Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy (Episode I: The Phantom Menace / Episode II: Attack of the Clones / Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) [Blu-ray]
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Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
(32 Years Before Episode IV) Stranded on the desert planet Tatooine after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the impending invasion of Naboo, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi Master discover nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, a young slave unusually strong in the Force. Anakin wins a thrilling Podrace and with it his freedom as he leaves his home to be trained as a Jedi. The heroes return to Naboo where Anakin and the Queen face massive invasion forces while the two Jedi contend with a deadly foe named Darth Maul. Only then do they realize the invasion is merely the first step in a sinister scheme by the re-emergent forces of darkness known as the Sith.
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
(22 Years Before Episode IV) Ten years after the events of the Battle of Naboo, not only has the galaxy undergone significant change, but so have Obi-Wan Kenobi, Padmé Amidala, and Anakin Skywalker as they are thrown together again for the first time since the Trade Federation invasion of Naboo. Anakin has grown into the accomplished Jedi apprentice of Obi-Wan, who himself has transitioned from student to teacher. The two Jedi are assigned to protect Padmé whose life is threatened by a faction of political separatists. As relationships form and powerful forces collide, these heroes face choices that will impact not only their own fates, but the destiny of the Republic.
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
(19 Years before Episode IV) Three years after the onset of the Clone Wars, the noble Jedi Knights have been leading a massive clone army into a galaxy-wide battle against the Separatists. When the sinister Sith unveil a thousand-year-old plot to rule the galaxy, the Republic crumbles and from its ashes rises the evil Galactic Empire. Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker is seduced by the dark side of the Force to become the Emperor's new apprentice - Darth Vader. The Jedi are decimated, as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Yoda are forced into hiding. The only hope for the galaxy are Anakin's own offspring - the twin children born in secrecy who will grow up to become Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa.
"I have a bad feeling about this," says the young Obi-Wan Kenobi (played by Ewan McGregor) in Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace as he steps off a spaceship and into the most anticipated cinematic event... well, ever. He might as well be speaking for the legions of fans of the original episodes in the Star Wars saga who can't help but secretly ask themselves: Sure, this is Star Wars, but is it my Star Wars? The original elevated moviegoers' expectations so high that it would have been impossible for any subsequent film to meet them. And as with all the Star Wars movies, The Phantom Menace features inexplicable plot twists, a fistful of loose threads, and some cheek-chewing dialogue. Han Solo's swagger is sorely missed, as is the pervading menace of heavy-breather Darth Vader. There is still way too much quasi-mystical mumbo jumbo, and some of what was fresh about Star Wars 22 years earlier feels formulaic. Yet there's much to admire. The special effects are stupendous; three worlds are populated with a mélange of creatures, flora, and horizons rendered in absolute detail. The action and battle scenes are breathtaking in their complexity. And one particular sequence of the film--the adrenaline-infused pod race through the Tatooine desert--makes the chariot race in Ben-Hur look like a Sunday stroll through the park.
Among the host of new characters, there are a few familiar walk-ons. We witness the first meeting between R2-D2 and C-3PO, Jabba the Hutt looks younger and slimmer (but not young and slim), and Yoda is as crabby as ever. Natalie Portman's stately Queen Amidala sports hairdos that make Princess Leia look dowdy and wields a mean laser. We never bond with Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), and Obi-Wan's day is yet to come. Jar Jar Binks, a cross between a Muppet, a frog, and a hippie, provides many of the movie's lighter moments, while Sith Lord Darth Maul is a formidable force. Baby-faced Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) looks too young and innocent to command the powers of the Force or wield a lightsaber (much less transmute into the future Darth Vader), but his boyish exuberance wins over skeptics.
Near the end of the movie, Palpatine, the new leader of the Republic, may be speaking for fans eagerly awaiting Episode II when he pats young Anakin on the head and says, "We will watch your career with great interest." Indeed! --Tod Nelson
Episode II, Attack of the Clones
If The Phantom Menace was the setup, then Attack of the Clones is the plot-progressing payoff, and devoted Star Wars fans are sure to be enthralled. Ten years after Episode I, Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), now a senator, resists the creation of a Republic Army to combat an evil separatist movement. The brooding Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) is resentful of his stern Jedi mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), tormented by personal loss, and showing his emerging "dark side" while protecting his new love, Amidala, from would-be assassins. Youthful romance and solemn portent foreshadow the events of the original Star Wars as Count Dooku (a.k.a. Darth Tyranus, played by Christopher Lee) forges an alliance with the Dark Lord of the Sith, while lavish set pieces showcase George Lucas's supreme command of all-digital filmmaking. All of this makes Episode II a technological milestone, savaged by some critics as a bloated, storyless spectacle, but still qualifying as a fan-approved precursor to the pivotal events of Episode III. --Jeff Shannon
Episode III, Revenge of the Sith
Ending the most popular film epic in history, Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith is an exciting, uneven, but ultimately satisfying journey. Picking up the action from Episode II, Attack of the Clones as well as the animated Clone Wars series, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), pursue General Grievous into space after the droid kidnapped Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
It's just the latest maneuver in the ongoing Clone Wars between the Republic and the Separatist forces led by former Jedi turned Sith Lord Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). On another front, Master Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) leads the Republic's clone troops against a droid attack on the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. All this is in the first half of Episode III, which feels a lot like Episodes I and II. That means spectacular scenery, dazzling dogfights in space, a new fearsome villain (the CGI-created Grievous can't match up to either Darth Maul or the original Darth Vader, though), lightsaber duels, groan-worthy romantic dialogue, goofy humor (but at least it's left to the droids instead of Jar-Jar Binks), and hordes of faceless clone troopers fighting hordes of faceless battle droids.
But then it all changes.
After setting up characters and situations for the first two and a half movies, Episode III finally comes to life. The Sith Lord in hiding unleashes his long-simmering plot to take over the Republic, and an integral part of that plan is to turn Anakin away from the Jedi and toward the Dark Side of the Force. Unless you've been living under a rock the last 10 years, you know that Anakin will transform into the dreaded Darth Vader and face an ultimate showdown with his mentor, but that doesn't matter. In fact, a great part of the fun is knowing where things will wind up but finding out how they'll get there. The end of this prequel trilogy also should inspire fans to want to see the original movies again, but this time not out of frustration at the new ones. Rather, because Episode III is a beginning as well as an end, it will trigger fond memories as it ties up threads to the originals in tidy little ways. But best of all, it seems like for the first time we actually care about what happens and who it happens to.
Episode III is easily the best of the new trilogy--OK, so that's not saying much, but it might even jockey for third place among the six Star Wars films. It's also the first one to be rated PG-13 for the intense battles and darker plot. It was probably impossible to live up to the decades' worth of pent-up hype George Lucas faced for the Star Wars prequel trilogy (and he tried to lower it with the first two movies), but Episode III makes us once again glad to be "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." --David Horiuchi
Top Customer Reviews
The original DVD releases for each of the prequel trilogy episodes are of pretty high quality in themselves. But here, on Blu-Ray, the quality, picture and sound are just outstandingly amazing. There is no "digital noise" to be seen here, a problem which really bugged me with there previous releases: especially in the first episode, which had the most room for improvement regarding its quality. And even the third episode, which is of the highest quality standards, makes the original releases look like nothing. Allot of the color and hazing problems of the first two episodes (the third one didn't' need any fixing up in this area) have been fixed and updated and now look more vibrant and sharp than ever. Also, several CG mistakes have been fixed, such as the two-headed pod race announcer's hand going striate through his jacket. And several cool deleted scenes have been re-inserted, such as each of the pod racers from episode 1 being introduced by the announcer to the crowed. Other updates include several of the really puppet-looking aliens (like the terrible, cross eyed stone-faced puppet of Yoda) have been replaced by CG versions of them that look just awesome. And the sound quality...Read more ›
I'm a first-generation Star Wars fan since 1977, having seen the original versions of the original three films in the theater one time each as a child, then falling in love with them all over again on VHS in 1987. And I've been a huge fan ever since. The Star Wars Saga is the ultimate epic space opera and film series.
This isn't actually a review of the movies most of you reading this will have seen one or more versions of dozens of times, although this review will discuss some of the changes made to the films.
I actually own the six-film Star Wars Saga blu-ray set linked above, and I reviewed that. The movie discs in this product are 3 of the same discs from the larger Saga set, so I thought I would edit that review down to only discuss the prequel trilogy discs themselves and post it here. This is meant to be an overview with personal observations and select commentary thrown in.
DISC PHYSICAL QUALITIES
The discs themselves are heavy-duty, yet smooth and well-coated with scratch resistance - the best available in retail products I've seen. The discs themselves do not have any images - they are light grey with blue trimmings. The discs have the previously used logos of STAR WARS with the episode subtitle underneath, both on top of the episode number in the form of a large Roman numeral.
THE FILM DISCS
This is as good a place as any to mention that there are two audio commentary tracks for each of the films of blu-ray.Read more ›
Basically, each of these movies got a 2-disc release when they were released on DVD. This box set has taken those 2-disc sets, and packaged them into a smaller case so in order to minimize shelf space. The "Original Trilogy" (Episodes 4-6) slimset is a debatable purchase, because it doesn't include the bonus disc that came with an earlier deluxe set. But this "Prequel Trilogy" is a better deal if you're planning to buy these movies.
As for the extras:
* I love "The Phantom Menace" content, especially the 90-minute making-of documentary that shows everything from cast readings to sandstorm carnage to special effects meetings to George Lucas quietly beginning his "Episode II" writing. And say what you will about the quality of the movie, but Fox and LucasFilm did an excellent job of advertising this movie. Even its promotional extras are worth watching.
* "Attack of the Clones" is another solid batch of extras. They mostly focus on the special effects, but there are some good interviews and behind-the-scenes stuff with the cast. Another all-around strong package.
* I'm slightly disappointed with the "Revenge of the Sith" extras. The main documentary is producer Rick McCallum going through the different departments of the cast & crew. He even talks about the caterers! Now, this is a fascinating way to explore the making of a movie, but the problem is most of the content (especially the special effects clips) focuses on the Mustafar sequences. I would've loved to see more on the opening space battle, not to mention Kyshhykk (sp?) or General Grievious. The bonus disc is good enough, but a huge stepdown from the other two prequels' material.Read more ›
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