George Lucas's Episode III - Revenge of the Sith is a satisfying conclusion to the prequel trilogy, filled with the sort of visually mesmerizing spectacle and imaginative thrills expected of the franchise. The third chapter finds refuge on Ultra HD with a good-looking 4K HDR10 presentation, a demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack and an impressive set of bonus features. The overall package makes a Recommended addition to the UHD library.
With Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas finally delivers on a Star Wars entry that feels like an actual Star Wars movie, something more in line with the franchise's space opera aesthetics. After suffering through two chapters of muddled political debates and mawkishly bad dialogue, the concluding chapter in the prequel trilogy arrives with the sort of visual excitement and imaginatively mesmerizing spectacle expected of the fantasy series. The third installment is ultimately the payoff to the constant world-building and debatable character development endured in the previous films. As noted by Padmé, the death of democracy is a slow, painful process that ironically ends in a roar of applause. But while our heroes experience the Republic's downfall as sudden collapse, we've seen its ruin slowly chipped away over a span of decades in bureaucratic games masterminded by Darth Sidious.
To be perfectly honest, it's not a very good movie — falling somewhere in the middle of the series for me — primarily due to Hayden Christensen's performance as Anakin Skywalker, really hammering in the wounded, immature brat to some frustratingly irritating levels. However, looking at it from a wider scope and understanding of a larger character arc, how and why he is seduced by the dark side of the Force interestingly makes Anakin a tragic anti-hero, one where his ambitious desires dictate his decisions, clouding his ability to see the pain he causes those closest to him, like Padmé and Obi-Wan Kenobi. But what ultimately makes this a strong entry in the Star Wars universe and a good popcorn feature is Anakin's metamorphosis into the iconic Darth Vader simultaneously giving rise to the fascist rule of the Galactic Empire, a movie where Lucas is not afraid to go incredibly dark and anti-climactic.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment brings Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via RedeemDigitalMovie.com or MoviesAnywhere, users have access to the 4K digital version in Dolby Vision HDR with Dolby Atmos audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, which is identical to the 2011 Blu-ray containing all the bonus material. Both discs are housed inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy, lightly-embossed slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a static screen where owners can choose between the start of the movie or look through an animated menu screen.
Similar to the first two movies on Ultra HD, Episode III was shot entirely on digital film using Sony's CineAlta HDC-F950 cameras with a max resolution of 1080p HD, which again shows some limitations inherent to those elements. Reportedly, the 2K digital intermediate was uprezzed to a new 4K DI and used for creating a strong, generally pleasing HEVC H.265 encode, making it the best-looking entry of the prequel trilogy on UHD.
Although the difference over the Blu-ray version is comparatively small, the upscaled 2160p transfer nonetheless reveals a welcomed uptick in the costumes, hairs, various spacecrafts and in the production design. Even the CG visuals hold up decently well despite a good amount looking softer and occasionally blurrier than its best moments. Also, the positives are sadly hindered by wobbly shakiness along the sharpest edges while the application of DNR remains fairly evident in many areas, sometimes making faces appear waxy and smooth, and there are several instances of visible posterization in dialogue-driven scenes.
On a more positive note, unlike its predecessors, the HD cameras used on this production are actually capable of 10-bit color depth, providing the HDR10 presentation with better color reproduction than its HD SDR counterpart. Granted, the improvement in secondary hues is admittedly nuanced and mild, but action sequences such as the volcanic planet of Mustafar notably benefit with more bombastic, fiery oranges while Windu's lightsaber glows a deeper violet. Reds are more sumptuous with a wider range, and the blues in lightsabers and scenes on Coruscant have an appreciably richer shine.
Overall, the 4K video is also a tad brighter than the Blu-ray thanks to the boosted contrast, supplying the visuals and CG action with hotter, more intense whites. However, the small increase from a limited 2K source leaves behind some distracting blooming that frequently washes aways the finer details, especially in scenes with the sun brightly shining in the background. Specular highlights, on the other hand, are crisper and more radiant, making a majority of the picture relatively pleasing. Black levels also appear richer and truer with silkier, darker shadows, providing the 2.39:1 image with some appreciable depth, but visibility within the darkest corners are only slightly above average with a couple minor instances of crush, particularly in Palpatine and Anakin's robes. (Video Rating: 72/100)
Although the video offers only a small step-up over the Blu-ray, the concluding chapter in the prequel trilogy, at least, sounds freaking fantastic thanks to a marvelous, demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack that immediately erupts in the opening battle sequence. As Obi-Wan and Anakin maneuver and speed to General Grievous' ship, laser blasts and explosions fill the entire room. A little later, as the two Jedi land on Coruscant, the chaos of electrical noise sparkling and popping everywhere circle the listening area. As the movie continues, other atmospheric effects pan between surrounds and overhead with convincing effectiveness, but action sequences, such as the lightsaber fight on Mustafar, provide an immersive hemispheric soundfield with discrete mechanical sounds and fiery eruptions bouncing in every direction.
Meanwhile, imaging maintains an outstandingly broad and spacious soundstage with impressive channel balance, as background activity fluidly leaps into view, off-screen or into the top heights for a highly-engaging half-dome effect. Amid the loudest, chaotic segments, the design exhibits excellent clarity in the highest frequencies and an exemplary, dynamic mid-range that supplies John Williams' score with appreciable better warmth and fidelity. Vocals are consistently distinct and very well-prioritized, and an occasionally commanding but overall robustly impactful low-end provides a fantastic, couch-shaking rumble. (Dolby Atmos Audio Rating: 96/100)
For this UHD edition, most of the bonuses from previous releases are ported over and spread across a pair of accompanying Blu-ray discs.
Blu-ray Disc One
Blu-ray Disc Two
After begrudgingly suffering through two movies with cringe-worthy dialogue and mind-numbingly boring political bickering, George Lucas finally delivers a Star Wars entry that falls more in line with the rest of the series in Revenge of the Sith. Filling the screen with the sort of visually mesmerizing spectacle and imaginative thrills expected of the franchise, Episode III closes the prequel trilogy with a well-earned bang and satisfying conclusion. The third chapter finds refuge on Ultra HD with a good-looking if still somewhat hindered 4K HDR10 presentation but an even better, demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack, offering a notable upgrade over its Blu-ray counterpart. Porting over much of the same bonuses as previous releases, the overall UHD package makes a recommended addition to the library.