Star Wars Trilogy

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This is it, the moment movie buffs have dreamed of, as George Lucas has deliver the original Star Wars films on DVD. When DVD started to rocket into mainstream success, everyone wanted their favorite films on the new format. Of course, that meant millions of folks wanted Star Wars, but alas, the discs were unavailable. Even as remastered VHS editions were issued, DVD was ignored and no dates were even hinted at. An online petition proved to be useless, but then out of nowhere, the news was broken. In what will be the pinnacle of DVD news, Star Wars has arrived and all focus is on these wonderful films. The event is worth the wait, but fans will be let down by the lack of the unaltered theatrical editions. Even so, there is too much good here to be disappointed, including an entire disc devoted to supplements. No matter what this review states, everyone will be grabbing this release, but for the record, here is a rundown of what Fox has given us, as well as a brief synopsis for each picture.

A New Hope- Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is a simple farmhand, but he has dreams that takes him high above his homeworld. At the same time, a rebel cruiser has been boarded by Imperial troops, who seek some crucial plans. But the plans were entrusted to two droids, who then escaped in a pod down the the surface. Soon after landing, the two separate, only to be reunited when taken into service by Luke’s uncle. When one of the robots, R2-D2 reveals a message from Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) asking for help, Luke is intrigued. R2-D2 then escapes to deliver the message, which leads Luke to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness), a Jedi Knight. The path of the droids is followed by Imperial forces, who slaughter Luke’s uncle and his wife. Now he and Obi-Wan seek to take on the dark side, led by Darth Vader, the man who killed Luke’s father. Luke has the adventure he craved, but can he handle all the excitement?

The Empire Strikes Back- The Alliance is strong, but an attack on the battle station on Hoth forces them to disband and regroup. Luke decides to follow the force to Dagobah, where he seeks out a Jedi master known as Yoda. He and R2-D2 soon crash land on the planet, but there is no sign of such a fierce warrior to be found. At the same time, Han and Leia venture to Cloud City, where they hope to lay low for a while. Han’s old gambling partner Lando (Billy Dee Williams) runs the station, but the trust is not complete between the two. As time passes, Lando’s loyalty proves to be unknown and with Imperial forces on the hunt, the pressure mounts. Back on Dagobah, Luke runs into a mean little creature who torments him, then reveals himself to be Yoda. The training that follows is brutal and harsh, but Luke endures. He is told to continue his training, but he senses danger to his friends and heads out to lend a hand.

Return of the Jedi- As Jabba the Hut holds Han Solo captive in his carbonite state, C-3P0 and R2-D2 venture to his isolated complex. The droids bring a message from Luke, who offers them as gifts and requests Solo’s release. This just incites laughter in Jabba and his minions, who dismiss his claims of Jedi style violence. A bounty hunter soon arrives and ruffles feathers, only to be revealed as Leia on a rescue mission. She is imprisoned as well, which prompts Luke to make a visit and show off his Jedi skills. He defeats Jabba’s prized Rancor monster, but then faces certain death when sentenced to be fed to the Sarlacc. The stage is set for certain death, unless Luke has a bigger plan than anyone suspects…

Video: How does it look?

All three films are presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’ve seen every home video version of these movies, from the original VHS tapes to the Special Edition laserdiscs, but none come close to this level of visual performance. The restoration work done has enhanced the prints to the point of almost perfection, with minimal grain or debris. The marks and grain seen on some previous editions have been cleaned up, but not at the expense of refinement. So the visuals remain sharp and retain depth, so detail is excellent throughout. The colors look great too, with bold and vivid hues that show no signs of errors in the least. The black levels perform well also, which is good, since the visuals lean a lot on shadows and darkness. All in all, this is as good as we could demand, at least until the high definition versions land.

Audio: How does it sound?

The fans would have killed for DTS, but no such luck with this release, but the new Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtracks are impressive. The films are loaded with explosions, chases, fights, and all kinds of other audio dynamite, which means the soundtracks have a lot to handle. But all three films sound awesome in this release, with powerful and well crafted audio performance. If you stack these up against more recent films with reference level audio, these soundtracks won’t keep up the pace, but the audio is still excellent here. The surrounds pulse throughout all three pictures, with both impact elements and more reserved effects well handled. The bass is superb, as always, while dialogue is clean and never falters in the least. As I said, DTS tracks would have been incredible, but in the end, I have no complaints here. The discs also have 2.0 surround options, French and Spanish language tracks, and English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

All three films have audio commentary tracks with creator George Lucas, audio genius Ben Burtt, special effects whiz Dennis Muren, and star Carrie Fisher, while director Irvin Kerschner joins the discussion for The Empire Strikes Back. These tracks were edited from separate encounters, which takes away some of the spur of the moment interactions, but for fans, these sessions still prove to be worthwhile. No time is wasted either, so from start to finish, the tracks are well prepared and informative. The fourth disc holds the rest of the extras, including the set’s crown jewel, the extensive documentary The Empire of Dreams. The piece runs about two and a half hours and follows the entire trilogy, from conception to completion. This is a no holds barred feature that takes us inside the creation process, covering the good moments, but also taking note of the lower moments in the productions. This release also includes three production featurettes, a nice collection of still photos and poster artwork, a generous selection of television promotional spots, and several theatrical trailers for each picture.

Disc Scores