Star Wars: The Complete Saga Review
At last we come to it: The Complete Star Wars Saga has arrived on UK Blu-ray, containing all six movies and three bonus discs. You'll find my thoughts on the two trilogies of films at the links below, but to briefly recap, the prequels have good video and outstanding audio, while the originals are a bit more restrained, especially in the sound department. The extras on those sets are limited to audio commentaries, so if you want all the newly released goodies then this Complete Saga edition is the one for you.
Click the titles to see the reviews:
Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy 3-disc Blu-ray set
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy 3-disc Blu-ray set
So, what do we have in terms of extras? Discs 7 and 8 of the Complete Saga are the Star Wars Archives, covering the prequels and the originals respectively, while disc 9 is devoted to Documentaries & Spoofs. The content on platters 7 & 8 has been divided up by movie, but instead of simply lumping the interviews, deleted scenes etc. into their own sections it's all been laid out according to the planets or locations seen in each film, e.g. for Episode IV we get Tatooine, the Death Star and Yavin. It seems like a curious way of doing things but it gives you a good sense of continuity, starting off with one part of the movie and then moving on to the next. Each Archive disc gets the same Fly-Through of the Lucasfilm Archives, which is a quick look at the items stored on the Lucasfilm Ranch. The menu interface for the Archive discs is surprisingly clunky though, and makes the elaborate menus from the DVD seem simple in comparison. Thankfully there is a simple 'Play All' feature for each planet, which will reel off the selected features in a single hit and avoid the frustrating menus.
Each locale is examined through several different aspects: Interviews uses new & archival footage to give an overview of a particular setting, as well as additional interviews with the actors and filmmakers. Deleted/Extended Scenes is a fairly obvious description of what to expect, and while the stuff for the originals is like gold dust, the bits for the prequels are less exciting, hampered by incomplete effects which means swathes of uninteresting bluescreen. The Concept Art Gallery is an ever-present for each planet, containing production sketches, paintings, early/unused concepts, matte paintings etc. so I'll only draw attention to it below if something really warrants it.
There is a final section called The Collection, and this last one is perhaps the most interesting of the lot. For this Blu-ray release, Lucasfilm have gone back to the archives and dusted off several props, puppets, miniatures, maquettes and costumes, plus we get a closer look at some matte paintings seen in the original movies. They've been shot in HD to provide a detailed 360° turnaround (where applicable), and various angles have also been photographed in close-up for your perusal. Most - but not all - have been given a video commentary, featuring newly-recorded interviews with the people chiefly responsible for the fabrication of the item, which plays with a small PiP overlay of the 360° shot in the bottom right corner of the screen. These short video commentaries also feature lots of on-set video of the items in action, including some amusing outtakes that don't appear anywhere else on this set. Hayden's camp "Oooh, I hate you!" while made up as crispy fried Vader is an instant favourite.
Disc 7 - Prequel Trilogy
Coruscant includes an Overview which explains the design challenges, and an Interview With George Lucas, 1994, recorded as he started work on the film. There's one Deleted/Extended Scene, Bail Organa of Alderaan, a very short look at Adrian Dunbar's excised role which was of course recast with Jimmy Smits for the later prequels. The Collection features turnarounds of the following: Coruscant Air Taxi Model (first seen in the 1997 SE of Episode VI), Queen Amidala's Senate Costume, her Pre-Senate Address Costume, and the Senate Guard Costume. The Concept Art Gallery contains some interesting production paintings which mimic Ralph McQuarrie's unique style.
In the Naboo section we have the Overview, covering the gorgeous style of the planet and a two-minute Liam Neeson Interview, some of which was reused for the audio commentary. For the Deleted/Extended Scenes we get some Trash-Talking Droids who badmouth the Jedi as they board the Trade Federation cruiser; The Battle Is Over, where a Naboo soldier tells the Queen that the droid control ship has been destroyed, and Anakin's Return, as the Naboo fighter pilots are amazed to discover it's little Anakin who blew up the Federation ship. The Collection includes sections for: Jar Jar Maquette, Trade Federation Battleship Model, Republic Cruiser Model, Queen Amidala's Throne Room Costume, Full-Sized Battle Droid, Naboo Starfighter Model, Sando Aqua Monster Maquette, Darth Maul's Costume, and Palpatine's Shuttle Model.
Last up is Tatooine, which features the obligatory Overview explaining how they wanted it to differ from the original movies, plus two quick interviews with Rick McCallum about the Podracers and Filming in Tunisia. In the Deleted/Extended Scenes we get the Battle on the Boarding Ramp, a short extension to the Qui-Gon Darth Maul fight on Tatooine, and an Extended Podrace Wager which adds a little more meat to Qui-Gon's podrace bet with Watto. The Collection covers the Queen's Royal Starship Model, Eopie with Anakin Maquette, Watto Maquette, Sebulba Maquette, Dud Bolt Puppet, Anakin's Podracer Model, and Darth Maul's Sith Speeder Model.
We return to many of Episode I's locales in this second chapter, starting with Coruscant. There is of course the Overview, detailing how they wanted to show us a darker, funkier side to the planet, and a Ewan McGregor Interview where he tells us about seeing Star Wars as a kid. What it's got to do with Coruscant, I've no idea. The Deleted/Extended Scenes feature an Extended Speeder Chase which is a brief extension to the existing scene, and The Lost Twenty, where Jedi Librarian Jocasta Nu briefly explains to Obi-Wan why Dooku left the Jedi Order. The Collection includes a Dexter Jettster Maquette, Zam Wesell's Speeder Model, Youngling Outfit, and Zam Wesell's Costume.
Naboo also gets another visit, and the Overview explains how the look of the planet has changed. The Deleted/Extended Scenes contain Anakin's Nightmares, as he dreams about his mother en route to Naboo, and once there we get a short, stilted dialogue scene between Anakin and Ruwee, Padme's father. The Collection features a Shaak Maquette, Anakin's Peasant Costume (with and without cloak), and Padme's Peasant Costume (with and without cloak).
The Overview for Tatooine features more chatter about how the design of the planet was elaborated upon. The Collection features C-3PO's Costume, Tusken Raider Woman Costume, and Tusken Raider Child Costume. There are no deleted scenes in this section, which is odd because I was hoping to see Threepio get given his grey coverings by Padme (he was originally shot as the skeletal version seen in Episode I). Owen Lars also gives the droid to Padme during that scene, reasoning that he was Anakin's to begin with, and this explains why he just flies off with them in the finished film. So, there's no sign of it as a deleted scene - and yet we see plenty of footage of that very scene being shot in the video commentary for Threepio's costume! Perhaps Tony Daniels wanted too much cash to let the actual scene be used? Also, there's no sign of the bit where Anakin discovers the bodies of the search party who went looking for his mother. Strange.
Finally we have Geonosis, the droid foundry planet run by giant termites, and in the Overview they talk of the design challenges of reconciling nature and technology. In the Hayden Christensen Interview he briefly talks about the fight choreography, and in Blue Screen Acting Christensen and others explain the difficulty of acting in front of that infernal blue backing. The single Deleted/Extended Scene is the Raid on the Droid Control Ship and Extended Arena Fight, which I had seen before and thought was on the DVD, but it's not (I must've seen it on StarWars.Com a while back). It sounds like an exciting scene, and with the effects in place I'm sure it would be. Ultimately it's just a few people swinging sticks around on a bluescreen stage. The Collection is chock full of goodness, including a Geonosian Maquette, Acklay Maquette, Nexu Maquette, Reek Maquette, Padme's Trip to Geonosis Costume, Jango Fett's Costume, Super Battle Droid Maquette, Geonosis Arena, Republic Gunship Model, and Clone Trooper Model.
Coruscant once again gets an Overview, this time covering the various Lucasfilm/ILM cameos in the film, and they also explain that the opening space battle was set in the planet's upper atmosphere to give it a different look. In the Samuel L. Jackson Interview we hear from him about the genesis of his purple lightsaber and just how happy he was to have Mace go out the way he did, kicking the Sith's ass all the way. In the Deleted/Extended Scenes we get some friendly banter between Obi-Wan and Anakin in Elevator Antics, as well as what would've been another elaborate effects sequence in Escape Through the Hangar. There are some surprisingly overt political moves from Palpatine in Changes to the Constitution. The Collection features a Separatist Cruiser Model, ARC-170 Model, Jedi Starfighter Model, Count Dooku's Lightsaber, Palpatine's Trade Federation Costume, and Anakin's Costume.
Episode III features several new planetary locations, first of which is Utapau, a sink-hole planet used as a hideout by the Separatists. In the Overview the effects supervisors discuss the means and methods used to realise the enormous sink-holes. There's one Deleted/Extended Scene but it's a doozy: the Utapau Chase Animatic was overseen by Steven Spielberg, the 'berg eager for some hands-on experience with animatics, and the result is a thrilling - if crudely rendered - 8-minute version of the Obi-Wan/Grievous chase. There's some stunning action in there, one shot involving Grievous' monocycle ploughing through a passenger train, and a familiar-looking sequence where Obi-Wan is pulled behind Grievous' cycle. (Indy being dragged by the truck in Raiders immediately springs to mind.) The Collection covers the following: Boga with Obi-Wan Maquette, Utapau Sinkhole Maquette, Landing Platform Maquette, General Grievous Maquette, and Tion Medon's Costume.
Mustafar is another new planet seen on-screen, although Star Wars fans have been dreaming of its existence for many years. The design process is covered in the Overview. In the Natalie Portman Interview she elaborates on what drives her character and what informs her performance of Padme. The two Deleted/Extended Scenes are similar to the Utupau chase in that they're basic animatics, but again they feature some cool stuff which didn't make it into the movie, like Anakin using the Force to send a surge of lava towards Obi-Wan; there's a Mustafar Duel Animatic and a Mustafar Duel/Lava River Animatic. The Collection features Obi-Wan's Lightsaber, Anakin's Lightsaber, a Mustafar Landscape Maquette, and a very sticky look at the grisly Burnt Anakin Head.
Kashyyyk and Order 66 get an Overview in which we're told that the legendarily awful Holiday Special actually informed the look of the Wookiee's homeworld in Episode III, and we also get a hint of more involvement from Senor Spielbergo in the Order 66 sequence. There are various Deleted/Extended Scenes for this section. Kashyyyk Attack and Order 66 Animatic highlights the fate of more Jedi during the Emperor's purge, including one who gets stomped on like a bug by a troop carrier. Anakin Kills Shaak Ti is self-explanatory. Jedi Imposters at the Temple is an interesting little bit where Clone Troopers disguised as Jedi try to fool Anakin and Obi-Wan outside of the Jedi Temple. It's not very interesting visually, which is why it was changed for the final version where regular Clone Troops attack, but there is a funny line from Obi-Wan. Senate Duel Animatic is a preliminary version of the Yoda/Emperor duel. Yoda Communes with Qui-Gon is a brief look at Yoda's mind-meld with Qui-Gon Jinn, although it was dropped early enough so that Liam Neeson never recorded the dialogue for it. Shame. The final Collection for the prequels features a Wookie Tree Maquette, Felucia Maquettes, Chewbacca's Costume, Darth Vader's Costume, and an Imperial Officer Costume (with or without coat, the coat making the Nazi allusion strikingly apparent).
Disc 8 - Original Trilogy
We start off where it all began on Tatooine. The Overview takes in Ralph McQuarrie's surprise at actually seeing his paintings made into a movie, and Dennis Muren and Ben Burtt reel off a few anecdotes. In the Mark Hamill Interview he talks about what it was like working with Alec Guinness (this material is also used in the archival commentary for the movie). The Anthony Daniels Interview goes over Threepio's peculiar relationship with Artoo. There's a treasure trove of stuff in the Deleted/Extended Scenes. Tosche Station is 5 minutes of pure geekery as we see Luke meet his friends, including Biggs (but there's no sign of any power converters). This footage has been seen before on old Lucasfilm CD-ROMs but it's great to have it here in 2.35 widescreen and in 1080p HD, albeit mega-scratchy (the same is true of all the OT deleted material). Old Woman on Tatooine is a bizarre shot of an old woman waving her hands in the air as Luke presumably zooms past on his landspeeder. Aunt Beru's Blue Milk is a short shot of Beru filling up a glass with this legendary beverage. The Search for R2-D2 is a brief look at the back-projection landspeeder scenes. Cantina Rough Cut is 7 minutes of utter awesomeness presented in black-and-white, featuring lots of different creatures and Han canoodling in a corner with a ladyfriend. Stormtrooper Search is some extra footage of troops searching Mos Eisley. The Collection features the Landspeeder Prototype Model, Millenium Falcon Prototype Model, R2-D2, Tatooine From Orbit Matte Painting, Jawa Costume, Tusken Raider Mask, and Ketwol Mask.
Once we're Aboard the Death Star, we get an Overview with Ben Burtt wibbling on about making his precious sound effects. Carrie Fisher Interview: in this archival piece Fisher discusses her role with her usual candour. The single, short Deleted/Extended Scene is Darth Vader Widens the Search. The Collection includes: Death Star Prototype Model, Holo-Chess Set, Bridge Power Trench Matte Painting, and Luke's Stormtrooper Torso.
For the Battle of Yavin Dennis Muren recounts what it was like to shoot the Death Star attack sequence in the Overview. The sole Deleted/Extended Scene is Alternate Biggs and Luke Reunion, which includes Red Leader's reference to Anakin that was edited out for the 1997 Special Edition. For the Collection there are sections for the X-Wing Fighter Prototype and Final Models, Y-Wing Prototype and Final Models, TIE Fighter Prototype and Final Models, Darth Vader's TIE Fighter Model, X-Wing Pilot Costume, Death Star Laser Tower Model, and Yavin 4 Matte Painting.
In the Overview for the ice world of Hoth, Dennis Muren explains that he wanted to do more of the effects work in-camera, hence the predominance of stop-motion in the film. George Lucas on Editing The Empire Strikes Back, 1979 is an archive interview in which he explains his love of editing and why it's like building a house. Kersh tells us about his lead actors with his usual grace and intelligence in the Irvin Kershner Interview. In the Deleted/Extended Scenes there's more gold. Han and Leia: Extended Echo Base Argument adds a clumsily-scripted extension to the argument seen in the movie. Luke's Recovery is additional black-and-white footage of Luke thrashing about in the Bacta tank. Luke and Leia: Medical Center is a very, er, close moment between the two which is interrupted by Threepio. No sign of the shot with Luke wearing a Bacta mask though. There's a selection of Deleted Wampa Scenes which show how they tried to build up the attack by the ice creatures, but the suit was so laughable the entire sub-plot was cut. In The Fate of General Veers we get a short animatic as Hobbie takes out Veers' AT-AT with a suicide attack. The Collection covers the AT-AT Walker Fallen Model, Snowspeeder Model, Tauntaun Maquette, Rebel Transport Model, Hoth Landscape Matte Painting, Leia's Hoth Costume, and Han Solo's Interior Hoth Costume.
The expansive London set built for Dagobah is touched upon in the Overview, and we also learn of Frank Oz' approach to performing the unique character of Yoda. In George Lucas on the Force, 2010 he explains the deeper philosophy behind the Force during a writing session for the Clone Wars CG cartoon. We get one Deleted/Extended Scene, which is Yoda's Test: the little fella levitates a silver bar for Luke to chop up with his lightsaber. For the Collection we get Yoda's Model, Luke's Severed Head, Dagobah Bog Matte Painting, Dagobah Matte Painting, and Luke's Tan Costume.
As Han and Leia get Pursued by the Imperial Fleet, the Overview has Dennis Muren talk about the design challenges of the asteroid chase. In the Deleted/Extended Scenes we're shown more of the Falcon Hiding in the Asteroid as Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher react to "explosions" while the camera shakes and Kersh yells "BANG!" off-camera. Alternate Han and Leia Kiss is a slight extension to their embrace aboard the Falcon, with Leia going in for another smooch before Threepio ruins the atmos. The Collection covers the Star Destroyer Model, Millennium Falcon Model, Space Slug, Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Model, Star Destroyer Hull Model, Executor Bridge Matte Painting, Boba Fett's Prototype Costume, Imperial Officer Costume, and Rebel Cruiser Model.
Boba Fett's Collection piece comes with a unique 'First Look' video: the entire 19-minute animated segment from the infamous Holiday Special which first introduced us to Fett. It looks pretty good in terms of video quality (4:3 SD), which is an added bonus.
Last up for Episode V is Cloud City, where production designer Norman Reynolds talks about the architecture of the city in the Overview. The Deleted/Extended Scenes show us Lobot's Capture as Lando's aide gets nabbed by some Stormtroopers. For the Falcon's escape we get a little extra as Leia Tends to Luke, and we hear the name Boba Fett spoken for the first time in a Star Wars film. The Collection features the Twin-Pod Cloud Car Model, Cloud City Models, Cloud City Matte Painting, Cloud City Landing Platform Matte Painting, Cloud City Core Vane Matte Painting, Core Vane Platform Matte Painting, Lando's Bespin Costume, and Slave I Matte Painting.
Tatooine makes its final appearance in the Star Wars movies and the Overview looks at the production design for Jabba's palace and how they wanted to go for a more filthy, seedy look. Deleted/Extended Scenes include the legendary Vader's Arrival and Reaching Out to Luke, a near-complete sequence with music and effects where Vader contacts Luke using the Force, and young Skywalker is shown tooling up with his brand-new lightsaber. Tatooine Sandstorm is another long-lost scene, and while it looks impressive there was no need for it in the finished film. The on-set dialogue recording is virtually inaudible over the blowing fans, so this sequence is subtitled. The Collection covers the Rancor Maquette, EV-9D9, Salacious B. Crumb, C-3PO's Head, Jabba's Palace Matte Painting, Sarlacc Pit Matte Painting, Leia's Boushh Costume, Leia's Slave Costume, Lando's Skiff Guard Costume, and Jabba's Radio Controlled Eyes (the rest of his latex body having been sadly lost to time, just like the original Yoda puppets).
For the forest moon of Endor, the Overview features Dennis Muren explaining how the superb speeder bike chase was put together. In the Harrison Ford Interview the laconic actor talks briefly about Lucas' drive and determination (some of this is reused for the archival audio commentary for the movie). The single Deleted/Extended Scene is the Rebel Raid on the Bunker which sees our heroes encounter more resistance as they storm the shield generator. The Collection includes the AT-ST Walker Model, Speeder Bike, Imperial Shuttle Model, Ewok Hang Glider Maquette, Imperial Shuttle Landing Matte Painting, Endor Landing Platform Matte Painting, Ewok Costume, and Biker Scout Costume.
Finally we have the Death Star II Space Battle, and we get a bit of chatter about how the second Death Star was much more complex to shoot than the first in the Overview. For the Deleted/Extended Scenes we see Jerjerrod's Conflict as the Moff incurs the wrath of Vader and wrestles with his conscience when he is told to blow up Endor by The Emperor. Battle of Endor: The Lost Rebels is nearly 10 minutes of cockpit footage as actors and creatures are fed lines off-camera. The first pilot is hilariously bad, although she actually ended up the film dubbed over with a man's voice! Some of the lines are pretty funny too. The last Collection of this set includes a B-Wing Fighter Model, TIE Interceptor Fighter Model, Death Star Under Construction Model, Imperial Shuttle Bay Matte Painting, Admiral Ackbar's Costume, Death Star Docking Bay Matte Painting, and Millennium Falcon in Hangar Matte Painting.
Disc 9 - Documentaries & Spoofs
The last disc contains an array of documentaries and featurettes, most of which present the Star Wars universe from a different perspective than simply how the movies were made. This is an uneven collection of material, some of it at odds with Lucasfilm's claim that they didn't want to rehash existing extras. They've gone so far as to not include any of the video-based features from previous DVD releases, fair enough, but having the old TV special 'Making Of's seems like an obvious flaw in their logic. The kindest way of looking at this platter is that it's designed to complement the DVD features instead of replacing them.
Star Warriors is an 84-minute standard-def look at the members of the 501st Legion, a not-for-profit organisation of real-life action figures who have thousands of members all over the world. I was initially very dismissive of this piece when I heard about it, thinking that it was simply there to pander to the cosplay crowd. It does that of course, but more importantly it tells the story of a group of 501st members handpicked by Lucasfilm to march in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in California, which precedes the prestigious Rose Bowl College Football game. We get introduced to several people from the US and beyond, and they go through an X-Factor style recruitment process as Steve Sansweet of Lucasfilm reviews their audition videos, complete with nerve-wracking waits for the call to come from Sansweet (who's head of fan relations at Lucasfilm). We then see them get put through their paces as they train for the parade, and then comes the big day. Some moments are quite touching which balances out the über-nerdiness on display, and it's a surprisingly worthy addition to this set.
Star Wars Tech examines Lucas' world with an eye firmly on the scientific possibilities, looking at spaceships, lightsabers, prosthetic limbs and much more besides, presented in 1080p HD. It's not the worst 45 minutes you'll ever spend in front of the TV, but it's all a bit redundant because this is Star Wars, not Star Trek. The latter has a heavy focus on technology, while in the former the technology is there to simply serve the story, not to be a crucial part of it. We don't need to know how the Falcon's hyperdrive works, it just does. If it stops working for whatever reasons, Artoo is on hand to stick a probe into a panel and get it working again, without the reams of technobabble that's part of the Star Trek world. Star Wars is space opera, not science fiction, so the real-world ramifications of this stuff is something that I doubt many fans will care about. I certainly don't.
Star Wars Spoofs does exactly what it says on the tin. This 97-minute feature strings together a succession of comedic clips culled from a variety of sources, and the 1080i HD picture quality is just as variable. While some of this footage is undoubtedly funny you can find most of it on the internets easily enough, and at over 1½ hours it starts to grate after a while. And after all the recent Lucas-sanctioned spoofery from Robot Chicken and Family Guy, I'm left to wonder if Lucasfilm are going too 'meta' for their own good. Occasional spoofs are fine, but push it too far and then people really will believe that all this stuff is a joke. Lucasfilm should be a bit more wary of protecting the wider legacy of this iconic series.
Anatomy of a Dewback is a featurette from 1997, looking at Lucasfilm's efforts to create the titular digital creature for the Special Edition version of Star Wars. It's very much a micro version of the larger process undertaken to restore the movie for its 20th anniversary, and seeing a feature dedicated to that is pretty cool. We get to see how meticulously Lucasfilm has archived its wares, and this makes a mockery of Lucas' claim that the originals don't exist any more. The show is letterboxed within a 4:3 frame and looks like a VHS copy, I kid you not.
A Conversation With The Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later is a 2010 sit-down featuring George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams, presented in 1080i HD. It's a shame that more was not made of Empire's 30th anniversary, not least because director Kershner has sadly passed on, and Johnny Williams isn't getting any younger. The meagre 25-minute running time of this feature is a disgrace, but what can you do? Let's just be grateful that Lucasfilm have given us this much, which is an interesting look back at Empire (bits of these interviews are re-used in the video commentaries for Empire on Disc 8).
The trio of classic 'Making Of' documentaries are always worth a viewing and include The Making of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX and Classic Creatures: The Return of the Jedi. The presentation is a bit kitsch but that's to be expected, and the wealth of behind-the-scenes footage makes them valuable historical artefacts. Seasoned fans will no doubt have seen these before (they were included in the limited edition VHS 'Executor' boxset in the UK, for example) but they'll be an interesting discovery for the casual viewer. The 4:3 standard-def picture quality is as creaky as you'd expect, yet in some ways it adds to the charm.
But for all the goods on display here, it's a damned shame that the superb DVD documentaries weren't included to provide a serious yin to the Blu-ray's more informal yang. The Beginning, which chronicled the making of Episode I, is as candid a feature as you'd ever expect to come out of Lucasfilm, and Kevin Burns' Empire Of Dreams, about the making of the originals, is wonderful. Instead we've got Weird Al Jankovic's tribute to Episode I. Sure, it's not like our DVDs will self-destruct, but without those features this Blu-ray set doesn't represent the definitive account of the making of the movies. It was never posited as such, I'll grant you that, yet having to keep our DVDs still leaves a sour aftertaste. All of that standard-def material could've fitted on a BD50 with plenty of room to spare (note that disc 8 is only a single-layer BD25) and the wealth of new material would've balanced any concerns Lucasfilm had about repeating themselves.
While the Archive discs for each trilogy are undoubtedly fascinating, featuring many hours worth of material - you'll be amazed at how many miniatures were used for Episode I, and the deleted scenes from the originals are terrific - the prequel deleted scenes are something of a missed opportunity. None of the fully post-produced scenes from the DVDs have been carried over, which would've been great to see in HD, and the new set of prequel scenes haven't been given such lavish treatment which dulls their impact greatly. Not including any promotional material at all is another misstep, because seeing posters, production photos, trailers and whatnot in HD would've been fantastic. It's more fodder for a future version, methinks.
Well, there you have it. George Lucas' timeless space saga has made it to Blu-ray, but not without some controversy. Purists will bemoan not only the continued absence of the theatrical versions of the original films, but also the fact that Lucas has tinkered with them yet again. That aside, the power of the originals to entertain is still very much in evidence, and the put-upon prequels are nowhere near as bad as the average disgruntled fanboy would have it. Picture quality is a mixed bag, the inconsistency of the originals leavened by the technical prowess of the prequels, and the same is true of the sound quality across the six films.
The extras are another point of contention. Lucasfilm has unearthed some rare gems from their archives, there's no doubt about that, but they've totally ignored existing content which would've benefitted from the HD upgrade. The disc of documentaries is a similar story, presenting a more light hearted - some would say dumbed down - view of the Saga and its effect on people, in lieu of the production-oriented approach of the DVD documentaries (which are sadly absent from this set). A balance between old and new is not too much to ask for; the producers of the Alien Anthology were happy to include archives of existing materal stretching back to Laserdisc, never mind DVD.
But at the end of the day it's Star Wars on Blu-ray which will be enough for most people, and there's still a wealth of new extras to explore, so I can't be too harsh on that front either.
Last updated: 12/07/2018 16:51:08