Six unlikely changes for the Blu-ray release of Star Wars
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
As the Star Wars saga heads for hi-def, is it time for Porkins to get some respect...?
With the pending and long-awaited Blu-ray release of the Star Wars saga finally appearing on the consumer horizon, fans worldwide are wondering what will have been changed this time. Deleted scenes are to be undeleted, a new intro to Return Of The Jedi and the inclusion of much previously-lost material are said to be joining the usual VFX and production tweaks. Any substantial work on the hi-def version of the movies is likely to be finished or near-finished by now, and all suggestions moot, whether they would have been listened to or not.
Though I have enjoyed the various re-imagined releases since 1997, I personally still like the 1977 version of Star Wars (back when that was its name). There was nothing so irretrievably poorly-executed in it as to make Star Wars cry out for a fix the way that the 'bad stunt double' and 'spinner wires' were in Blade Runner. However, since George Lucas seems determined to make the original version unavailable, we'll have to get used to whatever's coming next in the long and complicated history of Star Wars releases.
Anyway, here's a fantasy checklist of what my revisions would be for the pending Blu-ray release of A New Hope. They're all unlikely and some are impossible; none are meant seriously...
Have another go at Jabba's 'deleted scene' - practice makes perfect
George Lucas originally shot a scene for Star Wars where smuggler Han Solo deflects the concerns of his gangster boss Jabba, played by an actor who was intended to be replaced with a stop-motion creature. When that visual effect became impractical to pull off, Lucas deleted the scene from the movie. The 1997 release of A New Hope found the 1983 version of Jabba clumsily inserted into the 'missing scene' with some state-of-the-art CGI that looked dated almost instantly. The 2004 revision improved the CGI, but it still sucks, and it still doesn't match the Jabba we know and loathe from Jedi.
The moment where Han 'walks over Jabba's tail' is a clumsy-looking cludge of an After-Effects rotoscope session. That's not to criticise the work that went into making young Harrison Ford walk over a tail which would not be envisioned for Jabba for another five or so years; it may be a problem that can only be solved by the kind of Herculean CGI effort which went into young Brad Pitt looking over his shoulder in The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - which is, perhaps, overkill.
As for the mis-match between Jedi Jabba and all the other appearances by the CGI version of the criminal slug...it's the same problem, to an extent, as that faced when considering the various versions of Yoda, from the adorable and much-loved - but clearly puppet-like - version of The Empire Strikes Back, to the ever improving series of CGI/prosthetic Yodas that went from the frankly terrible (The Phantom Menace) to the almost-perfect (Revenge Of The Sith): how much money do you really want to spend making CGI look like a well-done animatronic/prosthetic puppet?
Even if the CGI could get good enough to totally replace the original characters in the earlier trilogy, consider the fan outrage at losing the original Oz Yoda of Empire, or the gargantuan prosthetic Jabba of Jedi. It's thorny, then. Perfectionism being a journey rather than a destination, it would be enough to see a better-realised 'Jabba and Han meeting', and to get rid of that terrible tail-walk.
Give Porkins a proper surname
Retconning Star Wars' other token fat guy with a first name doesn't get round the problem of how ridiculous the name itself is. He's a fat guy, we can see that. Fat fat fatty. Fat gutbucket podgy Porkins. This I could live with, except for the moment when Biggs prepares his dive to the maintenance trench with the deathless order: 'Cover me, Porkins'. Maybe it's just the deterioration of my own moral antenna that made it sound to me like a term of connubial affection when I watched the movie again last night. NTTAWWT - God knows, A New Hope is still bereft enough of women and any kind of minority (with the exception of the size-challenged) that we should even think of practicing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. I just don't think that's what Lucas had in mind.
Re-dub Leia in the 'Destruction of Alderaan' scene
Princess Leia's accent crosses the Atlantic so many times in A New Hope that it should earn air-miles. I don't know for sure, but this could be a similar case to Paul McGann's character in Alien3, wherein Golic starts out talking like a Charles Manson-style lunatic but turns into the more native Liverpudlian tones of McGann shortly after David Fincher told him 'not to worry about the accent'. There are so many Brits behind and in front of the camera in A New Hope that it may have initially overwhelmed young Carrie Fisher, who seems determined to greet the great Peter Cushing in his own clipped idiom in the scene where Tarkin threatens the Princess with the destruction of her home planet...
The upper-class Brit accent is initially so thick in this scene as to half-convince me that it was dubbed by a British actress in a desperately short-of-time post-production moment when Fisher wasn't available. Adding to the confusion is the mixture of accents in Leia's meeting with Darth Vader on the Tantive IV in the movie's opening scenes. If Fisher isn't actually dubbed in Star Wars, then presumably this scene was shot after the Alderaan destruction scene, and is only about 35% Brit (with all traces of Brit accent gone by the movie's half-way stage). Yet the initial line to Vader is clearly dubbed, and once again it's dubbed in 'semi-Brit'...
It's 35 years later, and since Clint Eastwood's redubbing of the undeleted scenes from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly was a poor match, perhaps there's also no available and convincing remedy here for Leia's fluctuating Britness.
Put the Praxis ring on the correct axis
I've already dealt at length with the scientific problem regarding the way in which the Death Star's final pressure-burst resolves into the CGI effect that has been known as a 'Praxis ring' ever since it was first seen in 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. I don't think there would be quite so many complaints about the Death Star's retconned 'ring of doom' if it weren't also seen during the explosion of Alderaan, where it makes even less sense. Flip that sucker 90 degrees so it matches the aspect of the Death Star's encircling maintenance valley, and let's say no more about it.
Move the Death Star 'crater' on the stolen plans
It's a bloody shame, really, because the erroneous position of the weapons crater on the rebels' stolen plans is actually a bit cooler than where the crater actually ended up on the Death Star. Kind of like a large, Sauron-style evil eye. But it's going to be a hell of a lot cheaper to change the meagre 1977 original CGI than to redesign the Death Star so that the crater is larger and centred on its axis. If I was relying on the very latest information to save my ass when anticipating an assault on a military installation, I'd be alarmed at the very least to see a mismatch that big between the schematic and the final product. If the crater isn't even in the right place, who's to say that item #1356011 on the Death Star maintenance glitch list ('Affix grill to reactor exhaust port in eastern hemisphere') didn't get done in the interval?
Replace the 'Polystyrene' Death Star
This is the nearest the original 1977 release of Star Wars gets to something that genuinely may have needed a second try in a later version. VFX wizard John Dykstra and company, stretched to the limit, shot this pretty crude model of the Death Star's surface at a level of scrutiny the model was clearly not designed for. Devoid of detail, these 'polystyrene' shots seem to be the result of the usual kit-bashing but lack the 'lived in' look of Star Wars, and the footage's serious depth of field problems are exacerbated by the perennial difficulty in scaling miniature explosions. If the Lucas Makeover Squad are willing to dick with something as iconic as the destruction of the Death Star and to turn Mos Eisley into the Costa Del Sol, how does this shot continue to survive the various rejigged releases?
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.