Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Somebody Find Me a Working VCR

Do a Google search for the soon to be released Star Wars blu ray editions and you will find much anger coupled with the gnashing of teeth. Fans around the globe have bombarded Amazon's consumer review pages and dropped a hopeful five star rating down to a mere one. Outrage abounds and as a fan who grew up watching the orginal trilogy in the theaters the purest in me is in full agreement. Why won't Lucas give fans what they truly want? Original pre special edition theatrical versions of the films. I'm sure that releasing just the first unaltered 1977 film would be huge finacial boon for Lucas Arts.

I've read many complaints and some I do agree with and others... well I think some of the complaints go a little too far and are just too stupid to gripe about. One reviewer of the last DVD release complained that in one of the films opening scrolls Lucas had the nerve to capitalize the R in the word rebel that was sooooooo wrong because it wasn't original. Give me a break. I could care less that in the blu ray version Ewoks now blink. Frankly I never noticed that they could not.

And you call yourself a fan?

Well yes I do. The small tweeks don't send me over the edge but the glaring ones do. I agree with those who are complaining about Vader crying "Nooooo, Noooo" as he throws the Emperor to his death. I've seen a youtube video and if this is real it does indeed take away from the scene. A couple more changes that do bother me. The replacement of actor Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi. Seeing Hayden Christianson standing next to Yoda and Obiwan just ruins the close of that film for me. What are we to think, that upon his death Anakin's spirit is transformed back to a teenager? (Remember this is Luke's vision, he never knew the younger version of his father) At least Lucas left Alec Guiness in there and didn't replace him with Ewan McGregor. Now I like Ewan but it would simply be wrong to put him in that scene. One other change that I hate, hate, hate (yes hate is a strong word) is when Luke, Ben, C3PO and R2D2 arrive at Mos Eisley. As Luke's landspeeder pulls into town we get a barrage on people and robots moving from left to right across the screen. There is no depth to it, it looks fake and it sucks.

Star Wars opened May of 1977 and ran exclusively at the River Hills in Des Moines for 29 weeks between May 27th to Dec. 13th, and was eventually replaced by “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind.” It then moved next door to the Riviera auditorium, where it ran for another 27 weeks for a complete run of 56 weeks before being moved to other theaters.

I first saw this film in its 42nd week, the theater had a full house and clearly everyone there was already a big Star Wars fan. Over the next several months I saw it in theaters 4 more times.

I was eleven when Star Wars was released and it just blew my mind. To me that first film, as it originally was released, will always remain my favorite out of all the films. It was futuristic yet it fit well with the open title script "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away" This was not the typical shiny flashy utopian science fiction film. This movie had grit and it felt lived in. It was good because it had a great story, the characters were believable, and it just happened to take place in space.

When the original or rather the Special Editions of the first trilogy were re-released in theaters 25 years later, it did not matter that I already owned all three film on VHS. Each of the films ran for one week on the giant curved cinerama screen of the River Hills. When these versions came out there was plenty of advertising pointing out there would be some new surprises. I was thrilled to see these movies up on the big screen and I happily paid my money to catch them all.

Fast forward a couple years and the the first prequel comes out. The movie was ok but not great, Still when Phantom Menace was released to video I bought the VHS to add to my collection. Yep VHS was still popular at that time. As the second film was released to home video DVD was beginning to drive the death nail into VHS. Knowing that a third film was planned I did make the smart choice of waiting for all of the movies to be available on DVD and then bought them all. This time Lucas had further doctored the original trilogy and like this pending blu ray release not much was out there to clue buyers into expecting more changes.

If your a real fan chances are you heard rumors of changes all over the internet. If not you may go out and buy the blu ray set and be surprised at what you get. I will echo what others have said. This was a wasted opportunity by the Lucas camp. Blu Ray can hold far more data. I wish George would have included at the very least, the original 1977 film along with his new vision and simply given us, the consumer fans, the choice of watching either version we felt like watching.

One thing is for certain. Lucas will alter the movies yet again in upcoming 3D versions. 3D is nothing more than a commercial gimmick to rack in move money at the box office. Very few movies benefit from 3D. Tron is one example of a film that I actually enjoyed seeing in 3D. However, I enjoy it much more in standard HD on my home theater. We have a 47" 3D set at work for testing. The 3D on it looks so fake and not at all like in the theater.

Star Wars "The Complete Saga" will be released on blu ray September 16th. Like the dismayed German leader in the video above. I may just rebell and break out my VHS.