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"Star Wars: Complete Saga" - {Bluray}-(Samantha)
Reviewer:
Samantha Isler
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre:
Sci-Fi
Release Date:
September 16 2011
Special Features:

Director Commentary; Cast Commentary; Conceptual Art; Production Interviews; Costume and Prop Exploration; Deleted Scenes; Collected Documentaries; Star Wars Spoofs Compilation

Review:

Star Wars is a cultural staple and if you don't know the story, you either live under a rock or you're Amish. Sure, maybe you don't like/haven't seen the trilogy (in either case, you should probably check and make sure your humanity is intact), but you know it. It has basically shaped the movie-making industry and pop culture since "A New Hope" was released in 1977. Han Solo kick started Harrison Ford's career, which I think we can all agree is a pretty big deal. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia...did nothing for actors Mark Hamill or Carrie Fisher, but that's okay, too. The visual effects were cutting edge--George Lucas founded his own effects studio just so the techniques used in the film could be invented.***

Being a college student studying English Literature, I cannot pretend the story is original or perfect (twincest plotholes, anyone?). But it's so compelling and imaginative and witty and charming (thanks in large part to a scruffy-looking nerfherder) that I very willingly love it with all my heart. And so should you. The long and short of it is this: Star Wars is the bomb. That is not an opinion.***

Then we've got the prequels. Decent movies unto themselves, though they can't really hit the same note as the original series. Ewan McGregor holds his own as a young Obi-Wan, and Hayden Christensen does an okay job illustrating Anakin Skywalker's turn to the Dark Side. Try as they might, though, there isn't nearly as much to love in comparison to their predecessors. ***

So here we are, with the re-release of the whole saga in Blu-Ray format. Is it worth it? Well.***

As always, George Lucas couldn't leave well enough alone and did end up tinkering with the movie. Visible crew equipment has been digitally erased, which is all well and good, but other needless CGI effects have also been added, many of which are pretty obscure. That being said, it still tends to be an eyesore if you're used to previous versions of the film (for instance, somebody has decided that Yoda needed to be computerized at random intervals). Most notorious of all, perhaps, is Darth Vader's added vocalization during the climactic scene in "Return of the Jedi."***

With the newest movies only reaching their tenth-ish birthday, there wasn't a lot the studio decided to modify. Some of the fight scenes were glitzed up and dialogue was rearranged, but there doesn't seem to be any fan rebellions rising up to defend the more recent trilogy. ***

Image and Sound:

The original series held up wonderfully under restoration, and for the most part the saga flourishes under high-def treatment. The camera work from one prequel to the next was inconsistent to begin with, and though Episode III reaches amazing levels in visual performance, Episodes I and II are edited a bit messily in an attempt to look more like the best of the three. There's some soft edges and blurriness, and though they don't reach greatness, there isn't anything terrible about them either. The original trilogy, though--well, it got what it deserved. Details that had gone unnoticed before shine in high-def, but the graininess of the original shot is still visible--in other words, it doesn't look too clean as to be unreal.***

Every one of the movies has been converted to DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 surround sound, and the change counts for everything. The score and sound effects were always an integral part of the Star Wars experience, and the effect here is nothing short of superb. Every flaw a thirty-year old movie could be expected to have has been erased, leaving the sound crisp and better than many theatrical releases. Spanish, French, and Portuguese dubs are included, as well as optional subtitles.

Special Features:

We'll just start this off by saying the complete saga comes with not one, not two, but THREE disks of special features. The first disk is dedicated to episodes I-III, the second to IV-VI, and the third is literally everything else they could think of cramming into the set. And it is organized so beautifully that every hour you spend filtering through the special features will immerse you in the Star Wars universe seamlessly.***

First off, before we even get to those glorious Bonus Disks, let me just say that every film comes with two different audio commentaries: one identical to the 2004 DVD release (featuring Lucas and his close crew), and one using clips from collected archival interviews with the cast and crew. That may seem a bit Frankenstein's monster, but the effect is actually very well edited. Even if the material has been heard before, it lines up with the action on the screen and the actors' experiences with filming those particular moments.***

Now we'll take a look at the archive disks. As said before, these two are divided by trilogy, and then broken down by location within the Star Wars universe. So you can pop in a disk and look at everything pertaining to, say, Tatooine. You'll get concept art, 360-degree views of costumes and props, and cast and crew interviews. The organization here is at a level most studios don't bother to give to special feature disks, and those small details are surprisingly noticeable. Deleted scenes from both trilogies are also on these disks, all different lengths and in different stages of production. There's an incredibly interesting cut of the Cantina scene where the actors can be heard conversing beneath their costumes. We see Han shoot first (you know, like he's supposed to). In another scene, it is even revealed that there are females in the original universe other than slave girls, Leia, and that chick in "Return of the Jedi" (these ladies are x-wing pilots, so...GIRL POWER!). ***

Then there's the third disk, packed full of documentaries. Almost all of them have been released before on tv and in different editions of the films, but this is the first time they've all appeared in the same edition. There's one produced in 2010, "A Conversation with the Masters" (25 min), which had previously been seen only at the Star Wars Celebration. Other included documentaries are "The Making of Star Wars (1977: 49 min), "Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi" (1983; 48 min), and "Star Wars Tech" (46 min), which examines the science of the Star Wars universe. There's a look at what Star Wars fans have done for charity in "Star Warriors," and the development of CGI effects in the prequels in the 26-minute "Anatomy of a Dewback." And, poking fun at itself as all great cultural icons do, the goofball fans will be delighted to watch 90 minutes of collected skits in "Star Wars Spoofs," which takes clips from Saturday Night life, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and Spaceballs, to name a few. ***

Final Words:

Hours of special features, movies you love, beautiful visual and audio updates. Why are you still here? Go get this. Now.

 

 
 
 
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