Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Episodes 1-6)
Blu-Ray Review Written by: Alex Sandell


Unlike many reviews written by Star Wars' "purists" across the web who never watched a single one of these discs, this is a genuine review. One that I refused to write until I watched all 6 blu-ray movies (with my very patient girlfriend -- more on that later), all deleted scenes, listened to 8 of the 12 commentaries and sampled the other 4. In other words, this review is -- unlike so many 1 star reviews written prior to the release of this collection that were based on rumors and the person doing the critique's imagination -- REAL (like Scarlett Johansson's boobs).

All changes and alterations to the 2011 blu-ray release will be noted, for better or for worse, so you can decide if this collection is for you. Also, for the alterations/changes, I'm adding THE GIRLFRIEND TEST (she likes the movies, but never "loved" them) and THE FANBOY TEST (I have seen all 3 sequels at least a hundred times and the prequels at least 15 times each). Now - onto the reviews ...

PHANTOM MENACE Review:

I debated going in the order the series was filmed, but I've never watched them in chronological order so figured I'd take a chance. The Phantom Menace has went from a decent Star Wars' film in most fanboy eyes ("Not as good as A New Hope and Empire, but better than Return of the Jedi" was the common refrain) to the most hated of the prequels. The movie definitely isn't all that it could be. It isn't even close. But it has the best lightsaber battle of the trilogy, an awesome opening sequence, and WAY less Jar Jar than you remember (it's just that he's so SHRILL whenever he appears). It's also the only Star Wars' prequel that FEELS like a Star Wars' sequel (albeit, a really kiddy Star Wars' sequel). It has plenty of real sets and is structured much like the original 3.

The Movie Itself: 6 out of 10

PHANTOM MENACE Picture Quality:

The picture quality of The Phantom Menace is the worst of the bunch. It's filled with TONS of annoying Digital Noise Reduction (DNR) leading to a LOT of clayface (and not the good kind of Clayface from the Spider-Man comics). And even with that, the digital FX are still much sharper than the filmed shots of actors (this was the last Star Wars' film to actually be shot on film), which leads to the actors oftentimes looking out-of-focus or "blurred" when compared to their annoying digital counterparts (this means you, Jar Jar). The movie still needs a lot of work (see: The Phantom Edit), and I'm sure that was what George intended -- as he wants to sell us this set all over again in 7-10 years. In 3D.

Picture Quality: 6 out of 10 (still WAY better than the DVD)

PHANTOM MENACE Sound Quality:

The sound in the film is INCREDIBLE. It is some of the best surround sound ever produced on blu-ray. It genuinely sounds better than the the theatrical version. The Pod Race is, in my opinion, the best sounding segment of film ever put on a blu-ray disc.

Sound Quality: 10 out of 10

PHANTOM MENACE 2011 changes:

The horrible cross-eyed, stoned looking Yoda puppet has been changed to CG.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: Yes, she noticed. Yes, she liked it better.
THE FANBOY TEST: Yes, I noticed. Yes, I liked it better.

The HORRIBLE FX when Obi and Qui run away from the droid destroyers down the hall where you could see THROUGH them (Obi and Qui) is removed.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. Yes, when compared to the DVD she liked it better.
THE FANBOY TEST: No contest. It is a GREAT improvement.

ATTACK OF THE CLONES Review:

Attack of the Clones has always been -- prior to this blu-ray release -- my least favorite of the 6 movies in the saga. This release has won me over. The movie is possibly the best paced of the prequel trilogy, despite Lucas never really explaining the whole mystery element that the Obi-Wan: Private Dick section of the film focuses on. The downfall is the HIDEOUS "romantic" dialogue between Anakin and Padme. Every single word sounds like a turd has dropped from their mouths. It's still as laughable and as intolerable as it was at the midnight screening a decade ago. Fortunately, the rest of the movie holds up very well. This is the best directing Lucas has done since A New Hope (aside from his poor direction of actors). It moves at a brisk pace and keeps the viewer involved from start to finish.

The Movie Itself: 8 out of 10

ATTACK OF THE CLONES Picture Quality:

Sadly, the movie suffers from the same DNR as Phantom Menace. As it was shot digitally, it isn't as glaring, but there are a few moments of waxy-face that are nearly intolerable. On the other hand, the CG in the movie has never looked better. The end battle (which is essentially one big cartoon) has some breathtaking moments.

Picture Quality: 7 out of 10

ATTACK OF THE CLONES Sound Quality:

Incredible. Amazing. Ear-shatteringly awesome! Every bit as great as Phantom Menace. If TPM and AoTC lived up to their soundtracks, they'd be the best movies ever!

Sound Quality: 10 out of 10

ATTACK OF THE CLONES 2011 Changes:

Anakin hears junk (such as his mother) while he's dreaming -- indicating it's a terrifying dream, instead of a wet one.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. No, she didn't care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed something was different, but not exactly what (which led me to look it up). It did make the scene slightly less humiliating to watch.

REVENGE OF THE SITH Review:

Revenge of the Sith is a bleak film. If you're a diehard fan of the saga, it comes close to being traumatic. Lucas didn't sell this one short. Not at all. Sure, it should have been at least 3 hours long and should have expanded further on Anakin's change to the Dark Side. That said -- the Emperor thought he could change Luke in a matter of seconds in Return of the Jedi. So at least it makes a bit more of an effort. The opening space battle is incredible. The banter from the original trilogy is back and nearly lives up to the trademark Star Wars' banter found in the sequels. This is a very good movie. It still suffers from some of the inane "romantic" dialogue between Anakin and his lover, but Star Wars' fans have learned to deal with some cheesiness. Honestly -- no SW film, like no pizza (at least no good pizza), is without cheese -- not even Empire.  Speaking of pizza without cheese -- am I the only one to notice Pizza Hut and all other major pizza chains have gotten rid of real cheese and replaced it with a cheese-like plastic substance?

The Movie Itself: 10 out of 10

REVENGE OF THE SITH Picture Quality:

Unlike the first 2 DNR destroyed prequels, Revenge of the Sith looks GREAT! As a matter of fact, it's the best looking of all 6 films. The opening space battle is right up there with Avatar, Planet Earth and Beauty and the Beast 3D as the best looking thing you'll ever see on blu-ray. This movie is, visually, reference quality. If you're proud of your set up and don't own this film, you no longer have a reason to be proud. And you're a loser.

Picture Quality: 10 out of 10

REVENGE OF THE SITH Sound Quality:

I guess -- if you're a Star Wars' fan -- you can't have it all. This mix is muddled and doesn't sound nearly as good as the other 5. Still -- they set a very high standard with the rest of the films and RoTS remains impressive. Just not, "Most Impressive" (see what I did there, geeks?).

Sound Quality: 8 out of 10

REVENGE OF THE SITH 2011 Changes:

I noticed none.

A NEW HOPE Review:

What can be said that hasn't been said already? A New Hope introduced us to this crazy universe. It was like nothing we had ever seen. It was Flash Gordon for a new generation. It was pure amazement. It literally redefined the word "entertainment" and, because of that, lines of nerds and non-nerds surrounded every theater playing the film. Rumor has it that the original Star Wars' found nerds and non-nerds copulating for the first time ever, creating folks like Mark Zuckerberg. Aside from the dated 70s looking computers (which is a change I wish George Lucas WOULD make and a change that HAS been made in at least one certain awesome fan edit) and a few clunky lines from the actors (mainly Mark Hamill), the movie is pure perfection.

The Movie Itself: 10 out of 10

A NEW HOPE Picture Quality:

There's a little of that ugly DNR that plagued episodes 2 & 3 -- especially on Princess Leia's face, but it lessens throughout. There's also some terrible dirt during the Tatooine scenes and a few blurry looking shots. That said, the film looks GOOD. Almost too good. Better than I thought I'd ever see a movie this dated appear. To be honest, it gave me a hard-on.

Picture Quality: 9 out of 10

A NEW HOPE Sound Quality:

Picks up right where Attack of the Clones left off (Sith was a misfire). The sound is so tremendous, you'll have trouble believing this movie was released in 1977. It sounds better than 99.9999999999% of movies released today! 99.9999999999% is one impressive number to beat!

Sound Quality: 10 out of 10

A NEW HOPE 2011 Changes:

R2 hides behinds some CG rocks that look pretty real.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. No, she didn't care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed and didn't care until the rocks suddenly vanished. Sorta lazy, Lucas.

Han and Greedo shoot at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: She wondered why us fanboys don't, "get over it already." Then she said, "JESUS" and claimed she needed a drink.
THE FANBOY TEST: While Han shooting first is still a billion times better, the two shooting at the same time is a billion times better than Greedo shooting first. I didn't need a drink, but I got one anyway, because I'm a borderline alcoholic.

Luke's lightsaber is color corrected during his training.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. No, she didn't care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed (because I was LOOKING for it) and was happy Lucas corrected the error. Even though it was corrected even better in that awesome fan edit I mentioned earlier.

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Review:

As a fan of film and a fan of "event" films, I believe Empire Strikes Back to be the BEST event film ever made (along with Raiders of the Lost Ark). It is absolutely perfect, from beginning to end and, frankly, my favorite movie of all time. 'Nuff said.

The Movie Itself: 10 out of 10

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Picture Quality:

Best it's ever looked. Yes, there's some grain in the scenes on Hoth, but at least the scenes on Hoth are WHITE again -- instead of blue! As a resident of Minnesota, I can attest to the fact that blue snow just doesn't exist, unless someone spilled an Icee. Not quite reference quality, but VERY close.

Picture Quality: 9 out of 10

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Sound Quality:

Let me just repeat what I said for the other ones and double it: Incredible. Amazing. Ear-shatteringly awesome! Wait 'til Han flies you into the asteroid field!

Sound Quality: 10 out of 10

EMPIRE STRIKES BACK 2011 Changes:

Can't see the puppeteer's hand on the Wampa anymore.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. No, she didn't care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed because I read about it and I didn't really care.

The whole scene in Cloud City with Chewie retrieving 3PO has been color corrected and sparks have been added.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. Yes, she cared a little bit when I compared the two. But I think she was getting drunk at this point and just saying random shit to shut me up.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed and cared. It looks a LOT better, now.

RETURN OF THE JEDI Review:

This is the suckiest of the original 3 films. Yes, there is an awesome puppet creation in Jabba the Hutt, but it also has teddy-bears destroying the Empire. It's ridiculous. Han Solo acts like he's been brain-damaged by the carbonite. Luke isn't as much of a Jedi as he is Luke who we're told is a Jedi. The "sister" angle is wedged in and embarrassing. The premise of being told you HAVE to DESTROY Vader and yet being told you'll turn to the Dark Side if you strike him down is pure contradictory insanity that could only come from the mind of George Lucas. Another Death Star with basically the same exact weakness is silly and shameful. C3PO being this great storyteller after claiming he's not very good at telling stories in A New Hope is lazy. This movie was George just wanting to get his "9 part" saga over in 3 episodes. I'm sorry if your childhood nostalgia is blinding you, but this is, hands down, the junkiest of the Star Wars' sequels. Bitching aside, it does have an AMAZING space battle and a pretty groovy speeder bike chase through the forest moon of Endor.

The Movie Itself: 7 out of 10

RETURN OF THE JEDI Picture Quality:

The picture quality of Return of the Jedi is second only to Revenge of the Sith. There's less DNR than in any of the other 5 and it really does look like it did on the big screen. If not for the large amount of uncleaned grain during the Tatooine scenes, I'd say it looked better than it did theatrically.

Picture Quality: 10 out of 10

RETURN OF THE JEDI Sound Quality:

Like every movie in this box, excluding Sith, the sound is as great as modern technology gets. Am I the only one who gets the feeling George cares more about how his films sound than he does about the films themselves?

Sound Quality: 10 out of 10

RETURN OF THE JEDI 2011 changes:

Jabba's palace has a bigger door made of CG.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: No, she didn't notice. When I showed her the DVD, she liked the new version better.
THE FANBOY TEST: Yes, I noticed. I liked both about the same.

Han thawing from carbonite is slightly different (through CG).

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: Yes, amazingly, she noticed. She liked it "way" better.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed. I thought it was a little cheesy, but was fine with the change.

A Dug is added to one scene, but takes away from nothing.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: She didn't notice or care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed and thought it was awesome. Perfect tie-in to the original trilogy. Just wish they made it look SLIGHTLY less CG.

Ewoks have blinking CG eyes.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: She didn't notice, but when I showed her the older version she thought the new one was "10 times better!" It was clear, at this point, that she was trashed.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed immediately and thought the new version was, let's say, 3 times better.

R2D2's attack at the shield generator is now over-the-top CG.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: She didn't notice. When I compared, she didn't care.
THE FANBOY TEST: I HATED this change. It looked fake and I can't think of a single reason why they changed it. It sucked.

Darth Vader says "No" and then says, "Noooo." Contrary to rumor, he never screams "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO" like he did in Revenge of the Sith.

THE GIRLFRIEND TEST: My girlfriend had passed out. I woke her up and she said she didn't care. Then she told me to "fuck off" and to let her sleep.
THE FANBOY TEST: I noticed and, to be honest, didn't really care. It's tactfully done. It doesn't take away the silent moments where we see Vader, just through his eyes, starting to hate the Emperor and sympathize with his son. It ties together well with the original and if you're whining about this, seriously, you need to get a life.

EXTRAS:

Awesome. But I won't give them a 5 out of 5, as they should have included ALL deleted scenes and ALL extras from the DVD releases AND the blu-ray releases (this is George's greedy way of making us all hang onto our DVDs instead of selling them used). Billionaire George is into making billions more. Still, this is the best set of extras the Star Wars' saga has ever had. 

Overall? This is easily the best Star Wars' release ever. This is an event. If you want to deny yourself the pleasure of owning this treasure because the original versions aren't included, I more than understand. But, truth be told, if you are a huge fan of the saga, you are denying yourself to the point of being pathetic. May the force be with you. Always.

Oh, and if you're reading this, please click the link above or one of the links below to buy one of the sets. If not for puny commision money, The Juicy Cerebellum would be long gone.


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