It's been a long time coming, but finally, in a galaxy not so far, far away (well, in our own in fact!) the Star Wars
Saga is receiving a Blu-ray release
...check out the 10 moments we can't wait to see! With the amazing advancements of high definition television and Blu-ray players films have never looked so good. Whether old or new, the improved quality of these releases can be immense. It's a wonder then that it's taken so long since the introduction of these new formats to actually release the Star Wars saga! Whatever the reasons, the wait is nearly over with Monday's release of the entire series. So as you eagerly sit and count down the hours to that historical day (I'm assuming most if you are!), take the time to check out the 10 moments we can't wait to see in HD! Before we begin, I'll be honest; I'm no Star Wars brainbox... I don't mind the films, but I certainly wouldn't consider myself a devout fan (sacrilege to many of you I'm sure!). The following 10 scenes are the first ones that sprung to mind from my previous screenings, so if you can think of any additional ones or if you agree/disagree in any way then do leave a comment below, we'd love to hear your thoughts!
10. The Opening Credits - A NEW HOPE - REVENGE OF THE SITH
Whilst this is by no means the most exciting moment presented in this top 10, the opening credits from the original film have a proud place in the history of filmmaking. Certainly the most iconic credits ever committed to film, they have become not only synonymous with the saga but have also been mimicked and mocked more times than could possibly be recorded. Deeply expressive and cleverly created to reveal an extensive back-story in a way that refrains from becoming overly dull or boring, the opening credits are the heart of the film series. Whilst there are moments of intense action and drama that will undoubtedly be highly anticipated by fans of the films, I can't help but be a little excited at the prospect of seeing such a recognisable piece of cinema in full high definition. With crystal clear text and a vibrant background, plus the unforgettable score blasting out of the speakers of my television via the upgraded audio track, this will hopefully be a powerful and striking moment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9kMh04GooE Although the constant mocking of these opening titles has inevitably made them appear rather dated and cheesy, hopefully the HD quality will revitalise them by brightening the colours (the yellow text will hopefully glimmer like the noon day sun!) and sharpening the contrast between the starry sky and the text. Hopefully the possibility of the effects used to create the sequence appearing too old fashion under the harsher realities of HD will be minimal and the upgrade will breathe new life into them once more.
09. Pod Racing - THE PHANTOM MENACE
Phantom is the only film of the series I ever saw at the cinema (and typically it's often considered the weakest of the 6 films - just my luck!) and I'll never forget how amazed I was by the high speed high-jinks during the Pod racing sequence. On the big screen it was nothing short of exhilarating, with the essence of movement captured through fantastic cinematography and George Lucas's choices of expressive shots. This moment will hopefully transfer extremely well to the high definition Blu-ray disc, with the added sense of realism achieved by the process potentially supplanting audiences even further into the heart of the action. Visually, the imagery should look great, from the impressive scenery of the desert to the inventiveness of the high-speed vehicles. The sound will hopefully fill the full range of speakers with a mix of ambient sound and special effects noises, as well as the dialogue and the scene could potentially show off the power of Blu-ray's advanced sound technology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUsltuNO6l8 The only potential draw back could be with the CGI effects themselves. Although the film is not particularly old, the advancements in special effects technology over the past few years have been significant and the fact that the upgraded HD transfer is likely to show up any flaws (however minor), there's always a chance that the scene may be afflicted with unwanted distortion, grain or obvious computer generated work. Fingers crossed though that this sequence will remain just as exciting here as it did in the cinema...
08. Princess Leia's Gold Bikini! - RETURN OF THE JEDI
Leia's golden boob wear is one of the most memorable and iconic moments within the entire franchise and literally a whole generation of men are undoubtedly desperately waiting to lust over the scene in mind-blowing HD. The scene that simultaneously catapulted this generation of boys into puberty, will surely have the same effect on a whole new generation, only this time the boys will get Leia in dazzling high definition with even greater detail than ever before and leaves very little to the imagination! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgsK9fuO2a8 Carrie Fisher as Leia will certainly look amazing, but the only thing that may let the scene down is Jabba the Hut himself. With the increased realism achieved through HD transfers, will Jabba look too much like a model? Whilst he never totally looked convincingly real in any release, the high definition may betray the model work too much to prevent him from becoming laughable. However, even if this is the case, nothing will stop Leia in her gold bikini being anything other than stunning (I mean, will anyone really be paying any attention to Jabba anyway!?).
07. Leia Loves Han Solo - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
One of the most tender moments within the saga is torn to shreds as Han Solo is frozen into carbonite just as Leia admits her love for him. Set in the carbonite freezing lab of Bespin, the set is a visually treat. With Leia and Solo bathed in pools of orange and blue light, the imagery appears both hot and cold. The attention to detail in the scene is incredible and the added clarity and ability to define even the smallest of details on the Blu-ray disc transfer means that the scene will hopefully be rendered even more striking. The moment Solo is frozen is one of the most impressive and memorable ones within the entire collection of films and the thought of viewing this in the glory of full high definition is certainly a tantalising one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sO-KR-14uXM The special effects used to simulate the freezing of Solo may prove the only problem to the HD component. Produced in 198? the process used to capture the freezing may be too dated to be free from debilitating defects in high definition. If the restorers can avoid the greater sense of realism achieved via the upgrade from ruining the illusion of the transformation, then viewers should certainly be in for a treat! If they can't, the sequence may be plagued with incessant grain and disturbance.
06. Jango Fett vs Mace Windu - ATTACK OF THE CLONES
It's an epic and intense fight scene in the Geonosis battle arena, a conflict that sees many casualties and some incredible lightsaber work. When Jango Fett quickly takes down a Reek, Mace Windu retaliates swiftly by decapitating the villain in one smooth swoop of his lightsaber! Not someone to mess with, Windu is the essence of cool as played by the indelible Samuel L Jackson and here he looks amazingly awesome in his fight sequences. The scene could potentially look fantastic in high definition, with everything from the scenery to the buzzes of clashing lightsaber benefiting from being upgraded with this transfer. Visually, the sequence could be a striking and affecting one, whilst on an audio level the fighting could certainly put the medium through it's paces with the cacophony of sounds that accompany the action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzdMyqZsJ2k The only potential problem with the transfer is the fact that the scene is so heavily reliant upon CGI and special effects from beginning to end. The landscape within which the battle takes place is predominantly made up of computer generated imagery, meaning that should the technology used to create this be unable to withstand the much more intense scrutiny of HD, the whole sequence could look amateur and badly made. Should a persistent grain or array of other imperfections be painfully apparent, the whole illusion of the fantasy world will break down and ruin the scene. Hopefully this won't be the case and viewers will be able to immerse themselves into the greater sense of reality that the upgrade will bring to this moment.
05. Darth Vader vs The Emperor - RETURN OF THE JEDI
It's the moment when Darth Vader finally shows some repentance and it's one of the most memorable sequences within both Return of the Jedi and the wider series. As Vader lifts the unarmed Emperor in preparation for throwing him into the chasm of the second Death Star, he's finally redeemed. To emphasise the moment he's cloaked in streaks of blue lightening, in an effect that is one of the most impressive of the original trilogy. The glow of the lightening force reflects off Vader's helmet and mask, creating an ominous aura of blue light around him, which reminds us that despite his treason toward the Emperor he has always been an advocate of villainy. Highlighting the grotesquery of his costume, Vader has never looked more intimidating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yWR5jePoH8 Another sequence that may actually be a let down in high definition, it's a moment that relies heavily upon special effects and computer generated imagery. The process used to create the blue streaks of lightening back in the 1980s may not actually be advanced enough to remain flawless under the greater scrutiny of a HD transfer. Should this be the case, the scene could easily transform from being one of the most memorable and exciting moments with the films to one that induces unintentional laughter. However, with everything crossed, this scene will hopefully retain everything that has previously made it such a good one on the Blu-ray too.
04. General Grievous vs Obi Wan - REVENGE OF THE SITH
Testament to the immense talent of special effects wizards, the CGI created General Grievous pulls out not one, but FOUR lightsabers on Obi Wan Kenobi on their epic battle! Whirling them around in an almost hypnotic way, Grievous's skills with his weapon would surely intimidate even the most talented of Jedi. In a dizzying battle that sees Obi Wan fighting off attacks from the array of lightsabers, the scene is resplendent with action, suspense and drama. Undoubtedly, in a newly upgraded HD transfer, this sequence will look dazzling as the luminous lights of all five weapons brighten the screen. With the luminance of Bluray disc colour palettes, this scene will hopefully be one of the most vibrant and entertaining in the Revenge of the Sith. Similar to other battles chronicled here, the higher quality soundtrack should also be of benefit to this scene and the plethora of noises within it will certainly sound impressive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtRuV0cl2y8 Again, it's the special effects that may let thus moment down. Entirely fabricated from computer generated imagery, will General Grievous still look as impressive here as he does on DVD releases? Whilst Revenge of the Sith is by no means an old film, as previously mentioned the technology used to create Grievous may not fully withstand the more unforgiving nature of high definition. Should this be the case, the entire scene us likely to become comical rather than exciting and tense. However, hopefully the restorers will ensure that General Grievious is as intimidating and reprehensible as always has been.
03. Darth Maul vs Obi Wan & Qui Gon Jinn - THE PHANTOM MENACE
Along with the Pod racing scene at number 9, this is one of the scenes I vividly remember being enthralled by when I saw the film upon it's release in cinemas. Even today, for me, it's one of the best fight sequences in the entire series. In high definition, the fundamental elements of the scene will potentially combine to create a visually stunning and audibly magnificent sequence. From Darth Maul's distinctive make up - fully revealed for the first time here - to the whoosh of the Jedi and Sith lightsabers, the scene should be a treat on Bluray. The action should benefit from the upgrade and the saber play between the three will undoubtedly look better than ever before. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPLXwrj7i7Q Luckily, as most of the stunts were performed through high wire work rather than CGI effects, the scene will hopefully retain it's authenticity and not appear dated in the more unforgiving high definition. The only element that may appear less genuine is the glow of the lightsabers, but hopefully restorers will have ensured that these do look fantastic (I mean, there'd literally be no point in releasing the series on Blu-ray if they haven't!).
02. Enter Darth Vader... - A NEW HOPE
He's one of cinemas most intimidating villains: instantly recognisible with the ability to send a shiver immediately down the back of the most hardened of audiences. His entrance in the first film of the series is suitably dramatic, seeing him strole through a smoke-filled doorway on to the Tantive IV with a host if Storm Troopers behind. The scene is not massively spectacular visually, but the power of Vader's confident stride and the drama of the smoke clouding his first appearance in mystery, it is certainly a memorable moment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM9v1noabLY As the scene is not resplendent with special effects or CGI imagery, it will hopefully transfer well on to Blu-ray. If the original source material is in good condition and the restorers are able to remove all traces of grain and other distortion, this could be one of the most powerful and imposing scenes within the entire boxset!
01. "Luke, I am your father..." - EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
It's the iconic moment from the entire series and is probably one of the few scenes in film history that are most firmly embedded within popular culture. Often imitated but never duplicated, it would probably not be going too far to say that it's the most iconic scene in cinema, ever! As well as hearing those immortal lines in an upgraded audio track, the scene is visually striking. Seeing Luke dangling over what appears to be a bottomless chasm on Bespin and the memorable shot of Vader with his arm outstretched in glorious high definition will be nothing short of spectacular... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6sj89xgnl4 Again, the only possible down side may be how well the special effects hold up - will the bottomless chasm really look unending or will the now dated computerised graphics look boxy and obviously fake? Although Blu-ray can be rather unforgiving on dated CGI, hopefully this scene will stand the test of time even if the graphics aren't flawless. Either way, nothing will eradicate just how important this scene has become in the legacy of the Star Wars saga and film history in general!
Star Wars: The Complete Saga is finally released on Blu-ray next week