Yes, it?s incredible (save for one unfortunate excursion to Endor). And yes, it looks and sounds fantastic on DVD. But we knew we could count on that. The real question: Would George Lucas treat us to some tasty extras? And would he dare mess with his cinematic classics yet again? The answers are yes and yes.
- Hey, where?s Sebastian Shaw? While the actor still appears as Anakin after Darth Vader?s helmet is removed in Return of the Jedi, Lucas has taken his glowing visage from the very end and inserted a scraggly-haired Hayden Christensen. Regular Palpatine player Ian McDiarmid also pops up, as the Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back. (Goodbye, Clive Revill!) And in one unwelcome alteration, a posse of merry Gungans now cavort in the closing Jedi celebration montage.
- Remember that wimpy yelp Lucas added to Luke?s plunge through Cloud City on the 1997 Star Wars ”special edition” re-releases? Gone! He?s also fiddled again with the Han Solo/Greedo confrontation. Greedo still shoots first (don?t get me started on that!), but now Han?s reaction isn?t so painfully slow.
- While the commentaries feature too much of sound guru Ben Burtt, there are revealing tid-bits, such as Lucas killing Obi-Wan off because he had nothing for him to do after leaving the Death Star, and Harrison Ford ad-libbing his famous I know? response to Princess Leia?s ?I love you? before being dropped into carbon freeze. That scruffy nerf-herding genius!
- The Force is seriously strong with the ”Empire of Dreams” doc. At 150 minutes, it features bloopers, a scrapped scene on Cloud City, and audition footage from folks who didn?t get the gig, like Kurt Russell (for Han Solo) and Cindy Williams (for Leia).
- But wait, there?s more! doc on the characters reveals that at one point Luke was going to be a dwarf (paging Warwick Davis!); rough-cut duels populate ”The Birth of the Lightsaber”; and Episode III preview shows Christensen being fitted for Vader mask (insert goose bumps here). Most intriguing are photos scenes that never made it final films — among them, Luke?s visit to Tosche Station and additional wampa attack Hoth. Talk about a tease!
- Supreme films. Supreme treatment. Supreme extras. Yes, I wish Lucas would also make the original versions available (like his pal Spielberg did with E.T.), but that?s just purist geek talking. Regular old geek is still drooling… and this time it has nothing to do with Leia?s slave-girl bikini.