Friday, September 08, 2006

The wait is finally over--yet I feel cheated more than relieved

In 1977 George Lucas release Star Wars, a wonderful piece of filmmaking filled with then breathtaking special effects, original characters, an interesting setting, and just the right amount of fantasy to get you out of your day to day life for a few hours (some people have left the real world for years due to this movie, but it's likely due to their psychosis). The camera work was solid, the cinematography was quite good, and while the acting was lacking, it didn't really matter, as the characters (save for whiney bitchy loser Luke) were so cool. Darth Vader and Chewbacca were the best thing to happen for tall people since ... uh, me. Anyway, it really was something that was treasured by fans then and still is today. 1980 brought The Empire Strikes Back, a solid film in its own right, and perhaps one of the best sequels ever made. More great characters (Lando, Yoda, and Boba Fett) added to the saga, and Luke even became a little less bitchy (just a little, as if I were Yoda, I would have bitch slapped him a few times). 1983 brought Return of the Jedi, not all that great, but after the first two movies, fans were so wrapped up in it all that it didn't really matter. It was the icing on top of some damn fine cake. That was that, and things were great for Star Wars fans (as long as you forgot about The Star Wars Holiday Special).

Sure at the time people were clamoring for more (at the time episodes 7,8, and 9 were the focus of interest), but George Lucas had moved on to such great masterpieces as Howard the Duck (I can't make this shit up). So after the genius that was Howard the Duck, folks should have cut George off (like some Karaoke singer thumbing through the Neil Diamond section of the song book), but he decided to piss all over his masterpiece in 1997. At first it sounded promising. The film was to be digitally restored and some of the effects were to be updated. Really updating the effects was unnecessary, as while they were dated, they did the job, and there was a classical elegance to the old school models (imagine Michelangelo recreating David today out of silicone, and what you'd get is a giant gay sex doll). Anyway, the redone effects were OK, painful but OK. Where things got really ugly were reshot scenes and edited story lines. Yes I'm talking about Greedo shooting first! Han Solo is a scoundrel, a space pirate, and among many things, a man who looks out for himself first. That's why boys thought he was cool and gals thought he was hot. He was the anti Luke (anyone with nuts would do in that role though), and he helped make the movie. Han wasn't afraid to find his own solutions, which involved killing Greedo before he did the same to him (after all, who would comb Chewbacca or trim his nails). The Jaba shit was lame too. It all was a drunken mess, and what makes it worse than Godfather III or Episode I was that it ruined something that already was good. Fortunately Empire Strikes back only got minor edits, mostly on backdrops and such, and I really could care less for Return of the Jedi, unless George had Darth ask the Emperor to step down or something less ballsy than just heaving him down one of those always handy never ending corridors. I must say that lame ass song and dance number at Jabas is why fast forward was invented though.

It got worse in 2004, as George finally got off his ass and released Star Wars on DVD (he was all over Laserdisc in the 80s), and all that was released was the Special Edition BS. He even tinkered with it some more (Greedo and Han pulled triggers at the same time, but Greedo still shot first), and the schleps we are, we all went out and bought it. Now after a couple years of living with that (not to mention the horrors of Jar Jar), we have a new DVD release this week. Could it be true, the original Star Wars? Well, yes and no. Yes the original uncut Star Wars is coming out, but no (hell no) the bastardized Special Edition is coming out with it as well. See you have to buy the movies separately, and each film comes with both versions (who the hell doesn't already have the Special Edition DVD?). So you're paying for a movie you never wanted in the first place and you already own just so you can get the one movie you always wanted. Wait, it gets better. They're just copying the laser disc release from the 80s to DVD, and there is a reason no one uses laser discs, and that’s because the quality never was that good. So rather than using the digitally restored original film (despite the mess that the Special Editions were, they were pretty, and most of them was the original film), they will be using shit left in the vault for 20 years to rot. Why? Well George doesn't give a fuck, or rather he does, and what he cares about is his Special Edition. He's gonna take his podracer, go home, and pout. As a result no restored film, and also coincidentally, no significant amount of advertising or buzz in general. Granted most people are Star Warsed out, but still, it's eerily quiet. No one wants to piss off George. Well, I'll pass on buying the DVDs.

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