Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- Street Date:
- September 16th, 2011
- Reviewed by:
- Aaron Peck
- Review Date: 1
- September 17th, 2011
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 805 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Rated PG
- Release Country
- United States
Let me get this right out in the open in an attempt at full disclosure. I have never been, nor will I ever be, a 'Star Wars' purist. I really enjoy the Original Trilogy, and I can find bits and pieces of the prequels that I like, but overall I've never been so enamored with the movies that I hang on every bit of news about George Lucas and his endless revisions.
I would really like to avoid an internet flame war if at all possible. I understand people have intergalatically strong feelings about these movies, but I don't. I appreciate them as entertaining movies, and especially when it comes to 'A New Hope' and 'The Empire Strikes Back' I am genuinely enamored by their overall greatness in a cinematically historical context.
I start this review by discussing this, because you won't see me discussing, ad nauseum, all of George Lucas' changes for this Blu-ray release. I may mention them off-hand, but I feel they've been covered enough. I have no interest in debating digitally inserted rocks (no matter how extraneous and useless they are) or if Obi-Wan's new yell sounds completely ridiculous. Truthfully, I've reached my George Lucas Hatred Saturation Point. Do I think he's nutty for wanting to change the original movies so much? Yes. Is this whole review going to be me complaining about said changes? I sure hope not. I understand that for some, the changes are too great. Too much of an abomination to the source material that they simply refuse to buy this set. More power to them. I'm not here to say whether I think they're right or wrong, or if I even have an opinion about it.
With that said, let's get into the review…
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
This is, by far, the most anticipated Blu-ray release since the HD home video formats were introduced into the market place. The only other set of movies that I can see that will even come close to the hype surrounding 'Star Wars' on Blu-ray is whenever the 'Indiana Jones' trilogy gets released and even then it'll have a hard time topping this.
We've all watched the original trilogy (and yes probably the prequels, even though that's hard for some to admit) numerous times. The original trilogy is infinitely rewatchable. It's become an indelible slice of Americana. These movies have become so engrained in our everyday culture as Americans that you'll be hard-pressed to find someone in this country that hasn't even heard of 'Star Wars.' Yes, they're that popular.
There's a reason why they're that popular. They're so easy to fall in love with. It's a simple tale about good versus evil, which takes place in galaxies far, far away. They summon our inner geek, as we revel in the immersive 'Star Wars' universe that's been built. The characters are easy to relate to, and provide us with sufficient reason to care for their survival and success. Its villain is unmatched in all of cinema. With a good – in this case stunningly terrifying – villain nothing is impossible. We truly believe that Darth Vader is a competent, all together frightening bad guy. This adds exponentially to the danger that the protagonists are placed in, which in turn garners our wholehearted attention. In short, 'Star Wars' as a whole is damn good fun.
I'd rather not go over each and every movie in this six-part set giving an individual review for each. I'm sure you'd get bored halfway through and skip down to the technical aspects anyway. While I'll still give individual star scores for each film, this review will be split into two sections: The Original Trilogy and The Prequel Trilogy.
The Prequel Trilogy
Let's face it. The Prequels were a missed opportunity. They could have been so much more, but they're put together like Lucas was thinking about the inevitable video game rather than thinking of enriching the 'Star Wars' universe.
'The Phantom Menace' is, by far, one of the most grating cinematic experiences out there. Not only because we had such high hopes for it when the prequels were announced and eventually released one by one, it being the first, but simply because it's a bad movie from top to bottom.
People hate on Jar Jar, and I have nothing against that. His inclusion in the movie is completely flabbergasting, and after the first few lines, the character is utterly exhausting. However, Jake Lloyd, as young Anakin, is an abomination. His mere presence brings that movie and its lofty expectations way down. The podracing scene, as bloated as it is, is still overshadowed by the absolute travesty of Lloyd's acting here. Granted, most of this falls on Lucas' shoulders because he was directing the kid to act like an annoying brat.
'Attack of the Clones' and 'Revenge of the Sith,' for me, can be enjoyed on a purely unengaged plane of consciousness. They've got some cool, although way-too cluttered battles, and some fun sequences. As far as adding richness and depth to the 'Star Wars' story, they've lost me completely. The installation of Hayden Christensen is too much to take. Like Lloyd, his acting extracts you from the movie and places you somewhere where suspension of disbelief is impossible, because it's absolutely impossible to believe this is good (even decent) acting.
This is the first time I've ever watched 'Star Wars' all the way through chronologically. And I can tell you this is something that saddened me. Watching Christensen turn into Vader in 'Revenge of the Sith', and then seeing Vader in 'A New Hope' didn't have the same effect as it usually does. I felt like a little part of Vader's badassness had died. I felt like his veracity as the most fearsome villain ever had dissipated ever-so-slightly. In short, after watching 'Episodes I thru III,' and then starting the Original Trilogy directly after, I felt it actually affected the integrity of the original films.
'Episode I: The Phantom Menace': 1.5 Stars
'Episode II: Attack of the Clones': 2.5 Stars
'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith': 2.5 Stars
The Original Trilogy
I remember watching these as a kid. I remember the awe I experienced watching that Star Destroyer slowly move into the frame during the opening of 'A New Hope.' I remember being mesmerized by the lightsabers. As a child the only thing that ever held a candle to coolness of lightsabers were the Ghostbuster packs. 'Star Wars' was definitely a big part of my movie watching life early on.
'Star Wars' currently ranks number 13 on the AFI top 100 movies list. It's continued on as a cultural phenomenon despite the myriad of renovations it's gone through at the hands of its creator. Whether that ranking deals with the entire trilogy or just the first episode isn't quite clear. As I've said, what is clear though, is the fact that the original three movies are deeply embedded into the American way of life. The movies and characters are referenced on a daily basis. We all remember these movies.
Beginning with 'A New Hope' it truly felt we were entering a different universe altogether. Lucas and crew had created an engrossing movie environment that completely sucked you in. The attention to detail bordered on the insane. Life-forms that you saw literally for two seconds, ended up having names and extensive backstories (and action figure tie-ins). It was easy to get lost in the world of 'Star Wars' due to its sheer scope.
'A New Hope' introduced a wide array of characters that we'd come to know and love. Even with the drawbacks of Mark Hamill's acting, 'A New Hope' still managed to capture imaginations. The characters felt deep and resonant here. Han Solo was the universe's coolest dude, and Harrison Ford played him with machismo and bravado. An everyday macho man taking on a galactic empire. Yes, it was nice to meet our new friends, but the best thing about 'A New Hope' is that it introduced cinema's baddest villain ever. The American Film Institute might have named Hannibal Lecter as the all-time great bad guy, but all Darth Vader would have to do is look at Lecter and he'd be strangled to death.
Vader represented a villain that posed a real and imminent threat to the heroes in the story. That's what was so interesting about him. You could actually picture a scenario in which he could win, take over the galaxy, and rule with an evil iron fist. Good always triumphs, but it's always nice to have just that little bit of doubt in your mind.
While 'A New Hope' may have hooked us, it was 'The Empire Strikes Back' that really made us collectively realize just how good 'Star Wars' could be. Easily the best of the original trilogy, 'Empire' is wonderfully understated in its drama and complex familial issues.
This is where Vader really came into his own as the universe's premiere badass. 'Empire.' Stuck right in the middle, 'Empire' actually contains most of the 'Saga's heart, soul, and characterization. I remember sobbing as a kid when Han got frozen in carbonite. I truly believed he'd stay like that forever. It was a traumatic experience for me.
'Return of the Jedi' didn't come as close to perfection as the first two movies did. While there are some candid moments here, the ending always felt a little silly. The entire Ewok civilization really pulled me out of the world that had been created during the first two films. They felt too much like characters that were solely made to produce a line of toys.
However, 'Return' isn't without its moments. The scene where Vader throws the Emperor down the shaft once and for all was a resoundingly dramatic scene. A scene that has lost much of what made it great by the asinine addition of Vader yelling "Nooooo!" as he does now. Many of the changes made to the Blu-rays don't affect the movies in the grand scheme of things. We can laugh at the digital rocks and smirk at the blinking Ewoks, but this is something different. This added exclamation dims an otherwise emotional scene. It dumbs it down. Kills its energy. In essence, it lessens the entire film, since everything is building up to that point. I can get over most of the changes, but this one really hurts.
While it's nice to have the Original Trilogy in high definition, I definitely would join the chorus of 'Star Wars' lovers in announcing my hope that Lucas release the untouched original films at some point. Until then, this set will have to do. Most of the changes – to me, and I stress that because I know that other people take them far more seriously than I do – don't really affect me all that much.
'Episode IV: A New Hope': 4 Stars
'Episode V: Empire Strikes Back': 5 Stars
'Episode VI: Return of the Jedi': 3 Stars
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This packaging is actually quite slick and very shelf-worthy. This 9 – disc set comes packaged in a very sturdy Digi-book format that has slip in slots for each of the set's discs. Nice artwork adorns the pages of the book giving it a very classic look. Each disc is a BD-50. The set is kept slim and won't take up very much room at all on your shelf. It comes complete with a small booklet called "Guide to the Galaxy" which lists, in detail, all the special features on the three special feature discs. It also includes the basic information for each movie on the back couple pages.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
I thought this would be as good a place as any to list some of the much more noticeable visual changes that the 'Star Wars' films have undergone for this Blu-ray release. Some of the changes are minor, some not so much. If there are noticeable visual changes that have been tweaked by Lucas then they are listed right before each review in a bullet point.
'Episode I: The Phantom Menace'
The puppet Yoda has been replaced with a CGI Yoda which matches the one found in episode II and III. This is one of the only changes that makes sense to me.
Who would have thought that one of the prequels would end up being the worst looking one of the bunch? I didn't. Still 'Episode I' is a DNR'd mess of waxy faces, flat shadows, and murky colors.
It looks extremely dated, and in HD even more so. Almost every face in the movie is devoid of any real fine detail. Pores have been scrubbed away. Hair comes to us in giant matted masses instead of standing out individually. Blacks are flat and at times take on a bluish tint. They have no depth to them. Crushing is a standard offender, swallowing up faces, textures, and characters.
At the timestamp of 50:28 there's an extremely ugly shift in the blackness of the sky above Qui-Gon. It shifts very noticeably almost like unfinished animation is suspended above him. Very ugly. As for noise, I didn't notice any really. It's just the incessant DNR, and general flatness that really bring this presentation down.
'Episode II: Attack of the Clones'
There's a noticeable improvement from 'Phantom Menace' here. It still isn't perfect, because the picture looks like it's taken on some post-production softening that hampers overall detail. I still caught a few instances of waxy-like faces here and there, but nothing as bad as 'Phantom.'
The big improvement here is the much better looking CG. It still hasn't hit the grand look of 'Revenge of the Sith' but it's getting there. Individual hairs are now noticeable. The woven texture in Mace Windu's Jedi cloak, for instance, is visible. Blacks take on more substance here. They aren't just flat pieces of color swallowing up scenery. There are some blacks that exist in mid-range photography that are pretty unforgiving, but for the most part the blacks here are well resolved. A good example of this is in the nightclub scene when Anakin and Obi-Wan chase the bounty hunter. Crushing is still evident though, especially in the scene where Anakin and Padme sit in the room with a burning fire. Detail is lost as the shadows around them become less delineated than the other shadows we saw earlier in the movie.
Overall though, it isn't up to snuff. It's hampered by noticeable DNR. Not as much as the episode before it, but it's noticeable all the same.
'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith'
This is perhaps the best looking movie of the entire set. I was pretty blown away by the visuals here, and wondered why the two prequels before it couldn't look this good. Noise reduction seems to have been done away with. It's immediately noticeable on the faces of the actors. They aren't smeary or waxy anymore. Pores are visible. Individual hairs from heads and beards stand out perfectly. Notice the faint bumpy texture of the wall next to R2-D2 when he's fixing the elevator on the ship. This is the kind of detail I was expecting from these movies and we're finally getting it.
Explosions here are brighter, more vibrant. Oranges and reds are their own beasts. In the first two movies those colors sort of blended together. However, the contrast here is magnificent, particularly on the lava planet at the end.
Blacks are their deepest in this film, shadows are well delineated. Fine detail is optimally resolved. The CGI presented is top-notch. Even though it's far from being the best movie of the set, Episode III is definitely the best looking.
'Episode IV: A New Hope'
Digital rocks have been added, for some unexplained reason, in front of R2 while he's hiding in a cave. After R2 leaves the cave, those rocks aren't there anymore.
The underside of Luke's Speeder actually looks good.
Escape pod lid is now black instead of blue.
Death Star explosion has been color corrected and actually looks much better. It doesn't have the bright blue ring around it anymore.
We've spent so much time talking about the asinine changes that have been made to the original trilogy that we've failed to mention some of the visual changes that actually helped. I really like the color fix on the Death Star explosion. It doesn't look so amateurish anymore. The glowing blue noisy border is all but gone, replaced with a clearer, cleaner explosion.
Sadly, DNR rears its head here and there, during 'A New Hope.' It isn't as rampant as 'Phantom,' but it's enough to take stock and realize that maybe Leia's face looks a little too smooth. Check out the waxy, smooth faces that exist in the hallway scene right before they blast their way down to the trash compactor. Grain freezes every now and then, it can be spotted suspended around R2 as he roams the desert. There is some very noticeable problems with flickering and slight color timing changes as C-3PO walks across the desert.
Fine detail wavers a bit, depending on the amount of noise reduction being used. Facial detail is noticeable right at the beginning on the Rebel Guards before Vader storms in. Close-ups really are the only shots that harbor such detail though. I thought that the dirt and grime on R2's casing looked great though. That was some well resolved detail that I'd never really noticed before.
The special edition CG additions really bring the video presentation down a notch because they're already dated. The added Stormtrooper scene along with the Jabba/Han scene, aren't doing this Blu-ray version of the movie any favors. The CG is flat and has the look of early CG animation. Like I said before, if they want to keep changing stuff, how about sprucing up the stuff that looks old and outdated instead of just adding in things here and there.
With all that said, I personally thought that 'A New Hope' looked better than both 'Attack of the Clones' and 'Phantom Menace.' It has its problems, but after all was said and done I was fairly satisfied with the way it was presented.
'Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'
A few scenes have undergone color correction. Cold bluish hues have been replaced with warmer ones. This is especially noticeable when Chewy is searching for the driods.
When Obi-Wan appears it's more visible this time around.
Hoth's snow looks less blue, and has taken on a whiter more natural look, which is a big improvement actually.
The color timing changing on the snow, even though it's slight, makes a big difference when it comes to seeing the speeders against the background. It's actually one of the unsung, enjoyable changes to these Blu-ray editions.
DNR seems to have taken a backseat here, which is a very good thing. Fine detail makes a reemergence as facial details shine. Edge enhancement is light, and pretty much negligible. Textures on clothing are marvelously rendered here. This is texture that we have likely not seen in any of the other releases of these films. Take note of Chewbacca's individual hairs, or the furry whiteness of the Wampa.
Blacks are deep and satisfying. Shadows and the edges thereof, are easy to discern. This is the way that I think we all pictured these classic films looking. Now that's not to say this one is perfect either. Noise crops up every now and then. There are some minor frozen grain issues on Hoth, but if you're not looking closely for them I don't think you'll be able to spot them. This is my favorite transfer in the Original Trilogy.
'Episode VI: Return of the Jedi'
Jabba's Palace door has been replaced with a much larger CGI one.
Han Solo's carbonite thawing is now CGI. This is one of the dumber changes. As it stands now, the thawing looks silly. Light surrounds Hans and shoots out from his face, hand, and body. It's almost as cheesy as an angel awaking from slumber.
A CGI Dug has been added to the steps of Jabba's Palace for no discernible reason at all.
The Ewoks do indeed have digital blinking eyes.
When R2 has his freakout, a whole load of gadgets have been added to the picture, more steam coming from inside, and the leaking has been digitally erased. Pretty poorly I might add.
Okay, now we're back into the "Why in the world did they do that," area. Why they felt like they needed to add in even more wacky things popping in and out of R2-D2 when he has his freakout at around the 2:14:40 mark is beyond me. Why they felt like crudely erasing the liquid coming out of him is crazy. That scene looks like an amateur went to work with a crappy version of Photoshop. It really does.
I'm also not a huge fan of the new CGI Han Solo carbonite thaw. It's really tacky especially at the end where he never used to have any light surrounding him. Now it's bursting forth from all sides. It looks really cheesy and unnecessary. To make matters worse, the new radiant light is chock-full of ugly, unsightly banding.
Besides the radical changes, the rest of the movie looks great. Even Endor seems like it's taken on a richer green hue. Detail on the Ewok costumes looks great as you can see individual hairs. Blacks can be crushing at times, particularly the scene where Leia sneaks in and thaws Han. However, I felt like these unnecessary changes were not annoying to fans because of the changes, but they hurt the overall product by being shoddy and way too noticeable. Add to that extremely creepy Ewok blinking eyes and they certainly bring this visual presentation down a peg or two.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The audio on this set is outstanding. I'm just going to put that out there right now. It's one of the best examples of complete sound remastering for an entire catalog set that I've ever heard. Each one of these episodes is full of bright, bold action surrounding you from every side. These are engrossing soundtracks that really almost equal each other in greatness. There were a few minor changes in quality it seemed, but overall they really seemed to stick close together in terms of quality. Each movie got the same mix, which really helped keep the cohesiveness together.
'Episode I: The Phantom Menace'
The video may stink, but the audio does anything but. As much as I hate podracing, and I think that whole part of the movie should be removed, I can't deny that it sounds great in this newly minted 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. The roaring sounds of the podracers surround you, and pummel you into submission. The LFE roars from the sub with stunning force. Panning effects are insanely smooth as racers fly from one end of the screen to the other.
Unfortunately for us, dialogue is perfectly intelligible so we hear every "Weesa," "Heesa," and "Yousa." Eff you Jar Jar. Young Anakin is no different, but at least the mix treats his voice exactly the same as anyone else. Other audio highlights here include the low-end sound made by the water after Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan descend to the Gungan city and the sound of the uniformed droid marching.
'Episode II: Attack of the Clones'
So as to not repeat myself from 'The Phantom Menace' audio discussion, 'Attack of the Clones' has the very same pros about it. Clean, intelligible dialogue. Well-rounded sound stage featuring that ever iconic John Williams score. Again, everything is done right here.
A few highlights that I noticed during 'Attack of the Clones' that you'll want to keep your ears peeled for are the absolute gut-crushing booms made by Jango Fett's seismic charges or the earth-rattling scene where one of the Federation starships comes crashing back down to the ground. That scene engulfs you and sucks you in. It's one of the best sounding scenes in the whole set. I also loved the hustle and bustle of the surrounds when Padme and Anakin are jumping around trying to dodge the different robotic arms on the conveyer belt. There's so much going on in that droid factory and yet you're able to hear it all. I may have liked this audio presentation just a little more than 'Phantom Menace.' I might be biased just because I dislike 'Phantom' so much, but so be it. This one is demo material through and through.
'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith'
'Sith' shares all the wonderful characteristics of the films that have gone before it when it comes to the audio department. The opening dogfight battle is intoxicating. There's a cacophony of sound and action happening all at once, but the six separate channels are able to capture it all. Fighters whiz all around your head, panning smoothly from one channel to the other.
Williams' score sweeps through the design, just like it did with the other films, totally engulfing you in its presence. LFE is a constant threat to shake the pictures right off your walls. When the characters find themselves on Mustafar the low-end of the spectrum goes crazy as the explosions and swelling of lava simply surrounds you on every side. Another demo-worthy audio experience.
'Episode IV: A New Hope'
After watching the prequels first, I did notice an inherent change in the way the sound was presented. The iconic opening music had brasher horns which were just a tad bit louder than they had been in the past. Music and blaster sounds were given slightly more prioritization than dialogue. I didn't feel like 'A New Hope' lived up to the demo-material goodness set by the last two prequels.
That said, 'A New Hope' is no slouch. Considering its age, this sounds great, and the newly minted DTS- HD Master Audio track adds more oomph to this movie than you ever thought possible. Blasters, while they may be a little on the loud side, fill the air with whizzing beams of light which explode with tenacious ferocity. Lightsabers clash together to form a low-end thump that sounds great every time. Panning effects sound wonderful here too as ships and speeders cruise from one end of the frame to the other. To tell you the truth, I didn't ever think that the original movies would sound this good.
'Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'
The LFE takes over here. Whether it's the stomping thuds of approaching AT-ATs or the thunderous soaring of the Empire's Destroyers, bass is non-stop here. It rattles, thumps, and wallops its way through the entire movie. The only LFE downtime is when we visit Luke on Endor. Other than that the sub is fully engaged during the different action-packed exploits of Han and his rag-tag crew.
I thought that dialogue was given a bit more prioritization here, along with nicely placed directionality. The deep booming voice of James Earl Jones has a nice resounding low-end whoosh to it. This is everything you could want, and more. Demo material!
'Episode VI: Return of the Jedi'
Yes, the new addition of Vader yelling "Noooooo!" at the end is a real bother. So much so that it degrades the rest of the movie. Everything is building up until that moment and then… well, you get the picture. Adding that "Nooooo!" should be figured into the audio scoring just as much as the visual additions should.
Other than that stupid add-on, the rest of the movie sounds just as terrific as the rest of the set. I particularly liked the feeling of the surrounds in this one. Whether it be the echoing roars of the Rancor or the happy chirps of the Ewoks, the surrounds picked up every nuance of the sound design. 'Empire' may blow you away with its thundering bass, but 'Jedi' will wow you with its attention to detail. Listening to those speeders blow through the forest, trees whapping by on both sides, was a fantastically engrossing experience.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Audio Commentaries – In order to get this review out in a timely fashion I simply did not have time to peruse each and every audio commentary from start to finish. Each movie has two commentaries. One with a group of well- known names (all of which were included on the DVD releases), and the other commentary being spliced together with archival interviews from the cast and crew. The archival commentaries are new to this set.
Bonus Disc 1
'Episode I: The Phantom Menace'
Play All feature is included. Total time of behind the scene featurettes and interviews on this disc is 5 hours and 1 minute.
- Interviews (HD, 7 min.) – "Overview" (5
min.) a promo extra with behind the scenes footage as
VFX supervisor Dennis Muren talks about creating the
movie with real locations, but CG characters.
"Liam Neeson Interview" (HD, 2 min.) is a promotional interview with Neeson as he talks about how "extraordinary" the movie and the script were.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD) – Three scenes are inlcuded here: "Trash-Talking Droids," (30 sec.) "The Battle is Over," (30 sec.) and "Anakin's Return" (30 sec.). Each of these scenes contains unfinished animation and not that much substance. Definitely not enough to warrant even watching them. Why would you want more young Anakin? Each scene is given some basic introduction text at the beginning.
- The Collection (HD) – This is a collection of different concept art and costumes. This interactive feature allows you to explore spaceships, monsters, and characters from the movie. The sections contained are "Naboo Starfighter Concept Model," "Sando Aqua Monster Marquette," "Darth Maul Costume," "Palpatine's Shuttle Model," "Jar Jar Marquette," "Trade Federation Battleship Concept Model," "Republic Cruiser," "Queen Amidala Throne Room Costume," and "Full Sized Battle Droid." When you select each of these sections you are greeted with a number of options. You can perform a 360 degree rotation, get specific details of each part of the model or character by selecting Detail, view a Video Commentary that has behind-the-scenes footage explaining the work that went into creating what you're looking at.
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – This is a still gallery that contains 34 separate pieces of concept art ranging from sketches, to diagrams, to spaceship blueprints. Basic text is given at the bottom to explain the drawing you're looking at.
- Interviews (HD, 7 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) is a talk about the basics of creating Tatooine. Design director Doug Chiang gives us some insight into what they went through to create Tatooine. Filming in Tunisia is also covered.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD) – Only two deleted scenes here. "Battle on the Boarding Ramp" (30 sec.) and "Extended Podrace Wager" (2 min.).
- The Collection (HD) – More concept art collections here. There are seven pieces to explore here. "Queen's Royal Starship Concept Model," "Eopie With Anakin Maquette," "Watto Maquette," "Sebulba Maquette," "Dud Bolt Puppet," "Anakin's Podracer 'Tabletop' Model," and "Sith Speeder Model."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Thirty more concept photos are displayed here. Everything from early sketchings of C3PO and what Watto's different variations looked like.
"Rick McCallum Interview: Podracers" (1 min.) is a talk with the producer who talks briefly about creating the podrace and how long it took to actually build all the pod engines. McCallum has another interview after that about "Filming in Tunisia" (2 min.) where he talks about filming on location and how there weren't accurate records kept of shooting locations from 'A New Hope.'
- Interviews (HD, 7 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) has Chaing giving us an introduction of the city planet. Also, VFX designer John Knoll gives us some insight about creating the huge city located on the planet.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 30 sec.) – Only one deleted scene is included here. "Bail Organa of Alderaan," shows Bail Organa seconding the vote of "no confidence."
- The Collection (HD) – Only four items to pick from in this collection: "Coruscant Air Taxi Model," "Queen Amidala Senate Costume," "Queen Amidala Pre-Senate Address Costume," and "Senate Guard Costume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Fifteen separate pieces of concept art, most of them having to do with the different costumes worn by Queen Amidala.
"George Lucas on Preparing to Write Episode 1 - 1994" (3 min.) - is a short interview with the man himself talking about how he sat down and wrote 'Phantom Menace.'
'Episode II: Attack of the Clones'
- Interviews (HD, 5 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) is another look, with the VFX advisors, about how they created the different traffic levels and the street level of the city.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD) – Two scenes included here: "Extended Speeder Chase" (1 min.) and "The Lost Twenty" (1 min.). "The Lost Twenty" is kind of interesting because the librarian in the movie dicusses Count Dooku's departure from the Jedi.
- The Collection (HD) – Four collection pieces to pick from here. They are, "Dexter Jettster Maquette," "Zam Wesell Speeder Concept Model," "Youngling Outfit & Helmet Costume," and "Zam Wesell Costume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Sixteen pictures and sketches in all. Many having to do with Wesell's costuming and the design of Dex.
"Ewan McGregor Interview (1 min.) is another promotional interview this time with McGregor who talks about the first movie he saw in the theater could have been 'Star Wars,' and how his uncle was one of the Rebel pilots in the movie.
- Overview (HD, 3 min.) – Chiang talks about creating the other places of Naboo and how they used the land around them to help create love scenes.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD) – "Anakin's Nightmares" (1 min.) and "Anakin and Ruwee" (1 min.). Anakin actually visits and talks to Padme's father in the short deleted scene with Ruwee.
- The Collection (HD) – Five collection pieces here. They are, "Shaak Maquette," "Anakin Outland Peasant Costume (With Cloak)," "Anakin Outland Peasant Costume (Without Cloak)," "Padme Outland Peasant Costume (With Cloak)," and "Padme Outland Peasant Costume (Without Cloak)."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Eleven conept photos located here. They cover the concept art for Anakin's costumes, Padme's costumes, and the Shaaks.
- Overview (HD, 3 min.) – Lucas, and his other crew, talk about revisiting the land of Tatooine after Anakin has grown and making it look just a little older and worn.
- The Collection (HD) – There are three pieces to pick from here. "C-3PO Costume," "Tusken Raider Woman Costume," and "Tusken Raider Child Costume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Eleven photos contained here covering the men, women and children from the Tusken Raider costumes along with more Amidala outfits.
- Interviews (HD, 9 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) information about how to create a world of factories that were creating the droid armies.They talk about taking inspiration for the factories from automobile factories. Lots of BTS footage showing Natalie Portman acting against a blue screen.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 4 min.) – "Raid on the Droid Control Ship and Extended Arena Fight" is one of the more lengthy deleted scenes. Jedi Knights Ki-Adi-Mundi and Plo Koon get more face time here trying to deactivate a droid ship.
- The Collection (HD) – Ten different collection pieces here. "Geonosian Maquette," "Acklay Maquette," "Nexu Maquette," "Reek Maquette," "Padme Trip to Geonosis Costume (With Unused Headdress)," "Jango Fett Costume," "Super Battle Droid Maquette," "Geonosis Arena Maquette," "Republic Gunship Model," and "Clone Trooper Maquette."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Forty different photos located here containing artwork for a variety of characters like Count Dooku and Obi-Wan's hairstyles.
"Hayden Christensen Interview" (1 min.) is an interview with Christensen where he talks about how "cool" the action is. "Blue Screen Acting" (4 min.) has interviews with Christopher Lee, Christensen, McGregor, Portman, and Neeson talking about working on a blue screen without the effects actually being there.
'Episode III: Revenge of the Sith'
- Interviews (HD, 8 min.) – "Overview" (5 min.) they talk about having the opening battle in the upper atmosphere rather than out in space so they could do different things like smoke and trails behind missiles. Filming inside the cockpits of the fighters is discussed. We get to see George Lucas putting on blue makeup so he can stand outside Palpatine's opera box in cameo.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 4 min.) – "Elevator Antics," (2 min.) "Escape Through the Hangar," (3 min.) and "Changes to the Constitution" (2 min.).
- The Collection (HD) – Six collection pieces included here. They are, "Separatist Cruiser Concept Model," "Arc-170 Starfighter Concept Model," "Jedi Starfighter Concept Model," "Count Dooku Lightsaber," "Palpatine Gray Trade Federation Costume," and "Anakin Costume and Headset."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Twenty-four pieces of concept art, mostly artwork of different spacecraft in the movie.
"Samuel L. Jackson Interview" (3 min.) is where Jackson talks about actually getting Lucas to give him a purple lightsaber.
- Overview (HD, 5 min.) – Knoll talks about how Utapau was hardly any built sets. Mostly miniatures and CG work to create the overall look of the place.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 9 min.) – "Utapau Chase Animatics" is an early version of the chase that was created with the help of Steven Spielberg. Actually, pretty interesting to watch, even if it is unfinished.
- The Collection (HD) – Five separate pieces are located here: "Boga with Obi-Wan Maquette," "Utapau Sinkhole Maquette," "Utapau Landing Platform Maquette," "General Grievous Maquette," and "Tion Medon Costume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Nineteen pieces of artwork here detailing the different looks and variations of Grievous, among other characters.
- Interviews (HD, 6 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) is a look with concept design supervisor Ryan Church and others talk about Mustafar, the lava planet and how they created the look for the planet.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– "Mustafar Duel Animatics" (4 min.) and "Mustafar Duel/Lava River Animatics."
- The Collection (HD) – Four objects to pick from here. Learn more about "Obi-Wan's Lightsaber," "Anakin's Lightsaber," "Mustafar Landscape Maquette," and "Burnt Anakin Head."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Ten photos in all are located here.
"Natalie Portman Interview" (2 min.) has Portman talking about her character and how she only reacts to what Anakin does instead of making her own decisions.
Kashyyyk & Order 66
- Overview (HD, 6 min.) – George wanted ten different distinct planets for "the war" that was going on. Kind of hilarious that they went back and used the 'Star Wars Christmas Special' for inspiration.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– "Kashyyyk Attack and Order 66 Animatic," (7 min.) "Anakin Kills Shaak Ti," (30 sec.) "Jedi Imposters at the Temple," (1 min.) Senate Duel Animatic," (6 min.) and "Yoda Communes with Qui-Gon" (1 min.).
- The Collection (HD) – Six pieces of the collection here. "Wookie Tree Maquette," "Felucia Maquettes," "Chewbacca Costume," "Darth Vader Costume," "Imperial Officer Costume (With Coat)," and "Imperial Officer Costume (Without Coat).
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Twenty-two concept art photos here most of them having to do with the looks of the Wookies and Clone Troopers.
Bonus Disc 2
'Episode IV: A New Hope'
Play All feature is included. If selected it indicates the amount of featurettes included on this disc total 4 hours and 32 minutes.
- Interviews (HD, 7 min.) – "Overview" (4 min.) has some of the older FX advisors talking about creating the world of Tatooine and how the movie was supposed to look.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– "Tosche Station," (5 min.) "Old Woman on Tatooine," (30 sec.) "Aunt Beru's Blue Milk," (30 sec.) "The Search for R2 -D2," (1 min.) "Catina Rough Cut," (7 min.) and "StormTrooper Search" (1 min.). I really like these older deleted scenes, even if they are as dirty as hell. It's interesting to watch them because they aren't just unfinished animation like the prequels. I like the "Tosche Station" scene because it's actually inculded in an audio book I listened to once. It was cool to see it filmed here. The black and white rough cut of Luke entering the Cantina is also pretty cool to watch.
- The Collection (HD) – Seven collection pieces are here. "Landspeeder Prototype Model," "Millennium Falcon Prototype Model," "R2-D2," "Tatooine from Orbit Matte Painting," "Jawa Costume," "Tusken Raider Mask," and "Ketwol Mask."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Thirty great, old drawings are indlucded here so we can see the early artwork for Luke, Han, Jawas, and the weapons they carry.
"Mark Hamill Interview (2 min.) is a chat with older Mark Hamill talking about his time filming the movie and shooting the movie with George Lucas. "Anthony Daniels Interview" (1 min.) is a brief talk with the guy inside C-3PO's suit.
Aboard the Death Star
- Interviews (HD, 8 min.) – "Overview" (6 min.) is where we hear from Ben Burtt talking about the variety of sounds that they used on the Death Star. They talk about how massive an undertaking creating the Death Star was.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 30 sec.)– Darth Vader walks down the hallway with an Imperial General in this deleted scene.
- The Collection (HD) – Four collection pieces here. "Death Star Prototype Model," "Holo-Chess Set," "Bridge Power Trench Matte Painting," and "Luke's Stormtrooper Torso."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Twenty-four concept pictures included here. Some of them are rather crude drawings, but it's interesting to see how different the artwork is. A lot of spaceship blueprints along with some really cool, colorized visualizations of the sets.
"Carrie Fisher Interview" (2 min.) is where an older Carrie Fisher talks about her time interviewing for the part and how Lucas hardly ever talked to her.
The Battle of Yavin
- Overview (HD, 4 min.) – Lots of talks about the models used in the movie with Dennis Muren. X-Wing battle inspiration taken from airplane dogfights.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 30 sec.)– "Alternate Biggs and Luke Reunion" is included here, but it's not much different from the one used in the movie.
- The Collection (HD) – Ten different collection pieces here. "X-Wing Fighter Model (Prototype)," "X-Wing Fighter Model (Final)," "Y-Wing Fighter Model (Prototype)," "Y-Wing Fighter Model (Final)," "Tie Fighter Model (Prototype)," "Tie Fighter Model (Final)," "Darth Vader's Tie Fighter Model," "X-Wing Pilot Costume With Helmet," "Death Star Laser Tower Model," and "Yavin 4 Matte Painting."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Sixteen separate pictures here, mostly blueprints for the myriad of spaceships in the movie.
'Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'
- Interviews (HD, 9 min.) – In the "Overview" (3 min.) we're joined by effects director of photography Dennis Muren talking about how they filmed on the snow planet of Hoth. By using minatures and painted backdrops.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– Five deleted scenes in all here. "Han and Leia: Extended Echo Base Argument," (2 min.) "Luke's Recovery," (1 min.) "Luke and Leia: Medical Center," (2 min.) "Deleted Wampa Scenes," (3 min.) and "The Fate of General Veers" (30 sec.). Just got to say that the deleted Wampa scenes are great having the Wampa cause havoc in the base.
- The Collection (HD) – Seven collection pieces here. "At-At Walker Fallen Model," "Snowspeeder Model," "Tauntaun Maquette," "Rebel Transport Model," "Hoth Landscape Matte Painting," "Leia Hoth Costume," and "Han Solo Interior Hoth COstume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Thirty-eight concept photos are included here.
"George Lucas - On Editing 'The Empire Strikes Back' - 1979" (3 min.) is where we see Lucas in the editing room talking about how he decided to edit the movie and what editing does in the grand scheme of things. "Irvin Kershner Interview" (3 min.) is a discussion with the movie's director where he talks extensively about his actors and how much he loved them.
- Interviews (HD, 9 min.) – The "Overview" (4 min.) features behind the scenes footage from the movie with Muren talking about creating the look for Yoda's swampy home.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 1 min.)– A brief extended scene of "Yoda's Test" is included here.
- The Collection (HD) – Five separate collection pieces. "Yoda Model," "Luke's Severed Hand," "Dagobah Bog Matte Painting," "Dagobah Matte Painting," and "Luke's Tan Costume."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Sixteen photos here. I'm SO glad they didn't go with Garden Gnome Yoda. Those drawings are hideous. Glad he evolved into what we know Yoda as today.
"George Lucas - On the Force - 2010" (5 min.) is where Lucas sits down to discuss the idea of The Force in a roundtable meeting with the 'Clone Wars' writers.
Pursued by the Imperial Fleet
- Overview (HD, 3 min.) – Muren talks about how the Millenium Falcon pursuit was created with all the different asteroids used and the miniatures that were filmed.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– Two scenes are included here. "Alternate Han and Leia Kiss" (2 min.) and "Hiding in the Asteroid" (1 min.).
- The Collection (HD) – Nine collection pieces are included here. "Star Destroyer Model," "Millenium Falcon Model," "Space Slug," "Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Model," "Star Destroyer Hull Model," "Executor Bridge Matte Painting," "Boba Fett Prototype Costume," "Imperial Officer Costume," and "Rebel Cruiser Model."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Sixteen more concept photos included here.
- Overview (HD, 3 min.) – A discussion of Cloud City and its look with Muren. Some great concept art is seen here along with some wonderful pictures of the miniatures that were used.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– "Lobot's Capture" (1 min.) and "Leia Tends to Luke" (1 min.) are the only two scenes included here.
- The Collection (HD) – Eight different sections to choose from here. "Twin-Pod Cloud Car Model," "Cloud City Models," "Cloud City Matte Painting," "Cloud City Landing Platform Matte Painting," "Cloud City Core Vane Matte Painting," "Cloud City Core Vane Platform Matte Painting," "Lando Bespin Costume," and "Cloud City Slave I Matte Painting."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Ten artistic concept photos all depicting the way Cloud City should look.
'Episode VI: Return of the Jedi'
- Overview (HD, 4 min.) – Muren talks about the different look of Tatooine where we get to actually see Jabba's Palace which we haven't seen yet. We get to see the evolution of the Sarlacc pit scene how it was storyboarded and then how it was filmed.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– "Vader's Arrival and Reaching Out to Luke" (3 min.) and "Tatooine Sandstorm" (2 min.) are the scenes located here. I like the sandstorm scene just because we get to see a lot of our favorite characters all together.
- The Collection (HD) – Ten different collection pieces are here. "Rancor Marquette," "EV- 9D9," "Salacious B. Crumb," "C-3PO's Head with Eye Poked Out," "Jabba's Palace, Road Creature Matte Painting," "Sarlacc Pit Matte Painting," "Leia Boushh Costume," "Slave Leia Costume," "Lando Skiff Guard Costume," and "Jabba's Radio-Controlled Eyes."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Sixteen photos and sketches included here. Hubba-hubba, see how the slave girl outfit got its start.
- Interviews (HD, 6 min.) – The "Overview" (5 min.) here includes behind the scenes footage of shooting in Northern California in the Redwood forest and Muren talking about who they were able to put explosions in the forest.
- Deleted/Extended Scene (SD, 2 min.)– "Rebel Raid on the Bunker" is the only deleted scenes included here.
- The Collection (HD) – Eight collection sections here. "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."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Thirty-seven photos included here. The Ewok concept art is downright hilarious! Gotta love the beaver/muskrat look that they once had.
"Harrison Ford Interview" (1 min.) has Ford talking about Lucas and his vision for the movies in a promo, reminiscent interview.
Death Star II Space Battle
- Overview (HD, 4 min.) – Model maker Bill George talks about making a second Death Star attack be just as fun as the first one. You don't want to rehash the exact same thing you already did.
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (SD)– Two scenes here. "Jerjerrod's Conflict" (2 min.) and "Battle of Endor: The Lost Rebels" (10 min.). The footage of the lost Rebels is one of the best deleted scenes of all. Almost ten whole minutes of pilots who never made it into the final cut of the film.
- The Collection (HD) – Seven collection sections are located here. "B-Wing Fighter Model," "Tie Interceptor Model," "Death Star Under Construction Model," "Imperial Shuttle Bay Matte Painting," "Admiral Ackbar Costume," "Death Star Equator Docking Bay Matte Painting," and "Millenium Falcon in Hangar Matte Painting."
- Concept Art Gallery (HD) – Our last concept art gallery has 22 pictures, some of the most interesting being the drawings of what Vader was to look like after he'd been unmasked.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
Some of these documentaries are new, others have been shown elsewhere on other releases of the films. However, this bonus disc is exclusive to the 'Complete Saga' set.
- The Making of 'Star Wars' (SD, 49 min.) – This extensive making-of documentary from 1977 opens with a red carpet event with C-3PO and R2-D2 attending, surrounded by fans. Filming in Tunisia is covered here. Narration drives what we're seeing, but C-3PO also takes a turn at hosting too. He compares a behind-the-scenes shot of Luke's fight with a Tusken Raider to what it looks like in the movie. Completely different. There's some great BTS footage of Ford, Hamill, and crew acting with each other in the cockpit of the Falcon. Some interviews come later on as Ford talks about 'American Graffiti.'
- 'The Empire Strikes Back': SPFX (SD, 48 min.) – Mark Hamill hosts this FX-centric making-of feature from 1980. He discusses the high-tech equipment and techniques used to pull off the effects in 'Empire.' Behind-the-scenes footage of the models and miniatures used is one of the many reasons to watch this documentary. I liked how it showed elephants and their walking being used for the inspiration behind the AT-AT movements.
- Classic Creatures: 'Return of the Jedi (SD, 48 min.) – This documentary from 1983 is hosted by Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams. It discusses the myriad of different creatures, characters, and monsters seen in the movie. How they were made and filmed, and how old monster movies like 'King Kong' were used for inspiration. Love the bit about the Rancor. Check it out just for that.
- Anatomy of a Dewback (SD, 26 min.) – Here's where the controversy starts. This 1997 documentary is essentially the "How we changed 'Star Wars' forever," feature. That's because this is where adding stuff to the original movies is discussed. In this case it's adding in CGI Dewback monsters and filming entirely new scenes with new Stormtroopers scanning the desert. It was interesting that they brought in the restoration experts and they talked about removing dirt and grime from the originals.
- Star Warriors (SD, 84 min.) – A feature for the fans. Those fans who love to dress up as their favorite characters. Have to admit that I have a personal affinity for the elementary school kid that dresses up like a Jawa for show and tell. Especially, because he's from Provo, Utah.
- 'Star Wars' Tech (HD, 46 min.) – 2007 documentary which pits science fact against science fiction in the 'Star Wars' universe. How would the Death Star move in space? How would it assume artificial gravity? Can we really make plasma windows? It's almost like a History Channel 'Star Wars' exclusive. It's kind of fun, but nothing more than a bunch of people speculating.
- A Conversation with the Masters: 'The Empire Strikes Back' 30 Years Later (HD, 25 min.) – Filmed in 2010, before Irvin Kershner passed away, this featurette stars George Lucas, Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan, and John Williams as they discuss the best movie of the franchise. Lucas talks about how the story evolved and that all he had written before anything happened was the revelation that Vader was Luke's dad. Other than that the movie was essentially wide open.
- 'Star Wars' Spoofs (HD, 97 min.) – Finally, there's a large montage of 'Star Wars' spoofs provided. Everyone gets in on the action. 'The Simpsons,' 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'Robot Chicken,' 'Buffy,' 'The Daily Show,' and 'SNL.' Also, don't miss the clip where a three year-old girl explains the story of 'Star Wars' and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's attempt at making a shot-for-shot remake of the movie.
Well, it's finally here. What else is there to say that hasn't been said already? Yes, we all want to have the option of watching the unaltered theatrical editions, but it doesn't look like those are coming any time soon. Until then, this is the definitive high definition set of 'Star Wars.' The set we'd been waiting years for is finally here. While the video presentations waver a bit, the audio presentations are rock solid, producing rocking demo-material for any sound system out there. There are so many special features it will take you weeks to finish them all off. This set comes highly recommended.
- 9 BD-50 Blu-ray Discs
- 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
- English DTS 6.1 (Possibly DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1)
- Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
- French: DTS 5.1
- French: Dolby Digital 5.1
- Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
- English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
- Star Wars Tech
- Prop, Maquette and Costume Turnarounds
- Star Wars Spoofs
- The Making of Star Wars
- Supplementary Interviews with Cast and Crew
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
- The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX
- Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi
- Matte Paintings and Concept Art
- Anatomy of a Dewback
- Supplementary Interviews with Cast and Crew
- Star Warriors
- A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later
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