Other than a copy of Episode 2 I was given for Christmas one year, I have long held out from buying any of the Star Wars films on DVD because I knew that one day George would gave and release a “Saga” edition, with more bonus features and with the dawning of High Def a few years back I had another reason to wait. So when late this past year we finally got our release, it was simply a matter of when I wound have the funds to buy it. The Complete Saga on BluRay is 9 discs with all six of the feature films and 3 discs of bonus documentaries, deleted scenes, spoofs and specials. Sorry folks but no copy of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
In the first of 3 posts, we’ll focus on the Prequel trilogy themselves and discuss what’s changed, what’s held up through time and what still sucks. Why not start at the beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace!
Episode I was something I had learned about in the official Star Wars Magazine years before when they showed a cast line up of Liam Neeson as “A Jedi”, Ewan Mcgreggor as “Obi Wan Kenobi”, Natalie Portman as “A Young Queen”, Mace Windu as “A Jedi Master” and Jake Llyod as “Anakin Skywalker” whom we knew would become Darth Vader. I remember that even as a kid I hated Jar Jar Binks but loved to beat him up with my other action figures. So after years of not having seen Episode I, my BluRay viewing was something I very much looked forward to. The film itself has very few changes other than the puppet Yoda has been replaced with a CG Yoda that is closer to his appearance in Episodes II & III. As much as I love Puppet Yoda, the CG Yoda helps tie the films together better and honestly he looks so good he makes Jar Jar look out of date. Other than that I noticed a longer introduction scene of the pod race was added that I dont recall as well as an extended scene when they arrive on Coruscant for the first time that includes Quin Gon “Shooing” Anakin to go with the Queen and Jar Jar.
Episode I was more enjoyable that I remember, maybe because of all the “nay-sayers” who disapprove of it. After years of hearing about it from people, maybe I finally started to agree until I watched the BluRay. If anything, I would find that Episode II: Attack of the Clones would have to work the hardest to hold my attention out of the prequels.
Episodes II & III would have no real added scenes which I was somewhat upset about. If anything they had the most deleted scenes that would have helped add to the story. The images and effects held up well along with the special effects but Attack of the Clones is still probably the weakest of the three films. Christensens acting is still a major point of conflict among many fans, myself included and I have to admit even Ewan’s performance as Obi Wan is less than stellar still. With no real changes, Attack of the Clones is a lot of build up for a few very short scenes of real enjoyment.
Episode III had the most scenes that could have helped it if they were added back in. Starting with the scene of Yoda arriving on Dagobah. The scene, which was part of the UK theatrical release, was absent from the US version and only viewable as a deleted scene. The short scene simply shows Yodas escape pod landing in the swamp, opening up and Yoda taking a brief survey of his new home. While short, it adds a lot for fans of the whole series and helps make the end of Episode III a little more special. There were also numerous cut scenes involvind Padme and Bail Organa interacting with other characters including Mon Mothma to sew the seeds of the Rebel Alliance, which again would only have helped tie the prequels into the original trilogy.
Overall I enjoyed watching the prequels back to back, as I have never done so before. It allowed me to look back a lot of my previous issues with the series and enjoy them more thoroughly. Seeing them so close together helps you release as well how much was cut, what we don’t know and what was never explained as well. One scene in Episode III at the end could’ve been shorten a bit as well. When Yoda turns to tell Obi Wan of his training and Qui Gon is mentioned? Could’ve done without it. It just made me want to see Quin Gon’s ghost, which didn’t happen. While not perfect, The Blu Ray collection of Star Wars is as good as it’s going to get for this Star Wars nut!
Come back soon and check out part two of the Star Wars on BluRay series as we discuss the Original Trilogy!