First and Foremost, I love Star Wars. A passion that is shared by many others who were mesmerized by the original trilogy since the 1970's...and was even a spring board for one of my closest friendships in life (Qamarul who is sadly not with us..but it was really funny that we bonded over one of the crappiest games Lucasarts released: The Phantom Menace video game).
|Playing as Obi-Wan in the Phantom Menace video game.|
Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Blu-Ray/DVD)
Most of you must have heard that Lucasfilm has released all 6 episodes of Star Wars on Blu-Ray and DVD as the "Complete Saga" box set. It was a much-anticipated release and many fans were hopeful that the releases incorporated input from the fans (George Lucas did allude to that during the series' development), combined with additional technological enhancement. I was ready to forgo my bias against Lucas if the release did live up to its hype.
Lo and behold, the ugly head of commercialism pops up again...apparently deaf to the fans' repeated clamours. Terms such as "George Pukeus" and "Talifan" (or a fanatical fan protecting Lucas) inhabit the many reviews given upon the box set's release. As of writing this post...there are 1056 negative reviews, 50 neutral and 507 positive reviews on Amazon. Granted there are some reasonable positive reviews but it does not detract from the fact that response to the box set has been largely negative.
Probably one of the biggest controversies is Lucas' strange liking for Darth Vader's oft-ridiculed and ludicrous "NOOOOOOOO" scream from Episode III, and deciding it was a good idea to implant it into Return of the Jedi:
That really kills me inside out.
And of course with bad news these days...Hitler finds out about it first from his High Command:
Chris Gould of dvdactive.com, did a really in-depth analysis that compared scenes across the different movie/DVD releases in all history. Check it out to really see what changes Lucasfilm has done over time with the movies...it is not just a good time-waster, but it really shows the nooks and crannies of the different versions of the Star Wars films.
|A change of the original to DVD re-releases: the tractor beam display.|
As a summary, I am indeed awed by the technological prowess the studio has clearly shown in enhancing many scenes, especially correcting scenes that had mistakes only a sharp eye could catch. The coloring and details of the scenes are vastly improved across the board. However, there are additions that Lucasfilm did make that would turn my guts inside out...Darth Vader's "NOOOOO", the CGI-rocks that hide R2D2, and the gay-sounding screech Obi-Wan gave to the Tusken Raiders. In conclusion, I won't touch the new release at all.
Star Wars: Bigger than Lucas?
The Star Wars as a cultural phenomenon has really become so big that its fans have become deeply invested into it after it captured the imagination of millions. For myself as a teenager, I was engrossed with the notion of a living universe that "lived" outside of our own physical universe, which was accessed and shaped by our imagination. I have long dreamed of flying TIE fighters, got really sucked into the X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter video game, and am a big fan of Admiral Pellaeon of the extended universe.
|The 501st Legion commemorating the 25th anniversary of Star Wars' first release (lgeionxxiv.org)|
To think about it...Lucas and co. are really focused on visual tech and are not true wizards with storylines (unlike Pixar in comparison), and what they did with the Complete Saga should come as no suprise. Lucasfilm is primarily known for its Star Wars and Indiana Jones series...while Industrial Light & Magic supplies extraordinary effects for a wide range of movies. But their recent releases kinda suck (I do have to use that word), the prequels and Crystal Skull have become irksome to many. So I guess either Lucas has an almost dictatorial hold on creative proceedings in Lucasfilm, or that the entire team is made up of just techno-wizards.
It is unfortunate that George Lucas had lived up to his prophecy during the time of the original trilogy...when he expressed his disdain for sci-fi film-makers who sacrificed story-telling for technological magic. I am perhaps not the only one to say that the magic of Star Wars has been diluted with more of his studio's tinkering around with the movies.
|George Lucas: the creator of Star Wars and to some...ironically the destroyer of it.|
|An example of a good re-release: Blade Runner The Final Cut.|
There are examples of good re-releases...and one that immediately pops up in my mind is Blade Runner: The Final Cut, where the film was visually enhanced and some changes were made that not only appealed to fans...but also made the movie a whole lot deeper. George Lucas had an extremely talented team around him throughout the 6 episodes: John Williams who never failed to produce magical soundtracks, SFX-wizards with a high command of technical expertise...it breaks my heart that the recent prequels and re-releases of Star Wars do not do justice to the effort put in. I respect Lucas as a professional, he is free to do what he wants with his "creation", but just don't forget that Star Wars has grown massively from its loyal fan-base.
I guess Lucas doesn't see the fans as partners in the creation of the Star Wars universe...which is sad considering how passionate fans can be :(