The Blu-ray Files #012
This is the second part of my two-part review of the Star Wars Blu-ray set. In the first part I talked about the prequel trilogy and now I will be discussing the original trilogy.
Alright, I’m going to start by discussing the bantha in the room: changes. Of course, many fans are getting up in arms about more changes to their beloved movies. It happened with the special edition theatrical rereleases in 1997, then again with the DVD releases. Those changes are just awful, especially the ridiculous song number in Jabba’s palace and Jabba’s appearance himself in episode 4 (bad because Jabba looked horrible, and also because it just repeated word for word many of the lines we just heard in the Greedo scene). The DVD additions were also devastating to Star Wars memories, like replacing Boba Fett’s voice and throwing in Hayden Christenson as Anakin’s ghost at the end.
I really wish Lucas could leave the films be, or at least provide us with bth versions of the film like Close Encounters did with its Blu-ray package. With that, putting the changes that have already been made aside, the new changes for this set are very minimal. I think there is only two: Ben Kenobi’s sound to care away the sand people is different, and Vader says “no” at the end of Jedi. both are stupid and pointless changes, but ultimately very small. I would say if you’ve made peace with the changes in the DVD set, don’t let further changes dissuade you since there’s really not much to it this time around. (still though, the classics should still be available…)
Now on to the individual movies:
Star Wars – So how does the very first Star Wars movie look on bl-ray? Fantastic, that’s how. The picture looks really clear and sharp. For a movie from 1977, it looks damn near new. The surfaces of the Falcon and the Death Star look incredible and really bring a sense of realism that hasn’t existed in home theater presentations of this film before.
The audio quality is also very good. However, it does sometimes feel like the musical score is overly strong compared to the dialogue which is maybe a little too weak. I felt like they could have been balanced better. But the musical fanfare is certainly fuller and more complete than is has been since the theaters. Overall, I have to say I am extremely happy with Star Wars on blu-ray.
I usually don’t talk about special features on these blu-ray reviews, but I have to mention the deleted scenes on disc 8. Its pretty cool to see these released for the first time. There’s one in particular where Luke goes to Toshi station to meet his friends which is of particular note. Now, I would never want the scene in the movie as it just wouldn’t fit, but its pretty neat as a compendium to get a little insight on how the Empire and the Rebellion are viewed from an outside point of view.
The Empire Strikes Back – Empire also looks amazing on blu-ray, perhaps even better. This is just a visual feast. The landscapes of Hoth look particularly fantastic. One thing which really shined for me when watching these was how well the colours were brought out, whether its the clothing of the Hoth generals, or the lush greens of Dagobah, or the purple hues of Cloud City, the colours were outstanding. Details in the picture was also very high, especially in the Dagobah scenes. The mud of R2 felt very tactile and I was even able to pick out snakes and lizards among the scenery I had never noticed before. The audio imbalance of the first film also seems to be corrected here. This is one fantastic looking and sounding film in high definition.
And as for deleted scenes, I have to mention the hilarious scene where Wampa’s attack Echo Base. I have no idea how they planned to fit this in and explain it, but its a riot! It looks very much like a b-movie horror. Its quite amusing.
Return of the Jedi – Jedi isn’t as impressive as the first two features. It seems to have slightly softer edges and images, though only slightly. I was expecting big things from Endor and its beautiful locations, but wasn’t as wowed as I had hoped to be. With that said, the final space battle is amazing in high def. It truly is a feast for the eyes and ears.
Overall I must say that I am very happy with this blu-ray package. Two things would have made it better: including the branching technology of other DVDs to include all multiple versions of the films ( a pipe dream, i know), and individual cases for each movie in the packaging (which is a personal pet peeve, I realize). But the visual and audio presentations of the films are nothing short of spectacular and are a massive upgrade from the DVD set, well worthy of such great classic films.