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THE EXTRAS FILE

George Lucas' sweet 'Revenge'

Fine commentary and meaty documentaries help this two-disc set wrap up the 'Star Wars' saga in fine style.

November 01, 2005|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Digital editions of the first five "Star Wars" films have been a cut above the ordinary thanks to comprehensive, fast-paced behind-the-scenes documentaries and informative commentary from producer-writer-director George Lucas and his creative team. Fans won't be disappointed with the two-disc set of the final installment in the sci-fi opus: "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" (Fox, $30).

An exemplary commentary track with Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, animation director Rob Coleman, and visual-effects supervisors John Knoll and Roger Guyett highlights the first disc. The second features several deleted scenes (including one with actress Bai Ling); a featurette on the stunt work; a short documentary, "The Chosen One," in which Lucas traces the myth and legend of Darth Vader through all six episodes; and "Within a Minute," a lengthy, engrossing documentary that examines the complex production by concentrating on the final light-saber battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin. Hosted by McCallum, the documentary pays tribute to the behind-the-scenes crew -- from the animators to the editors to the office assistant to the director to the caterer, all of whom worked to make that climatic sequence come to life.

Rounding out the disc are 15 mini-documentaries originally created for the Internet, a music video, production photos, trailers, TV spots, and poster and print campaigns.

Also new this week:

"Millions" (Fox, $28): After making the gritty "Trainspotting" and "28 Days," director Danny Boyle shows a softer side in this heartwarming story of two boys who accidentally become the recipients of a cache of stolen British pounds the week before Britain is to switch to the euro. Extras include affable featurettes and commentary with Boyle and screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce.

"Heights" (Sony, $25): James Ivory and the late Ismail Merchant produced this ensemble drama set in Manhattan. Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Jesse Bradford star. Newcomer Chris Terrio directed. The digital edition includes Terrio's video diary and engaging commentary between the director and Close.

"Two for the Road" (Fox, $15): Stanley Donen directed this exquisite 1967 romantic drama that chronicles the ups and downs in the lives of a married couple (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney). Frederic Raphael wrote the insightful screenplay, and the lush score is one of Henry Mancini's best. Extras include a restoration demonstration and passable commentary from Donen.

"The War of the Worlds -- Special Collector's Edition" (Paramount, $15): Three weeks before Paramount releases Steven Spielberg's version of the H.G. Wells classic on DVD, the suspenseful 1953 adaptation arrives in a new special edition that includes Orson Welles' landmark 1938 Mercury Theater radio version, plus a retrospective documentary and charming, nostalgic commentary with stars Ann Robinson and Gene Berry, who have remained close friends.

Far less enjoyable is "War of the Worlds -- The Complete First Season" ($30), the cheesy late-'80s syndicated show that starred Jared Martin ("Dallas").

"Fame -- The Complete First Season" (Sony, $50): The blockbuster 1980 movie musical about students at New York's High School of Performing Arts inspired this 1982-83 NBC series. Thereafter moving to syndication, it remained on the air through 1987. There are no extras on the four-disc set.

"Orchestra Wives" (Fox, $15) Peppy little 1942 musical worth watching because the popular band leader Glenn Miller is one of the stars and the Nicholas Brothers -- Harold and Fayard -- perform one of their gravity-defying dance routines. George Montgomery, Ann Rutherford and a young Jackie Gleason star. Rutherford and Fayard Nicholas offer sentimental commentary.

"The Rains Came" (Fox, $15): Tyrone Power, George Brent and Myrna Loy headline this glossy 1939 melodrama based on Louis Bromfield's novel set in the fictional city of Ranchipur, India. Power plays a handsome Indian doctor who falls for a married Englishwoman (Loy) with a shady past. The still impressive special effects won an Oscar. Anthony Slide and Richard Birchard supply fact-filled commentary.

"The Dick Cavett Show -- John Lennon & Yoko Ono" (Sony, $25): Three episodes of Cavett's late-night talk show feature the former Beatle and his wife in 1971 and '72. In the 1971 chat, Lennon and Ono talk about their experimental films, his new haircut and the breakup of the Beatles. In the '72 installment, the two talk of their impending deportation. Cavett introduces the episodes and discusses the duo in a recent interview.

What's coming:

Nov. 8: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Nov. 15: "Madagascar," "The Skeleton Key," "Stealth," "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" and "The Edukators"

Nov. 22: "The War of the Worlds" (2005), "The Polar Express" and "The Honeymooners"

Nov. 29: "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "March of the Penguins," "Sky High," "Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo" and "Murderball"

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DVD sales

Here are the 10 top-selling DVDs for the week ending Oct. 23. Ranking are compiled from a variety of major retailers, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Circuit City and Tower.

1. "Batman Begins: Deluxe Edition"

2. "Kingdom of Heaven"

3. "Cinderella: Platinum Edition"

4. "Unleashed"

5. "Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story"

6. "Land of the Dead"

7. "Robots"

8. "The Amityville Horror"

9. "The Longest Yard"

10. "Kicking and Screaming"

Source: DVDExclusive.com

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