Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I Have a Bad Feeling About This

After all the hype and anticipation, I only watched the first half of one Star Wars movie last night. I wanted to wait for Brandi, who expressed an interest in watching them with me, so we didn't start watching until she got home and got settled. That was fairly late, and so we only got about an hour into the movie before we were ready to go to bed.

Still, that tiny bit of viewing made me feel pretty apprehensive about the DVD set as a whole. Here are some ridiculously premature observations.

Any Star Wars fan will tell you that having Greedo shoot first was the worst decision in the history of film, and quite possibly in the history of mankind. I've always been on board with that opinion, and seeing the movie again last night brought home just how egregious it was. I realize that Lucas didn't want Han Solo, one of the "good guys," to look like a cold-blooded killer, but come on! He's surreptitiously pulling his gun from the holster during the whole conversation; what else was he going to do? Aside from that, doing the scene that way required some terrible editing. The frame visibly freezes for a split second so that Greedo has time to get a shot off. Beyond that, his gun is pointed directly at Solo, and so the shot comes out at an angle to miss him. It looks terrible. If Lucas was going to make changes to these movies beyond what he had already done for the Special Editions, he should have put this scene back the way it was.

In that scene, and also in the scene where Solo talks to Jabba the Hutt outside the Millennium Falcon (a scene that wasn't in the original theatrical release), the subtitles have been removed that translate what Greedo and Jabba are saying. I'm sure this is done for consistency--at no point is Chewbacca's alien speech translated, but you get an idea of what he said from context. Still, I don't like it. Greedo's speech included some important clues to Solo's backstory, which plays a role as the movies progress. People who have seen the movie as many times as I have already know what's going on, but anyone seeing the movie for the first time (Brandi, for example) is going to miss out on those little details.

I initially liked the Special Editions when they first came out, but as time passes I find that they bother me more. These DVDs and their additional changes just add on to that. I definitely like the cosmetic touch-ups to the original effects: the original explosion of the Death Star, for example, was notably weak. Beyond that, I wish Lucas could have left well enough alone. It was cool to see some of the deleted scenes added back in, but none of them were really necessary. It just seems like he changed some things for no reason, and left things alone that could have used a change. Theoretically, a lot of it was done in the name of continuity with the prequel trilogy, so a certain amount of judgment will have to wait until Episode III is released in May. I just don't think a lot of this stuff was necessary at all.

I'll hold any further opinions until I've had a chance to watch all three of the movies.

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