Yes, Star Wars has changed again [].

Looking at the comparisons, it seems most of the changes really have just been cleanup. They finally fixed the compositing in the Rancor pit, for instance. And some of the Special Edition bits that didn’t work quite right, like the Jabba scene in A New Hope, have been redone. (He now looks closer to the Return of the Jedi and Phantom Menace versions.) They’ve also cleared up some continuity glitches. Nothing wrong with that — I’m all for fixing things that are genuinely broken.

Then there’s the annoying stuff:

  • Han and Greedo shooting simultaneously is better than the Special Edition… but really, there was no reason to change it in the first place. Han’s a smuggler, and he was in an obvious shoot-or-be-shot situation. Why not just restore it?
  • Inserting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker. Again, not necessary. First of all, under the helmet he’s so smashed up you can’t even tell it’s him in the new version. (Edit: Oops — it turns out it isn’t him in that first scene. They just erased the original actor’s eyebrows.) Secondly, what was wrong with the shot of his ghost? I suppose they appealed to continuity, but if they really cared that much they’d have waited until Jake Lloyd grew up so they could use him in Episode II. (It also doesn’t help that he looks younger than Mark Hamill.)
  • Since the Hayden Christensen rumor turned out to be true, I really hope they haven’t decided to insert a gratuitous Natalie Portman flashback to the “Do you remember your mother?” scene (as has also been rumored). Nothing against Natalie Portman, I just don’t see how it will add anything. More likely it would break the scene up.

Anyway, for those who want to skip the commentary, here’s the USA Today article and here’s the side-by-side comparisons.

Update 9/10: Here’s another writeup that goes into more detail on the changes and reviews the DVD set as a whole.

Well, Lucasfilm has announced the official title for Star Wars: Episode III. I would have preferred Rise of the Empire, but it’s better than either of the last two titles, and it does provide symmetry with Return of the Jedi — which they’re clearly playing up with everything from the logo (there were zillions of T-shirts around Comic Con with the title in exactly the same red-on-black style as the old Return of the Jedi logos) to things like Anakin’s hair (which looks oddly like Luke’s in ROTJ).

And reportedly George Lucas has stated that this time, “revenge” is staying in the title.

When I lived with my family, we used to have just the right type of TV/cable box connection for a really neat trick. My sister and I discovered by accident that, by leaving the TV on channel 4 instead of 3 when switching to cable, we could get the picture from whatever channel was on the cable box (fuzzy, but identifiable) with the audio from channel 4. Combining a dignified-looking lawyer’s speech on the predecessor of Court TV with the audio from a commercial for Pull-Ups was truly quality television. Unfortunately, now my parents have a Dish, which isn’t cooperative.

Meanwhile, our current TV/stereo system is intertwined. The TV audio comes through the stereo speakers, and the DVD and VCR are hooked up to the TV. At the Presidents’ Day BBQ with the usual gang of suspects, we put Star Wars in the VCR for some background entertainment. Enter Jakob Luebke, age 17 months. Displaying remarkable electronics aptitude, he hit the TUNER button and switched the radio from classical to Star, thereby turning the movie into one long music video. It was the strangest way any of us have ever watched A New Hope. Highlights include a Robbins Brothers commercial saying “Dial 1-800-555-RING” just as a ring of debris explodes from Alderaan, Macy Gray performing in the Mos Eisley Cantina, and a used car commercial warning against lemons (“You’ll regret it!”) as a Y-wing blows up. There’s also a bunch of stuff I can’t remember. (Guys?)

So now I’m thinking about other ways to mess with audio and video. We have a large collection of stage-musical soundtracks that include chunks of libretto for better pacing. But darn it, Fellowship still isn’t fast enough to work with Rent……