This is it, Star Wars fans, the latest edit of all six Star Wars movies, in full Blu-Ray high definition and surround sound, with three bonus disks containing over 40 hours of deleted scenes, interviews, and extras. So the question becomes: Do you need it? My answer is: Maybe.
- Product: Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-Ray Collection
- Number of discs: 9
- Contents: The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III, Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV-VI, The Star Wars Documentaries
- Format: Blu-Ray High Definition Video, AC-3, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
- Cost: $86.99 on Amazon
What I like
- Quality: Great Scott, is this thing pretty. The picture was never this clear in the theater, let alone on DVD, VHS, or broadcast television. The surround sound mix is perfect (which you’d expect from the originator of THX sound). The space battle sequences from Return of the Jedi are even more awesome than you remember.
- Surprises: For non-purists, some of the most recent changes — notably the replacement of puppet-Yoda in Episode I with the CGI Yoda seen in Episode II and III — are actually for the better.
- Extras: There are tons (as in three discs) of bonus materials, though there isn’t much we haven’t seen before. Especially noteworthy is an extended planning animatic of the final battle between Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous that was directed by Steven Spielberg but that was actually too epic and complex for Lucas. (Spoiler: In the Spielberg version, an entire subway train gets wrecked.) Also, some outtakes from Episode III show how much fun Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen had making this movie.
What I don’t like
- Quality: Great Scott, is this thing ugly. More precisely, special effects and principle photography that weren’t shot for High Definition really start to come apart on Blu-Ray. Episode I and Episode IV (you know, the original Star Wars) are particularly un-pretty in HD. You’ll come to despise almost every exterior CGI scene that takes place on Tatooine, as there’s just no way to disguise old-school graphics in that much direct sunlight.
- Surprises: Most of the new alterations to the films are unnecessary, especially since Han still doesn’t shoot first.
- Extras: The bonus materials are poorly organized — by planet, of all things — and thus tedious to navigate.
Geek bottom line
It really comes down to this: Are you a Star Wars purist, or a Star Wars completist? Purists despise the constant tinkering Lucas has inflicted on the original Star Wars trilogy (though most don’t realize this tinkering has been going on since 1977). Completists simply want to own every possible incarnation and version of Star Wars they can get their hands on. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle on this spectrum, though we all tend to favor one side or the other.
Completists, The Complete Saga Blu-Ray Collection is your Holy Grail, not least because Lucas has fiddled with almost every film again. Purists, stay as far away from this box set as possible, as Lucas has fiddled with almost every film again.
I had a group of about 10 absolute Star Wars fanatics over to my house for two consecutive weekends while we churned through the Star Wars: The Complete Saga Blu-Ray Collection. At the end of the day, it was still Star Wars, and we had as much fun mocking some of the new changes as we did reciting the classic lines that not even Lucas dares alter. If you don’t own a complete set of Star Wars movies on DVD — and you aren’t a diehard purist — there’s no reason not to make this your go-to copy of each film. If you’ve got DVD copies of the Star Wars double-trilogy, the upgrade to Blu-Ray isn’t significant enough to warrant a replacement — unless you’re a completist, in which case you need this set yesterday.
Geek Gift Score (out of 5)
- Fun factor: ***
- Geek factor: ****
- Value: ***
- Overall: ***
For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2011.