Star Wars: Original Trilogy – Blu Review

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Blu Ray delivers excellent video (minus the controversial CGI) and solid audio, although for extras you will need to upgrade to the Complete Saga Edition.

The Star Wars Original Trilogy has been released on so many different formats and so many different versions that even the Blu Ray release offers two separate editions, not including the Complete Saga. The edition I own is found here, and must be out-of-print as it is only being offered through third party sellers on Amazon for ridiculous prices. The newer version of the Original Trilogy, found here, includes DVDs and is thus a six disc edition compared to my three disc edition, but other than that it does not offer any new materials outside of a different packaging. For the most hardcore Star Wars fans, I would suggest buying the Compete Saga Edition, found here. It is much pricier, at around $90 compared to the $70 total you would spend for the Original Trilogy and Prequel Trilogy, but it includes many more extras and can often be found on sale around the holidays, which makes it a much better buy than the two bare bones Trilogy sets which lack in extras.

PICTURE QUALITY

Regardless of your feelings about the Original Star Wars, Special Editions, and CGI additions made by George Lucas since the initial release in 1977, this Blu Ray release is the best you are going to see these films right now. The transfer is gorgeous, and they left much of the original graininess, which I enjoy in older films. I am not a fan of the “digital noise reduction” (DNR) which takes place when many older films are released on Blu Ray and aims to eliminate the grain for a more modern, digital look. I prefer the films in their original form, and thankfully with this Original Trilogy they have kept the DNR to a minimum. The colors are vibrant, the action is smooth, and it is hands down the best that Star Wars has ever looked.

Original Shot (Above) CGI Addition in Blu Ray release (Below) Make your own judgement!

For Star Wars purists, the additional CGI added during George Lucas’s edits when he re-released the Original Trilogy in 1997 are obviously an issue. However, with the exception of the famous scene in the cantina featuring Han Solo and Greedo, a lot of the changes are minor and do not detract from the viewing experience. Do they look awkward and out of sorts in place next to the original shots from the late 70s? Sure, but it would only bother the most hardcore fans and even they should be able to move past that and realize that this is the best Star Wars we have right now, and we need to work with what is available if we want to view the films in their new, exceptional HD transfers.

PICTURE QUALITY SCORE: 4.5/5

AUDIO

There is no doubt that this is the best that Star Wars has ever looked in your homes, so will the sound stack up to the picture quality’s exceptional score? Yes, and it is actually the best part of this release. The Original Trilogy sports a 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The 6.1 mix is a bit different, as typically most films would be released in 5.1 and most newer releases or new 4K remasters of older films would carry the 7.1 sound mix. With a 6.1 mix, there is simply a typical 5.1 track with additional sound coming from a single rear speaker, if you have them. If you have a 7.1 system, the rear sound will likely only come from one of the rear speakers, and on a 5.1 system the sound reserved for the rear speaker would be split between the two side speakers. The use of a more complex sound mix creates a much more enjoyable viewing experience, as those sounds of blasters or lightsabers being drawn behind the scene create an immersive experience. We have all wanted to get lost in the world of Star Wars once in our lives, and experiencing this Blu Ray release in our home theaters is as close as many of us will get. Overall, the audio is hands down one of the better experiences I have had with the blu Ray format, and it is a must have for your collection.

AUDIO SCORE: 5/5

EXTRAS

Star Wars: The Complete Saga

The extras are the only “Dark Side” to this release, which pale in comparison to the “Complete Saga” Star Wars collection that is also available. The only extras on this release are commentary tracks for each of the three films with George Lucas, the cast, and crew, with what is said to be “never before released commentary with archival interviews with cast and crew”. Other than this, there are no special features. In comparison, the “Complete Saga” is absolutely loaded with special features, with over 40 hours of extra content spread over three discs and the entire Star Wars series to date. For the ultimate Star Wars fan, this could easily make or break buying the trilogies as stand alone releases versus buying the “Complete Saga”.

EXTRAS SCORE: 1/5

OVERALL SCORE: 4.5/5

FINAL VERDICT: This is certainly an excellent release if you are just looking to add the Original Trilogy to your collection on a budget. If you have the money, I recommend this Original Trilogy set for those on a budget, but if money is no issue, get the Complete Saga. The additional special features are worth the price alone, never mind the upgraded quality of the packaging and addition of the Prequel Trilogy. You will not be disappointed. Either way, both are highly recommended!

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The Purge: Anarchy – Blu Review

The Purge: Anarchy delivers heart-stopping sound and above average picture quality, but a lack of extras makes this release a hard sell at anything over $10.

The-Purge-Anarchy-United-We-Purge-Poster
Limited Edition Poster – Won this in a contest on AMC Theaters’ Website

The Purge: Anarchy is the sequel to 2013’s The Purge, the low budget horror/home invasion film which went on to make over $90 million worldwide on a $3 million budget. Anarchy followed the same formula, keeping the budget low (at $9 million), and continuing to rake in the money at the box office, grossing over $110 million worldwide. Anarchy was released without much fan fare on Blu Ray, as the only copy in the United States was the simple Blu Ray/DVD Combo with Digital Copy and a slipcover (while they last) found here. If you have a region free Blu Ray player or live in most of Europe or Australia, you can get a very nice steelbook from Zavvi which is region locked to Region B. For European fans of the movie or for those with region free players, this is certainly the nicest version of the release. You can find that version here.

PICTURE QUALITY

Universal Studios typically does a great job with picture quality, and with their release of The Purge: Anarchy they have continued that trend. As most of the film is spent in the dark, with streetlights providing much of the lighting in each scene, it is important that the picture is not so dark that you need to close the shades and shut off the lights in order to see it. This can often be the case with many other horror films, but I watched this one midday with inside lighting on, and I did not have to strain to see the action. This was one of my biggest complaints with the original Purge, as it just seemed too dark on screen. Perhaps the higher budget allowed for some better on set lighting, but Anarchy is quite clear, even in its darkest moments.

Great example of a dark scene with plenty of clarity.
Great example of a dark scene with plenty of clarity.

There is not much to complain about here, although in a few of the especially dark scenes you can begin to notice some graininess, which should not be present in a modern release filmed on digital cameras. This is something you would only want to see in pictures that were shot on film, which are typically older movies although there are still many filmmakers who shoot on film today, e.g. Christopher Nolan and Interstellar. Personally, I do not mind the grain because it adds to the grittiness of the movie, but for those Blu Ray purists and super fanatics out there, this would certainly be noticeable enough to detract from the picture quality score.

PICTURE QUALITY SCORE : 4.5/5

AUDIO

Anarchy’s best quality is its audio, which is really an amazing mix. It sports a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, which effectively uses all 5 speakers to give an immersive experience. At times, you’d swear you were on the streets purging, as gun shots, screams, and loud engines roar through the back left and right speakers. Even though many of those sounds are never explored by the cast of characters, it is the atmosphere which they create that stood out to me. When the background noises cease and the action moves into the fore front, the sound will really blow you away. It is extremely loud, even at a lower volume, but never takes away from the dialogue. It is easy to hear the main character yell directions to his group of survivors, even as gun shots whizz by and engines roar towards them. In quieter scenes, the dialogue remains extremely clear. This is not a film where you are going to spend two hours with your hand on the volume buttons, adjusting for action vs. dialogue. It is a great mix and very well done by Universal bringing this film to our homes.

AUDIO SCORE: 5/5

EXTRAS

What this release brings with its viewing experience, it greatly lacks in extras. There is a 9 minute “making-of” feature called “Behind the Anarchy”, which is presented in HD but is very generic and does not offer much insight into the film. Deleted Scenes are presented in HD and total 8 minutes, adding nothing to the original film. There is nothing else for extras, and there are no Blu Ray exclusives or special editions which would pack in any more content.

EXTRAS SCORE: 1/5

OVERALL SCORE: 4/5

FINAL VERDICT: The Purge: Anarchy is a much better film than its predecessor, and the Blu Ray is outstanding apart from the extras. Wait for this to drop in price, but buy at around $10 and you will not be disappointed. Recommended.