Star Wars: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi: Limited Editions
-20th Century Fox (1977, 1980, 1983)
I can’t believe how many Star Wars reviews we’ve done. When does it end?
So they’re here now. The original films the way they were meant to be seen, depending on who you ask. Whatever. This review is going to cover the bonus discs only, because the main discs in these editions are actually the ones that we’ve reviewed here before. Click here if you need to know more about them.
I realize that that we saw these editions in a negative, before they were even released. That didn’t stop me from wanting to like these discs. Why wouldn’t I want to like the original release on DVD? I would be just like everyone else out there who invested themselves in despising this edition, so I cleared my head and started A New Hope with an open mind.
My first impression wasn’t good. When the main menu loads a couple of TIE fighters that have been obviously rendered in the early 90s shoot across the screen. Either this is really old or they had been made to look crappy deliberately, although I can’t say why. Combined with the shoddy, no motion menu screens, the A New Hope “bonus” disc looks just like a horrible DVD edition of some shittier movie. I can't confirm this since I don't have a laserdisc player or any version of Star Wars on laserdisc, but it looks like this release is basically the laserdisc turned into a DVD. The picture is pretty terrible. While it’s not the worst thing in the world, this ‘aint what DVD is supposed to be. The colors are not as vibrant as they are on the regular DVD version and there are enough particles and scratches in the print to really show off how bad the film stock was getting. Sadly, the other two films don’t fair much better. All three films look particularly horrible when zoomed in on a widescreen TV, which is the only way you can really watch this film on such a set in order to not have to deal with black bars on the tops AND sides of the screen. The way the prints look, they remind me of watching these films on TV when I was a kid. Yes, that’s a bad thing to think when you’re watching a DVD.
The sound is in Dolby Digital 2.0 and while I could be up in arms about it, I'm really not. It wouldn't make sense to have a rocking 5.1 mix or a DTS track on a film that looked so bad. Besides, if you want to go all "original" with these flicks the first film should be watched in a mono mix anyway. As far as the Dolby 2.0 surround mix goes, it's actually pretty good and is one of the best things about this set.
After viewing these films in their original form and taking into consideration the vast technical difference between the two DVD versions, I’m in the firm belief that the Special Editions are a good thing. In fact, I prefer watching them now.
Wait! Don’t start typing your hate emails yet!
I, just as anyone else with half a brain, truly dislike the most controversial aspects of the Special Editions like the Greedo and Han stuff, the new dance number in Jedi, the changed Ewok song, and yes, even the pandering to the audience with the added Boba Fett shots. However, if you watch both versions in comparison, the work that they did to restore the Special Edition films is awesome, especially with A New Hope. Does anyone really miss the crappy effects shots during the Death Star attack? The CGI added in the Special Edition during the 90s is so much better and still holds up today. It’s sad to say, but A New Hope in its original form is really dated and it resembles a cheap sci-fi film. Yes, it wouldn’t look so bad in a super redone DVD edition, but come on, that Alderaan explosion is shit. This also applies to other changes like the newer, more populated Cloud City shots and the more enthusiastic Sarlacc tentacles (you can get rid of the beak, that’d be fine by me). The “original” “untouched” films are great and all, but I’ll take the Special Editions any time. Still, if I could live in a dream world where there was a sort of a half-way between the two versions, then that would be unicorns and gumdrops awesome.
Should you buy this edition? As I’ve said before on the main page, get this edition if you can’t live without seeing the original versions and you won’t think they’ll come out again on DVD or another format. I’ll consider my set as an insurance policy and one less reason to buy a set from a bootlegger at a comic convention.
The “bonus” discs are the extras in addition to anything from the previous versions of these discs. They also come with a trailer and a demo for the new Star Wars Lego game. Blah.
Film Average: 9.0