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Classic Trilogy ~ Version Release History (last 4 versions) 1. Special Editions (VHS & laserdisc 1997) 2. DVD Versions (2004, often erroneously referred to as “Special Editions”) 3. Original Theatrical Versions (adapted to DVD 2006) 4. Blu-Ray Versions (2011) REVIEW INTRODUCTION I’m a first-generation Star Wars fan since 1977, having seen the original versions of the original three films in the theater one time each as a child, then falling in love with them all over again on VHS in 1987. And I’ve been a huge fan ever since. The Star Wars Saga is the ultimate epic space opera and film series. This isn’t actually a review of the movies most of you reading this will have seen one or more versions of dozens of times (well, at least the classic trilogy), although this review will discuss some of the changes made (and not made) to all the films. This is meant to be an overview of the 9-disc 2011 blu-ray product entitled “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” with personal observations and select commentary thrown in. PHYSICAL QUALITIES Disc & Packaging Structure The discs themselves are heavy-duty, yet smooth and well-coated with scratch resistance - the best available in retail products I’ve seen. The packaging is also of superior physical construction, taking the form of a hardback book with 9 sturdy pages (think baby/toddler cardboard book stiffness), and the book has an outer box it slides in and out of. The disc-book is about a centimeter shorter than a standard DVD case and slightly wider. Each right-side page is half-circle open in the middle, forming a sleeve with a super-smoothly-coated insides for the optimum protection for both storing and removing/returning the discs. The inside back cover has a more traditional sleeve for the set’s single information booklet called “Guide to the Galaxy” which mostly details the special features on the bonus discs. For those of you with “green” consciousness, there is not a single sliver of hard plastic anywhere in the box/book - the only plastic in the entire product is in the discs themselves and I suspect the very thin, soft coating of the inner disc sleeves. I couldn’t really have even imagined higher-quality discs and a better-constructed storage for my Star Wars blu-ray set. I’m very pleased with this aspect of it. Disc & Packaging Appearance Of lesser concern for me is the appearance of the product’s physical components, but for sake of completeness, I’ll mention it. The discs themselves do not have any images - they are light grey with blue trimmings. The movie discs (1-6) have the previously used logos of STAR WARS with the episode subtitle underneath, both on top of the episode number in the form of a large Roman numeral. The outer box and disc-book do not have a single photo - it is entirely original artwork. The info booklet has the single photo of the entire product (the Falcon flying through Death Star II), and more artwork. In my opinion, the artwork almost totally sucks. It’s awful! The spine, front and back covers of the disc-book exactly match the box, which is also used for the cover of the info-booklet. The disc-book has 10 two-page images (minus half-a-disc-sized portion for the disc on the right-page of the 9 pages). The only tolerable movie disc image is for Episode II, but that is because the characters are more distant and the image has the most photo-realism to it. The only art I really like in the entire product is a small picture of Luke on a Taun Taun in the info booklet, and the disc book picture for Bonus Disc 1 (certainly by a different, better artist), although it depicts something that does not occur in the films or even deleted scenes: Boba Fett is riding a lizard mount like Obi-Wan rode on Utapau in Episode III. I think that picture may be a nod to the animated sequence of the old Star Wars Holiday Special in which Boba Fett rides a creature of some kind, IIRC. I am somewhat disappointed that they didn’t just use photographic imagery throughout this entire product like some of the other releases because that would have been more attractive. Or they could have at least just gotten a better artist for the art throughout the entire product! But like I said, more important than the product’s appearance to me is the structural qualities of the discs and packaging, and of course the digital disc content. THE BONUS DISCS The films are much more important than anything else, but for completeness I’ll touch on the special features discs. Bonus Discs 1 & 2 Bonus Disc 1 is devoted to the prequels while Disc 2 is for the classic trilogy. Bonus Discs 1 & 2 have archive cast & crew interviews, 360Â° turnaround galleries for props and costumes, art galleries, and a total of 45 deleted/extended scenes exclusive to this release. I’ve watched all the deleted/extended scenes for all 6 films, and the most interesting ones to me were for Return of the Jedi, especially the Battle of Endor stuff. But there was nothing that I thought really shouldn’t have been cut from the films. I’ve read some complaints about the menu organization of these first two bonus discs. First you choose the movie you want to access the features for, and then within each episode choice the features are divided up by planets/settings (Naboo, Tatooine and Coruscant for Episode I; Tatooine, Aboard the Death Star, and The Battle of Yavin for Episode IV; etc.). So when I went through to watch all deleted/extended scenes, I had to keep going up and down an extra menu level to get to the scenes for the next setting, and then up and down two level menu levels to move on to the next film. It is a little wacky but really just a minor inconvenience if you want to only view one specific type of feature for 1 or all 3 films on each disc. If you want to watch everything in one setting of one film at a time, then the menu tree is set up specifically for maximum convenience in that case. And I just remembered that I read somewhere that Bonus Disc 2 has the animated sequence of the Star Wars Holiday Special. It is not listed as a special feature on the info booklet, but if you navigate through a certain menu you’ll supposedly find it. Bonus Disc 3 Bonus Disc 3 has documentaries not available on the Star Wars DVDs. As a whole they cover the entire saga, but the main focus is on the classic trilogy. They are not nearly as important to me as they are to a lot of fans I know, but I can speak on a few of them. I’m sure I was totally enthralled by The Making of Star Wars (1977) on TV when I was a kid, and someday when I’m feeling nostalgic for my childhood I’ll probably watch that again. I used to have Classic Creatures (1983 - hosted by Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams) on VHS, and it is interesting if you want a behind-the-scenes look at the aliens from Return of the Jedi, including the operation of the 6-man Jabba muppet. I had taped the excellent Star Wars Tech (2007) onto a blank VHS, so it’s cool that I now have it in a digital format, but it’s disappointing that this disc didn’t include History Channel’s also excellent Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed (so I‘ll have to keep that tape). The only documentary that I’ve watched on this blu-ray so far is the new Star Wars Spoofs (2011), a 97-minute compilation of Star Wars spoofs and parodies from 1977 to the present. There are entire short skits (like the classic 1977 SNL Star Wars Lounge Singer Bill Murray, and the hilarious Natalie Portman SNL monologue). There are a multitude of clips from various TV episodes and movies (The Simpsons, Family Guy, That 70’s Show, Robot Chicken, Fanboys, etc.). They even had Weird All Yankovic’s “The Saga Begins” music video. There is some great stuff and not-so-great stuff. There is so much there but a few things missing that should be there. The down side of this feature is, there isn’t a chapter division for each individual clip so if you want to skip the one your on or repeat one, you’ll jump father away or have to scan ahead or back - a minor inconvenience. It’s a long feature that I watched at night and I started getting sleepy by the end, so you may not want to watch it all in one setting like I did. (Being a blu-ray, you can bookmark it anywhere though).
I know that a lot of people have strong feelings about the Star Wars films, for and against. I have come to accept that I am a minority among a lot of he fans I run into on the internet, especially fans my own age, in that I actually like the prequels. But it was inevitable that this topic would come up here sooner or later, so I thought, what the hell. Everyone's opinion is respected. If you absolutely despise a movie or three, that's ok. But let's please try to not let this thread degenerate into negativity, anger and hatred (the Dark Side).\sw\ That being said, May the Force be with us... Vote on your favorite, but please also rank the six films from favorite to least, best to worst, top to bottom. Thanks.