Cobra-Kai got a hold of an early copy of the STAR WARS Saga Blu-Set! And Harry has a theory about Lucasanity!
Hey folks, Harry here... I doubt seriously that I'll be getting one of these sets in time to write extensively about it. In fact, I'm betting I'll have to pick one up next Tuesday like the rest of ya that just can not resist. I know folks have been wanting me to write an angry diatribe about "Fucking Lucas" and "Stop Fucking Changing Our Movies," except - I've been serially abused optically and aurally by George. And I have a theory. It could be insane, but one of my hobbies is collecting stories about George Lucas. Anecdotal evidence that he isn't crazy. His personal humor is one of "getting your goat" - a teasing manner that is meant to elicit outrage and vocal dissent. George is passionate about film preservation, as much as any man has ever beat the drum for the preservation of our collective film history - George has done amazing things. He's changed the cinematic film experience forever through his financing of innovations in sound and image. SO why does George continue to pluck our shorthairs?
I believe that George feels, probably right to a degree, that most of you don't give a shit about film preservation. NOT YOU - but those folks out there that don't even know it is an issue. That have never experienced the censoring of the 1933 KING KONG, the re-edits of METROPOLIS or TARZAN ESCAPES. Or that lived through studios hacking the tops and bottoms off of films to then create fake CINEMASCOPE prints of movies - most infamously losing the greatest tree in film history - you know the one - in GONE WITH THE WIND. Well, the problem is, while George experienced this period - most of us didn't, still more of us have never really dug into the history of cinema in a manner where we would become passionate about Film Preservation.
Now George is an eccentric BILLIONAIRE - We know he has testified before Congress on this issue. Articles quoting George as being absolutely outraged about THE VERY THING he's been doing to his film. He defends himself with the PAINTING metaphor - about how many artists never finish paintings, just abandon them for a period of time. And this breaks down when you point at EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI, which he isn't even the director of record. Here, he is definitely manhandling others' work. But why? Why do this? He has got to know that a lot of hardcore geeks will bow out of this release as a result, but he is well aware that the larger audience - well, they're not even aware of the problems yet. He'll see a ton of these.
But let's get back to the eccentric BILLIONAIRE angle. George has STAR WARS - a series of films which have, without a doubt in my mind, the most devoted following ever. Over the last 20 years, George has been fooling around with his films. Essentially, every year that AICN has been around, I've had to deal with fans screaming about "Crazy ol George" - and at this point. It no longer phases me. I want to see his latest tamperings. I want to have friends over to experience it all with. We will scream, bitch & moan - but MAINLY we'll enjoy ourselves. There will be "WHAT THE FUCK" moments that leave us frustrated beyond words. BUT - I also have a feeling that one day, hopefully a long time from now, the person making the decisions about this property will not always be George. At that point, I'm convinced we'll see further explorations of the STAR WARS universe theatrically. I also believe at that point - pristine original prints of all these films will come to be. I have faith I'll live to see this, if not... I just don't see the need to get absolutely outraged about it. He has made it exceedingly clear that he's going to pursue his path. By all means - protest by not buying if you wish. In fact an enormous LACK of sales would be astonishing, but I'm telling you. There is no power that would keep me from getting this set. The supplemental material alone will melt my mind. Just seeing the improved CG Yoda in PHANTOM MENACE over that atrocity they previously had will be a smile.
So here's COBRA KAI with a look at the set thus far...
Cobra--Kai here. It so happens that the Dojo recieved it's copy of the full Star Wars Blu Ray set a few hours ago. Don't ask me who I ordered from because I don't want anyone to get in trouble for sending it out so early!
I don't think there are any reviews online yet so I thought I would share my first thoughts with the AICNers...
The Blu Ray set's packaging is very slick. There's a good quality pamphlet with it called the 'Guide To The Galaxy' with a double page artwork for each of the six movies and a couple of extra artworks too (one of which shows Boba Fett riding on a dragon bucking broco style). Any one of these pictures would have been cooler than the sappy cover image they chose, but what the hey.
The first disc I checked out was the first in the set THE PHANTOM MENACE. I watched the first hour and have to say 'wow' when it comes to the transfer. The level of detail took me aback, particularly the costumes (check out the first time you see Queen Amidala, the detail on her golden headress is quite phenomenal on this blu ray). If you've got a surround sound system then suffice to say the audio is superb too. I noticed a couple of changes. Firstly the shot in which the Droid army first enters Naboo always used to look 'sun bleached' this has now been color corrected. And secondly CG Yoda. This has been well publicised and I can confirm that it's been implemented very professionally. Yoda now 'acts' along with his dialogue and gives Samuel L Jackson some looks, etc that weren't there in the puppet version.
I then looked at RETURN OF THE JEDI. I was hoping and praying that the infamous "No... NOOOOO!!!" might somehow not be there - but sadly it was. Fuuck. It's really lame. Hayden instead of Sebastian Shaw at the end too. Some people have said there are matte lines and 'boxes' around the Tie Fighters during the space battle, i'm pleased to report this is bull. The transfer is slightly more grainy and aged in comparison to TPM but it's still a big jump from the DVD.
Lastly I checked out the deleted scenes. This is what I was really looking forward to, and if you don't want to know what's in them then you should consider this SPOILER territory.
First thing I should make clear is that the deleted scenes for the Prequel Trilogy are NOT the deleted scenes included on the DVDs (in fact these scenes are absent on the Blu Ray). The DVD deleted scenes were completed and all polished up with their FX, sadly this is not the case with the scenes here. Not a single PT sequence is finished, all have FX missing or bluescreen backdrops, and several are entirely pre-visualizations without actors at all. Disappointing. One that I was looking forward to was Qui Gonn and Darth Maul fighting on the ramp, but it amounted to 6 seconds of grainy footage with a bluescreen background. You also get to see an early appearance of Bail Organa supporting the vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum (played not by Jimmy Smits but by some poor chap who never had his moment of fame) . For AOTC there's an extension to the library scene in which the librarian and Obi Wan look at a stone bust of Count Dooku and recieve some exposition about his background. In the ROTS section a deleted scene shows Anakin and Obi Wan slicing some Battle Droids during the Palpatine rescue and quipping "Roger Roger" to one another. We also get to see a lengthy animatic (allegedly directed by Stephen Spielberg) that shows a different version of the Obi Wan General Grievous chase. In this version it ends with Obi Wan prising open Grievous' breastplate and pulling out his internal organs to kill him - I rather liked it! Also a longer animatic version of the Wookie battle on Kashyyk which probably would have been far better than the confusing and brief sequence we actually got. Been a bit of talk about Liam Neeson recording new material but although there is a brief deleted scene of Yoda communing with Qui Gonn at the end of ROTS it's just a pre-vis animatic with a stand-in vocal - not Neeson.
The deleted scenes for the Original Trilogy are a bit more fun, and a bit more of a time capsule curio. The first on the disc is a rather long sequence (maybe 5 mins) of Luke watching the space battle through binoculars and then going to Tosche Station to tell his friends what he saw. Some parts of this are better than others but the quality is pretty terrible, faded color and scratches all over the place. The dialogue between Luke and Biggs is quite in-depth too and touches on politics in an almost PT kinda way! ESB has a lot of Wampa scenes, which look really ropey and were wisely cut. It also has a longer scene of Leia talking romantically to Luke after his recovery from the Wampa attack and nearly kissing him again - Star Wars Blu Ray now with added incest! The ROTS deleted scenes were my favorite, with the sequence of Luke tooling his lightsaber prior to Jabba's palace being the one deleted scene with completed FX. This scene did the rounds a while back but the scene on the disc plays a bit longer and you get to see Luke's X-Wing and the Millenium Falcon parked side by side near to the cave where Luke is hiding out. There's a scene with a sandstorm that would have played after Han's rescue in which Han thanks Luke and Luke explains he has to go to Dagobah. Again a nice scene but with faded color and unfinished sound. The best scene shows an extra bit of Stormtrooper blasting on Endor as Han and the rebels break into the Imperial shield generator, it ends with the Imperial officer saying "You Rebel Scum!" and Han puts his hand on his hips and replies with mock-hurt "scum?". Loved it! We also get to see some Female rebel pilots in the cockpit being fed dialogue lines at the Death Star battle - terrible, terrible, terrible, only watch it if you want to laugh.
I'm looking forward to watching the 6 films properly again. They've always been detail-rich movies and that really comes across in eye-popping form on Blu Ray. Just a shame about that Nooooooo...
Lots of love to all you crazy guys,