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The ONE and ONLY *OFFICIAL* STAR WARS (Original Trilogy) DVD REVIEW THREAD!


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#1 of 433 Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 10 2006 - 04:17 AM


This is the official REVIEW thread for those that have purchased and watched
the new original trilogy discs released 9/12. You may also ask questions and report
problems to this thread.


Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 433 Mark Oates

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Posted September 10 2006 - 11:45 AM

I've never been thrilled with this "Episode IV: A New Hope" thing. I always felt that the sequels were just cashing in and that George Lucas had achieved a pretty much perfect piece of filmmaking with the 1977 original. It pained me that with the exception of the first videotape I ever owned (long lost) and the forty minutes or so of 8mm digest of the film were the only times I could view that wonderful original. The tinkering started with the reissue of the movie alongside its 1980 first sequel, and it went on for the next twenty-six years and doesn't look like it's going to stop. The movie that I fell for and which meant so much to a teenage me was called Star Wars, and it didn't include any extremely dodgy shot of Han Solo ducking a shot from Greedo, or that half-ton slug called Jabba. There was also a wonderful musical riff of the Rebel theme over the X-wings dive into battle that used to raise the hairs.

I was really jazzed when they announced the release of the original theatrical edition, and incredibly disappointed when we all found out about the non-anamorphic transfer.

Watching the bonus disc, two things came to mind. If I'd got the disc back in the days when I started out on DVD, I'd have been really really chuffed with it. The movie is the version I fell for back in 1977, without any of GL's revisionist tweaks. There's no Jabba, Han shoots Greedo and there's the Rebel fanfare over the Death Star dive. I'm a happy bunny on that score.

Imagewise, I'd still have expected an anamorphic release. It is 2006, after all and at least in the UK, widescreen tellies are becoming the norm. Having said that, the picture isn't so bad. I expanded the picture to fill the screen, which introduced a little line structure, but as I got into the movie, I didn't really notice it. The print the transfer was taken from is obviously a couple of generations off the Oneg, as certain scenes are quite grainy in comparison with their 2004 touch-up, but I think that's down to those crappy Eastman stocks used back then. Personally, though, the transfer looks just the way I'd expect a 1977 movie to look in 2006. If anything it looks quite good. There's a bit of print weave obvious which would have been introduced between printing generations as well.

The other striking thing I noticed about the movie was the difference between the letterboxed 1977 version and the anamorphic 2004 version. Or the lack of it. Now, before any techie readers take me to task, there is more detail, sharpness and colour in the 2004 version but the difference isn't as radical as I'd expected. I'd conned myself into thinking it would be like SD versus HD, but really the tricks pulled in making an anamorphic image don't add up to such a difference.

To paraphrase a comment made on another site, I put the disc in my DVD player, and for two hours I was transported back to being fourteen again. Star Wars is one of those movies that means a lot to people who saw it in their formative years. It is a classic of the cinema and should rightly be listed alongside The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca and Gone With The Wind. While I think as the author, George Lucas has the right to tinker with the movie and its sequels and prequels, the OTV of the movie is an important document of its time and the reduxes merely copies. I don't mind what he does with the reduxes, but I do think that the original theatrical versions of all the movie need to be preserved for future generations.

*Quoted from my review of the R2 edition of Star Wars Ep IV at DVD Reviewer.co.uk
J Mark Oates
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#3 of 433 Brendon

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Posted September 10 2006 - 10:48 PM

Quote:
Now, before any techie readers take me to task, there is more detail, sharpness and colour in the 2004 version but the difference isn't as radical as I'd expected. I'd conned myself into thinking it would be like SD versus HD, but really the tricks pulled in making an anamorphic image don't add up to such a difference.

Truth be told I've not watched the OOT since around 1996 on a 25" 4:3 CRT from my PAL WS VHS tapes...

Having sat down and watched the film in its entirety this morning, I'm inclined to agree. To a point. The DVD is far from unwatchable, especially as I'm watching it from my usual viewing distance (approx 9ft from a 40" 16:9 display). Any closer though and the problems caused by zooming a non-anamorphic image become all too aparent. There is indeed a suprising amount of detail in the disc, but no one is likely to mistake it for a well mastered anamorphic disc.

The upside of having the '77 film to watch again cannot be overstated however! I'm a huge fan of both the '97 and '04 Special Edition, but watching the film in its original form has been a pleasure. No "this is a new bit" moments that has been the hallmark of the SE since 97, no "Praxis moon" rings etc. Most telling, and this suprised me, is prefering the Death Star battle model work and motion of the '77 version over the CG replacement from '97. It may not jive with the likes of the battle opening of ROTS but it does "feel right".

Visually the only overtly down side was the overly apparent garbage mattes on the Falcon/Tie battle.

Despite the lack of split surrounds, dedicated LFE channel etc, the soundtrack comes across beautifully. No effects overpowering the score, no inconsistent dialogue levels/quality and no "ping pong" overly active soundfield, just (IMHO) the great 93 THX mix.

On the basis of this mornings viewing, I've put in my order for the original TESB and ROTJ discs. I love both the '97 and '04 releases (I bought an LD player purely in preparation for the 97SE LD release), despite the 97 dodgy Jabba and 04 audio problems. Yet viewing the new DVD has been a pleasure, pure and simple, and whilst not what many have hoped for/demanded, is a serious step up from the existing analogue formats.

No one is required to buy these discs if they do not wish. No one is required to not buy these discs if they do not wish. Those that do buy and can get over the shortcomings in presentation will be quite pleased I think.

(I did have one or two issues with player lock up that I suspect may be attributable to my player, a Denon 2900 - I'd be interested if anyone else experiences the same though. NB I am not looking to start a controversy about potentially faulty discs; it's more than likely to be my player!)

I'd be interested to hear how other people regard the picture on these discs, especially in relation to the type and size of their display. ie does playback perception differ on plasma, LCD, CRT, DLP etc and just how big a factor is screen size?

#4 of 433 Mark Oates

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Posted September 11 2006 - 04:17 AM

I couldn't really post my entire review verbatim, and in the full text I do say that the people the lack of anamorphic enhancement will affect are Home Theater enthusiasts. I was watching the movie on a pretty standard 28" widescreen PAL CRT setup, and line structure was noticeable but no more noticeable than viewing an NTSC picture.

Bottom line was the picture wasn't unwatchable. It was very watchable. It would have been more watchable as a state-of-the-art, anamorphic transfer of an archive quality print, but as it was it wasn't the muddy-coloured, smeary disaster that had been expected.

However, this release is definitely the last money George Lucas extracts from this little black duck unless he relents and gives us that state-of-the-art-yada-yada version of the OTV. HD? Pfft! 3-D? Ptui!

Last thought: Is the reason Star Wars fans despise the "Praxis moon" shockwave because it's a second-hand Star Trek effect? Or is it just a case of monkeying with an iconically cathartic moment of cinema?
J Mark Oates
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#5 of 433 Mike_G

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Posted September 11 2006 - 05:22 AM

Because of Star Trek. Had Praxis not exploded, it would have been a cool effect. I still think the Falcon lifting off was one of the best additions to the SE.

#6 of 433 Brendon

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Posted September 11 2006 - 05:28 AM

I think the reason that Praxis moon effect is frowned upon isn't entirely due to it having been imported from a "rival" franchise, it's that it seems so out of place; so little else in the SW universe explodes in this fashion. The effect seems to have been added purely for the shockwave to sweep through the soundfield. Why not explode in a "shocksphere"? Why ring(s) that only go out in a single plane?

The ring explosion effect in the SW series only worked for me in AOTC with the sonic bombs in the asteroid field.

Back to the point:

Glad to hear that the picture was watchable on your setup. Since moving from a 32" CRT/RGB to 40" LCD/Component/Prog Scan I've begun to notice problems on discs that were previously hidden, such as edge enhancement and over compression/bitrate starvation. It'll be interesting to see how apparent the lack of resolution etc becomes with increasing screen sizes.

As far as bemoaning the lack of anamorphic enhancement, I can't help but agree. Given that the discs are now out and are not going to be recalled and replaced, they are what they are. The other discussion thread has proved that each camp is not going to convince the other of it's point(s), and has long since decayed into people repeatedly restating their positions with ever increasing vigor. I'm hoping this thread will retain a little more focus and dignity. (This isn't directed at your Mark, BTW!)

Would anyone with either the Faces or Definitive collection care to do an A/B comparison? I'm guessing that the current DVDs will stack up extremely well against what was the best LD hardware reproduction, but it would be good to hear from some first hand opinion.

#7 of 433 Ric Easton

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Posted September 11 2006 - 06:52 AM

Quote:
Would anyone with either the Faces or Definitive collection care to do an A/B comparison? I'm guessing that the current DVDs will stack up extremely well against what was the best LD hardware reproduction, but it would be good to hear from some first hand opinion.

I'd like to hear this as well! Thanks for the reports so far guys.

#8 of 433 Nicholas Martin

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Posted September 11 2006 - 07:21 AM

I have only seen one non-anamorphic DVD (other than Titanic) since getting my new LCD TV (26"...all I want or need ) and that was the first "Stargate" SE from 1999.

Do these look anything like that disc? It looked rather poor, at least to me, and I have little experience with these matters.

#9 of 433 Kevin C Brown

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Posted September 11 2006 - 12:37 PM

Hmmm... I didn't know they wouldn't be anamorphic...
If it's not worth waiting until the last minute to do, then it's not worth doing.

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#10 of 433 TonyD

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Posted September 12 2006 - 01:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin C Brown
Hmmm... I didn't know they wouldn't be anamorphic...
Posted Image

anyway i plan on picking them up.
i'm guessing my rp-91 will scale these well enough.

btw so far in this topic i've seen OVT and OOT.

if this has to be shortened wouldnt it be Origional Trilogy
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#11 of 433 Joseph Bolus

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Posted September 12 2006 - 01:54 AM

Quote:
if this has to be shortened wouldnt it be Origional Trilogy

Most members on other forums on referring to them as the OUT:
Original
Unaltered
Trilogy

I'm picking mine up in about two hours!!
Joseph
---------------

#12 of 433 Mattias_ka

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Posted September 12 2006 - 02:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brendon
Would anyone with either the Faces or Definitive collection care to do an A/B comparison? I'm guessing that the current DVDs will stack up extremely well against what was the best LD hardware reproduction, but it would be good to hear from some first hand opinion.


I have the DC set but I will NEVER buy this DVD set. I can do some screenshots directly from the LD if you want and post it here with the best available LD players.

#13 of 433 Brendon

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Posted September 12 2006 - 02:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mattias_ka
I have the DC set but I will NEVER buy this DVD set. I can do some screenshots directly from the LD if you want and post it here with the best available LD players.

Mattias,

A number of us would be very much obliged if you could. It would aid in figuring out whether the current DVD issues are inferior, superior or equivalent to the '90s laserdiscs.

Thanks!

#14 of 433 Rob Lutter

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Posted September 12 2006 - 02:51 AM

For those thinking of buying the Best Buy tin, I bit (Dad always taught me you can NEVER have enough Star Wars)... and here's some images:
Posted Image
Posted Image

... whether or not that's worth an extra $15 bux for you ($59.99 for the tin vs. $14.99 each at CC) is up to you. I figure if you're gonna whore yourself to Lucas, better at least go all out! Posted Image

PS: I own the "Faces" THX LDs and I've gotta say... these are JUST AS GOOD, if not BETTER image-wise. The only thing I will miss is the PCM Stereo sound. But I think that not having the flip the LD 3 times (or swap discs if you have a dual-side player) is WELL worth the expense.

#15 of 433 KyleC

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Posted September 12 2006 - 03:45 AM

Just curious for those that view this set on a large RPHDTV. If you zoom the picture to fill the screen, how bad do they look?

#16 of 433 Dan Szwarc

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Posted September 12 2006 - 04:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Lutter
PS: I own the "Faces" THX LDs and I've gotta say... these are JUST AS GOOD, if not BETTER image-wise. The only thing I will miss is the PCM Stereo sound. But I think that not having the flip the LD 3 times (or swap discs if you have a dual-side player) is WELL worth the expense.
I'd have to say that was what I was expecting. Slightly better than LD on the same screen except now portable. One can't play a laserdisc on a laptop computer!

This is supposed to be the "original ORIGINAL" trilogy.
Question:
In Star Wars, on the Death Star when Artoo and Threepio are showing Kenobi where to turn off the tractor beam, is the line of dialogue "The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor at several locations. A power loss at any one of the terminals will (memory fading on dialogue) and allow us to leave." still in there?

This line was supposedly dubbed in after the initial release for more explanation to what Ben was going to do. You can hear a pitch and tibmre change in Threepio's voice of the LDs. I can't remember if it is still present in the 2004 DVDs.
Dan Szwarc
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#17 of 433 TravisR

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Posted September 12 2006 - 04:56 AM

Actually the prints that played on May 25, 1977 didn't have Aunt Beru's voice dubbed and the small scene when Han and Luke are transporting Chewbacca and he growls at the mouse droid wasn't in the movie either.

#18 of 433 Richard Kim

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Posted September 12 2006 - 05:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Szwarc
Question:
In Star Wars, on the Death Star when Artoo and Threepio are showing Kenobi where to turn off the tractor beam, is the line of dialogue "The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor at several locations. A power loss at any one of the terminals will (memory fading on dialogue) and allow us to leave." still in there?

This line was supposedly dubbed in after the initial release for more explanation to what Ben was going to do. You can hear a pitch and tibmre change in Threepio's voice of the LDs. I can't remember if it is still present in the 2004 DVDs.

3P0's explanation is in the 2004 DVD version.

#19 of 433 Jay Pennington

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Posted September 12 2006 - 05:23 AM

Threepio's line was in the 1977 mono mix.

The Chewbacca scene being not there rumor has long since been debunked.

Aunt Beru's voice has always been dubbed, 1977 onward. The mono mix used a different voiceover actress than the other mixes, but all mixes replaced the original actress' dialogue.
-Jay

#20 of 433 Rob Lutter

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Posted September 12 2006 - 05:39 AM

Okay... I couldn't resist waiting till tonight so I watched the first half of ANH on my projector (720p / 110" screen)

From 1 screen length away, the film looks as anyone with the LD would suspect: grainy. This master is grainy as hell and features a slight horizontal telecine jitter (I think that's the correct term). That said the actual film is rather sharp looking (sharper than I remember the LD being, but not as good as the best non-anamorphic DVD) and the colour reproduction/black levels are just fine.

At 1.5 screen lengths away (back of my theatre room, on the sofa) the film looks just fine. Really, I'm quite pleased to have it... but it's nowhere near the calibre of the 2004 release (which, obviously, has far more money thrown into it for the 1997 release and again for the 2004 release).

... And from the way Lucas speaks, I really do think this is the best version that we'll ever get of the theatrical version.