The spectacular DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace
--arguably one of the best DVDs ever--will go a long way toward making it up to Star Wars
fans who were disappointed by the theatrical release. (But, in case you're wondering, there's no option to delete Jar Jar.) The picture and sound are outstanding, it's loaded with bonuses, and even the menus are action-packed fun. Disc One includes the film with a commentary track by George Lucas, producer Rick McCallum, editor Ben Burtt, animation director Rob Coleman, and visual effects supervisors John Knoll, Dennis Murren, and Scott Squires. Rather than a group of people yelling at the screen, this commentary is a compilation of individual comments, very helpfully supplemented by supratitles that indicate who is speaking. Numerous technical details are explained, and Lucas mentions how certain scenes fit into the big picture of all six films (every time dutifully referring to the original film as "Episode IV").
Of Disc Two's cornucopia of bonus features, the most notable are the seven deleted scenes and a long documentary. The deleted scenes, which are all interesting enough to watch at least once, can be viewed individually or as a group along with discussions of why they were cut. These rough scenes were completed for the DVD and parts of them (including an introduction of the individual Podracers and a longer view of the skies over Coruscant) were reincorporated into the version of the film that appears on the DVD. The 66-minute behind-the-scenes documentary was compiled from 600 hours of footage shot during various stages of the film and includes Anakin screen tests, script-reading sessions, location shooting in Italy and Tunisia, and giddy fans on opening night. --David Horiuchi
Begin your STAR WARS DVD collection with STAR WARS: Episode 1 THE PHANTOM MENACE. Packed with over six hours of additional material, including exclusive documentaries and never-before-seen deleted scenes, this 2-disc set provides the perfect showcase for the incredible detail and breathtaking scope of George Lucas's first episode in the mythic STAR WARS saga.