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Welcome to the first in a series of reviews for the Blu-ray release of the Star Wars saga. In many ways this is a landmark release for the Blu-ray format; one that fans have been waiting for with baited breath. It's arrival signifies Blu-ray's transition from niche product to mainstream entertainment format and as such it deserves in-depth attention. Now ordinarily I wouldn’t split a boxed set into separate reviews, but in this case I decided to make an exception because I have a lot to say about each film and that would have made for a marathon read in single-page form. Think of this page as a launching pad for individual reviews of all six films. Below you'll find links to each review and information about the material contained on the bonus discs. Each review is accessible by clicking on the corresponding image below. My attempts to deliver a complete review in time for release day were hampered by Lucasfilm and Fox's refusal to supply review material, which meant that we had to purchase the set and wait for it to arrive like everyone else (thanks to our webmaster Mal for stumping up the cash).

Features


Click the images to read the reviews


Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Complete Saga
Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Extras



Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Although each feature disc contains two commentary tracks the bulk of the bonus material can be found on discs seven to nine. We'll start with disc seven, which houses the prequel content, and specifically the Episode I material. The extras are divided into separate sections modelled on the various locations seen in the film, including Naboo, Tatooine and Coruscant. Earch section includes the same sort of material, but each sections material pertains to the particular planet you're viewing. Interviews with the likes of Liam Neeson, Rick McCallum and George Lucas himself are present, along with a bunch of deleted and extended scenes. Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed with these, as unlike the ones found on the old DVD they are unfinished and don't really add much to the story. 'The Collection' is an in-depth look at a selection of characters and models with accompanying video commentary, 360 degree 3D views and so on. There's also a selection of concept art. Finally we have a cool flythrough of the Lucasfilm archives set to music and sound effects from the saga. There's so much stuff to be seen it's untrue, but what's scary is that it's probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Star Wars archives. One thing I learned was that the Salacious Crumb puppet has seen better days. Now while all of this probably sounds pretty sweet it actually doesn't add up to as much as I'd expected. The deleted scenes are few and fairly short, and there's only so much joy to be gained from looking at still images. I guess the interviews and 'The Collection' are probably the best features overall, but I was really hoping for something similar to the amazing documentaries found on the DVD release.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

It's more of the same for the second prequel, but this time the worlds we visit are Coruscant, Naboo, Tatooine and Geonosis. As before there are plenty of interviews, concept sketches and video commentaries relating to various aspects of the production. This time around the deleted and extended scenes are actually a little more interesting, with some expositional stuff about Anakin's dreams and a scene in which Anakin discusses Padme's safety with her father. The stand-out is probably a lengthy sequence featuring Ki-Adi-Mundi's attempts to shut down a droid control ship, although much of it is in rough animatic form. All things considered the supplements here are on par with those for The Phantom Menace.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

As you've probably guessed the third instalment follows the same path as the previous films in the extras department. Here we visit planets such as Coruscant, Utapau, Mustafar and Kashyyyk. There's evn a section devoted to Order 66. This film's deleted scenes are perhaps the most interesting of the prequels, largely because they include some of the most talked about deletions. Scenes such as the death of Jedi Master Shak Tii at the hands of Darth Vader and Yoda communing with Qui-Gon Jinn through the Force. The Yoda scene is one that I really would have liked to see in the finished film, but unfortunately it's presented here in rough cut form with voice-over from a generic actor rather than Lian Neeson. You'll also find an alternate scene involving clones disguised as Jedi and an extended duel between Yoda and Sidious, which has a very different ending. Again these are in rough animatic form, but they're still interesting. For my money the deleted scenes alone make this the most interesting prequel from an extras point of view.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

The first instalment of the original trilogy follows a very similar path to the prequels, with all of the bonus content divided into similar categories according to location (Tatooine, Death Star, Yavin). There are plenty of interviews and 3D models with commentary, not to mention the customary concept galleries. However, I was really interested in the deleted scenes for this one. Having previously seen a couple of them on the old Behind the Magic DVD-Rom it was great to finally view them in reasonable quality. While I can understand the reasons behind their deletion - in fact, I think the film is definitely better off without them - they have great curiosity value. Luke's relationship with Biggs features quite prominently, but there's also footage of Tosche Station and his friends Fixer and Camie (the latter of which was played by the rather gorgeous Koo Stark). Maybe it's because they come from a time when behind the scenes material wasn't as readily available as it is today, but I really enjoyed watching them.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

It's probably not going to come as any great surprise to learn that this film follows the same path as all of the others. At this stage I don't see any point trying to stretch this part of the review out any longer than necessary, so I'm going to dispense with the pleasantries and cut to the heart of the matter. Locations such as Hoth, Degobah and Cloud City are the focus here, along with the Imperial forces pursuit of the Millennium Falcon. The various interviews, featurettes and galleries are as good as ever, and while incomplete while the deleted scenes offer up the now infamous wampa attack sequence. There's also footage of Luke training with is lightsaber on Degobah, along with General Veers' fate and extended scenes between Han and Leia aboard the Falcon. It's another solid set of extras.

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

The final film in the saga also follows a similar path to the others, so there's not much to say here beyond confirming that it includes the usual interviews, galleries and video sequences from locations such as Tatooine, Endor and the Battle of Endor. What I found particularly interesting was the state of the deleted scenes, at least one of which was complete including score. The scene in question features Luke constructing his new lightsaber on Tatooine and paints him as a more ambiguous character. Also present are the sandstorm scene, and Vader Force-choking Moff Jerjerrod, all of which will be known to long-time fans.

Overall


I'll reserve overall judgement for this release until I've finished all six reviews and the bonus material. Until that time there won't be any scores on this page, but rather on the individual review pages. I'll get there eventually - thanks for your patience!


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