Star Wars on Blu-Ray: Is High Definition too much?

I was recently gifted the re-release of the complete Star Wars Saga on Blu-ray disc.

First off let me say that this is probably my 4th version of the Saga (from VHS through DVD to Blu-ray) and I am always thrilled to watch it all over again.

Having said this I am left wondering if HD (High Definition) is really the right format for the Star Wars films.  Personally I believe some things are best left alone.  Although I strongly agree that a digital overhaul of the Saga was a necessity (The Special Edition and Episodes I thru III), I don’t believe HD has done it justice.

I know, you must be thinking I’m crazy.  HD is “da bomb” these days and most films look incredible in this format.  I have to say though the images in certain scenes look almost too “crystal clear”.  One scene in particular is in The Empire Strikes Back.  It’s the scene where the Imperial Star Destroyers are being overshadowed by Vader’s massive Super Star Destroyer.  In my opinion, the ships look like they are just little models on a starry backdrop because the image detail is, well,  too detailed!!!.

Sometimes using a filter or a “soft focus” can make things look more appealing and believable.  Many directors use this method for obvious reasons.  HD certainly takes some of that away. The hard edges in some scenes that use matte paintings (paintings on glass) for effects shots are simply downright harsh.

All in all it’s still worth watching again, if not for all the new goodies packaged with the release,  but I’ll still be keeping my other copies…just in case I want to see it as I remember it…. a long time ago in a theatre far far away.

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65 novels and counting

I just finished reading the last novel in the Star Wars:Legacy of The Force series.  This is the 65th Star Wars fiction novel that I’ve read to date. All of them, excluding Splinter of the Mind;s Eye (see one of my earlier posts), are about the continuing adventures of the core group of characters from Star Wars: A New Hope.

It all started back in 1991.  Timothy Zahn had just published a trilogy of books, the first one titled “Heir to the Empire”.  Picking up where the original movie trilogy left off, it began an explosion of Expanded Universe media. Following these works, Star Wars novels and story collections by authors such as Kevin J. Anderson and Michael A. Stackpole were released, reinvigorating the Star Wars Franchise that had been largely dormant for years.

Since it’s release, George Lucas decided that if more were to be published, the novels would have to maintain continuity and that characters from one story could not be altered to satisfy a different story.  The novels also started a timeline which grew from what is referred to as After Battle of Yavin (ABY).  The books in the Expanded Universe would indicate how long after ABY the story occurred.

To date they have written stories that are set 138 years after the Battle of Yavin (the destruction of the first Death Star) and a couple of thousand years before it (origins of the Sith and the Jedi).  Although I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m reading about Luke Skywalkers’ descendants,  I have gotten far enough along in the character development to see Luke as an aged (he’s around 62 years old) Jedi Grand Master.

It wasn’t so long ago that he was just a starry-eyed farm boy from Tatooine who dreamt of adventure and excitement in a Galaxy far, far away,…

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’ve played many of the Star Wars video games…as far back as games like X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter! As a fan, it’s really cool to be able to immerse yourself in the Used Universe as often as possible. Flying a Tie Fighter or wielding a lightsaber can be very liberating (and destructive!)

Some video games do a good job of allowing the player to really ‘become’ the character, others of course, are a marketing ploy to just bring in cash.

Over the years the games really haven’t gotten much better in terms of story which is disappointing. The graphics have improved and on some games could be considered stunning (The Force Unleashed). The gameplay has been entertaining but not to the point where one would wan to play for hours.  Rarely a game comes along that is truly fun to play.

Maybe the latest Star Wars online video game will change all that.  From what I have read Star Wars: The Old Republic certainly looks impressive.  The cinematic “cut scenes” are downright cool.  If the gameplay and story for this replacement of Star Wars: Galaxies is better than it’s predecessor then fans alike will be in for a real treat.

Personally I can wait until some of the bugs are ironed out, but rest assured I will be online soon checking out some more of the Used Universe.

Check out the very cool game trailers on the official site.

If I’d have known then what I know now, part 2

To add to my previous post about how dumb I had been at one point.  Note: take heed…I was only dumb for a brief period. This was most likely due to my blonde hair.

I was going through some of my existing collectibles and had realized something that had also made me quite mad.  Back in the hey days of Star Wars, I recall masks/helmets being a particularly cool Star Wars item to have and to hold.

Lord of the Sith Darth VaderAt one point there was only one “authorized” manufacturer of Star Wars helmets and masks, a company called Don Post Studios.  Around the year 1982, I remember buying a Darth Vader helmet for $65. (that was a lot of money back in the day!).  It was a simple two piece helmet made out of plastic that fit together using velcro. To this day, those first run helmets are worth a considerable amount of money if still in their original condition.

If I recall that was the year I got my first set of contact lenses: the go ahead to get the helmet…otherwise I couldn’t wear it as I wouldn’t have been able to see a thing (now I know how Luke Skywalker felt when he donned a Stormtrooper helmet).

Sadly, I ruined it.  That is to say the value of it in today’s market.  I was attending a halloween party in my full blown homemade Darth Vader costume.  Unfortunately I didn’t realize that without taking off the helmet, I couldn’t drink!  In a fit of insanity (or maybe too many beers and overheating) I decided to make a hole in the ‘chin’ of the mask…small enough for a straw to fit through.  Big mistake.  That dropped the value of the mask to nearly zilch.  Having realized this I sold it to a friend around 12 years later for around $25.

The Force sure wasn’t with me on that one…another collectible I wish I had never parted with.

Star Wars Online

I didn’t realize this and it may be an anomaly.  I was looking on YouTube for a copy of the original TV trailer for Star Wars Episode IV.  When I got there, I’m not sure what I keyed into the search function but I ended up finding full versions of the all the films!

Usually they are split into many parts to avoid any “imperial entanglements” but I found all six films in their entirety and in pretty good viewing resolution.

I’m not going to provide a link as I don’t want to end up in cell block AA-23 but if you go to YouTube you’ll be able to watch any of the movies you may have missed.

It’s also a great place to look at homemade Star Wars movies from fans around the globe.  Some of the lightsaber duels are incredibly well put together for a bunch of amateurs.  Just do a search for lightsaber duels on YouTube.

One of the best Star Wars Novels ever written?

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Dark Horse Comics had a graphic version- this cover shows the massive creatures called Yuzzem

I was digging through my collectibles and came across my copy of Splinter of the Mind’s Eye by Alan Dean Foster.  Unfortunately, again I had thrown the original out after assuming the Star Wars era had ended (I almost gave up around 1987) and ended up buying another copy many years later.  This was the first novelization of Star Wars and was actually written as a sequel to Episode IV: A New Hope.

I won’t get into a lot of details but suffice it to say that this was a remarkable story.  Considering I had read it before Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, I was convinced that this was going to be the next film version of Star Wars.  It would have been way cool, but George had other plans for a sequel.

If you haven’t read Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, you have missed a very cool novel that could have changed the story of Star Wars as we know it today.  Read more about the book’s background here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Splinter_of_the_Mind%27s_Eye

If I’d have known then what I know now!

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I was just flipping through some old Star Wars calendars and came across one that had the original image of the first release poster for Episode VI  titled “Revenge of the Jedi”.  I recall, many, many years ago, I was a member of the Star Wars Fan Club (go figure!).  I remember prior to the opening date of May 1983, the title posters at the Theatres had all been changed to read “Return of the Jedi” (the imagery was different as well).  Afterward I went home to discover that as a Fan Club member I had received an early print of the poster shown here in this post.

I was curious as to the reason for the name change especially so close to the release date and was informed, most likely via the fan club, that George Lucas had realized that Jedi Order does not believe/participate in Revenge, so the title had to be changed.  Wow!  That was interesting, huh?

For whatever reason this made the “Revenge” poster a collectible item that became highly sought after in later years.  I had been dumb enough to give away most of my Star Wars merchandise.  I had almost given up on Star Wars by 1987, with little or no news forthcoming from the Fan Club. George didn’t appear to be doing anything with the Saga and there was little interest to continue being a Fan.

How did I know that George was planning a Special Edition and another 3 films, amongst other things?  How did I know that novels featuring the continuing story of the main characters would become bestsellers and would breathe new life into the Saga?  I kick myself to this day for giving away some items that are now worth a considerable amount of money.  Not that I would EVER part with them 😉