10 Things Star Wars Could Change

Another new format, another rerelease of Star Wars.  With the release of Star Wars on Blu-ray slated for this year, that’s pretty much how Lucasfilm operates, but there’s a perfectly good reason for it — Star Wars is huge.  Many modern filmmakers claim Star Wars as the first time they fell in love with movies.  The Original Star Wars trilogy is a huge part of American culture (seriously, try to count the number of Star Wars parodies that exist — that tells you something).  Phrases from the movies are spoken in everyday conversation.  Even people who don’t watch many movies have seen Star Wars.  It makes sense, then, that Lucasfilm would capitalize on this and release the epic space opera on the newest and best format.

Lucasfilm, however, never treats a new release as a small occasion.  It took years for the industry giant to release Star Wars on DVD, just as it has for its upcoming Bluray release.  What’s more so, Lucas often edits the films up for the new releases (not just in terms of quality, but sometimes content).  The original trilogy has been slightly altered on a number of occasions – primarily for the “Special Edition” release in the 90’s and the DVD release in 2004.  This has been a huge point of contention for Star Wars fans.  Purists have cried foul and wish for high-quality versions of the originals to be released, while some simply take the changes that Lucas adds and accept them.  Personally, I’ve found a bit of a middle ground to this issue.  I’m a big Star Wars fan, but not all of Lucas’s edits have been bad (for instance, I’m a fan of the redubbed scene in the Star Wars DVD where the same actor that played the Emperor in Episode 6 replays the part in Episode 5).  I don’t mind a director making a “director’s cut” of a film.  There comes a point, however, when it seems a bit much, and the amount of edits Lucas has had on the films can be a bit extreme.  Nevertheless, they’re his films, and, obviously, he’s going to release them as he sees fit.  The same seems inevitable for the Bluray release, and, most fans are expecting to yet again see a slightly different version of the famed trilogy when it releases in September.

Accepting this inevitability and in the spirit that is Lucas, I’ve decided to compile a little list of changes Lucasfilm could make to the Star Wars saga when they release the newest and latest version.  Lucas showed with his DVD release of Star Wars that he isn’t afraid to alter a scene again, even after he had already altered it for his Special Edition (did that make sense?).  Therefore, my recommendations can apply to basically anything.  Obviously, the prequels are canon for Lucas, so these changes will still keep that in mind (regrettable as that may be for some).  Essentially, I’m going to approach this from a George Lucas mindset, with the overall goal of improving the quality of the movies, while still being semi-realistic to Lucas’s vision (Obviously, my changes won’t be “go back to the originals!”).  Some of them are highly likely to occur; others, not so much.

And Here We Go!

1.  Replace puppet Yoda with a digital Yoda (but only in The Phantom Menace)

Clearly, I would not recommend such sacrilege as replacing the Yoda puppet in the original trilogy (even Lucas himself has pretty much stated that this is off limits), but the puppet Yoda in The Phantom Menace has got to go.  For starters, it just looks weird.  In all of the movies Yoda appears in, he looks the same — except for Episode I.  The puppet is bizarrely different and, to be honest, pretty ugly.  George Lucas has publicly acknowledged that this Yoda is a bit different, and, in an attempt to placate fans, returned to the original design (albeit, CG) in Episodes II and III.  Given that the creators of Revenge of the Sith even practiced their Yoda-CG skills by redubbing select scenes from Episode I, it’s very likely this change will actually be implemented for the Blu-ray release.

"Look nothing like my other films, I do."

2.  Touch up the lightsabers in “Return of the Jedi.”

The lightsaber effects in the Original Trilogy are a strange thing.  A New Hope obviously doesn’t look as good as the rest of the movies because it was the first try.  This is perfectly fine and the touching up Lucasfilm did in the DVD release of the movie was more than adequate.  The lightsabers in The Empire Strikes Back look phenomenal — very close to the way the lightsabers looked in the prequels.  It’s strange, then, that the next movie would actually be a step back.  The lightsabers in Return of the Jedi have a number of issues.  For one, the glowing effect is limited — instead, they look like a solid color with very little flickering (unlike Episode V).  The colors are also, for the most part, very oversaturated.  The biggest complaint, however, is directed at Darth Vader’s lightsaber.  The “core” of the blade looks pink, rather than the hot white we normally see.  Something about these lightsabers seems very out-of-place, and, given that Lucas often tries to touch up the visual effects for a rerelease, Return of the Jedi definitely needs a little extra attention in this area.

Yes, the lightsabers in "Return of the Jedi" looked THAT bad. Even in the DVD release.

3.  Improve the CG creatures.

This doesn’t apply as much to the prequel trilogy (given that the CG work was pretty advanced by then), but many of the CG creatures that were added to the “Special Edition” of the Original Trilogy could use some improvement, especially by today’s standards.  Some examples include the creatures being ridden at Tatooine (some Star Wars fan out there can tell me what they’re called), the singing bug, rock band thing at Jabba’s palace (I could do without that scene, actually, but if you’re gonna keep it, at least make it less terrible), and, especially the scene with Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope.  The scene was laughable when it first released with the Special Editions in the 90’s, but the DVD rerelease touched it up with a new model of Jabba, based on the one from Phantom Menace.  It was a lot better, but it’s still not great.  If they could improve the CG even more for this scene, it would actually be pretty good.

This CG was bad, even for the early 90's.

The DVD version. An improvement, to be sure, but it could still use work.

4.  Fix the Color Problems from the DVD release.

The DVD rerelease of the Original Star Wars is still the best-looking form of the space opera that we have (until the Blu-ray comes out, that is).  That being said, there was a technical issue that existed in the DVD version that was not present in any version before it — poor color treatment.  As part of the remastering process for a higher-quality DVD release, the movies underwent a color correction process.  Unfortunately, whoever did it either rushed through it poorly or wasn’t paying much attention.  There are a number of color problems, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies spanning the original three movies.  A few scenes are almost too dark, and Yoda’s color can be inconsistent between scenes.  No movie has more glaring problems than A New Hope, however.  The issue was so bad that, in one scene, Luke’s supposedly blue lightsaber actually looks green.  If the Blu-ray release of Star Wars is to be the definitive, highest-quality version of the films, these issues need to be addressed and corrected.

This is a blue lightsaber. Really. We swear.

5. Remove the blood from the severed arm in “A New Hope.”

Purists will probably scoff at this idea, but, honestly, I’m surprised Lucas hasn’t done it already.  In the very first of many limbs being lost in the Star Wars saga, Obi-Wan uses his lightsaber to slice off an alien’s arm after he was about to attack Luke at Mos Eisley.  At this point in the series, Lucas hadn’t made the decision that lightsabers instantly cauterize the wound after cleanly slicing through them, so the arm is left on the floor as a bloody stump.  It was oddly violent for the film, and subsequent movies displayed lightsaber injuries as bloodless affairs (the very next movie had Luke loosing a hand but not any blood).  In order to keep with this established continuity, Lucasfilm could digitally remove the blood from the severed arm after Obi-Wan slices it off.

Removing the blood would be an easy process and, considering how minimal that change is, probably wouldn't upset too many people.

6.  Hayden Christensen in Return of the Jedi?!  Blasphemy!

This is the only item on this list that essentially amounts to “change it back to the original,” but I feel so strongly about it that I need to include it.  At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke looks off in the distance and sees the “Force ghosts” of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his recently-redeemed father, Anakin.  In the originals and the “Special Editions,” Anakin’s ghost was played by Sebastian Shaw, the actor who also portrayed Darth Vader’s/Anakin’s death scene.  In the DVD release, however, Anakin’s ghost was portrayed by none other than Hayden Christensen, the actor who played Anakin Skywalker in Episodes II and III.  This is a maddening and unnecessary change for a number of reasons.  For one, Mr. Christensen is easily the worst part of the prequels.  To bring him into the much better original trilogy almost feels like a slap in the face.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it makes no sense.  Lucas’s explanation for this change has been hazy at best, with most fans interpreting it as Anakin really “died” when he turned to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith.  That’s all well and good, but what about the whole redemption, killing the Emperor thing?  That was a pretty big deal.  I think it’s safe to say at that point that “Anakin” was no longer on the Dark Side.  Why would his ghost revert back to his younger form?  And, of course, that begs the question – what was Luke thinking?  He’s never seen his younger father.  For all we know, he could think that was a complete stranger appearing next to Yoda and Obi-Wan (except for the obvious recognition on his face — a by-product of the original version).  It just doesn’t make any sense, and it only serves to anger most Star Wars fans.

Of all the changes made to the Original Trilogy, this is easily the worst.

7. Recut Mace Windu’s death scene.

Ian McDiarmid was one of the few consistently good actors in the prequel trilogy.  Sam Jackson wasn’t terrible either.  So why was the face-off between these two enemies – the absolutely pivotal scene that finally turned Anakin to the Dark Side – one of the worst-acted scenes in all six movies?  This was supposed to be the moment of the entire prequel trilogy; the scene where everything gets turned upside down.  What we actually got was a bit of a mess.  From the point when Mace Windu disarms Palpatine until the end of the scene where Anakin goes off to slaughter the Jedi, the dialogue, reactions, and facial expressions are so laughable it’s painful.  Ian McDiarmid’s usually subtle and solid performance was replaced with a corniness that was so melodramatic, you have to wonder what kind of cues Lucas must’ve been feeding him.  Unless George Lucas has no common sense, he probably recorded multiple takes for this scene.  For the love of all that is decent, please use that discarded footage and recut this scene!  It’s supposed to be harrowing, not embarrassing.

This should have been a great scene. Instead, it was painful to watch.

8.  Rescore the Factory Scene and Arena Scene in Episode II.

The Droid Factory in Attack of the Clones had a bit of action mixed with some comedy involving C3PO.  John Williams originally wrote a brand new score for the scene, but the music was cut when the creators decided to add the C3PO bits.  Many aspects of the Droid Factory scene were a little rushed during production, but it was the score that really suffered.  What we heard in the final mix of the movie was simply a remix of music from the earlier chase scene on Coruscant, mixed with a little music from the previous movie.  For a guy who absolutely loves John Williams’s work, I find this very disappointing.  What’s more, I’ve actually heard what the original score was supposed to sound like, and it’s quite good.  Attack of the Clones had a pretty well-executed final act (even if the rest of the movie wasn’t great), but the score was tremendously disappointing because we had already heard all of it before.  The Blu-rays should do John Williams justice and rescore the movie with the music originally intended for it.  It may be a little costly, but this is Lucasfilm — they can handle it.

Just imagine this, but with new music.

9.  Padme was pregnant?? Suuuure.

Let’s just get this out of the way.  When you are pregnant with twins, you don’t look like you’ve just gained a little excess wait.  You look like you’ve swallowed a hippo.  A big hippo.  I understand that Padme was trying her very best to hide from everyone that she was pregnant, but there comes a point when that’s not possible anymore – especially if you’re going to deliver healthy babies.  Near the beginning of the movie, it’s not as big of a deal, but even by the time Padme’s actually giving birth at the end of Revenge of the Sith, she still looks like she has a little bump… and the babies are just fine!  It may not be the most flattering thing for an actress, but, please, just make her look like she’s actually pregnant – for that one scene, at the very least.

She's carrying twins. Can you tell? Yeah, me neither.

10.  Redo the Battle Droid Voices in Revenge of the Sith.

This one always struck me as weird.  In Episodes I and II, the Battle Droids were emotionless fighting machines.  When they spoke, it was fairly straightforward – consisting of robotic, toneless computer voices.  In Episode III, however, the Battle Droids suddenly become comedic relief, despite the fact that they’re still the heavily armed badguys.  They speak in colloquialisms, act rather goofy (one pushes another one and tells him to run when the Jedi show up), and their voices have been pitch-shifted to a much higher, less serious tone.  The Battle Droids were never a huge threat to the Jedi in any of the movies, but Revenge of the Sith took it a step further and made them rather pathetic.  I realize the movie was fairly dark, and I imagine Lucasfilm did this to lighten the mood, but, personally, it pulls me out of the experience.  I’m a fan of consistency, and there just isn’t any with the Battle Droids between the first two movies and the third one.

Built for combat.... until they talk.

Bonus:  Han Shot First.  It’s just a fact (actually, he’s the only one that shot).

Missing at point-blank range. One has to wonder why Greedo chose the profession of "bounty hunter."


~ by digitallysmitten on May 21, 2011.

One Response to “10 Things Star Wars Could Change”

  1. I agree with all of these, with one exception, the blood on the arm. Lucasfilm has done a very good job explaining this in other sources. Of course a lightsaber can cauterize a wound as it cuts, but it takes more skill, and would actually be more effective in a fight, to angle the cut so that it doesn’t cauterize. Control of the lightsaber with precision and accuracy is critical to Jedi training. Just as Count Dooku used his weapon in Episode II to wound and not wildly disarm Obi-Wan Kenobi, Obi-Wan later shows that he is able to remove a limb in such a manner that the victim will bleed out thus ensuring that the villain doesn’t just jump back into the fight. It might not seem like a very Jedi-like tactic but remember the cantina was full of a bunch of crazy cut throat criminals, and Kenobi was protecting the last of the Jedi, he wasn’t going to take any chances.

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