Star Wars Episode 3:(Fox Home Entertainment, 11.1.2005)
Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith is a return to form for George Lucas. Not a perfect film by any stretch, but an excellent "bridge film," joining the inconsistencies of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones to the legendary original trilogy. In tying the six films together, Revenge of the Sith also manages to improve each film in the series. I highly recommend watching all six films together, back-to-back if possible.
In this context, The Phantom Menace comes off as an unnecessary opening but, once Attack of the Clones gets rolling, you'll be in a for an unexpectedly smooth ride, right through to the conclusion of Return of the Jedi. Links can now be made across generations of narrative. Family trees can be fleshed out, and the significance of the original trilogy can be considered against Lucas' attempt to create an epic back-history for the galaxy he first envisioned nearly thirty years ago.
Revenge of the Sith also confirms that, if the original Star Wars trilogy was about blue collars, Lucas' new trilogy is about blue blood. While not battling stormtroopers or outrunning star destroyers in the original films, farmboy Luke and scoundrel Han attempted to transcend their hick pedigree and win the heart of a princess. But by the time The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, Lucas had become Hollywood royalty himself and so his interest shifted to the aristocracies that make up his own real life universe.
When watching the films consecutively, the transition between the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith and the beginning of A New Hope is a cultural hiccup that's hard to miss, but that's to be expected. Lambchop sideburns aren't big in 2005. Neither are non-CGI special effects and creatures made out of foam. In 1977, sideburns and foam were the standard. The most fashion savvy foam creatures even sported foam sideburns. It was a simpler time.
As thorough as this 2-disc release is -- audio commentary, six deleted scenes (including completed effects), several featurettes and full length documentaries -- we all know that it might as well have the words "out of print" stamped on its cover. Who knows how many times Lucas will re-release this film? The 3-disc box set with Menace and Clones is the obvious next step, followed by a 6-box deluxe edition of the entire series. Then we can look forward to Lucas altering the new films like he did the old ones.
Having said this, I'm convinced that Lucas will eventually remake his original trilogy, if only to ensure that his vision of the six films as a whole becomes as smoothly coiffed as his immaculate duck tale hairdo and pristine gray beard. The original trilogy is already threatening to become the Michael Jackson of movie facelifts, having been given a serious overall in 1997, before being tweaked once again for DVD release last year.
In a postmodern sense, Lucas has turned the fate of his films into the fate of his most tragic figure, Anakin Skywalker. He's giving his movies so many CGI facelifts that the original trilogy will eventually be "more machine than man" (to steal Kenobi's summary of Vader), unrecognizable to itself as it was released in the late '70s/early '80s. I'm only curious to see how much he will alter his new trilogy. The Phantom Menace could use a "fix me up," but Revenge of the Sith is an accomplished work as is. George Lucas should be proud. -- Jason Woloski