[box cover]

The Star Wars Trilogy

If you strip away almost three decades of Lucasfilm merchandising bureaucracy, you can still manage to remember why you fell in love with the original 1977-83 Star Wars trilogy — after all, George Lucas' Lord of the Rings for the shag-carpet set is still founded on two-and-a-half genius-level entertainments. Despite some Extra Pluperfect Super Special Edition geek-polarizing alterations, the brand-new release of the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD is a pretty damned nice-looking reminder of why we all became fans in the first place. And people who dismiss Lucas as a "corporate weasel" out for their hard-earned action-figure dollars would do well to remember that, in 1980, he gambled heavily by personally financing a little film called The Empire Strikes Back — a movie that mercilessly screwed with beloved characters, staged its biggest battle in its first 40 minutes, thoroughly routed its heroes, threw in a dangerous plot twist, and had an unhappy, unresolved ending. Oh, and he let Irvin Kershner direct it — you know, the film-school teacher and proven auteur behind The Return of a Man Called Horse? ESB was an aggressive, foolhardy move on Lucas' part — a gamble that gave him creative and financial control of the Star Wars universe and made him, for better or worse, one of the 20th century's most influential filmmakers. Twentieth Century Fox presents the films in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), and in Dolby 5.1 Surround EX and 2.0 Surround audio. For supplements, there are commentary tracks on all three films by George Lucas, sound designer Ben Burtt, F/X supervisor Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher (joined by Irvin Kershner on the Empire DVD). The fourth disc features the supplements, the crown jewel being the documentary "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy" — a two-and-half-hour geek-tasm (packed with never-seen archive footage) that does a brilliant job chronicling how close A New Hope came to being a galactic train wreck; it's so good you can forgive the fact that it turns into a Lucasfilm infomercial in the final third. Also included are three featurettes: "The Characters of Star Wars," "The Birth of the Lightsaber," and "The Force is with Them: The Legacy of Star Wars" — alongside a production photo gallery, a poster gallery, and 10 theatrical trailers and 11 TV spots. Promo-ing the SW universe are a featurette called "Episode III: Making the Game," along with a game trailer and Xbox Game Demo for "Star Wars Battlefront." And for those looking for a peek at the final interlocking chapter in the saga, there's an Episode III featurette, "The Return of Darth Vader." And be on the lookout for some Easter eggs. Four keep-cases in a two-piece paperboard gift box.
—Alexandra DuPont

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