Monday, April 2, 2012

Opinion: Star Wars Special Edition and Blu-Ray Versions

By Savanna Kiefer

George Lucas loves to retouch and change the Star Wars saga. I know that some fans don't mind these small tweaks but, the majority of us have complained about at least one edit in our entire history of being a fan. In this post, I'll be discussing my opinions on the Star Wars Special Edition and Blu-Ray releases which contain edited content.

Since the Special Editions were introduced before the Blu-Rays, I'll talk about those first. George Lucas decided to retouch and add some different effects into the original trilogy and released the new version in 1997. They were also shown again in movie theaters around the world. Some of the changes to the films aren't very noticeable but others are right in your face and there's no way you could miss them. Since CGI technology was blossoming in the late 90's, Lucas chose to implement some computer generated characters and creatures in some of our favorite scenes.

Multiple mobile Dewbacks were added to the Tatooine scenes in A New Hope and, honestly, I felt that this particular change was unnecessary. Sure, the animation aspect looked great and brought a new technical element to the original trilogy but, viewers could totally live without them. There were a few random Dewbacks roaming around Mos Eisley and one even barged right in front of the camera view. This was just odd and more of an annoyance than a highlight. When the Mos Eisley scenes come up, I want to see Luke and Obi-Wan...not some silly dinosaur creatures! Chronologically speaking, the next big edit was in the cantina with the greatest scoundrel around, Han Solo. If you're a hardcore Star Wars fan, you'll know exactly what scene I'm talking about. In the untouched version of Episode IV, Greedo confronts Solo in the cantina and they sit down for a little threatening chat. Then Han Solo proceeds to shoot Greedo and his dead body slams down on the table. However, in the Special Editions, the sequence shows that Greedo shot first, missed his target, and then Han shot back with self defense. This is the one change that I wholeheartedly hate. First of all, how in the world can Greedo miss a target that sitting only 5 feet away from him?! Next, if you slow down the clip to watch it frame by frame, you'll notice that Greedo and Solo shoot at almost the exact same time. Therefore, the whole "self defense" argument is highly invalid. I know that Han Solo is the most amazing guy in the galaxy but, he seriously wouldn't be able to react that quickly. Then there's the additional scene of Solo speaking with a CGI Jabba the Hutt and ensuring Jabba that he'll get his money. While I don't completely hate this clip, it's very difficult for me to tolerate. Since it's been more than 10 years after the Special Editions were released, animation quality has improved and this scene is just awkward. The dialogue is a bit choppy between both characters but Harrison Ford's acting is still good. During and after their conversation, Boba Fett randomly pops out and stares towards the camera. Arrrggg! I wish that George would have saved Fett's character strictly for The Empire Strikes Back. The same goes for Jabba as well; he shouldn't have had a physical appearance until Return of the Jedi. There are more changes to Episode IV but, they aren't too major and don't require much discussion. Let's just say that there aren't any more that truly irate me to the core. Actually, Episodes V and VI didn't have any major edits either.

To quickly sum up the Special Edition portion of this article, I'd like to say that fans do tend to overreact when it comes to these movies. I'll be the first to admit that I am one of those crazy nitpickers that really shouldn't dwell on the Special Editions. However, they do exist and constantly seem to irritate the long time Star Wars lovers. If a child was shown the retouched version of Episode IV, they probably wouldn't freak out or even notice the changes like I did. When I sit down to watch the original trilogy, I usually watch the clean cut versions with no special changes. It really just boils down to personal preference whether you like the Special Editions or not.

The most recent edited format of Star Wars has been released on Blu-Ray. Immediately this boxed set of all 6 films was actually available for purchase, fans were already complaining about some of the changes. Personally, I was very excited for all of the bonus material and deleted scenes that would be coming with the Blu-Rays. High quality resolution and super detailed restoration was another a huge plus that came along with the changes.

Rather than beating down on the horrible changes first, I'm going to point out the ones that I liked. In A New Hope, a rock was placed in front of R2-D2 as he's hiding in the canyons of Tatoonie. This was a nice touch because it made R2 look like he really was trying to make himself unnoticeable and discreet. Wicket and the other Ewoks were given blinking eyes in Return of the Jedi which gave them a slightly more realistic appearance. I also loved the new gigantic door on Jabba's Palace because it made C3PO and R2-D2 look inferior in size. Let's not forget the massive change to Yoda in The Phantom Menace either! Finally, there's no more freaky puppet and Yoda matches the other CGI versions of his character in the prequels. The most controversial edit between fans was in Episode VI when Darth Vader said "No....nooooooo" while Darth Sidious was electrocuting his son. I could care less about this new dialogue from Vader because it didn't bother me in the least. His words may have interrupted the drama during that scene but, the pitch of Vader's voice and everything sounded right. The one thing that I dislike about the Blu-Ray editions is Obi-Wan's new Krayt Dragon call in Episode IV. When I heard this for the very first time, I had my stereo cranked up to the maximum volume. Wow! It sent chills down my spine because the sound was overly creepy. Kenobi's new wizardry shrieks sound like a woman dying during childbirth or's scary!

Overall, I could live without the Special Editions but, the Blu-Rays are just fantastic and should deserve more praise from the fans. All of the changes from both retouched versions won't make me stop being a Star Wars fan. Instead, I'll just take them with stride and enjoy the highlights of increasing technology that urges George Lucas to advance his saga into a finer quality.

I hope that you enjoyed reading this article about the Special Edition and Blu-Ray versions of Star Wars. Do you like the Special Editions or Blu-Rays? Maybe both? Leave a comment below!


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