If your response to this is a big, hearty “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” then you and Darth Vader have something in common:
Because that’s what he’s yelling now when he pitches the Emperor down the shaft. I’m afraid this is no joke — several people/sites have gotten their review copies of the Star Wars Blu-rays in, and they’re all saying the same thing. Oh, plus:
? CG Yoda is definitely in The Phantom Menace now, whether that footage I previously ran was old or not ? Obi-Wan’s dragon call that scares off the Sand People is fucking insane ? R2-D2’s rock covering on Tatooine is now physically impossible for him to get into ? Jabba’s palace door is now ridiculously large ? EWOKS BLINK
If you can ignore how creepy that last change is — and man, I expect it to be really fucking creepy — and focus on the issues at hand, it’s worth noting that Lucasfilm has not denied any of these changes, since they popped up on the interwebs last evening, so… yep. All true.
Can I get real for a minute? I think most people would agree this is a pretty terrible addition to make. Darth Vader’s wordless betrayal of the Emperor has always been one of the original trilogy’s most powerful moments, because you genuinely don’t know what Vader’s going to do, and you have to envision the turmoil going on underneath that mask — which is so much more effective than him reliving his goofy “NOOOOOOOOOOO” yell from the end of Revenge of the Sith. This is a change, like so many of these Star Wars alterations have been, that has genuinely lessened the movies. They have made them worse.
Now, obviously George Lucas disagrees, and they’re his damn movies. He can change them as much as he wants — I understand that, and I genuinely don’t begrudge him that. Honestly, if he wants to go in and redub everything so Luke and Leia are named Jeff and Snooki, he can. They’re his. He’s in charge.
So I’m not complaining about these changes. Honestly — and this is what the George Lucas hater-haters don’t understand — is that most of us who freak out about this shit aren’t really complaining about the changes. Oh, we may dislike them immensely, sure, but again, they’re his damn movies. What we’re upset about is Lucas’ refusal to release the original Original Trilogy — the way we saw it and loved from 1977-1997 — in a decent quality format.
Yes, I know they were released on DVD, and let me explain why those don’t count — because they weren’t anamorphic widescreen, which means two things: 1) the video quality wasn’t up to the basic quality standards of 99% of DVDs released since the year 2000, and 2) they weren’t formatted for widescreen TVs, so, say, if you had a 60-inch TV and put on one of those DVDs, the movie would actually only be 45-or-so-inches long. This would be acceptable for maybe something like Roger Corman’s horrible Star Ward rip-off Starcrash, but not three of the most popular, highest-grossing movies of all time. It’s worth noting that Starcrash has had a DVD release, and it was in anamorphic widescreen. When we complain, we complain that we can’t get the Star Wars we saw and loved and sustained for 20 years with the same amount of quality as fucking Starcrash.
Now, is it our right to get the original Star Wars flicks, unedited, in decent modern quality on DVD or Blu-ray? No. Does George Lucas owe us these things? No. Do we deserve them? Well, I don’t even know about that, but it would be nice to have the fucking option. If George Lucas is interested in pleasing his fans — and honestly, there’s not a lot of indication that he is — I think he would give us the chance to own the non-Special Editions in the same quality as the Special Editions. After all, we’re just not a tiny but vocal group — even celebrities like Simon Pegg are losing their minds over this shit (check his Twitter feed). Plus, even non-Star Wars fans think most of these changes are dumb, so it’s not like we’re just bitching because the movies aren’t like we remember them. We’re upset because they are, to almost all audiences, worse.
But what’s most galling is that George Lucas has spent so much of his post-Original Trilogy career trying to make movies, all movies, look and sound better. THX, Skywalker Sound, ILM — all of these things were created to improve the quality of movies. The man clearly knows and cares about visual and sound standards for his films, and yet he purposefully released the non-fucked-with Original Trilogy in an inferior format, despite his own standards. That’s malicious. And it’s still fucking malicious. Having the choice between the Special Editions and a shit-quality non-Special Editions set is no choice at all, and George Lucas fucking knows that.
I’ll post the videos of all the changes here in a sec. This rant has gone on long enough.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.