8 Features Missing from the Star Wars Blu-Ray Box Set

By Mike Duquette in DVDs, Daily Lists, Movies
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 8:04 am
May 4th was all about two things for nerds: groaning at the sheer amount of terrible "May the Fourth Be With You!" puns and blog posts, and dissecting the latest news from Skywalker Ranch - the unveiling of the special features to accompany the Star Wars saga's Blu-Ray debut in September.

Unsurprisingly, many fans had their moment of crying out in terror and being suddenly silenced when -- shocker! -- the original, theatrical editions were not among the offerings included in the 9-disc box set. More egregious, however, is the laughable quality of the special features. Yes, we know there will be some kick-ass, heretofore unseen deleted scenes - but that bonus disc of documentaries is a mess. The idea that someone, in this economy, paid to film things like a 91-minute documentary about how movies and TV shows have made Star Wars jokes while devoting a tenth of that to the cultural impact of The Empire Strikes Back is inexcusable.

Worse still, in all their vault-scouring, Lucasfilm chose to include only three vintage documentaries. Surely they'll be great posterity pieces, but this is fucking Star Wars -- a series worthy of a box set that will make sci-fi enthusiasts cry tears of joy, not sorrow. With that in mind, Topless Robot sent a team of researchers (read: me, on YouTube, over the weekend) to scour the Lucasfilm archives and offer a few suggestions to what's missing from the Star Wars set.

8) Star Tours
It's easy to forget now, since Star Wars has been intensely merchandised for the past 18 years or so, but there was a time when there were no new toys from Kenner and no "expanded universe" options outside of the abysmal Droids and Ewoks cartoons. That made the unveiling of Star Tours, a 1987 motion-simulator/short film attraction at every Disney park around the globe, a momentous occasion: a new Star Wars mini-movie with characters we loved (R2-D2 and C-3PO) and action we craved (a continuity-shattering battle over another Death Star).

Later this month, the ride will reopen with a brand-new storyline and 3-D film, making the Star Wars Blu-Rays the perfect place to anthologize the original Star Speeder flight that kids and adults adored. If a studio like Universal can cater to nerds by releasing footage from motion-simulator rides on DVDs of Back to the Future and The Jetsons: The Movie, there's no excuse Fox (with help from Disney) shouldn't follow suit.

7) Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy
Give someone two hours and this documentary -- created for the original trilogy's DVD release in 2004 -- and they'll easily walk away with a greater respect for the bearded wonder and his complex space opera. Directed by Kevin Burns, who later went on to direct another great documentary on this list as well as the stunning Look Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman, strikes that rare balance between general information and in-depth education that every documentarian should reach for. It also addresses something often overlooked in Star Wars lore: the context of the film in '70s culture, and how the worldwide scene was unwittingly ready for great escapist fare, which Lucas and company ably provided.

6) Return of the Ewok
In 2011, we all know Warwick Davis is something of a comedic genius, thanks to cheeky turns on Extras and an in-development pilot with Ricky Gervais. But in 1983, when he was an 11-year-old extra who got a big break playing Wicket in the third Star Wars film, who knew what he was capable of? Watching Return of the Ewok, an unreleased mockumentary showing Davis in and out of character during production of RotJ, it's easy to see that the little guy was destined for big things.

It's unknown if the short -- intended to promote Jedi but never fully completed in post-production -- is in the Lucasfilm archives; Davis has shown his personal VHS copy at several of the official Star Wars Celebrations, but higher-quality snippets were included in the hidden blooper reel on the Original Trilogy DVDs. Regardless, it would be worth presenting to the general public, if only to associate the word "Ewok" with something that isn't intensely annoying.

5) R2-D2: Beneath the Dome
A spiritual sequel to Return of the Ewok, this 2001 short provided viewers with an intriguing, entirely fictional Behind the Music-esque account of everyone's favorite astromech, To the surprise of nobody, Artoo is kind of a dick. I mean, come on! Not only does he party with buxom babes and endure pregnancy scares, but you can't understand a damn word he's saying. Surprisingly, a follow-up C-3PO documentary never materialized. You know there's plenty of dirt on that guy.

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