The Phantom Menace

Blu-ray REVIEW: Star Wars – The Complete Saga (2011 9 disc set)

I will be going LIVE at 12:30 AM (ET) Saturday morning with Robert Daniels on VISIONS IN SOUND. Tune in on your dial to 98.5 or internet to CKWR!  You folks in the UK can tune in as you enjoy some morning coffee or tea!

Rob says:  “May is Star Wars month on Visions In Sound and we will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary with a slew of special shows. Joining me this week will be special guests Jason Drury, Michael Ladano & Erik Woods to help with the celebration. Featured music will be from the Star Wars prequel trilogy (John Williams). Join Us THIS Saturday 12:30-2:30am (ET)”

 

STAR WARS: The Complete Saga (2011 Lucasfilm 9 Blu-ray set)

Includes:  Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and three bonus discs.

Star Wars on blu-ray…it took a lot less time than it did for Star Wars to arrive on DVD!  In special features and deleted scenes alone, it was well worth the wait. You can’t do a box set like this without the bonus of unseen footage. The good news is, The Complete Saga is loaded with unseen special features and deleted scenes. In fact, the Tosche Station scene (deleted from A New Hope) is worth the purchase alone for the true fan. It’s that great.

Will this be the last time we buy the first two Star Wars trilogies? Heck, no! When 3D comes out, everybody will be having the same discussion all over again!  And when the sequel trilogy is complete, we’ll be doing it again.  Will Greedo still shoot first? Well, in my mind I have long accepted that Han shot first. Only in some weird Lucasverse is there a way that Greedo could shoot and miss at that range. That close, I’m sorry, Han is toasted smuggler stew.  Disney says there is no way to re-release the original trilogy without its Special Edition enhancements, as the original film materials are too far gone.

However about 10 years ago or so, Lucas did an official DVD reissue of the ORIGINAL original trilogy, which I went out and bought on day one. It was satisfying, it looked better than my old VHS copy, but it wasn’t cleaned up nice like the special editions were. Which, in my opinion, is fine. It looks good and it’s as close to your childhood memories as you’ll ever get. After all, we didn’t have 1080p TV tubes.

Accepting that a Blu-ray version of the “ORIGINAL” original trilogy will never happen, I am very satisfied with my Blu-ray of the Complete Saga.

The sound is awesome, very deep, and annoying to the neighbors.

The video is perfect; I realize there are probably some colour changes here and there but I’m not about to do an A/B test and find them. I don’t care, it’s sharp and bright and clear and even Phantom Menace looks good!

Content wise, you know what? Hell, I’m actually enjoying Phantom Menace. I’m lost in that moment in 1999 or whatever it was, when we sat there watching it the first time, trying to figure out who the new baddies were and checking out all the cool designs, which all stand up today. Except Jar Jar. Take him out and the movie’s not half bad at all, flawed as it may be.

Bonus featues: I wanted to watch the deleted scenes and there is good news and bad news. The bad news is, I hate how the deleted scenes are organized. You have to click the movie you want, click the planet you want, and then pick deleted scenes from the features. You can’t just go to a menu called “Deleted Scenes”. Anyways, these were mostly great although some action scenes were just animatics. And, I don’t think these deleted scenes overlap at all with the scenes provided on previous DVD editions. For example there was no Greedo scene in the Episode I deleted scenes, but there certainly was on the original DVD release for Episode I. That goes for the special features in general…I don’t think there are many that overlap at all with the ones you already have.  That could be good or bad; for most fans that’s good.  You’re buying new stuff, not the same stuff you have already.

Highlights: As mentioned the Tosche Station scene, which has all the soul of old Star Wars along with finally tying up the Biggs storyline. Also welcome was the attack on the droid control ship from Episode II — previously only available to subscribers to Lucasfilm’s ill-fated Hyperspace service.

There’s also an hour and a half (!) of spoofs from all over the place, including The Simpsons, Family Guy, Robot Chicken, Saturday Night Live (including that hilarious Kevin-Spacey-as-Christopher-Walken-as-Han-Solo one), Colbert, That 70’s Show, and many more. Most of these, I have never seen.

This is exactly what anybody who had reasonable expectations wanted.

5/5 stars

 

Advertisements

Part 270: Star Trek vs. Star Wars

Dedicated to David “Homer”

KIRK VADER

RECORD STORE TALES Part 270:  Star Trek vs. Star Wars

I took my fair share of ribbing for being a Star Trek fan at the record store.  I’ve been a Star Trek fan since I was a little kid – I had a kid’s size Scotty uniform shirt.  The first episode I can remember seeing was Operation: Annihilate!  It terrified and excited me at the same time, and I couldn’t believe the heroism of Mr. Spock.  He was my favourite character by far.  Kirk was always getting distracted by girls.

ART OFI witnessed some amazing moments in Trek-history during my time at the store (1994-2006).  Generations came out a few months after I started, and I remember watching a City TV Generations special on the little screen in our store one night.  It was a quiet evening in the mall and there was nothing to do but clean.  The TV was usually on Much, so I switched it to the Trek special.    That was a fun night for me.

Shortly after that, Voyager debuted and I raced home from work to catch the pilot episode which I was recording.  I missed the first 20 minutes and in the pre-PVR days you couldn’t just rewind and watch a show that you were recording “live”.  Yes, it was an exciting time to be a Trekkie.  My co-workers teased me about it, but Christmas ’95 my boss bought me a thoughtful Art of Star Trek book that I still have.  That was pretty cool of him.  He knew nothing about Trek but he picked a cool book with a Generations special in the back.  He was relieved that I liked it.

As a Trekkie (I dislike the term “Trekker”), I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a pretty hit-and-miss affair, being a fan.  For every great movie like First Contact, there was a shite movie like Nemesis.  By the late 90’s, being a Trek fan was a lot less exciting.  Especially when George Lucas started cranking up the Star Wars machine again with the Special Editions, in theaters.

The last time that I was really excited about Star Trek (before the recent reboot) was Star Trek: Insurrection. On December  11, 1998 I was working the night shift with a new guy, a class act named Dave “Homer”.   It was a Friday night, and the new guy said that he and his roommate were going to catch the new Trek movie on opening night.  Was I interested in joining them?  Of course I was.

INSURRECTIONIn addition to Dec 11 being opening night for Star Trek: Insurrection (joke name – Star Trek: Big Erection), it was also opening night for the brand new movie theater in town.  Then known as Silver City, it’s now called Gateway Cineplex 10.  Added bonus:  Silver City was a mere hop-skip-and-jump away from the record store.  If we cashed out quickly, we would have absolutely no problem catching the late show and still have time to get drinks, corn and a bar.

Homer was somewhat new in town and  didn’t know the way.  I did, so I led the car convoy.  We were pleased to see that it wasn’t too busy at all.  His buddy Ollie (who briefly worked for us later on) joined us, and we got our seats.  Silver City was the latest, most modern theater.  The stadium seating was awesome, we never had anything like this in town before.  I couldn’t imagine a better setting for a new Star Trek movie!

Oh, it got better.

I always enjoy the previews.  First up was a cool looking movie called Rushmore.  Not having a clue what we were seeing, it looked interesting and Homer and I made mental notes.  (Long story short – I love Rushmore.)

Second trailer though…

STAR WARS.

Yes, the Star Wars Episode I trailer had fans buzzing.  You have to remember that nobody had a clue yet what a useless piece of shit Young Anakin would be.  (I feel bad for the actor Jake Lloyd, nobody could have played that fucking character.) We didn’t expect Jar Jar to be even worse than the worst Ewok, with so much screen time.  None of these flaws could be discerned from that first trailer, which was a collage of pure bad-assery and cool imagery.  What were those beasts emerging from the fog?  What planet is this?  Holy shit Tattooine.  What’s that silver ship? Why did C3P0 have no coverings?  And who the fuck is that evil looking dude with the double lightsaber?!

I’d seen a choppy, small version of the trailer online.  To see it on the big screen, in surround sound, in front of a new Star Trek movie?  My mind was blown before the opening credits!

It was hard for a whole Star Trek movie to top that one trailer for Star Wars.  I think for us it was pretty equal – we left enthused about both.  Insurrection was good, but we all felt that it was much like an “extended episode”.  It wasn’t bad, it was certainly better than 1994’s Generations, but it lacked the weight of 1996’s First Contact.  As Trekkies, we were satisfied and excited to see where the franchise would go next.  As a money paying audience, we knew the movie was simply not up to the high bar set by First Contact.  As long as it didn’t get worse from there…

It got worse from there.  We had no idea that Paramount would flush it all down the shitter with Star Trek: Nemesis (2001).  Just as we had no idea that George Lucas had a massive clusterfuck of sewer sauce in the pipeline for Star Wars Episode I.  Instead, we choose to focus on the rush of that evening, the excitement of the experience.  In fact it is best summed up by Mr. Spock himself:

“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing,
after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.”

– Mr. Spock, Star Trek, Amok Time

Every Star Wars DVD or Blur-ray that I own.

Every Star Wars DVD or Blu-ray that I own.

Part 209: The Phantom Menace

 

RECORD STORE TALES Part 209:  The Phanton Menace

Some at the record store made fun of me for being such a serious Star Wars fan.  I’m not a hard core fanboy; I don’t go to conventions or follow the books and TV shows, but I am pretty dedicated to the films.  I booked May 19, 1999 off work well in advance to see The Phantom Menace on opening day.

I’m not going to turn this story into a review for Phantom Menace.  That movie’s been reviewed by thousands of people and I’m not interested in contributing to the background noise.  The only thing you need to really agree with me on is that there was a tremendous excitement for Phantom Menace back in 1999.  I had been dreaming of what might happen before and after the Holy Trilogy since I was 5 years old.  My sister was only a baby when the first Star Wars came out, but she did get to see Empire in the theaters.  She is a slightly bigger fan than I am, but she doesn’t follow the expanded universe or any of that stuff.

We both booked the day off work and planned to go together.  Our strategy was this:  Since we knew that the theaters would be absolutely packed for the midnight opening, we picked an out of the way (but still THX) theater that had a noon showing. So, all we had to do was wait an extra 12 hours (at home), and we’d get in no problem!

We showed up at the theater and were, like, seventh in line.  No sweat.  Soon we had our seats in a sparsely seated theater.  Then the trailers (something called Titan AE, which inspired a heckle of “What the hell was that?” from the audience).  Then the Fox fanfare, the Lucasfilm logo and finally…”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”

136 minutes later (we stayed for the credits of course) we were pretty satisfied with the movie.  Keep in mind that fast shit had been whizzing in front of our faces for over two hours.  There were things that didn’t make sense, there were things we didn’t like much (the kid, Jar Jar) but we kept telling ourselves the same thing.

“Yeah, but it’s the first chapter.  The next one will be where it really starts.”

As we were talking about it, I said, “Wanna see it again?  It went so fast there was a ton of stuff I’m sure I missed.”

“Sure!” she answered.  “Yeah!”

We went back out to the ticket counter.  There were a few people in line, but not many.  “Two for Star Wars, please,” I said as I approached the counter.

“Didn’t you just come out of Star Wars?” she said with that snooty tone.

“Yep.  We liked it,” I answered.

“And you want to see it again?”  We did.

We went back in.  The second time lacked a bit of the awe.  This time, I paid more attention to the details.  Questions came to my mind.  “If Yoda is the Jedi Master that instructed Obi-Wan, then why is Liam Neeson training him?”  Stuff like that.

I still remember that on the way home, we stopped at the HMV store, and I bought Ed Hunter by Iron Maiden.  When we got home, we were still excited about the movie, telling Mom and Dad all the details.  My dad was skeptical.

“Does it have the emotion of the first one?  Does it have the feeling?” he inquired.

“Well…no not exactly,” I rationalized.  “This is just the first chapter.  The next one will be where it really starts.”

My dad was onto something.

The hilarious Red Letter Media review

I also distinctly remember watching Phantom Menace again with Tom and a franchise owner, on VHS, shortly after it came out.

In 2005 I first met the girl who would later become my wife, but she had never seen Star Wars.  I was really excited to be the guy that got to watch Star Wars with her for the first time.  For some stupid reason that to this day I will never understand, I decided to start her off with Episode I:  The Phantom Menace.  Bad idea.

“That stupid fucking dino-guy” is what she named Jar-Jar Binks.  She hated it.  (She liked Episode III though.)  Then, her dad (rest his soul) decided that he wanted to see the Star Wars prequels too.  One Saturday night I went over there with my DVD copy of Phanton Menace in hand.  And so it was that Jen had to see Phantom Menace not once, but twice.

We’ll be married five years this August, more awesomer than ever, so “that stupid fucking dino-guy” couldn’t have been all that  bad, right?

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

LeBrain on the radio!