Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Star Wars: Blu-Ray Content and Cover Art: Details and Commentary

May the 4th saw the release of extensive details and the cover art for this September's Star Wars: Blu-Ray release.  Below find my thoughts on the cover art, a list of special features followed by my thoughts, and finally a comment on the marketing gimmick used by Lucasfilm called "infinite zoom."

Cover Art Commentary

We have three different covers, stylistically the individual trilogy boxes are the same style, while the Complete Saga edition is drastically different.

I actually really like the Complete Saga Anakin/Luke on Tatooine art, however I can see why many fans won't like it.  If you watch the video on the Maythe4thbewithyou website, you see the complete unfolded cover art without the logo or any writing on it and its a gorgeous piece of art.  I am not sure if its water color painting but that is what it looks like to me.  My biggest critique is that you only see the back of Luke in a very ethereal way, I would have preferred the artist to capture Luke who really defines Star Wars for a generation of fans much more prominently.  I think its a rather understated and unique art choice and not something that I would have expected.  I would have expected a much more masculine and traditional cover art with bolder covers and sharper lines.  This is a soft and almost romantic take on the hero's journey.

The Prequel Trilogy box art is my least favorite of the group.  I do not really have a problem with the concept, but the execution bothers me.  I will say that it doesn't make sense not to feature Anakin prominently on cover.  I know we all love Yoda, but if Star Wars is really the story of Anakin, he should be the focal point of the cover.  What bothers me most is the greenish tint that permeates the entire cover, it just makes everything look distorted and sickly. 

I love the Original Trilogy box art. The blue color works for me a million times more then the green does on the Prequel Trilogy box.  I love the Vader/Anakin is the focal point of the art and how the Death Star is coming out of the top of Vader's helmet. Similar to the Complete Saga art however, it minimizes Luke too much.  If I was involved in it, I would have used a larger image of the Return of the Jedi Luke they used and positioned it where the Cloud City image is and moved the Cloud City image to where they put Luke.
 
 SPECIAL FEATURES: 


STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA ON BLU-RAY is presented in widescreen with 6.1 DTS Surround Sound. Special features include:

  • Disc One- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, Dennis Muren and Scott Squires
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Two - Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Three - Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll and Roger Guyett
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Four - Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Five - Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Six - Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
    • Audio Commentary with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt and Dennis Muren
    • Audio Commentary from Archival Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Disc Seven - New! Star Wars Archives: Episodes I-III
    • Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; a flythrough of the Lucasfilm Archives and more
  • Disc Eight - New! Star Wars Archives: Episode IV-VI
    • Including: deleted, extended and alternate scenes; prop, maquette and costume turnarounds; matte paintings and concept art; supplementary interviews with cast and crew; and more
  • Disc Nine - The Star Wars Documentaries
    • NEW! Star Warriors (2007, Color, Apx. 84 Minutes) - Some Star Wars fans want to collect action figures... these fans want to be action figures! A tribute to the 501st Legion, a global organization of Star Wars costume enthusiasts, this insightful documentary shows how the super-fan club promotes interest in the films through charity and volunteer work at fundraisers and high-profile special events around the world.
    • NEW! A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later (2010, Color, Apx. 25 Minutes) - George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Lawrence Kasdan and John Williams look back on the making of The Empire Strikes Back in this in-depth retrospective from Lucasfilm created to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the movie. The masters discuss and reminisce about one of the most beloved films of all time.
    • NEW! Star Wars Spoofs (2011, Color, Apx. 91 Minutes) - The farce is strong with this one! Enjoy a hilarious collection of Star Wars spoofs and parodies that have been created over the years, including outrageous clips from Family Guy, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother and more - and don't miss "Weird Al" Yankovic's one-of-a-kind music video tribute to The Phantom Menace!
    • The Making of Star Wars (1977, Color, Apx. 49 Minutes) - Learn the incredible behind-the-scenes story of how the original Star Wars movie was brought to the big screen in this fascinating documentary hosted by C-3PO and R2-D2. Includes interviews with George Lucas and appearances by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
    • The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX (1980, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) - Learn the secrets of making movies in a galaxy far, far away. Hosted by Mark Hamill, this revealing documentary offers behind-the-scenes glimpses into the amazing special effects that transformed George Lucas' vision for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back into reality!
    • Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi (1983, Color, Apx. 48 Minutes) - Go behind the scenes -- and into the costumes -- as production footage from Return of the Jedi is interspersed with vintage monster movie clips in this in-depth exploration of the painstaking techniques utilized by George Lucas to create the classic creatures and characters seen in the film. Hosted and narrated by Carrie Fisher and Billy Dee Williams.
    • Anatomy of a Dewback (1997, Color, Apx. 26 Minutes) - See how some of the special effects in Star Wars became even more special two decades later! George Lucas explains and demonstrates how his team transformed the original dewback creatures from immovable rubber puppets (in the original 1977 release) to seemingly living, breathing creatures for the Star Wars 1997 Special Edition update.
    • Star Wars Tech (2007, Color, Apx. 46 Minutes) - Exploring the technical aspects of Star Wars vehicles, weapons and gadgetry, Star Wars Tech consults leading scientists in the fields of physics, prosthetics, lasers, engineering and astronomy to examine the plausibility of Star Wars technology based on science as we know it today.
Comments on Special Features

The plus side is that we get two entire discs of new archival materials including deleted scenses, alternate scenes. We do get three new documentaries (Star Warriors, A Conversation with the Masters, and Star Wars Spoofs), but a lot of the bonus material is stuff that has been available before or at least seen before.

Each movie disc also contains two commentary tracks, the main commentary track is the same ones that were released with the previous DVD releases. For example for Episodes IV-VI we have had these same commentaries on the 2004 DVD Box Set release and the 2006 Special/Theatrical Edition Dual Disc sets.   The second set of commentaries will be interviews from Lucasfilm's archive with cast and crew and this could be really interesting depending on how much content their is in these commentaries. 

The biggest negative in my opinion is that it appears the deleted scenes will not be on the same disc as the movie they come from, so there will be no seamless branching option allowing viewers to insert deleted or alternate scenes into the flow of the movie.  That is too bad for Han shot first zealots or for those hoping to add Luke's lightsaber construction scene to the beginning of Return of the Jedi.

Overall this is a ton of material, some new, some old and some old yet still new to me.  I am very excited to get these discs. 

Commentary on "Infinite Zoom" Marketing

This September, the Star Wars Saga comes to Blu-ray for the very first time. Now you can be part of this groundbreaking release, through the magic of “infinite zoom” technology. When you share this site with your friends, exclusive imagery from the release will be revealed. And the more the site is shared around the world, the more the world will see.

So spread the word today and “zoom” into the ultimate insider’s view of Star Wars on Blu-ray!

The idea of "infinite zoom" is interesting.  Its basically creating Easter eggs that are unlock able not by codes or other tricks, but by spreading the link through social media.  I actually think the potential applications of this are cool.  It does strike me that this would be better suited for a video game, where the zoom could be unlockable characters, levels, abilities, etc.  Basic details and sales specs for a Blu-Ray doesn't seem like the use for which this system was designed.  It was a nice try, but I don't think the what was revealed really fit they way it was revealed.

The other issue is the fact that traffic caused the website to crash.  Which is both a positive and a negative, on the plus side it shows just how much interest there is in Star Wars, on the negative side, I wonder if this kind of traffic should have been anticipated and planned for.  But I will leave that to those in the technical internet community that know a lot more about that then I do to judge.

CONCLUSIONS

Thanks to all the folks at Lucasfilm and all the fans around the world for making our communities "holiday" so much fun today.  I already have my Complete Saga Blu-Ray on pre-order and if you haven't yet made the conversion to Blu-Ray, I can't think of a better reason then to enjoy Star Wars in high definition.  September 16th is just around the corner.

You can pre-order Star Wars on Blu-Ray at Amazon.com:  Complete Saga 9 Disc Set for $89.99

SOURCES: Starwas.com and Maythe4th.StarWars.com

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