Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That's No Moon....

About four days ago, in a galaxy not so far away...

Geek Reviews

  It is a period of excitement. Children run rampant through the house, causing their mother to want to sedate them. Her mission to gain reinforcements is one of dire need.
  Tension levels are high, as sugar-fuel conversations nearly drown the miscommunication between the adults. Minutes before dinner, the mother's reinforcement turns hostile, and nearly causes a different kind of war, of lasting proportions...

Yes, folks, I was a jerk. And I want to publicly apologize to my wife for the immature outburst of human reactions that usually come from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Sweetheart, I am so terribly sorry. Thank you for being smarter than me and making sure I was aware of how much of a jerk I was acting like. I hope this post can make up for some of that hurt.

The key players in this event was a truck in the shop getting more repairs than originally planned, an already strained budget, a mother and wife stressed to her limits from the aforementioned players, her "angelic" children, and prolonged health concerns, and one single-minded, yet still loving husband keyed up on anticipation for future events and the promise of escape from the stresses of work. My excitement for the release of Star Wars on Blu-ray pushed almost everything from my mind. I was still acutely aware of the above factors, but I made verbally known that my desires were what needed to come first. Boy, was I wrong!

Luckily, my sweet wife, who caught the full force of my Darth Vader-esque tirade, was willing to correct me and bring me back to the light side. Solution to cover costs of repairs to the truck as well as not over-stress the budget: check. Remorseful husband returning to his senses in order to communicate with his better half: check. Understanding wife who, rolling her eyes and (hopefully) grateful for the small reprieve, gives her blessing to allow a late-evening Father/Son/Son outing: check. I pile the troops (in jammies, no less) into the family shuttle and blast for the nearest road that will take us to our destination -- the video department at Target!

Pulling smoothly into the closest parking stall we could find, I unloaded the troops and lead the charge to the front entrance, like any good General should. My superhero sidekick clutched my hand while his older brother scouted ahead at full speed. Mere meters into the main aisle of the store, we spotted our objective. The boys were slightly disappointed with the speed that we completed our mission. My oldest wanted to scout the toy aisle (most likely the Bakugan and Legos...) while my youngest was hoping to explore the "blower uppers" -- the inflatable Halloween decorations that populate retail stores nationwide this time of year. General Dad vetoed the secondary missions, seeing as the primary objective had been achieved. Instead, my troops settled with playing with the small impulse-purchase toys like single pack Lego sets and fit-in-your-hand Nerf dart guns while Dad paid for his brand new copy of Star Wars on Blu-ray!!! (If you can't tell by now, I'm a bit excited!)

Returning the DrthGeek Family Shuttle to its port-of-call, I ushered the troops into the house and assisted with the final bedtime rituals. Excitement poured through my veins, very much like the Force in my favorite film series.... But mindful of the evenings earlier transgressions, and in a bid to start to make amends, I offered my wife the opportunity to peel the wrapping off the box set. A small gesture, true.... You have to understand something here: Not only am I a SW Geek, I am nearly obsessively meticulous with my opening of DVDs. So in my house, this is HUGE.

Once the set was opened, I made the decision to NOT watch any of the films that night. I had to be more responsible and get my homework done (yes, I am working on a college degree!). The films could wait. Besides, it's not like I don't have them memorized already!

The next morning's plans were to consist of a breakfast of junk food, flopped on the couch in PJs, and the first of the six High-Definition episodes emblazoned on the big screen and pouring out of the surround sound. Instead, we did have the junk-food breakfast (freshly purchased donuts! YUM!), but instead of the PJ-attired couch lounging, we all piled into the DrthGeek Family Shuttle and headed off to the farmer's market.

Yes, you read right. Opposed to spending all morning analyzing the films I have memorized, I spent the morning escorting my wife on the hunt for amazing, locally-grown produce. Honestly, and don't tell her this, I rather enjoyed doing that than lazing about at home. When we returned home from our adventures, it was finally time to pop in one of the films and see for myself what all the hubbub was about.

Again, right as usual, my wife suggested I watch the films in release order rather than chronological/episode order. She said something about being concerned about the impressionable young mind of our three-year-old not needing to see the devilish visage of Darth Maul (or something like that), but I knew the real reason was that she is a closet SW-Purest and wanted to see/listen to the films too! But if you ask that to her face, she will only admit to liking the Ewoks... 'cause they're cute....

Anyway, as I watched the film for the one hundred billionth time, I still got excited and my face split into a huge grin hearing the first chords of the opening theme. My elation was assisted by my youngest humming along. I watched the film looking for the new additions and updates. As a whole, A New Hope (Episode IV) was visually cleaner. The colors were definitely more crisp, and the detail on some of the textures was thrilling to see. However, some of the scenes, like when the droids are wandering the deserts of Tattoine after escaping the Imperial Star Destroyer, seemed a bit too crisp and made the scene look more like a moving painting rather than a motion picture. Still, the scenes that really stood out, ironically, were the Special Edition "upgrades" GL gave the saga in the late '90s. Because of the digital enhancements, the HD treatment visually handled those scenes with a bit more fluid grace. Unfortunately, though, that same HD treatment caused the digital enhancements to be more noticeable as not part of the original film editing.

Foley artists, it seemed, were given some extra liberties this go-round. A lot of the feared changes came from little sound nuances here and there that, to the SW trained viewer, pop out as "did I just hear that droid beep right?" or "I don't recall that being in there...." The strangest, because of the unnecessary nature, yet oddly fitting auditory change was the krayt-dragon impersonation by Obi-wan "Old Ben" Kenobi when we first meet him on screen. Other reviews have described the new call as more human-sounding. I think that is a very fitting description. It most definitely sounds like a human whooping at a high pitch down the far end of a canyon while the call echoes off itself and ends in something that sounded almost like a growl.... It was a very odd thing to change in the first place, in my opinion. But this newest rendition is probably the oddest sounding of them all.

Once Han, Luke and Chewie truly began the rescue of the beautiful Princess Leia, I really started to pay more attention to the film and watch it from a  fan's perspective. Leia still called Chewie a "walking carpet", Luke, Wedge, and Biggs still flew the trench run, and Han still proved that he wasn't in it only for the money, so at least GL left the plot line alone. Overall, the HD treatment, by the end of the film, helped remind me why I fell in love with this galaxy far, far away.

A word to the Purists out there: I'm right there with you guys! Don't fix what isn't broken. But sometimes, a little sprucing up can make a difference, and not be entirely bad.

Well, I think I've ranted and raved enough for one post. This Nerf Herder's gonna call it quits, for now. But stay tuned, fellow Geekawans and Geek Masters. We've got five more films to go! Not to mention the new special features! Until then....

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