Monday, June 23, 2014

30 Days of Star Wars: Day 23

Least Favorite Special Edition Changes

78 Reasons to Hate Star Wars:  Episode 1 is a great website for people who feel the way I do about the Star Wars Prequels...they are awful!  Along with 78 reasons to hate episode 1, they offer 64+ reasons to hate episode 2, and 91 reasons to hate episode 3.

There is also a special section devoted to the Special Edition version of episodes 4-6 that came out in 1997.  There were a lot of problems with these as well.  George Lucas decided to screw around with his three masterpiece movies and really made fans upset; this one included!

So here we go:  my least favorite Special Edition changes.  The following nitpicks come directly from their website, I didn't write the majority of this, but I COMPLETELY agree!

The Special Edition DVDs are like the greatest tease I've ever experienced. The tease comes with the first ten or so minutes of the movie remaining relatively unchanged. Absent are the bells and whistles that Lucas has stuck all over the remainder of the movie. Seeing the pristine digital image of the unblemished movie lets you get lost in the moment, thinking that you're watching the Star Wars from your youth. Seeing the scuffed up C-3PO and R2-D2 is like a breath of fresh air after being mostly exposed to the squeaky clean images of droids and landscapes presented by the prequel trilogy. The first ten minutes simply show a beautifully touched up digital version of the original movies, finally in digital format.

Then you are jarred back into your reality when you spot the first changes creeping in. A change in Tatooine's sky, an additional droid, a new sandcrawler. Finally the Mos Eisley scene occurs and slaps you in the face. There may as well be a ticker at the bottom of the screen that displays a message reading: THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY! THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY!

Greedo Shoots First At the Same Time
I know, the Greedo thing has been done to death, but the latest development in Greedo's death scene complicates the debate enough that it warrants further discussion. It is only through a frame-by-frame viewing that you can truly figure out what is going on but it appears that both Solo and Greedo are shooting at the exact same time, at least too close together for either shot to be in reaction to the other.

Calmness in the face of danger worthy of the Jedi.
Some people think that this scene is not a big deal but it is critical in explaining the character of Han Solo. Originally Solo shot first, killing Greedo and showing his character, a character that was changed over the course of the trilogy from a roguish scoundrel into someone with a heart. In 1997 Greedo shot first showing that Solo was really always that way, thus negating any development of his character. Even larger was the problem that no one could miss shooting anything from that range. In any movie of this kind we take liberties with the aim of enemies.

Stormtroopers are constantly missing when shooting at Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca but it is easier to let go when they're 30-40 feet across a corridor. When someone is sitting across a table from someone else you'd expect their aim to be at least good enough to graze their target. Greedo should have been able to extend his arm and poke Han Solo in the nose if so desired, so how could he miss with a blaster?

In  my opinion:

Moving on.

The Jabba scene looks B-A-D BAD! Including the scene in the first Special Edition was, at the time, a neat little trick but it presented several problems. Jabba looked different. It appeared to be an Anime version of the stationary Jabba we were all used to. 

Another question raised is that of Jabba's mobility. Did he get into some sort of sail barge accident sometime between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that landed him immobile on his throne? This would explain the immobility and any resulting reconstructive surgery may even explain the physical changes.

This scene has never quite fit in Episode IV. It doesn't ever occur to the viewer (well, this viewer at least) that Jabba and Han were in the same scene together. The whole scene makes you conscious of the fact that you are watching a movie and makes you think more about the technology involved in the scene than the actual scene itself. The main problem is that it just does not work in the context of the trilogy. There are too many differences between the Jabba we see here and the Jabba in Return of the Jedi.

Somehow the effect of hearing about Jabba the Hutt across all of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but not seeing him, seems to work a little better than introducing you to a comical bloblike creature. Also Jabba comes off as rather charming and doesn't inspire any sort of fear in the heart of the viewer. You just think, "Oh is that the guy Solo is in debt to? Pfft. No biggie, he's silly."

The lack of respect that Han offers Jabba also makes one wonder why Han is so worried about him in the following films. Han actually walks behind Jabba and steps on his tail whilst chatting with him about his debt. 

Boba Fett
In 1997, the addition of Boba Fett into Episode IV was just a stupid ploy for the tens of thousands of people who'd taken to worshipping the bit character. The inclusion of Boba Fett is unchanged in the DVD release, but the problems with the scene remain. The addition of Boba Fett in the scene would almost have been acceptable had it been subtle, but the Special Edition scene is anything but. It starts off with Boba Fett slowly walking by the camera. In case there are any mentally-challenged, five-year-olds who haven't caught that it's Boba Fett, he stops in front of the camera and mugs! He mugs! He just looks directly at the viewer and you can imagine him giving a cheese-eating grin whilst winking behind that helmet. 

"Oh, hello there, fanboys!"

Lucas claims, in the commentary, that this scene "introduced Boba Fett". I don't remember Jabba giving Fett any formal introduction. Fett doesn't need to be introduced in this film, he's not necessary. The reason he's in The Empire Strikes Back is to further the plot.  The reason he's now in A New Hope is, apparently, to sell yet more Boba Fett merchandise to drooling fanboys.

Emperor and Vader Dialogue
The dialogue has changed. For the better? C'mon, you know better than that. Here is the new dialogue:

DARTH VADER: What is thy bidding my master?
EMPEROR PALPATINE: There is a great disturbance in the force
DARTH VADER:I have felt it.
EMPEROR PALPATINE:We have a new enemy, the young rebel who destroyed the death star. I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.
DARTH VADER:How is that possible?
EMPEROR PALPATINE:Search your feelings, Lord Vader, you will know it to be true. He could destroy us.
DARTH VADER:He's just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him.
EMPEROR PALPATINE:The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.
DARTH VADER:If he could be turned, he could become a powerful ally.
EMPEROR PALPATINE:Yes, he would be a great asset. Can it be done?
DARTH VADER:He will join us or die master.

"How is that possible?" How is that possible? We are told in the opening scroll and throughout the entire movie that it is a relentless pursuit of Luke Skywalker that is driving Vader. Vader even says: "That is the system. And I'm sure Skywalker is with them." If he doesn't think that Luke is his son then who does he think Luke is? Does Vader remember his original name? Is he just really dumb? Why would he be in pursuit of Luke Skywalker if he thought that the surname they share was just a funny coincidence?

Luke's Scream
In the original version of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke makes the ultimate heroic decision. He decides that rather than join the evil Darth Vader (who he's just learned may be his own father!) he will leap from a thousand feet, possibly to his own demise. The look in Luke's eyes, the triumph as he realizes he would rather die than join Vader, the sound of John Williams' horns followed his expression as he slowly let go and plummeted, possibly to his death.

In the "Special Edition" of The Empire Strikes Back the scene is unchanged except for one small detail: Luke screams the entire time he's falling. Even though he'd just displayed an expression of unspeakable heroism and bravery, he seems to have reconsidered once he is actually falling.

In the "Even More Special Edition" of The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas has opted to remove the scream. This could be viewed as a good change except that the scream should never have been included to begin with. The very fact that the scream exists at all, in any form, is enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. The additional fact that it's been removed begs the question: Why was it added in the first place?

Jabba's House Band
An insult to Max Rebo... I remember a time when Jabba's house band featured a man named Max Rebo. While the band is still technically named "The Max Rebo Band," it bares little resemblance to the band we see in the original version of this movie. I guess we can add Max Rebo to the list of characters, real and fake, who have been slighted by Lucas's digital hand. Max's 20 year reign as bandleader of Jabba's house band has pretty much been erased by the Special Edition. Max, along with Sy Snootles on vocals and Droopy McCool on the pipe, formed the complete band. 

It is perhaps an understatement to say that Max Rebo takes a back seat to everyone else in this band (except, perhaps, Droopy McCool). Max is just some hired monkey, mindlessly throwing his sausage fingers down onto his Red Ball Jett keyboard. The show is completely stolen now by the ridiculous CGI antics of Sy Snootles and her cartoonish, expanding red lips. At one point the lips are in danger of swallowing the camera and the audience with it.

Backup Singers
Max Rebo's backup singers build a strong case for the use of more CGI. While, as a rule, I hate CGI characters, these characters represent possibly the worst live action makeup and costume jobs in film history. The three of them look like they're about to come in tenth place in a Star Wars costume contest.

How is it that the crappy Rodian suit in A New Hope is so much more believable than the crappy Rodian suit presented here? Perhaps it is just the plastic sheen that makes it so unbelievable and lifeless. Perhaps it is just the general crappiness of all Special Edition additions that makes it seem this way.

Boba Fonzarelli
In an unending effort to make Boba Fett seem cooler than he is, Lucasfilm chose to add a scene to Return of the Jedi where Boba Fett is seen flirting with the female backup singers of Max Rebo's band. He gently tickles one of their chins before making his way over to help Jabba deal with Boushh (Princess Leia in disguise). Here's a thought. If they wanted Boba Fett to be cooler, instead of adding a scene to show him being playful with some ladies, how about removing the scene where he dies because a blind Han Solo accidentally bumped into him?

Vader Screams "NOOOOO!"
(this is my own addition)

When the Blu-Ray edition of The Star Wars Trilogy came out in 2011, yet another pointless change was made. The internet was on FIRE with the news that George Lucas had gone and done it again. And this is no subtle change, especially if you are a die hard fan like myself.  No, this change messes with one of, if not THE MOST POWERFUL scene in all 6 movies; the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader's sacrifice to save his son, Luke.

This ending sequence is my FAVORITE part of the entire saga.  Here is the scene the way it has played out since the movie was released in 1983:

Let me ask you this:  is there anything wrong with this scene?  NO!  But, remember, we're dealing with George Lucas, the man who continues to think that he needs to screw around with the movies that are beloved, and obsessed about by so many people.  In George Lucas's twisted mind, since the release of Revenge of the Sith, something is now missing.

At the end of Revenge of the Sith, when the Emperor tells Darth Vader, (who has just been put into the black suit,) that his wife is dead, he yells out, "NOOOOOOO!".  It was a stupid line.

Well, ladies and gentleman:  Georgie Boy has now inserted that STUPID LINE into the end of the scene when the Emperor is killed.  Why?  Who knows.  Here is how the climactic scene will now play out:

Are you absolutely kidding me?!?

The reason this scene is so powerful is because there is no dialogue.  The incredible music by John Williams puts all the emotion there for you.  Watching Darth Vader looking back and forth from Luke to the Emperor, you can almost see the expression on his face......even though he's wearing a mask. And when he finally turns, with conviction, towards the Emperor, picks him up and throws him down the shaft of the Death Star.....I get goosebumps; even though I know it's coming!  When I saw this scene in the theatre, everyone watching screamed and applauded!  Brandon jumps for joy each time he sees it too!!

Another reason this is so insulting is because the scream attempts to complete the circle and remind you of the end of Revenge of The Sith when he screamed "NOOOO!" after discovering that Padme was dead.  I DON'T WANT TO BE REMINDED OF THE HORRIBLE PREQUELS!!!  

In 1997 when the "Special Editions" came out, there was so much excitement because many of us, myself included, had never witnessed Star Wars in a theatre.  And then we saw them...and were furious about many things that were changed.

We were mad, but we still purchased the DVDs when they came out because we love these movies. But now I've had it!  George Lucas has every right to destroy his own movies, but if he's going to release them on blu-ray, why not put the ABSOLUTE, before-he-messed-with-them originals in the package for the millions of fans who are FURIOUS about the continual changes?  We too would love to enjoy Star Wars.

I would've spent the money on the blu-ray package just to get my hands on the original versions in a better format.  Now, the only copy I have of them is on VHS....and they aren't even my copies....they originally belonged to my husband!!!!

There they are.  My biggest problems with the changes in the special edition versions of these movies. Thank you George Lucas for screwing up perfection when you made the "special editions" of episodes 4 - 6, and for just about killing the franchise when you made episodes 1 - 3.  Maybe next time you release these movies you will fix those that really need to be messed with....THE PREQUELS!

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