When it inundated theaters last winter, the revised and refurbished special edition of the Star Wars trilogy was something to see — and to hear, in the glorious digital surround sound that made it seem as if R2-D2 had been taking elocution lessons. But now that George Lucas’ remastered masterworks are on video and Twentieth Century Fox wants us to shell out $49.98, the question, for many fans, becomes, is Star Wars worth it again?
A well-equipped home theater might weigh in favor of the buy, but for lo-fi folks, upgrading to Star Wars 2.0 should also depend on your reaction to the altered content of its characters. Lucas’ small additions have made some crucial, questionable differences.
In the original: Han Solo confronts bounty hunter Greedo in Star Wars’ Mos Eisley cantina. When Greedo threatens to take Han dead or alive, Han just blows Greedo away.
In the special edition: Greedo doesn’t only threaten Solo; he draws his blaster, fires, and misses. Han, in self-defense, returns fire, killing Greedo.
Change is…: Bad. Han’s character arc is blunted. No longer the self-serving antihero who comes to care, he’s more like a feisty, flirtatious Good Guy. Bor-ing.
In the original: We don’t meet Jabba the Hutt until C-3PO and R2-D2 seek an audience in Return of the Jedi.
In the special edition: After icing Greedo in Star Wars, Han runs into Jabba and explains that he can’t pay the Sluggish One until after his ”nice easy charter” to Alderaan.
Change is…: Bad. Jabba looks sillier earlier. His slithering around in public takes the mystery out of a figure previously spoken of in hushed tones.
In the original: Hanging from a catwalk in the climactic scene of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker falls silently into the void rather than join forces with Darth Vader.
In the special edition: Luke still spurns his father, but when he plummets he lets out a girlyman shriek.
Change is…: Bad. Out went the unflinching Jedi who let go of his fear. For all we know, Luke was about to flip-flop to the Dark Side and he slipped.
In the original: Return of the Jedi ends with Luke returning to the Ewoks’ village to celebrate the rebel victory.
In the special edition: Over new music that sounds like warmed-over Yanni, we see the Ewoks’ festivities, then pick up simulcast celebrations all over the galaxy.
Change is…: Good. Ewoks are slightly easier to love when that insidious ”Yub Yub” chant of theirs doesn’t stick in your head.