Sci-fi geeks everywhere have been up in arms recently at the news that filmmaker George Lucas is making changes to the original Star Wars trilogy yet again. The entire six-film space opera saga is being released on Blu-Ray this Friday and the Star Wars creator is taking the opportunity to tinker with his intergalactic opus and make a few updates.
It's something that Star Wars geeks should be familiar with by now, as Lucas has been adding in new scenes, dialogue, and special effect to the saga for almost 20 years now (including a wealth of changes in 1997's Special Edition theatrical re-release and 2004's DVD versions). He's gotten plenty of crap from the fans as a result, including this funny parody on South Park.
While some of these alternations have been good, most of have either been bad or entirely unnecessary. Here are the seven we hate the most.
7. Jedi Rocks
The Lowdown: Probably the most extensive (and most reviled) change in 1997's Special Edition of Return of the Jedi was this complete revamping of the musical number in the throne room of Jabba the Hutt. The goofy rock band Sy Snootles and the Rebo Band perform an entirely different song and are re-envisioned as a larger (and even goofier) ensemble with backup singers, taiko drummers, and even an intergalactic harmonica player.
Why it sucks: While the original version of Jabba's in-house band may not have featured the greatest puppets ever made, they had a certain lo-fi charm. Their digital replacements, however, are entirely seem like an exercise in CGI excess. The new song is also highly annoying.
6. More Wampa, Please
The lowdown: In the original version of The Empire Strikes Back, the wampa creature who captured Luke Skywalker on the ice planet Hoth was only partially onscreen due to budget limitations and problems with the puppet. For the Special Edition of the flick, a ton of new footage of the terrifying snow beast was inserted, including shots of it eating and getting its arm cut off via Luke's lightsaber.
Why it sucks: As films like Jaws proved, sometimes its better when you can only see a little bit of the monster. The addition of all the extra footage removes a great deal of the dramatic suspense and seems downright unnecessary. (Why do we need to see the wampa eating, anyways? What about some footage of it brushing its teeth?)
5. The Sarlacc Pit Gets Well-Endowed
The lowdown: Another completely unnecessary change to Jedi made under the guise of compensating for a crappy special effect during the original filming the movie, Lucas had the Sarlacc Pit (a sharp-toothed, mouth-like creature living in a desert crater) spiffed up in the Special Edition with computer-generated tentacles and a stalk-like beak protruding from its center.
Why it sucks: Comedian Dana Gould once humorously referred to the original version the pink-colored and teeth-lined maw of the Sarlacc as a classic example of Lucas suffering from Freud's vagina dentate complex. Conversely, the better-endowed version of the creature suggests that perhaps the filmmaker also suffers from another of Freud's complexes. Check out the footage above and see if you can guess which one we're referencing.
4. Anakin Skywalker's Afterlife Makeover
The lowdown: When the original trilogy was released on DVD in 2004, Lucas took the opportunity to dish out a few retcons, including recasting the role of Anakin Skywalker's ghost at the end of Jedi. In an attempt to help the original trilogy mesh better with the rest of the saga, Lucas had footage of the head and neck of Hayden Christensen (who starred as Anakin in the prequels) digitally grafted onto the body of original actor.
Why it sucks: It was already bad enough that Christensen's ruined the prequels with his wooden acting (giving rise to the pejorative "Mannequin Skywalker"). And thanks to the wonders of digital technology, he's now stinking up the denouement of Jedi. While the change makes sense from a narrative standpoint, the footage used features Christensen staring at the camera in creepy fashion with a rape face.
3. Boba Fett's New Voice
The lowdown: The 2004 DVD also angered geeks everywhere when Lucas also changed the voice of nefarious bounty hunter Boba Fett in Empire in another attempt to strengthen the original trilogy's ties to the prequels. New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison played Boba's papa Jango Fett in 2002's Attack of the Clones, so Lucas thought it necessary to have him rerecord all five of Boba's lines from Empire.
Why it sucks: Fett's original voice was filled with a menacing growl that helped establish his character as one of the pimpest villains in all of Star Wars. And thanks to Morrison unmistakable New Zealander/Australian accent, it almost sounds like Crocodile Dundee is underneath Boba's mask. At least Lucas could've had Morrison try to match the original actor's snarl.
2. Darth Vader's "Nooo!"
The lowdown: The Blu-Ray version of Jedi now features Darth Vader awkwardly shouting "Noooo!" twice before tossing The Emperor (who's busy frying Luke to a crisp with bolts of lightning) into a Death Star chasm at the end of the film.
Why it sucks: Vader's redemption -- in essence -- the climax of the entire saga. He destroys his master, brings balance to the Force, and is reborn as Anakin Skywalker. Just prior to redeeming himself, Vader is lost in an emotional struggle about whether to save Luke's life, which is played out wordlessly. And now, his poetic torment is muddled with superfluous dialogue that tells the audience what they already suspected. (Sometimes, less is more.) Needless to say, Star Wars die-hards are pissed. Not only have they cancelled their orders of the Blu-Ray set, they've also come up with a few Internet memes making fun of the change.
1. Greedo Shoots First
The lowdown: One of Han Solo's most epic moments in the original Star Wars from 1977 features the Millennium Falcon pilot slaying the bounty hunter Greedo with a sneaky blaster shot from underneath a table. It was a dastardly move that helped establish Solo as a rogue and cement him as an intergalactic badass. Too bad Lucas changed things twenty years later in the Special Edition by having Greedo fire a shot mere seconds before Solo, thus making his death look like a case of self-defense.
Why it sucks: Arguably the contentious update ever made to the Star Wars saga, the "Greedo Shoots First" debacle has been the source of much rancor amongst geeks. Not only does the change weaken Solo as a character, it was done in clunky fashion where the digital effect of Han dodging Greedo's laser blast looks like his neck is broken.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.