Star Wars on blu-ray, thoughts and first-impressions…

The day has finally arrived, Star Wars the complete saga has finally arrived on blu-ray.  With much fanfare and much fan complaining about the inevitable changes, improvements and other tweaks.

While I am far from a hardcore audio and visual phile, I am a hardcore Star Wars fan and I have been anxiously awaiting this boxset.  Also, there are better reviews out there and tons of information on this set, so I probably wont be digging too deeply into this, just giving my overview.

The boxset itself is 9 discs, 1 disc for each of the 6 films, 1 disc with Original Trilogy specific bonus features, 1 disc with Prequel Trilogy specific bonus features and 1 last disc with documentaries.

The two most talked about parts of this set are the Original Trilogy deleted scenes and bonus features and the changes to the films.

First, we have the Original Trilogy (and Prequel Trilogy) related bonus features.  This was the selling point for me, I’ve waited years to see these things and was incredibly pleased with what was there.  The Original Trilogy deleted scenes are by far more interesting than the Prequel deleted scenes.  The Prequel scenes are a lot of animatics with some green screen footage interspersed.  These are interesting to see from a film making stand point, but they don’t hold a candle to the Original Trilogy deleted scenes.

Also on the Trilogy specific discs are 360 degree and hi-res detail views of many costumes, props, matte paintings, maquettes, etc.  For someone like me who is really into the costuming and props this was an amazing inclusion and will greatly help people working on recreating these.

Next, we have the films themselves.  Like every variation of these films that have been released over the years, there are changes and 90% of the changes are improvements and wont be noticed by most people.  Greedo still shoots first, Jabba still looks lousy in A New Hope, etc.  New to the films now are changes such as Wicket now has improved eyes and blinks, Vader says “Noooo!” in Return of the Jedi, Obi-wan has a new Krayt Dragon call, and others.  These were the most discussed changes though.

With the films, the Prequel Trilogy being newer and better prepared for the HD formats, they have never looked better, especially The Phantom Menace which had the most dated and problematic transfer to DVD.

The Original Trilogy is a bit more of a mixed bag.  We have scenes of incredible detail and richness that it’s hard to believe these are 30 year old movies, but a lot of the effects simply do not stand up to the added detail and enhancement of HD.  There are A LOT of garbage mattes, blue/green screen lines and some uneven quality.  In the same scene you will have certain angles of great quality and clarity, but the next cut will show grain and uneven coloring, possibly even lower than standard DVD definition.  A lot of this is to be expected of a 30 year old movie and I think most people will not notice, but hardcore people like me will notice.

On a positive note, a lot of the artifacting and poor transfer on the previous DVD have been corrected, although some coloration issues exist.

Regarding the changes, I’m fine with most of them.  The most controversial is the Darth Vader dialogue added in Return of the Jedi.  I actually don’t mind the added dialogue, it’s very noticeable though because the audio is a very strange mix.  The added dialogue seems much louder than all the other dialogue in the scene.  So, that really helps it to stand out and not feel like it was part of the scene.  It’s 5 seconds of audio and not enough for me to run around crying foul and claiming my childhood was raped.  The positives far outweigh the negatives here.

In the end, this is a quality set.  It’s obvious that a lot of time and care was put into assembling it.  For all fans of Star Wars, this is a must buy with more than any fan could have asked for.

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From the archives: “Joss Whedon is a fucking hack!”

This was originally posted back in 2007, on MySpace of all places!  It was my thoughts after watching Serenity.  I’m reposting this because I have finally sat down and watched the first 2 episodes of Firefly.  It may be a bit harsh, but it’s how I felt at the time.

So without any further ado…

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For the longest time I have complained about this guy you might have heard of named Joss Whedon. He is the idiot who has received countless internet and fanboy praise for his shit writing and utter lack of original ideas. I have bashed him on numerous occasions for said writing and the shit in his brains that always flows thru his hands and onto his writing medium.

“But, Paul, you have said that you never watched Buffy or Angel or Firefly. How can you complain about something you’ve never seen? You might like it, if you gave it a chance” my detractors would often say.

Now for my informed retort…

“Fuck you, Serenity sucked so bad it almost created a vacuum in my living room”

Oh my ever loving god, what a shit storm of crappiness, half-tooled homages, outright theft and utter lack of originality that movie was. To quote one of my favorite critics “I hated, hated, hated this movie” or the one I’m more famous for,although it’s a borrowed line “I hated it!”

5 minutes into this movie and I felt like I had already seen it. It’s a horrible mismash of nonsensical pseudo-psychological, pseudo-religious, and quasi-technobabble.

To end this review on a more positive note, I’ll put the good stuff at the bottom….

This movie is just plain bad. It’s ironic that I watched this movie the same day that I bought a book that puts Star Wars on trial for lack of originality and focus (if you hadn’t noticed I’m a bit of a Star Wars nut).

The dialogue is atrocious. The acting is decent, more on that towards the bottom. I’m still waiting to hear Joss Whedon’s “WITTY” fucking dialogue. All the little Whedon-ites I’ve heard from always praise his fucking way with words. I’m not seeing it.. err.. hearing it. What I saw.. err.. heard.. fuck it.. was a handful of witty quips with a shitload of bad western and sci-fi cliches thrown on top. It’s like a dogpile of shitty dialogue. We have one good line and then we throw 50 shitty wish-we-were-witty lines on top of it and bury that one little nugget under so much verbal compost.

Remember, I said upfront I’m a huge Star Wars fanboy. So, I know bad dialogue when I hear it. If a Star Wars fan is complaining about your shitty dialogue and lack of witty quips, then there is definately something wrong.

Alrighty, bad dialogue established. How about that plot? Plot? Plot? Plot? What a strange word, it’s something I don’t think Mr. Whedon has ever heard of. There is a plot in the movie, and it’s not a bad one, however unoriginal it is. I wont fault Jossy boy for an unoriginal plot, it’s true that there are only a handful of plots out there so overlaps and borrowed storylines are not uncommon. Someone said “There are only 5 plots ever written.” So, as unoriginal as the aforementioned plot is, it’s not a bad one. However, where it gets bad is that it takes nearly 80 minutes for us to find out what the fuck is going on and why I should give 2 shits about anyone in this celluloid turned digital turd.

The movie is chocked to the brim with homages, tributes and outright thefts. You could almost reconstruct the movie with scenes from Star Wars, Star Trek, Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Tombstone, The Good The Bad and the Ugly and 28 Days Later.

The movie starts out decently. I’m a big fan of the writing method where you, the audience, are dropped into a story that is already in motion and into a world that is already established. I think it’s interesting and I like it. This movie definately uses that. However the problem is when it takes over an hour to figure out what the bloody fuck is going on and who is who. I understand that this movie is an adaptation of a TV series that I have never seen. That is a weak arguement for why I would be confused. If you are making a movie, you have to make it for the general public. That’s that, end of story. You don’t make a movie for a small audience that watched the 2 episodes of your cancelled TV show. You have to make it accesible to everyone.

Therein lies the problem. This movie is not accessible to everyone. It takes almost an hour to even have the foggiest idea of what is going on and who is who.

Oh well, I could harp and harp and harp on the negatives in this movie, but I think we all get the point. Bad writing, piss poor dialogue, cliche after cliche after cliche, a sci-fi western.. how original! We don’t even want to get me started on the fight choreography. I just hope that Chuck Norris gets a royalty check. (Insert Walker Texas Ranger slowmotion fight joke and witty criticism)

Now for some good points to wrap up with. The acting in the movie is pretty good, I would love to harp on it and hit it hard, however I found the acting passable. The beginning of the movie is interesting, like I said before, I like the type of story where you are dropped in and have to piece the movie together as it progresses, but there still has to be some exposition dialogue. Continuing on with the good.. the final act was pretty enjoyable, characters lived and died and we did feel some true peril for them. However a good 30 minutes does not make up for a poor 90 minutes.

Well, I’ve rambled on enough here. I’ve hit most of the bad, and hit most of the good I saw and in the end, Serenity is what it is, take it or leave it. Me personally, I will leave it.