Revisionist History of the Star Wars Universe

Journal - Reviews

Star Wars Original Trilogy DVDs

DVD Review

Star Wars: the Original Trilogy


We've all seen the Star Wars movies time and time again, but the new DVDs released are literally a sight to behold. Of course, the main problem with them is that they are released as the 'Special Edition' that was released in theaters back in the mid 90s. Not only that, but the revisionist history continues with even further changes to the films that, for the most part are completely unnecessary. I'm not saying that Lucas doesn't have the right to do whatever the hell he wants to his films. I'm just saying that it was not a good idea to do so.


Not as much so as seeing the films projected on the big screen, but still, the special additions tend to stand out as glaring aesthetic problems. I'm not sure if ILM and Lucasfilm decided to hand over this project to interns, but the quality of special effects is dramatically lacking. The new Jabba introduction in a New Hope, has a better -- or more accurately -- larger Jabba computer generated model, but it still looks like a horrible plastic model. The new landscape shots in all three movies look and feel like they were lifted from Toon-Town in Roger Rabbit. Except the characters in Roger Rabbit were animated with more realistic motion. They could also have taken a tip from a Nintendo Game Cube to learn to create a computer generated space ship that is actually integrated into the scene without looking like it flew straight out of Zaxxon.


The additions that work the best are the sky replacements and additions of subtle background elements. For all the things they spent so much time on to 'fix', I still question why all the space ships still have translucent boxes around them. It seems simple enough to go in and repair, even if frame by frame. At least FINALLY Darth Vader's light saber is lit when he walks towards the closing doors after defeating Obi Wan.


I'd probably give the DVDs four enthusiastic stars if they were the original versions. That's even taking the contrived Return of the Jedi into account -- I mean, it's still a great movie. Just a bad Star Wars movie. But, since it's the Special Editions, that rating plummets, and plummets HARD. I actually have a hard time watching them. They are distracting and do not flow as well. What does bring the rating back up, though, are the special features.


Star Wars Original Trilogy DVDs

All the special features on the fourth disk are well worth watching, but the Ken Burns documentary, 'Empire of Dreams' is truly what makes this set worth buying. It's a 2 1/2 hour long film detailing the History of Star Wars, but in a finely tuned structure with hours of interviews. I can only hope that when the inevitable HD DVDs come out for the 30th anniversary in a few years, that they are finalized and include the detailed behind the scenes information that geeks like me really enjoy, as the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVDs did.


So here's the breakdown:


Star Wars DVDs: ****+

(-2) Greedo Shoots First: **

(+1) Ken Burns: ***


Total: ***