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Star Wars: The Complete Saga (blu ray)...by George (Lucas), the Force is finally with us all....
on September 16, 2011
The films were mastered using MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 2.35:1 in 50GB Blu ray discs. There are a total of 9 discs, including lots and lots of supplements.
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (blu ray) film released 1999
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of The Clones (blu ray) film released 2002
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of the Sith (blu ray) film released 2005
THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY:
Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (blu ray) film released 1977
Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (blu ray) film released 1980
Star Wars: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (blu ray) film released 1983
THE PREQUEL TRILOGY:
The Prequel Trilogy was all newly mastered directly from the original digital files. Therefore, edge-enhancement and color-timing issues that plagued the previous Episode I DVD presentation are no longer an issue.
In Episode I, Yoda is now all digital. But, the Phantom Menace proves to be the least satisfying of the bunch. Colour reproduction is absolutely resplendent and it's finally free from the heavy edge enhancement. However, while film grain and fine detailing are both present, the film also seems to have been subjected to some noise reduction resulting in a slighter softer look that the rest of the saga.
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith have no such problems. Shot entirely digitally, they both boast an astonishing clarity, vibrancy and detailing, like the colour reproduction and detail in the grassy field during Anakin and Padmé's picnic in Chapter of 21 (Episode II: Attack Of The Clones) or the fine textures in the Wookiee fur in Chapter 17 (Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith).
Episode III is on a whole different picture quality plane of existence. This is the outright stunner of the prequels, with a degree of clarity and color that is simply brilliant, and approaches Avatar in quality. The picture is much crisper and more detailed, CGI and live-action material alike. The filtering has been abandoned in favor of an exceptionally resolved picture. See the fabric of General Grievous' cape, the clean lines of the nascent Darth Vader's shiny new helmet, the wrinkles on Yoda's weathered face and Count Dooku's eyebrow hairs, individually visible.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace (4/5)
Episode II: The Attack Of The Clones (4.5/5)
Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (5/5)
THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY:
The 1080p/AVC-encoded transfers of the three "classic" Star Wars films are simply amazing. Grain is visible and better yet, the prints are absolutely pristine, without a single white speck of debris. There is increased clarity. Also, there is actually more of the image on-screen now. In the previous DVD edition, the producers magnified the picture slightly, thus cropping part of the picture on all sides. The reproduction of fine details was simply magnificent: like the first great close-up of R2 in all his worn-in glory in A New Hope, the level of detail inside the Millennium Falcon, the mottled facial texture of the Yoda puppet in The Empire Strikes Back, and the almost palpable ripples of Jabba's skin in Return Of The Jedi.
The changes made by George Lucas in the 1997 "Special Editions" and most of the additional changes from the 2004 re-release are here in the new Blu ray films, whether you like or approve of it or not. New additional changes include that In Return Of The Jedi, Wicket now blinks and has more expressive CGI eyes. For years, fans have complained that in the shot of the Wampa attacking Luke's Tauntaun, you could see part of the puppeteer's arm because the costume didn't extend quite far enough. Now it is corrected. As Darth Vader grabs the Emperor to throw him over the railing, he now lets out a goofy cry of "NOOOOO," a mirroring of the scene in Revenge of the Sith when he's first reborn as a dark Sith lord. Colour is more stable now and better balanced. Remember how the lightsabers' hues sometimes shifted? Now it is purely cold white.
Episode IV: A New Hope (5/5)
Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (5/5)
Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi (5/5)
As in my recent review of the Lord Of The Rings Extended Editions (blu ray), the audio in this set does not need to be reviewed separately, because these lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 surround tracks are all perfect. Williams' cues are some of the most recognizable and hummable in the known universe, and they sound spectacular here, from the lilting and quiet heartswelling of Leia's theme to the all-out, brash militancy of Vader's unstoppable death march. All of the music is grand, filling every channel, with distinct placement of the instruments in the soundspace. Rich, dynamic, and full!
The Supervising Sound Editor on the Blu-rays for Skywalker Sound, Matthew Wood, did a simply fantastic job in remastering to lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1. For those wondering why 6.1 and not 7.1, Matt said in a recent interview that 6.1 was chosen because it builds nicely on the 5.1 EX mixing work that was done for the Prequel films.
What makes these new 6.1 tracks so wonderful is how precisely and expressively they're mixed. Sound design and score achieve an ideal balance, each forceful and clean without drowning the other out. And the action sequences, like lasers criss- crossing the soundfield, and spaceships swooshing in every direction. Massive explosions that send concentric arcs of debris spreading out from front to back. The thunderous LFE roar of an Imperial Star Destroyer drifting overhead. Even in the quieter moments there's ambience in the rears; the bleat of a tauntaun on Hoth, pouring rain before the Obi- Wan/Jango Fett fight in Clone Wars, dialogue is always easy to understand.
The prequels are awash with sonic thrills, be it TPM's Pod race (Ch 20-22), the asteroid chase and Jango Fett's seismic bombs in Attack of the Clones (Ch 28) or Revenge of the Sith's opening battle over Coruscant (Ch 3). Each offers a staggering amount of audio information (every engine, thruster, laser blast and explosion in unique to each vehicle/weapon) all moved around the soundfield with incredible precision.
Overall, Matthew Wood did a masterful job, and the resultant audio is in one word: perfect. (5/5)
In summary, Star Wars The Complete Saga (blu ray) is a must-own. Watching these beloved movies in such pristine video and audio form is simply very satisfying and I also felt very gratified. Another great news is that when I first preordered this box set on January 11, 2011, the price was $99.99. Recently, the price dropped to $79.99. Thank you, Amazon. May the Force be with you for more future discounts.
According to press release by 20th-Century Fox, Star Wars The Complete Saga is now "the bestselling catalog Blu-ray Disc of all time with worldwide sales totaling one million units, including 515,000 units sold in North America in its first week alone. This represents $84 million in worldwide consumer spending including $38 million in North America - unprecedented for a nine-disc Blu-ray collection at a premium price." Very highly recommended.