Star Wars on DVD - Reviews
Star Wars DVD Reviews:
The DVD format first appeared on shelves in March 1997. Almost immediately, fans began calling for LucasFilm and Fox to provide the Star Wars movies on the new format. In late 2001 (four and a half years after the format was launched), Episode I became the first Star Wars movie to arrive on DVD. Episode II followed swiftly in late 2002, less than seven months after premiering in theaters. Episode III will appear in theaters in May 2005, and LucasFilm has already told retail partners to expect it on DVD by November of that year. The movies that fans have wanted most, however, are the original trilogy, and it was those three movies that remained the most elusive. By the time that Lucasfilm officially announced plans to release the trilogy on DVD on September 21, 2004 as a four-disc set, countless bootlegs had seeped out of Hong Kong and elsewhere by means of eBay auctions and a number of often-elusive overseas online stores. Even now that the trilogy has arrived on shelves, there remains strong interest in bootlegs of the trilogy in their original theatrical form the way they were before the 1997 Special Edition introduced a number of digital revisions that were further modified for the 2004 DVD's. Because of the lengthy delay in the arrival of the trilogy and the continued absence of the original theatrical versions, there is still a strong fan interest in unofficial DVD's of the trilogy. To help those fans, I've pulled together a few reviews of both the official releases and some of the numerous "bootleg" copies.
Anyone who is desperately craving copies of all of the Star Wars movies on DVD should look over the options available and think about what they want. The discs that we have finally received from Fox prove that LucasFilm will at least provide high quality audio and video as well as some good extras, when the finally get around to releasing a title on DVD. The original trilogy's 2004 DVD release, reviewed below, makes any SE bootleg irrelevent, just as the Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones discs did in 2001 and 2002. I've retained reviews of the Phantom Menace and SE trilogy bootlegs just for the sake of amusement at this point. Bootleg activity continues, however, solely because of the changes made by Lucas to the original trilogy for the 1997 Special Edition re-release and the 2004 DVD's. Interest in having a digital archive of the original theatrical versions of the trilogy has led to an ongoing interest in bootlegs based on the 1993 or 1995 LaserDisc releases. Having mulled over these options myself over the course of the last several years, I thought I'd offer some thoughts on how they stack up using a series of reviews looking at the official releases and several different bootleg releases. Each review is broken out onto a separate page, along with a page at the end containing my closing thoughts on the subject. Links to each page are available below and are reproduced at the top of each review.
In light of the arrival of Revenge of the Sith on DVD in November 2005 and the appearance of at least a couple new bootleg sets of the original trilogy during 2005, I made some updates to the review page in September and October 2005. In addition to a new bootleg review (the Cowclops/TR47 set of anamorphic discs) and a chart (borrowing its format from my home theater equipment comparison charts) outlining the differences between discs reviewed here, I posted a review of the Sith DVD in November 2005, followed in September 2006 by a review of the Limited Edition trilogy DVD's (the original theatrical versions, not the 2004 SE discs) along with some revisions to my DVD review conclusions. Most recently, I added a review of the Complete Saga Blu-ray Disc set in October 2011.