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Star Wars Trilogy (U) - review



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary tracks featuring George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, sound designer Ben Burtt, and Industrial Light And Magic's Dennis Muren; 'Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy' (two-and-a-half hour documentary); Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview: The Return of Darth Vader. The Birth of the Lightsaber; The Characters of Star Wars; The Force Is With Them: The Legacy of Star Wars; 'Star Wars Battlefront' trailer and playable demo. Star Wars: Episode III making the game preview; Original trailers and TV spots; Production gallery. Posters and print campaigns; DVD-ROM content.

A LONG time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas created the most successful cinema franchise of all-time.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope first hit cinema screens, in 1977, and immediately captured the imagination of cinema-goers the world over.

It has since gone on to be hailed as the best film of all-time, by the popcorn-munching masses, and spawned two sequels, and a prequel trilogy, which is currently due to conclude in cinemas, in 2005, with the release of The Revenge of the Sith.

But the original remains the best in most peoples' opinions and it's hard not to revel in the sheer spectacle of seeing Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia battle the might of Darth Vader's evil Empire complete with light-sabers, Millennium Falcons and talking cyborgs.

The film is essentially a Western played out amid the sci-fi genre, with Hamill's Luke Skywalker vowing to fulfil his destiny as a Jedi warrior, rescue a princess, and avenge his father's death, all at the same time, with the assistance of his reluctant friend, Han Solo, and two robots, C3PO and R2-D2.

Star Wars culminated in the destruction of the Death Star and an apparent victory for the Rebel Alliance - but its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, turned the tables somewhat, by having the heroes placed on the back foot.

In terms of sequels, The Empire Strikes Back is probably up there with The Godfather: Part Two, as one which betters the original (on a critical level), given its brave decision to end on a pessimistic note.

It also has plenty to admire, including the jaw-dropping revelation about Darth Vader, and capably sets things up for the concluding part of the trilogy, The Return of the Jedi.

Yet, try as it might, this third film failed to match the highs of its predecessors, largely because of Lucas' decision to include the Ewoks (which still rate alongside Jar Jar Binks as one of the worst cinema creations of all time).

It is during The Return of the Jedi that the final confrontations are played out, with Luke finally coming face-to-face with his father, and Han Solo realising his love for the feisty Princess Leia.

Yet, for some curious reason, it lacked both the invention and emotional clout of the first two films, and is viewed by many to be the weak link in the series - weaker, even, than The Phantom Menace.

Not that this should stop Star Wars fans from rushing out and buying it for the first time on DVD. No sir!

For, needless to say, the trilogy comes packed with extras, from insights into The Revenge of the Sith, to anecdotes and interviews with most of the original key players.

Of the documentaries, fans will probably derive the most pleasure from The Birth Of The Lightsaber, a fascinating insight into the must-have weapon of the series, and The Force is With Them: The Legacy Of Star Wars, which looks at the impact it has had on cinema culture.

It's probably not going to be the definitive version of the trilogy on DVD (as Lucas will probably milk it for all it's worth over the coming years), and the preview of the new movie actually includes no footage from it, but there is no escaping the fact that this is one of the essential purchases in a cinema fans' collection.

The Force looks set to run and run on this one...

 

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