Sunday, September 25, 2005

DVD Review: Star Wars Trilogy

Okay, obviously this DVD collection isn’t new to the shelves. In fact it’s been out for almost a year now. But after debating long and hard about getting it, I finally said WTF and got the Star Wars Trilogy. (Widescreen version, of course!)

First things first: if you NEVER saw the original three Star Wars movies before, either in the theatres, on TV, or on videocassette, and if you’ve seen Episodes I and II, then hold off until Episode III comes out then get the trilogy. You would also take great pride in saying that you’re one of the few people left on the planet who have NEVER seen the original trilogy.

If your only exposure to the trilogy was when they first hit the screens in the 70’s and 80’s, then you’re going to be in for a rude awakening, because George Lucas added some tweaks in all three movies. There are some extra scenes thrown in, and in “The Empire Strikes Back” a scene is completely re-written. Han Solo doesn’t outright murder poor Greedo in “A New Hope”… now it’s self-defense. Greedo shot first… and missed.

And some of the changes weren’t even in the “special edition” releases that hit the theatres in the late 1990’s and came out on videocassette.

One such change I’ve gotta let out of the bag… at the very end of “Return of the Jedi”, the most controversial and annoying character in the whole Star Wars universe gets the last spoken words! A certain floppy-eared character cheers and says “Wesa Free! Wesa Free!” It’s a little hard to spot him because he’s so small in the scene, but his voice is unmistakable.

Changes aside, the changeover to DVD wasn’t perfect. In “A New Hope” there were some audio problems with Governor Tarkin’s meeting with Princess Leia where his interrogation of her doesn’t come out too clear. Also in the escape from the Death Star, you can still see the box-out effect around the TIE fighters, which appear as a faint square halo around the fighters as they roll. This was actually a leftover from the original movie when they first incorporated their patented special effects, but Lucas never fixed it either in the “special edition” or the DVD changeover.

But the real goodies are in the Bonus disc! Not only do you have documentaries galore, but you also have an Xbox demo game of “Star Wars: Battlefront” and the original trailers for all three parts of the trilogy, including the original teaser trailers. One teaser was for Episode VI’s original title: “REVENGE of the Jedi”, released before Lucas changed it to “Return of the Jedi”. Plus there’s a behind-the-scenes exclusive on Episode III which showed the “return” of Darth Vader, or how they had to recreate the infamous Vader outfit. And you get to see that one shot… Haiden Christensen, the actor who personified Anakin Skywalker, puts on “the mask” and becomes Vader. It’s a rare scene, but I’m sure one that Star Wars fans have been waiting to see.

Okay, here’s the skinny: this is a good box set, and I really recommend it if you’re building a Star Wars DVD collection. It’s a little pricey, but remember, this IS a box set! If you’re expecting the price to drop, you’re going to have to wait a little while longer… probably until Lucas comes out with the “Ultimate Star Wars Box Set” with all six episodes, the two animated Clone Wars discs, that rare televised Thanksgiving special, and whatever other extras are thrown in. And you KNOW that he’s going to do that at SOME point!

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