDR brought out terrific range and impact.
Blacks demonstrated mostly good depth, though they could feel a bit crushed at times. Shadows were clear, so low-light shots depicted solid delineation of the elements.
The disc’s HDR boosted contrast and whites to a satisfying degree. While aspects of Sith looked very good, it wound up as more than a little inconsistent.
I awarded “A+” grades to the audio of both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I hate giving “A+” grades but couldn’t see anyway around it in regard to those excellent mixes.
Did the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Revenge of the Sith match up with its predecessors? In a word – yup.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Sith featured the same audio production team as its predecessors, and that consistency showed with its smooth and seamless soundfield. From start to finish, the movie demonstrated a broad affair that utilized all the available channels. That didn’t mean it was stupidly active, though, as it backed off appropriately during the film’s quieter dialogue sequences.
When it needed to kick into higher gear, though, the soundtrack was more than up to it requirements. The mix contributed a strong sense of place at all times and made the various settings come to life. Occasional examples of directional dialogue occurred, and the score offered a dynamic presence with good stereo imaging as well as support from the surrounds.
Of course, the effects created the best parts of the track, and they worked exceptionally well. All the many action sequences offered great definition and scope. They also blended smoothly and came together quite nicely.
If forced to pick my favorite sequence, I think I’d go with Obi-Wan’s battle against General Grievous. Both their saber fight and their chase opened up the spectrum very well and turned into a demo-worthy scene.
No problems with audio occurred. Speech was crisp and natural, and I noticed no intelligibility problems or edginess. Music was bright and bold throughout the movie, as the track replicated John Williams’ score well.
Effects depicted the expected levels of detail and aggression. They were lively and accurate as they presented strong definition.
Highs sounded concise and tight, while lows were rich and firm. There was virtually nothing about which I could complain, as Sith ended the Prequel saga with yet another standout soundtrack.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2011? The Atmos audio added a bit more involvement and warmth, though there was only so much it could do to improve an already amazing track.
As for visuals, the HDR became the most appealing part of the 4K, as it brought real impact to the colors, whites and blacks. Otherwise, the limitations of the 1080p source meant only minor growth in terms of other domains. I liked the 4K more than the BD, but don’t expect revelations.
The set mixes DVD and Blu-ray extras, and we find two audio commentaries. The first comes from the original DVD and features director/writer George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and ILM visual effects supervisors Roger Guyett and John Knoll.
Although the commentary remains fairly screen-specific - the speakers clearly watched the movie as they spoke - most of the participants appear to have been recorded separately. I get the impression McCallum and Guyett sat together but the rest remain on their own, though I could be mistaken.
Two subjects dominate: story/characters and visuals. That breakdown makes sense given the work done by the participants as well as the nature of the film itself.
Lucas provides quite a lot of good notes about the plot, the roles, and connected elements. He gets into a nice discussion of how the whole six-part saga fits together as well as character concerns, story points, homages, allusions to other flicks, and general production notes.
He even offers a humorous explanation of why it took so long to build the first Death Star. Lucas provides the strongest material in this track.
Not that the others were chopped liver. They offered good notes about technical challenges and the movie’s design choices. Some good trivia appears along with the nuts and bolts of creating the effects and issues connected to the visual decisions. Another very good commentary, this one ends the series well.
New to the Blu-ray, a second commentary collects material from archival sources. This one features George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, Ben Snow, John Knoll, production designer Gavin Bocquet, composer John Williams, costume designer Trisha Biggar, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard and actors Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Temuera Morrison, Anthony Daniels, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Jimmy Smits, Samuel L. Jackson, Silas Carson and Christopher Lee.
As was the case with the other two archival prequel commentaries, this one uses outtakes from the sessions for the 2005 DVD and mixes them with other interviews. The various elements combine well.
The commentary hits on a lot of the same general topics discussed in the 2005 piece, but it adds new details and alternate perspectives. As always, it’s good to hear from the actors, and the other new participants help deliver many useful notes. This “archival commentary” serves as a solid compliment to the 2005 track and is a worthwhile listen.
Instead of looking at the broad scope of the flick, Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III concentrates on what it takes to create one minute of the film. It uses that space to look at the Mustafar duel.
The one-hour, 18-minute, 30-second show offers notes from Lucas, McCallum, Knoll, Guyett, Coleman, concept design supervisors Ryan Church and Erik Tiemens, concept artist Iain McGaig, pre-visualization/effects supervisor Daniel D. Gregoire, editor Roger Barton, editor/sound designer Ben Burtt, previsualization/effects artist Chris Edwards, production coordinator Virginia Murray, assistant Kevin Plummer, first assistant accountant Patrick Plummer, catering manager Kerry Fetzer, production designer Gavin Bocquet, construction manager Greg Hajdu, property master Ty Teiger, light saber technician Thomas Van Koeverden, makeup artist Shane Thomas, costume administrator Gillian Libbert, costume designer Trisha Biggar, actors Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, swordmaster/stunt coordinator Nick Gillard, first assistant director Colin Fletcher, third AD Samantha Smith, script supervisor Jayne-Ann Tenggren, director of photography David Tattersall, “B” camera operator Simon Harding, “A” camera operator Calum McFarlane, high definition supervisor Fred Meyers, video split operator Michael Taylor, boom operator Rod Conder, sound recordist Paul “Salty” Brincat, location assistant editor Jason Ballantine, location apprentice editor John Briggs, assistant editor Jett Sally, technical supervisor Michael Blanchard, visual effects executive producer Denise Ream, production coordinator Nina Fallon, visual effects producer Janet Lewin, production assistant Brian Barlettani, layout artist Brian Cantwell, matchmove supervisor Jason Snell, animator Charles Alleneck, digital matte supervisor Jonathan Harb, digital matte artist Brett Northcutt, digital effects artist Philippe Rebours, CG supervisor John Helms, sequence supervisor Willi Geiger, digital model artist Kelvin Lau, practical model supervisor Brian Gernand, model maker Lorne Peterson, effects director of photography Patrick Sweeney, rotoscope supervisor Beth D’Amato, compositor Conny Fauser, supervising sound editor Matthew Wood, foley artist Jana Vance, sound editor/re-recording mixer Tom Myers, and composer John Williams.
“Minute” discusses what the producer does, the script, concept art, Steven Spielberg’s involvement, and pre-visualization. From there it gets into the work of the Sydney production office, catering, production design and construction of sets and props, hair, makeup and wardrobe, performances, stunts, levels of directing and script supervision, cinematography, audio, editing and reshoots.
The show concludes with a look at all sides of visual effects, practical models and motion-control photography, rotoscoping, compositing and music. We also check out the final screening and some valedictory notes.
“Minute” truly gives us a look at every facet of the production. With information about elements such as catering and production offices, it’s hard to imagine any topic upon which the documentary doesn’t alight.
The depth of the information becomes a different matter, though. At its best, “Minute” can really dig into the subjects with nice detail and depth. These allow us to gain a real appreciation for the enormous scope of the production and just how many folks it takes to create a movie as complex as Sith.
However, this diversity can be a negative at times. Occasionally “Minute” feels more like an annotated credit reel than an actual documentary. Parts of it offer little more than names of participants and images of them.
Take that as a minor criticism, though. I like the concept of “Minute”, and I think it offers more than enough detail to make it worthwhile. It’s definitely a nice variation on the standard “making of” documentary, and it provides an unusual and informative look at the production.
Two parts of The Journey combine to fill a total of 12 minutes, 33 secondswith remarks from Lucas, McCallum, Jackson, Carson, Daniels, McGregor, Christensen, and actors Liam Neeson and Frank Oz.
Part 1 looks at the conclusion of the series and the Sith premieres, whereas Part 2 goes to fan gatherings and circa 2005 plans for the future of Star Wars. Both feel fluffy and fairly superficial.
An Episode III Visual Effects Breakdown Montage gives us a succession of “before and after” shots from the film. The four-minute, five-second piece seems compelling as it lets us quickly watch the progression of these scenes.
Next comes the one-hour, 23-minute, 59-second Star Warriors. It examines the 501st Legion, a world-wide fan group that focuses on the creation and use of accurate movie-related costumes. Lucasfilm needed a few hundred stormtroopers to march in the Rose Parade, so they dug through 501st Legion volunteers. We get to know some of these folks, follow the selection process and view the results.
There’s a nice way to look at such dedicated fans, and there’s a nasty way. Since “Star Warriors” appears on an official Star Wars release, you’ll probably guess that it goes the first path. Sure, it shows that the members of the Legion tend to be pretty nerdy, but it lets us view them as real people and depicts the positive actions of the 501st.
“Warriors” is probably too long for this kind of piece, and it loses a lot of steam when it gets the participants to California for the Rose Parade. While it was fun to get to see the fans in real life, the preparations for the event become tedious. That makes “Warriors” a bit of a chore to finish, but it’s interesting to get a better look at these diehard partisans and worthwhile for its first half or so.
After this we get Star Wars Tech. It goes for 45 minutes, 36 seconds and delivers info from John Goodson, Rob Coleman, Lorne Peterson, scientist/author Jeanne Cavelos, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Deep Space 1 project manager Marc Rayman, UC-Irvine Associate Professor of Physics Michael Dennin, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Terrestrial Planet Finder Project physicist Kurt Liewer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory propulsion engineer Todd Barber, UC-Irvine Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology James H. Fallon, human robotics engineer Jay Martin, UC-Irvine Laser Spectroscopy Facility director Wytze van der Veer, and MIT Media Lab Robotic Life Group director Cynthia Breazeal.
The program looks at the real-life science connected to the fantasy of the Star Wars universe. This offers a fun glimpse of technology.
The show discusses a mix of different areas as it lets us know what’s semi-realistic based on our current science and what’s far-fetched. It’s an interesting take on an intriguing topic.
For Sith’s Interviews, we get a total of 25 minutes, 40 seconds worth of footage. We find remarks from John Knoll, Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, concept design supervisor Ryan Church, practical model supervisor Brian Gernand, and visual effects supervisor Roger Guyett.
These cover visual design and sets, cameos, various effects, stunts and action, characters, and some discarded ideas. Again, the pieces are enjoyable, especially when we hear about altered/unutilized set ideas and Steven Spielberg’s involvement in the film.
15 Deleted Extended Scenes occupy a total of 43 minutes, five seconds. With the most ample collection of cut sequences from any of the three prequels, we find plenty of interesting material here. Little of it seems revelatory, though “Yoda Communes With Qui-Gon” comes close to that level.
The rest tends to concentrate on unused fight sequences, and those are all fun. One even boasts design work from Steven Spielberg. I suspect that these weren’t explored because they would’ve made the movie too long – it’d push three hours with all this footage – but they’re still a delight to see.
With that we head to Sith’s Collection. This 49-minute, 42-second compilation delivers examinations of “Separatist Cruiser Concept Model”, “ARC-170 Starfighter Concept Model”, “Jedi Starfighter Concept Model”, “Count Dooku Lightsaber”, “Palpatine Gray Trade Federation Costume”, “Anakin Costume and Headset”, “Boga with Obi-wan Maquette”, “Utapau Sinkhole Maquette”, “Utapau Landing Platform Maquette”, “General Grievous Maquette”, “Tion Medon Costume”, “Obi-wan Lightsaber”, “Anakin Lightsaber”, “Mustafar Landscape Maquette”, “Burnt Anakin Head”, “Wookiee Tree Maquette”, “Felucia Maquettes”, “Chewbacca Costume”, “Darth Vader Costume”, “Imperial Officer Costume (With Coat)”, and “Imperial Officer Costume (Without Coat)”.
This area’s “Video Commentaries” bring notes from John Goodson, Robert Barnes, Danny Barnes, Trisha Biggars, Don Bies, Brian Gernand, Richard Miller, Gillian Libbert, creatures supervisor Dave Elsey, and costume props supervisor Ivo Coveney.
As with prior movies’ “Commentaries”, these offer a great take on the design and creation of the various ships, props and costumes. They’re a delight to see.
Not found on prior DVD or Blu-ray releases, Conversations runs five minutes, four seconds and features Star Wars historians JW Rinzler and Pablo Hidalgo.
They discuss a few alternate paths the saga could’ve taken. This sounds good on paper but we don’t get a lot of “lost threads” here.
Rinzler reappears for Discoveries from Inside, a three-minute, 21-second featurette in which he chats with film archivist Monica Chin-Perez. They go through the Lucas film archives in this mildly interesting tour.
How history will view the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy remains to be seen. However, it seems likely that Revenge of the Sith will go down as the strongest of the three. While it suffers from some of the same flaws that marred its two predecessors, it packs much more of an emotional wallop and ends the series well. The 4K UHD presents excellent audio and supplements, whereas visuals look good within the constraints of the source. Sith remains a satisfying conclusion to the Prequels.
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