I watched the new Episode 4:A New Hope… and really it is new, especially considering the volumous changes that have been effected. I know Episode 4, herein referred to as “Star Wars” like the back of my hand, only I’ve probably looked at the back of my hand more times but with less interest.
Unless I did a complete playing of the original widescreen version beside the dvd version with a lot of pausing and an ear listening intently to both soundtracks and scores, well, there’s really no way for me to do a comprehensive list detailing all the changes. And there were a lot of them… hundreds at the very least. But for the most part, playing devil’s advocate, the changes aren’t very noticeable… subtle additions to scenes, changes in sound effects, and tweaks of pacing that the ordinary viewer wouldn’t notice… The worst changes are still those carried over from the Special Editions from a few years back. The Han & Jabba sequence, and the entering Mos Eisley spaceport sequence are awful looking cg animation which I don’t think was touched up at all since ‘97.
I won’t go into frame by frame detail, instead I give general comments on various sequences or things that are different throughout the entire film.
And yes, I am geek, hear me belch:
1) the changes start immediately as the “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away” fades out and the music bursts, the Star Wars logo scrolls a LOT fast into the background, while the pacing of the words has slowed down somewhat… I think the music is still timed properly.
2) There are a whole host of new rebel fighters on the Blockade Runner (Leia’s ship at the beginning), as well as more Stormtroopers added to almost every scene on this ship. In fact, in every sequence in the film where there are stormtroopers, there are more added into the sequence.
3) More laserbolts are exchanged between the increasted Rebel troops and the increased Stormtroopers… naturally. More smoke added as well once the ST have the Rebels on the run.
4) There are additional backgrounds in most sequences on the Blocade Runner (STs coming out of doorways, more STs standing guard in places, general expansion of the ship with hallways and doorways in the background)
5) It may be just the new clarity of the film but there’s apparently a lot more blinking lights throughout.
6) R2-D2 has a new, greenlit console on the back of his dome added throughout the movie
7) I could go on at length about the changes on Tattooine… the colour “correction” though is awful, and inconsistent throughout the Tattooine scenes… you can even see the difference in some scenes as the colour is corrected around C3PO but it’s the older, brighter look between his arms an legs… like a pixellated halo. There’s also a lot of bleeding of the colour, and overall the Tattooine scenes look a lot more sepia toned than originally. The colour tweaks are quite distracting, actually.
8) The skies of Tattooine have been touched up, as has the terraine. The territory where the Jawas capture R2-D2 is completely different (looks more like the terrain as presented in Episode 2), as is the terrain later on when the Tusken Raiders attack Luke and 3PO
9) There are more Jawas in every scene that the Jawas are in… including the capture of R2 and the sale of the droids at the Lars homestead.
10) Additional and different Jawa dialogue is added throughout
11) The blast that the Jawas hit R2 with is bigger
12) They’ve changed the Sandcrawler and added and enhanced its lighting as well as the sound effects it makes.
13) Notable that they’ve added even more ST and dewbacks at the site of 3PO and R2’s crash landing than even on the special edition, and they’ve tweaked the dialogue.
14) The robots on display at the Lars homestead are enhanced (but no new ones added).
15) There are more moisture vapourators around the Lars homestead, as well as more vegetation. There’s also a new wing of the homestead, which emits a lot more smoke in a later scene.
16) In Luke’s workshop, the backgrounds have been changed to give greater context to the configuration of the homestead and it also shows his T-16 in the backdrop more prominently. Luke actually walks through one of the newly created backdrops when Aunt Beru calls him for dinner.
17) Aunt Beru’s dining room has additional background, the ceiling is different, and it looks a little more like the housing as shown in Episode 1 and 2. The background courtyard is interactive, as when Luke storms away from dinner he climbs the stairs of an adjacent wing.
*This sequence is a perfect example of what has been done throghout much of the film. Many of the shots have been “pulled out” from their original state to add more detail around. While this makes things more visually interesting, it’s also distracting as the emphasis is taken away person talking.
18) The two-sun sunset has been modified.
19) What Luke sees through his electronic telescope when he looks for R2 is completely redone
20) Beru’s kitche is also more filled out than before.
21) There’s an additional tusken raider in the attack sequence.
22) Obi-Wan’s Jedi wail that scares off the Raiders is different, less animal like.
23) Obi-Wan’s home is in a different location (at the top of a cliff instead of on flat land) and the interior of his house has been remodelled, as it now has more windows and extra corridors.
24) The message from Princess Leia has been changed… it seems different at least. It could be the fact that the mix on the dialogue all throughout the movie is awful. Redubbed voices seem much more apparent than ever before and there’s a tinniness that cuts in an out… but it’s there all throughout the movie. It’s especially apparent when, say Leia is delivering dialogue on screen, then it cuts to Vader, but Leia is still delivering dialogue off screen… the vocal mixes are different, and it sounds bad, very distracting.
25) There’s different music score when Luke rejects Ben’s offer to go with him to Alderaan. In fact there’s a few instances where the score has been changed, or added, or taken out, or muted as noted here
26) There’s new shots of the Death Star scattered throughout the movie… shots of a Star Destroyer approaching, shots of the Millenium Falcon being sucked in by the tractor beam, the Falcon flying away from it… the Death Star travelling through space…
27) The imperial round table scene aboard the Death Star is also slightly different, with a larger scope.
28) The destroyed sandcrawler has a lot more carnage, and the terrain and sandcrawler are different. When Luke returns from the smoking Lars homestead, the pile of Jawas has a much larger fire associated with it.
29) The Lars homestead’s destruction also looks more extensive, with a lot more smoke.
30) There’s a new shot of Luke and Ben looking down upon Mos Eisley. Did I mention how much I hate the CG landspeeder approach to Mos Eisley. Ugh Ugh Ugly.
31) Surprisingly, the Cantina sequence is largely unchanged from the Special Edition. The music is a little tweaked, there’s a bit more ambiance (both background and noise), and “people” clap for the band.
32) There’s also a new window behind Han’s head as he’s talking to Ben and Luke.
33) There’s also throughout some new dialogue for stormtroopers, as well as some of the existing dialogue’s been redone to make clearer like the ST approaching the bartender and saying “I underestand there’s been a little trouble in here” and a few more expository pieces of dialogue later on.
34) Greedo has some new dialogue.
35) Han and Greedo kinda shoot at the same time now, although Han takes two shots, it looks like.
36) Jabba’s been tweaked since the Special Edition but the sequence still sucks and is unnecessary (as it repeats all of Greedo’s exposition)
37) The explosion of Alderaan has changed since the Special Edition (bigger boom)
38) Some of Chewie’s growling has changed throughout.
39) There’s a sequence in the round table room with Vader and Tarkin, and at the end of it in the original edit, Vader gets the last word (and the actor makes a gesture to which there’s no dialogue attached). Vader’s last word is abruptly cut as Tarkin has the final word.
40) When the Falcon gets caught in the tractor beam, they’ve digitally “shaken” the camera to make it look like a rougher ride (it looks quite obvious actually)
41) All throughout the Death Star docking bays there is more activity (more Stormtroopers naturally) and more communication over the intercom
42) All throughout the Death Star there have been tweaks in the corridors… added platforms and doorways and longer passages.. as well as more people and droids and whatnot.
43) The cell bay where they hold Leia has some added audio ambiance.
44) The gunfight is a lot harrier with more accurate blaster shots and a clearer view of the stormtroopers at the end of the hall firing at our heroes.
45) The blast in the garbage compactor bounces a few more times
46) The monster in the garbage compactor sounds more threatening, as do the noises the compactor makes as it begins to compress
47) The klutzy stormtrooper who hits his head when entering the control room where R2 and 3PO are hiding out isn’t so klutzy anymore… not with additional buddies hanging around (and I could be wrong but there’s some added decor in that room as well)
48) As Obi-Wan shuts down the tractor beam there’s a new platform off in the distance with Stormtroopers crossing it. As well, more Stormtroopers cross the platform that Ben’s on, with additional dialogue, as well as enhanced “have you seen the new speeder” dialogue.
49) When Han, Leia, Luke and Chewie exit the garbage compactor, they now show Han and Luke’s discarded stormtrooper outfits. They’ve also increased the clutter in the hallway.
50) There are WAY more stormtroopers chasing everyone around, and when Han chases the Stormtroopers to the dead end and they all turn around and begin to chase him, well, it’s no longer a dead end but instead a docking bay with tonnes of stormtroopers and a few tie fighters hanging about. This is an improvement over the Special Edition even
51) One stormtrooper says “close the blast doors” as they chase Han and Chewie… I guess as a precursor to the old “open the blast doors” dialogue as the doors close just as Han jumps through.
52) The flashes when Obi-Wan and Vader’s lightsabres hit has been enhanced and there’s a lot more of them.
53) The gun turret scene on the Falcon has new sound effects, most notably on the console showing tie fighter’s trajectories. Otherwise it’s the same escape sequence as the Special Edition, which they rejigged it to make the tie fighters seem bigger in proportion to the Falcon.
54) There’s a new shot of the Falcon approaching Yavin, as well as some new scenic shots of Yavin.
55) The commander that greets Leia has a new voice.
56) There’s a new animation sequence of the trench run that is used in the Pilot orientation scene. There’s also more pilots
57) Yes, the Biggs scene is still there and is rather etraneous.
58) There’s a new voice over counting down the Death Star’s approach on Yavin.
59) The X Wings now being to lift off in the hangar bay. Similar departure sequence to the Special edition, only more ships and more shots of pilots putting their helmets on.
60) I believe the man states there are 30 rebel ships attacking, when it used to be 20… but I may be wrong.
61) There are more tie fighters engaged in battle
62) There’s a lot more chatter between the Rebel squadrons.
63) There are more people observing at the Rebel command base.
64) The Y-Wings have a new sound.
65) The Battle Sequence is similar if not the same as the Special Edition, as is the explosion of the Death Star.
66) There’s more people at the entrance of the Ceremony sequence.
67) James Earl Jones gets credit in the Credits as the voice of Darth Vader… and doubtlessly a whole host of other credits.
As I said, this is by no means a comprehensive list (I actually consolodated my 115+ list of nitpicky observations down to this “small” list)… and I didn’t even write down a bunch of things which I was almost sure they had changed… there is just so much and some of it is so subtle that without direct side by side comparison it’s hard to say… and without doing a complete time-stamp of where each of the changes are it wont really be of any use to the hardcore geeks out there who want to know these things… and I’m just not that hardcore that I’m going to do it.
I’m about 50/50 on the additions and changes. Some of them are really nice and work well, some of them absolutely spoil elements of the film…
I also watched The Empire Strikes Back, which itself had some changes, but nowhere near as many as Star Wars, and none of them as blatantly ugly or distracting as those in Star Wars. Empire is such a damn good film though.
1) the voice of Boba Fett is the same as Jango Fett from Episode 2 now.
2) the Vader-Emperor sequence has been changed, the Emperor replaced with the actor from Jedi, Ep. 1 and 2, as well as some new dialogue delivered.
3) Some more AT-ATs added on Hoth
4) A prolonged departure of the Falcon at the end.
5) Some new bits of Yoda added
6) a bunch of new backgrounds on Bespin
7) the Super Star Destroyer is now HUGE! in comparison to the rest. Ginormous!
8) oh, and of course, more stormtroopers everywhere…
all very minor stuff, and really most of it is to the film’s benefit. Empire is one of the best films ever made and any changes that have been done to it are negligable.
Return of the Jedi, however, is a whole different story. The entire opening sequence… Jabba’s palace, the new “Special Edition” music sequence, the CG characters, the gratuitous addition of Boba Fett, the moving skiffs, Jabba’s CG barge, the barge exploding, the addition of a fucking beak to the Sarlaac pit… oi fucking vey. Like Mos Eisley in Star Wars, only, worse..
The changes made on Endor, the additions there are so much better. They’ve digitally added more Ewoks, and not more Stormtroopers (the one and only incident) and generally made them a more believable opposing force… as well, the space battle in front of the new Death Star has also been bolstered and looks even better. This is fucking around that I can live with.
And yet, even as these changes begin to finally redeem themselves, more changes reveal, as the ending sequence of more Ewoks celebrating, a different, cheesier celebration song, and sequences of celebrations on other planets (WTF!!!) all are horrible.
But, worst of all, and you’ve heard of this, they’ve stuck Hayden Christiansen in replacement of the old dude as Anakin’s ghost. It was shocking… SHOCKING! And I knew it was coming, but when it actually came, well, it was actually laughable. I laughed… I groaned immediately following (that’s the first time I groaned watching Star Wars thorugh all its incarnations).
I’m not a purist, by no means… but goddamn I think the changes in Jedi affected me the most and made me the angriest… because they’re so asenine. The effects in Jedi were far superior to Star Wars and Empire and yet they still needed to fuck around with it. Ugh. Man.
Oh, and the final word is the sleeve covers on the DVDs are ASS ugly. Just thought I’d mention.