When news broke a few weeks ago that George Lucas was reediting the “Star Wars” films yet again, this time for their first release on Blu-ray, nerds everywhere reacted with collective outrage. “You can’t add Darth Vader screaming “NOOOOO!” to the end of “Return of the Jedi!” they cried. “We don’t want Ewoks that blink!” they howled. But complaining about the fact that George Lucas continues to change “Star Wars” is like complaining that the sun goes down at night. No matter what you say, no matter how much you point out that he’s kind of a hypocrite, Lucas is going to keep doing what he wants. And what he wants is to continue tweaking hos beloved science-fiction saga until the day he dies. At this point, the Wikipedia page devoted to listing the changes in each successive rerelease of “Star Wars” is over 10,000 words long. I’m sure someday it’ll be twice that.
So instead of gnashing our teeth and flailing our lightsabers, we decided to be a little more constructive. No more fighting change; from here on out, we’re embracing it. We put our midichlorians together and picked ten beefs we have with the six “Star Wars” films that should be fixed. Changing back anything that’s already been changed — like sticking Sebastian Shaw back into the final celebration of “Return of the Jedi” — was against the rules; these are old school issues only (or at least as old school as 2005 can be). Obviously it’s too late to get them in the new Blu-rays that hit stores tomorrow. But there’s going to be another “Star Wars” collection. How do we know? Because there’s always another “Star Wars” collection. And here’s what we want to see in it.
1. Recast the stereotypically ethnic alien prequel voices.
I’ve never heard a valid explanation why the aliens in “The Phantom Menace” all sound like guys with the worst kind of stereotypical ethnic accents. Instead of Asian Neimoidians, African-American Gungans, and Middle Eastern Toydarians, why not just have aliens who sound like aliens? In the original trilogy, the aliens had their own languages (Chewbacca) or totally unique speech patterns (Yoda). In the prequels, the alien dialects are, to quote Jar-Jar Binks, “nutsen.” A revision that brought the prequels in line with the original trilogy would make me “mooey mooey” happy. –MS
2. Fix Han’s carbonite costume change.
Han Solo didn’t appear to have much room inside that block of carbonite that he rode in from Cloud City in “The Empire Strikes Back” to Jabba the Hut’s palace in “Return of the Jedi.” Nevertheless, he found some time (and some space) along the way to switch from a single-breasted shirt to a more symmetrical double-breasted look. The quick-change is far less believable than Ewoks who don’t blink, so let’s see some appropriate priorities put into place — please. –BW
3. Do something about the “Two fighters against a Star Destroyer?” line.
The drama leading up to the Battle of Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back” comes to an awkward and disorienting pause for a moment while Princess Leia explains how their mission is about to unfold. Actor Richard Oldfield deserved to have another take after his odd line delivery, which somehow managed to produce a sentence that’s neither a statement nor a question. –BW
4. Make the TIE fighter windows consistent.
With all of the cash and CGI effects at George Lucas’ disposal, surely there must be a way to get the TIE fighter windows to look the same from the inside as they do from the outside. Unfortunately, the miniature models used for the original Death Star battle in “Star Wars” featured octagon-shaped windows with corners at the top, while the cockpit views showed the windows with flat sides facing up. Pick one and make them match! –BW
5. No stunning people with blasters.
In the opening minutes of the original “Star Wars,” Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers board Princess Leia’s ship. A couple of troopers find her hiding behind some bulkheads. “There’s one! Set for stun!” one orders before firing what looks like a giant blue hula hoop made out of energy from his blaster. Not only does it look silly, it looks out of place; in five other movies, no one ever fires a stun laser ring again. Just one shot is random and weird. Why not have the Stormtroopers fire a normal blast and have it glance off Leia’s arm or something? –MS
6. Slow down those speedy Jedi.
Right at the start of “The Phantom Menace,” as Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are escaping from a trap on the Trade Federation ship, they run away from their enemies at super-speed. And I mean like Road Runner super-speed. While the Force does give Jedis all kinds of super-powers, hyperspeed is problematic. Like the blaster that “stuns” Leia, it’s never really seen again in the entire saga. If they could do it once, why don’t they don’t they do it all the time? Why doesn’t Obi-Wan race away from Darth Vader in “Star Wars?” Or toward Darth Maul when he’s about to kill Qui-Gon in “The Phantom Menace?” Eliminating that one shot of them darting away would clear up so many questions. (NOTE: This article on DVDActive.com indicates that the Force Speed effect has been made “more realistic” on the Blu-ray, but not eliminated. Not good enough!) –MS
7. Give Vader a better line than “Noooooooooooo!”
The “Star Wars” prequels should have humanized Anakin Skywalker, and while they did shed some light on his boyhood podracing skills and hot temper, the Vader transformation scene in “Revenge of the Sith” left a great deal to be desired. The emo, fist-shaking disaster that introduced Lord Vader could benefit from a simple redub. After that’s done we’ve got a long list of other whiny Anakin moments that belong on the cutting room floor, but this is the one that needs the most help. –BW
8. Anakin: Best star pilot in the galaxy no more.
Granted, the scene where Obi-Wan tells Luke about his father in “Star Wars” is rife with all sorts of strange comments (Lightsabers were “elegant weapons for a more civilized age?” Since when is decapitating people with a single slice civilized?). But the one line that really makes no sense post “Star Wars” prequels is Obi-Wan’s remark that Anakin Skywalker was “the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior.” Cunning warrior, sure, but best star pilot? On what evidence? Because that one time in “The Phantom Menace” he blew up a Trade Federation ship by accidentally pressing a lucky combination of buttons? What if he’d hit a different combination of buttons and activated the ejector seat while he was in deep space? –MS
9. De-evil Emperor Palpatine’s face.
The whole crux of Emperor Palpatine’s plot to conquer the Republic over the course of the “Star Wars” prequels hinges on the fact that he, the biggest of big bads, looks like a harmless, middle-aged man. That’s what makes his storyline scary: the fact that he is able to take over the Senate from within through cunning and subterfuge rather than weapons of war. Which is precisely why the Emperor’s appearance in “Revenge of the Sith” after he zaps himself with his electrical bolts is so annoying. Now he’s gone from being this insidious unseen force to the most obviously sinister dude ever. I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but c’mon people: that is one seriously villainous cover! And no one seems bothered by it! Shouldn’t someone have the balls to call the guy on his weird face? Or at least schedule a visit to a dermatologist for him? Someone get some CGI and de-evil that dude’s face, stat. –MS
10. Make “The Phantom Edit” a reality.
The greatest “Phantom Menace” cut that George Lucas never approved came from editor Mike J. Nichols, who filtered out the Jar-Jar Binks nonsense in favor of keeping the flavor of Episodes IV-VI alive. Let’s just take that philosophy a step further and find a way to stitch the rest of the prequels together without ever having to look at that ridiculous guy ever again. That’s the real “special edition” that “Star Wars” fans would love to see. –BW