Blu-ray ‘Star Wars’ set hits many generations

by Tish Wells

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

21 September 2011


Relax, fans, Han still shoots first.

(On bonus disc 2, in the deleted scenes.)

“Star Wars: The Complete Saga” has been released on Blu-ray. It is the latest version offered from Lucasfilm aimed at multiple generations of viewers, and should score with them all.

In “The Complete Saga,” watchers can travel back to the beginning of the “Star Wars” story, before it was all planned out. Here a young George Lucas admits that “making a film is like buying lumber” but it’s the editing that makes it (the lumber) into a movie. Here, the late director Irvin Kershner talks about actors Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and their work ethic and what they bring to the saga.

Those who watched it in 1977 can walk back through history with “The Making of Star Wars” documentary while younger viewers will enjoy backgrounders from “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones” and “Return of the Sith.” Here “Phantom Menace” star Liam Neeson discusses his part as a Jedi.

For a new generation this is a new way for them to see “Star Wars.” Generations before them grew up with the toys, video games and Monopoly. They’ve collected the stickers, talked their parents into buying Halloween costumes, seen an R2-D2 fish tank bubbling away. They may even have gone to a science-fiction convention like Celebration to meet the actors or gawk at a ‘droid that blows bubbles.

Lucas continually explores and works his concepts of the saga, giving his hardcore fans heartburn. He used the 1997 “Star Wars: Special Editions” for the Blu-ray, which includes the change the classic cantina scene in which the iconic anti-hero, Han Solo, a smuggler played by Ford, shoots a threatening alien, Greedo, after the alien shoots at him. In the original “Star Wars,” Solo shot first — thereby cementing his reputation as a very bad dude in a cantina full of blaster-carrying evildoers. The change caused much controversy among fans.

A highlight is an hour and a half’s worth of parodies and spoofs from television shows such as “The Simpsons,” “How I Met Your Mother” and a priceless 1977 segment from “Candid Camera.” A segment from 2008’s film “Fanboys” is included as well as musician “Weird Al” Yankovic’s ode to “The Phantom Menace.”

Looking at the original “Star Wars” footage on Bonus disc 2’s deleted and extended scenes makes it clear that Lucas made a good decision to restore their colors in digital. They are faded and scratched. Many of the older clips are in black and white. They will take you back to a time long ago when the fantasy on screen was created by frame-to-frame stop-motion animation, cantina costumes were made a day before and worn by many of the crew, and filmmakers used matte paintings to portray alien worlds.

In the end, though, is it worth buying another set of the “Star Wars” films even if they are on Blu-ray? For many, yes. Lucasfilm keeps up with the times and the release is in the newest format — which may lead to owners upgrading the firmware in their Blu-ray players.

Will there be another version? Of course. “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” is planned to be released in theaters in 3-D.

Topics: star wars
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