Star Wars Trilogy (1977)

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Thriller
Fox || PG - 624 minutes - $69.98 || September 21, 2004
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-10-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand
Writer(s): "Star Wars": George Lucas (written by); "Empire Strikes Back": George Lucas (story), Leigh Brackett (screenplay) and Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay); "Return of the Jedi": George Lucas (story/screenplay) and Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay)
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alex Guiness, Billy Dee Williams


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1 - STAR WARS
  • Writer/Director, Sound Effects Supervisor, Second Cameraman & Actress Commentary


  • Disc 2 - EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
  • Co-Writer, Director, Sound Effects Supervisor, Second Cameraman & Actress Commentary


  • Disc 3 - RETURN OF THE JEDI
  • Writer/Director, Sound Effects Supervisor, Second Cameraman & Actress Commentary


  • Disc 4 - BONUS DISC
  • Feature Length Documentary
  • Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Theatrical Trailers, Teasers and TV Spots
  • Still Galleries
  • XBox Game Demo
  • Making of "Episode III" Video Game
  • Star Wars: Episode III Preview


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

The Star Wars Trilogy finally hit store shelves September 2004. It is a franchise that has developed a following which a word like "loyal" could not justly describe them. Well, now creator George Lucas has made some of them mad, changing a few things around to add to the continuity with that of the new trilogy that are Episodes I - III. Anyways, onto the reviews of the original classics. Now, I must warn you, I am not a Star Wars junkie. I have only seen each of these films maybe twice -- three at the most -- in my life. While these are great films, I just don't have the passion for them as others may. The reason I say this is because in these reviews, I try to simplify the plot down rather than going through each detail (and there are a lot). So, if I oversimplify things, please resist the urge to e-mail to me and complain (that is, unless I get something wrong). Well, without further adue...

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope begins Luke Skywalker's vast journey as he meets new friends and makes new enemies as he prepares for his own destiny that lies before him. Deep in space, Luke joins space smuggler Hans Solo and Empire fighter, Princess Leia as they join the resistence to take on the Federation, which is fought and protected by Lord Darth Vader. While on this massive journey to take out the Empire's newest weapon, the Death Star (which can take out an entire plant in one "shot"), Luke discovers that the Force -- an energy source (of sorts) that flows within a chosen few who can wield it, resides within him. Withall the complexities, I can understand why and how this could become such a phenomena. Considering it was released in 1977, it really does have some impressive special effects, effects that, in my opinion, are better and more effective than the recent Star Wars outtings. And it only gets better with the sequels.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back has the trio of Luke, Hans and Leia still fighting the good fight, but unfortunately losing as the Empire continues with its stranglehold on the galaxy. But this journey will certainly be difficult for Luke who, after lossing a light-saber fight with Darth Vader, learns the family secret that is so infamous in cinema history.

I must say, this truly is a great sequel with excellent fight and battle scenes, it has a great story that opens up the entire saga to a new level never seen before, and never seen since (The Matrix had the chance, but fell flat).

Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi is the "final" entry in the saga. Now, Luke Sjywalker, who has more control over the Force within him (though still not fully a Jedi Knight), has become a pawn in the Empire's grand scheme, plotted by The Emperor, to lure Luke to the dark side and join his father, Lord Vader, at his side to rule the galaxy. Within this family soap opera, though, Luke and Princess Leia rescue Hans Solo from the grips of gangster Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, though, the Empire is also making a new (and improved) Death Star.

This final film in the trilogy was just as good as the original, though didn't equal the intensity of Empire. The one thing I found annoying were the Ewoks who were cute and all -- and who were important to the plot -- but I found them to be annoying by the end. That said, in the end, and after an afternoon of Star Wars watching, I was quite pleased with the experience overall.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Star Wars bonus material is fairly extensive given when each film was made. First, though, are the commentary tracks for each Star Wars movie. All three feature commentary from director/creator George Lucas, sound designer Ben Burtt, second camerman (miniature/special effects) Dennis Muren and actress Carrie Fisher with Irvin Kershner on the Empire Strikes Back commentary. The commentaries, while still a bit annoying since each were recorded separately, were informative. The tracks, though, showed me how much George Lucas truly cares about this trilogy. Lucas does delve a bit into how he came up with idea, the different stages of the idea, the struggles in filming, as well as other tidbits. Carrie Fisher provides the actors perspective and tells stories from behind the scenes inluding her on-screen kiss with Harrison Ford to shaping up for her bikini shots in Return of the Jedi. The oher commentators: Burtt, Muren and Kershner (for The Empire Strikes Back) were pretty technical with their information. Burtt went into how he created some of the sounds like the lightsabers or Darth Vader's breathing; Muren let us in on how some of the scenes were shot and director Kershner talks about how he came aboard (Lucas' schedule was very heavy).

The rest of the features are contained on the fourth disc. The first -- and most notable -- is the Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, a two and a half hour featurette, that covers the making of each Star Wars film. They cover the trials and tribulations for George Lucas who had (and still has) a distain for Hollywood studios. The New Hope section shows (through archive footage and new interviews) how much Lucas had to go through to get this small but ambitious space opera off the ground, which at one point was almost cancelled due to delays. However, with the success of the film and merchandising (an element a majority of companies did not want in on), Lucas was able to make his calls and because of some smart maneuvering (though at the time, it was considered risky) he could finance the sequels himself with very little studio interference. With the Empire Strikes Back, he decided to hire Irvin Kershner, a director mainly known for character-centered films, to helm the highly anticipated sequel. Empire, however, had its own problems as Kershner went about $10m past the $25 million budget (which was a hell of a lot back then). There's more of this for Return of the Jedi, as Lucas now leaves the director's and writer's guild. This comes to bite him in the bud, however, when he wanted his old friend Steven Spielberg to direct the third installment, but because of his actions, Lucas goes for Richard Marquand who, like his predecessor, had little experience on a project of this magnatude.

Next are three featurettes which look to be the standard fare you see, however, when I delved into them, they offered so much more! The Force is with Them: The Legacy of Star Wars, is a wonderful example as it provides interviews with not only Star Wars alum, but hall-of-fame calliber filmmakers including James Cameron (Titanic), Steven Spielberg (Schindler's List and countless others) and Peter Jackson (do I need to name those movies?). The nearly 20 minutes featurette shows the high praises from these guys as they pay homage to George Lucas whose contributions to the film industry (which Lucas himself says is ironic considering his fight with the corporations) has been phenominal -- consider this: Pixar was a part of Lucas Inc before being sold off.

The Birth of the Lightsaber chronicles how Lucas and company created the sword every teenager -- hell, even every adult -- wants. Some of the information does get a bit repetitive as it's explained how they came up with the sounds and such, but if you don't feel like listening to the commentaries, then this is where you can get the 411. But, what was interesting was they did show how they marked the bearings for post-production with different sized swords depending on the shot.

The third and final featurette, The Characters of Star Wars, shows -- what else? -- the progression of each character. This featurette has interviews with the cast and crew including, of course, George Lucas as he explains how he came up with these characters and the fact that originally Han Solo was meant to be a green monster and that main character was going to be Luke Starkiller (which later, I think, became Darth Vader).

The set also features Star Wars Battlefront Trailer and Xbox Game Demo, Star Wars: Episode III Making the Game featurette, the usuall typical Trailers and TV Spots section, which this time around was fascinating to watch how movies were marketed back then, Posters and Print Campaign and least and certainly NOT least, Star Wars: Episode III Behind-the-Scenes Preview - The Return of Darth Vader. I won't go into the others, because they are pretty obvious and, frankly, superficial. The latter featurette -- which runs at around 9 minutes, is wonderful to watch (for Star Wars geeks and or just the regular folks out there). Here, you can catch a glimpse of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker just before he transforms into Lord Darth Vader! Cool stuff.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

One word describes the sound and picture of the Star Wars Trilogy: Awesome! Considering the trilogy dates back 27 years, the picture and sound, for the most part, was dang-near perfect. A New Hope was probably the worst for wear in the sound department, but as the trilogy went on, the picture and sound became increasingly better, so much so that by , it could've been filmed last year.



.::OVERALL::.

This is certainly a set any Star Wars must own -- which, at this point, you probably already do! The best thing I liked about this set is Lucas and company added commentary tracks (something missing in the Indiana Jones set. Given how long ago these films were made, it is incredible how much they were able to dip up, and even all the interviews they also provided. Excellent set that rivals some of the best!