Enjoying Star Wars for the ‘first’ time. The Saga on Blu-ray.

Posted: September 16, 2011 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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Taking some horror time out, what seems like a long, long time ago I opened up my Star Wars Blu–ray Saga set expecting a cardboard fold out like the Alien set, however, I was surprised to find them (the UK release at least) stacked like a book of blue plastic. From the off I should state it’s not the originals it’s the reworked 2004 with ‘some’ tweaks.
There’s some nice are work on each of the discs and as a bonus behind a little booklet with some more nice artwork I found concealed a Limited Edition Sentiype that contains a unique 35mm film. The film frame is mounted on postcard (right) that features the artwork from the Star Wars Blu-ray box. The Senitype is numbered for authenticity. A nice surprise as I didn’t realise it came with the set that was ordered.
Limited Edition Sentiype
The biggest problem with the set is not the 2004 updated effects (hated by diehard fan boys of the original) still light-years better than the 1997 release. But the real dilemma is which do you watch first? IV- VI then I-III. Mix it up a little as flash backs and forwards watching I,IV,II, V and so on or watching the documentaries first then the films. Oh my I am a Star Wars geek after all.
The menus look great and the bonus discs are broken up into films and sections, with headings – Hoth, Tatoonie, Endor and so on. Make sure you push left on the remote as it’s easy to think there’s no more, but the menus revolve round revealing more sections. In those sections are the deleted scenes, concept galleries, documentaries and so forth.
Even though there are three discs of extras what I would say is hold on to your original DVD’s if you have them and are a fan of extras as not everything has been shifted over. The Blu-ray is not a definitive collection which is a shame given that the majority of extras are of standard DVD quality. I don’t think it would have hurt to slap everything on.
The package
The first bonus disc covers I Phantom Menace – III Revenge of the Sith, the second New Hope – VI Return of the Jedi and the third disc includes spoofs, a 2010 doc about Empire, Dewbacks and more. Interviews are short and end abruptly. In the Star Wars there’s a handful of deleted interesting scenes including Biggs and an unknown male and female with Luke debatably drunk. You can’t help feel sorry for those actors in the deleted takes who may have gone onto do other things if they’d been included. There’s a very short snippet of an old woman on a dusty road and black a white rough cut of the Cantina that includes Han kissing a woman. If included this would have added three more women to George’s at the time predominantly male world of Star Wars.
There’s a lot of new stuff notably the aforementioned Empire documentary with Lucas, Kasdan and Kershner (R.I.P) , the fly through the Lucas ranch and archives are quite insightful. There are tones of documentaries that give you a broad insight into the making of the Saga over the three discs.
In any case I waited for the sun to go down to avoid glare on the screen and popping in Star Wars I got quite excited. The picture is great and new details are uncovered that could not been seen in other formats. Jabba still looks odd but sits into the scene better and to be honest his inclusion solidifies Hans motivation to leave in the final act. The Han who shoot’s first is corrected and doesn’t look out of place. There’s some new changes to this Blu-Ray notably R2-D2 hiding further behind newly inserted rocks, Obi-Wan’s Krayt Dragon call and some audio changes in the Yavin battle – none of which spoil the fun.
R2-D2 change
However, picture wise the Tatooine scenes are a mixed bag and a good as can be expected but Star Wars really kicks into eye-popping gear on the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star with vibrant colour, great depth and contrast. There are still some inconsistencieswhen Luke is using the lightsaber but the training laser ball now looks spot on. You notice how worn and dirty the Falcon is dispelling that everything is glossy in the world of Lucas. That said, the Death Star is pristine, reflections on the board table, shinny floors, glowing and flashing lights. The scene with old Ben switching of the tractor-beam, humming noises and green lighting are humbly exceptional. As too is the duel the lightsabers now corrected. The whole rescue to the final explosion has never looked so good, probably better than in 1977 theatre.

Watching Star Wars on Blu-ray felt fresh, it took me off autopilot, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the dialouge and action along with my children and enjoying Star Wars a lot more than I had in a long time. For some reason Star Wars had turned into a journey that you do so often you can’t remember the journey itself and Blu-ray injected something new. (and I’m not a Lucas film employee!)
Biggs where are the women?
The best thing is that my children want to watch them and I’m sure that their children and their children’s children will too. Despite the changes to Star Wars it has never looked so good and until something better than Blu-ray comes along this is it geeks.
Now I just have to decide which one to watch again next.

There’s an easter egg of sorts. ‘easy to miss. It’s a Boba Fett cartoon from the ‘Holiday Special’
1. Go to Disc 8, Episode V
2. Go to Pursued By The Imperial Fleet
3. Go to Collection
4. Go to Boba Fett Prototype Costume
5. Watch “First Look”

Watching the Boba Fett cartoon from the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s clear that when Lucas said he’d changed the original trilogy editions because he couldn’t do things at the time and had always intended the additions he wasn’t doing a Pinocchio. For example, the flying searching droids that aid the Stormtroopers which appear in the special editions are also are present in the 1978 cartoon. Conforming that Lucas wasn’t just adding things on a whim. Kudos to the beard.

Picture notes:

Phantom Menace – while the picture quality is adequate it lacks clarity especially in some shots on Tatoonie. New CGI Yoda looks impressive, with a tone and look more true to Empire than what’s offered in still the excellent incarnation in II and III. (As a side note in the Naboo forest and in the desert Ewan still looks particularly odd with his ever changing hair and weight.)

Attack of the Clones – fairs a lot better than PM but at times the effects around the live characters leave a glowing blur.

Revenge of the Sith – excellent clarity, it looks the crispest of the bunch most likely due to lessons learned on the first two and that it was shot digitally.

New Hope – as mentioned Tatoonie segments differ from shot to shot but is excellent while in space. Music queues and sound are fantastic.

Empire Strikes back – as well as can be expected. Details are brought out for the first time.

Return of the Jedi – oddly the worst of the of the bunch, some scenes look mucky with a lot of noise that lack clarity. That’s said, the briefing scene amongst others look really good.

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