Star Wars DVD: Bonus Disc
Review by Diana deRiggs
I can lament for many an age over the fact that the SPFX documentaries are not included. Or go on about the miles of praise offered up to George Lucas by the likes of James Cameron, Scott Riley, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, but there were no interviews of Kevin Smith, Steve Jobs, John Knoll, or even Marsha Lucas. Or how some deleted scenes would have been nice, but I'm sure that George-the-control-freak, like Uncle Owen, probably "wouldn't allow it." Instead, I offer this whine:
What the hell is the big idea giving us teases of Obiwan and Anakin doing hand-to-hand with lightsabres a full eight months before the movie is due out??? The training and behind-the-scenes documentary cuts are way too intriguing, and might even incite a fangeek to violence ...
The coolness factor is high for some aspects of the bonus disc. The Lightsabre documentary made me scream at the television screen at how much I hate Ralph McQuarrie, Ben Burtt, and all the people who not only made that "technological fantasy" come to life, but do so in a way that made us never doubt its existence. Think about it. You believe they exist, don't you? (I know one SW-dork who got the plans to build Obiwan's lightsabre, which included plumbing fittings long since out of production. He found someone with the old fitting in her kitchen sink, and offered to replace it, "since the old one is not working so well." She fell for it!)
Of course, I don't hate the Industrial Lights & Magic crew ... not at all, I worship and adore them and would only think twice about bearing any of their children. I wanted to be them when I first saw Star Wars. George Lucas changed all of our lives in one way or another, and ILM and their "can do" policy to make a moviemaker's dreams into reality has made everything from movies and videogames to our expectations soar. I don't like that he tampered with his movies -- I don't consider them "his" and I don't appreciate that he doesn't appreciate how they changed so many things.
Okay, the disc ... in addition to the Birth of the Lightsaber, there are the following "featurettes": The Characters of Star Wars -- a rather surface-level discussion of how George Lucas saw and evolved the characters as his screenplay took shape; The Legacy of Star Wars -- which gets the skinny from filmmakers about the impact Star Wars had on their work; The Return of Darth Vader -- which teases us with scenes and development from Episode III. There is also a photo gallery showing documentary-style photographs from around the world where the action of Star Wars was filmed; a gallery of posters and ads issued for the trilogy not only from the United States, but from around the world.
There are also trailers and demos for the videogame Star Wars Battlefront, a Xbox, Playstation2, or PC issued to coincide with the DVD release. People who play videogames and role-playing games salivate and pant heavily just talking about this. Many refused to look at the demo, since they knew they'd be buying the game anyway, and found the teasing to be too irritating.
There is also Empire of Dreams, the A&E channel's version of the story behind the Star Wars movies, called the "most successful independent film series ever produced." It's essentially the historical recounting of George Lucas and his journey to make films the way HE wanted to. In some ways, it makes him look like a whiney asshole with perserverence. It may be the truth, of course. It's two-and-a-half hours long and was broadcast the weekend before the DVDs were released. We'd all seen it then, and didn't feel like viewing it again on the DVD. There is such a thing as Star Wars oversaturation when it seems like an exercise in self-congratulations.
The bonus materials disc is worthwhile just for The Birth of the Lightsaber (note this spelling, rather than "lightsabre" as is traditional in fanfic and novelizations) and the behind-the-scenes preview for Episode III. But it comes to mind that with a set of movies so historically and emotionally significant, there must've been a lot of pressure to "keep it not-real," meaning trying to do stuff with too much dignity or something. That's too bad.
The rest is okay if you have some spare time. All in all, the Bonus Materials disc for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones were much more fun and fulfilling.
Breaking News: There apparently IS a blooper reel! Check the GAMES menu, then type in "1138" to view it. Those bastards! I HATE easter eggs!! What's worse, different DVD players respond to this code input different. In some, you press "11" then wait. Then "38." Or "3" then "8". Or going through your game trailer and choosing "Title 38" from the "title selector" on your DVD menu. Oh gadzooks, this totally sucks. There is also a Making the Game feature you need to fiddle around to get. This is only marginally less annoying than the first Harry Potter DVD when you have to play games to get access to the deleted scenes! Argh, if you're determined, try to find the "easter eggs" on the various websites for the DVD. I am so sick of people thinking easter eggs are cool ... why do all this work and then have people not be able to see it? Jerks. I changed my mind, I hate this bonus disc.
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