Some Thoughts on the Star Wars Blu-ray Extras

I’ve been sick the past two days, so it was a good opportunity to stay in bed and on the couch and watch several hours of Star Wars Blu-ray collection bonus materials.

I have not watched the latest changes Mr. Lucas has made to the movies. I’m not sure I could handle them in my weakened condition!

Happy Surprises

  • The complete missing scene of Luke viewing the space battle over Tatooine and telling his friends about it at Tosche Station. This scene with Luke’s friend Biggs was in the comics and story book version when I was a kid and I’ve only seen brief clips of it in documentaries and other extras over the years.
  • The animated segment from the Star Wars Holiday Special is included as part of Boba Fett’s costume prototype in the Episode V Collection. The animation is low budget and has some odd character designs but shouldn’t be missed.
  • Inclusion of some classic fan films in the Spoofs video including Star Wars Gangsta Rap SE and Troops.
  • Several appearances of Star Wars in 70s and early 80s TV shows, including a song and dance number from the Donny & Marie show with Donny and Marie as Luke and Leia (strangely prophetic!), and Mark Hamill on The Muppet Show.
  • I really enjoyed all of Dennis Muren‘s special effects commentary in the Interviews sections.
  • There are some original episode documentaries that I’m sure were broadcast on television soon after the movies came out. I don’t quite remember seeing them but I got a warm fuzzy feeling while watching them. They’re an interesting contrast to many “making of” segments these days which often is more about selling you on seeing the movie than how the movie was really created.

Onto critiques and other observations…

Some Critiques

  • This is not a complete collection of all Star Wars material. There are deleted scenes and documentaries which can be found in some of the previous DVD releases which didn’t make it into the Blu-ray collection. In particular, I was missing some Episode II scenes of Padme and Anakin which were on the DVD releases.
  • Pre-vis techniques maybe was instrumental in the development of the prequels but they make for really crappy outakes. Somehow, hand sketched drawings, toy models and even stock footage are easier to look at than low-rez, mostly static SD video graphics.
  • The Spoofs video could’ve used fewer SNL and Spike commercials and a few more fan films.
  • The Archives need an alphabetical index or some alternative view by topic. The only way to find everything seems to be to dive down by episode and bonus material type (collection, interviews, deleted scenes and concept art). It would be nice to check out all the ships, costumes, planets, etc. at one time.

Other Observations

  • A PowerBook Duo with Duo Dock can be seen on George Lucas’ desk while he is talking about writing Episode I. Neat!
  • Unlike many Blu-ray menus, the text and graphics are of high contrast and of sufficient size to be visible on my 27″ TV in my bedroom from a distance. Most Blu-ray movie menus seem to be authored on a 30″ monitor, frequently have poor contrast or selection indication of menu items and appear never to be tested on anything smaller than a 46″ TV from seven feet away.
  • “Quilting bee” was frequently used to describe the model construction process where modelers are switched around so that boredom or a particular crafting style doesn’t set in. Not being exposed to quilting or knitting, I never would have thought of such a term to describe such a methodology.

For all those people thinking of skipping the Blu-ray edition because of the further changes to the films, you should look past that and enjoy not only a great set of movies but also a treasury of information on moviemaking!

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