September 15, 2004

Some Things You Should Know About the Star Wars Trilogy DVD Set

So the original trilogy is finally coming to DVD. But wait, this isn't your daddy's 1977-1983 theatrical version...nor is it the 1999 Special Edition. This is an updated and retouched Special Edition, or maybe we should just call it the Current Edition since Lucas seems hell bent on updating these films every chance he gets.

Okay, I was very bitter after seeing the Special Edition. I've purchased every edition of the films that had been released up to that point, from the original VHS, the widescreen VHS boxed set, and the digitally remastered VHS widescreen. But the Special Edition really angered me for some reason, maybe because some of the effects were so terribly bad: Jabba the Hutt showing up in Episode IV, also Greedo shooting first and Han's jerky head movement to dodge the shot.

There were also some things very nicely done in the Special Edition, most notably the X-Wing fight in Episode IV was brought up to "attack speed" (now the effects match the other films) and the addition of windows in the cramped Cloud City hallways of Empire.

All is not lost, perhaps this DVD release is a new hope after all :-) I actually took some time to do some research, and came up with some interesting data.

Okay kids, let me break this down movie by movie...

Episode IV - A New Hope (or, as we old fans know it, simply Star Wars):
This one got the most changes, just like in the Special Edition. But considering this was shot using 2001: A Space Odyssey style effects, this film needs the most help fitting in with the other films. A lot of changes are small, such as the scene with Luke's Landspeeder entering Mos Eisley. I'm assuming they kept the ring around the exploding Death Star (added in the Special Edition).

Han Solo meets Greedo - now they shoot practically simultaneously (as opposed to Solo shooting first in the original version, or Greedo in the Special Edition). Also, Han's entire upper body now shifts slightly to avoid the shot.

Han Solo meets Jabba the Hutt - looks like they used the digital Jabba from Episode I, which looks a lot better than the digital claymation from the Special Edition...or the fat guy in the furs from the original (cut) footage!

Lightsabers - they're all redone to look more like the newer films. This is cool, especially in the final fight (in the original version there's one shot of Obi-Wan's lightsaber where it looks like a fiber optic tube).

Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back:
I'm assuming they kept all the Cloud City windows added in the Special Edition, but can't find anything on that.

Emperor - not only is his hologram reshot with actor Ian McDiarmid (who plays the Emperor in all the other movies), but there's also a small dialogue change:
EMPEROR: surmises that "the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star" is the son of Anakin
VADER: "How is that possible?"

Boba Fett - they changed the voice, using actor Temuera Morrison (who played Jango Fett in Episode II). Presumably this is because he's a clone...or maybe Lucas has decided there are "no smoking" laws throughout the Empire, so his voice shouldn't be so raspy. I don't know and have no idea if I'll like this change.

Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi:
As unpopular as this film is (except with me, I've always had a soft spot for this one), the changes here are most likely to piss off sensitive Star Wars fans. No word if they removed Boba Fett's Shemp-like screech as he falls to his doom, if they kill more Ewoks, or if they redid the infamous "gout of fire" that erupts when the Super Star Destroyer plunges into Death Star II. Alas, I suppose even modern digital effects can't breath life into the cold, glassy eyes of an Ewok...

(speaking fo Ewoks...everyone knows about the 3 drunk Jawas sitting outside the Cantina in Star Wars. Apparently there's a stoned Ewok in Jedi. Hey, he's taking a hit off a pipe, has glass eyes, and starts be the judge!)

Darth Vader's face - now he's got no eyebrows! I suppose they did this because Anakin's supposed to be badly burned (in a lava pit...after hearing that for all these years, it better damn well be a lava pit!)

Celebrations - at the end of the film, they added the Senate and Jedi Temple into the Coruscant shots. They also added a celebration on Naboo, though hopefully this is a view from far overhead. If given the choice of glassy-eyed Ewoks beating on Stormtrooper helmets or a bunch of Jar-Jars wagging their tongues, I choose the Ewoks!

Anakin's Ghost - in perhaps the most radical change, the "old man" Anakin ghost has now been replaced by a ghostly Hayden Christensen, sporting his new Episode III look. I guess this is how he looks before he falls completely to the dark side...

If you want some links with more information and photos (the second one has lots of photos), go to these links:

The Digital Bits
Movie Web


Blogger Rothar said...

As every DVD fan knows, there are Easter Eggs (hidden features) on most discs...and these are no exceptions!

First off, each movie disc has 3 different menu pictures that appear randomly when you insert the disc. But if you want to see them all, try entering the following codes during the "ATTENTION" (the warning) screen:
#1 = the "audio" button
#2 = the "2" button
#3 = the "10+" then "2" (or "12") buttons

But even better yet, on the Bonus disc there's a gag reel. Go to the Video Game & Still Gallery menu, then enter the following (to remember this sequence, think "THX-1138"):
- the "10+" then "1" (or "11") buttons
(a small box next to R2-D2 should light up)
- press "3"
- press "8"

Finally, also on the Bonus disc, there are outtakes during the credits of the Characteres and Lightsaber featurettes.

7:54 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

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11:08 PM  

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