Star Wars: Special Edition
George Lucas rereleases his cinematic triumph with revamped sound and special
effects. There are very few people who need a summary of the film; if you're one
of those who hasn't seen Star Wars, what the heck are you doing reading this review?
Get out of your chair and get to the local cinema, post-haste! This review will
address the issues relating to the rest of you...why go to the theater to see a film
that is readily available on videocassette and has been USA network cable fodder?
Well, the folks at Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox have spruced up this copy with
a remastered digital soundtrack, several cut scenes, and the addition of new special
effects. How do they work? The sound mix is definately a plus, with the rumbling
bass and directional sound effects currently unavailable in any home theater. There
are two primary cut scenes that have been restored. The first is the much-hyped
meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. Unfortunately, although interesting
to watch from a technical standpoint, it doesn't really add anything to the film
(the dialogue is nearly a word-for-word rehash of Han's earlier Greedo conversation).
The other problem with the scene is that, more than any of the other special
effects in the revamped film, Jabba is all too obviously a computer graphic. His
face is too liquid, as if every muscle were spasming and contorting at the same time,
giving him a fluidity of expression that looks fake by today's standards, and
will be begging for another special edition just to clean it up. The second restored
scene doesn't involve as much hoopla, but adds a bit more to the plot. A small
scene between Luke and one of his old friends, Biggs, has been added just before
the final battle. Though a relatively minor scene, it adds more emotional punch to
the final battle. Finally, the special effects of the film have been enhanced, though
I wished they put as much effort into this as apparently went into the Jabba scene.
There is still plenty they could have cleaned up (including a truly horrendous
flaw involving Ben's lightsaber which could have easily been fixed). But, it seems
they were more interested in adding to the quantity of effects in the film
rather than the quality. Some of the new effects work well, small changes that
have been placed in the background of Mos Eisley, for example, or most of the
new spacecraft shots. Some of the new effects, however, are unneccessary additions.
Several of the opening scenes in Mos Eisley, involving droids, Jawas and Rontos, for
example, seem to exist merely to cry out "look at us! We're new effects!". Instead
of enhancing the film, they detract from it. On the whole, since the new effects
do replace some particularly bad '77 era FX, the good sleightly outweighs the bad.
So all of that said, what's my final verdict on the Special Edition? An enthusiastic
recommendation. Even if nothing had been changed since its original release, Star Wars
would be worth seeing again on the big screen, if only because that is where an epic
like this deserves to be experienced. The twentieth anniversary enhancements
may not add much, but when you've got a great movie to begin with, you can't go wrong.
Click here to add a comment.
- -- - -