“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray Review

by September 21, 2011
Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray

Most long-standing Star Wars fans have a love / hate relationship with George Lucas' creation. The relationship started out well – if you were a certain age in the late 70s (like me), you may have been one of those who flocked to the cinema for multiple viewings of Star Wars. Together, we thrilled to the mind-numbing special effects that came in an era in film when special effects were far from the norm.

As soon as we saw that opening shot we were hooked…

A spaceship passes swiftly overhead, only to be dwarfed by an impossibly large second ship in hot pursuit. Lasers fire from everywhere, with sparks and explosions from both ships' hulls.

And with that, an entire generation’s mind is blown as we gasp in a collective popcorn-and-soda-soaked nerdgasm. Star Wars mania is born!

What followed was years of obsession not just with Star Wars but with movies themselves. For kids my age, Lucas took film beyond a mere vehicle for storytelling and brought it into a realm of visceral experience - an experience many of us would yearn to take home. Star Wars may just have created a market for home theater.

Greedo and Han

But a lifelong love affair with Star Wars is not without hiccups. For many, the relationship turned sour after repeated changes and alterations were made to the movies we loved. A shading tweak here, a CGI alien there may be only mildly annoying, sure… but those changes pale in comparison to the ultimate sin of making Greedo shoot first!

By making Greedo shoot first, Lucas wasn't just polishing the picture, he was attempting to sterilize one of his most colorful characters. Constant re-releases and tweaks have resulted in many fans disconnecting with the franchise, and the prequels didn't exactly endear themselves to old and new fans, either.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray

When the release of Star Wars was finally announced as heading to the Blu-ray format, it was met with much trepidation from fans. Fear and rumor spread across the Internet as to what new and dire bastardizations Lucas would perpetrate upon our beloved childhood memories.

But having spent a weekend watching Star Wars on Blu-ray along with loads of special features, I am happy to report that the film has never looked or sounded so good – of course there are a few new edits, but fortunately for us they're subtle and minimal.

For an exhaustive look at the evolution of Lucas’ Star Wars changes.

Give George Lucas credit... what frustrates us about what he's done to Star Wars is exactly what makes the series' arrival to the pinnacle of home video technology something truly special. Sure, George Lucas is probably the kind of guy that irons his socks and folds them neatly in a color-coordinated row in his dresser drawer. But Lucas Film's obsession with quality shows on every disc of The Complete Saga.

Let the fanatical Star Wars purists keep their Laser Discs and bootleg VHS collections locked up in their bomb shelters. Time marches on - and the time for a DTS-HD Master Audio, high-definition viewing of the entire Star Wars saga is upon us!

The new Blu-ray versions of the six films that comprise the complete saga are available in three separate packages:

Star Wars: Original Trilogy is a 3-disc set that contains only episodes IV, V and VI on three discs, while Star Wars: Prequel Trilogy is a 3-disc set that contains only episodes I, II and III on three discs.

Those hoping to avoid the prequels by only buying the Original Trilogy should note that none of the special feature discs are available in either the Original or Prequel Trilogy sets.

The Complete Saga is the 9-disc set that includes all six films and three discs full of special features. For the discerning collector, only the Complete Saga will do.


Darth 1080Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Easily the industry's most primped-and-preened-over films are the original three Star Wars movies. Lucas might be anal-retentive, but he and his THX production team have lovingly scrubbed every frame for optimal presentation on your HD display.

Star Wars Episode IV looks so crisp, bright and sharp that it puts many recent movies ported to Blu-ray to shame. Forget that this film is over 30-years old, the bright colors and contrasts are so saturated that at times it looks otherworldly.

All three discs in the Original Trilogy have consistently amazing video quality with not a hint of grain or compression artifacts. In fact, it may be almost too good, as the revealing nature of this level of sharpness is not kind to the late-added CGI effects. Many of the creatures added to Mos Eisley, for instance, look dated and overly animated.

The Prequel Trilogy offers a more complex bag of quality. Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was shot on 35-mm film. Its conversion to Blu-ray’s 1080p, while amazing, could be the weakest of the three. The other two prequels, Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, were shot using digital video equipment.

It’s said that in the prequels' post-production, Mr. Lucas felt the CGI sequences looked too sharp, so much of it was filtered. It’s no different on home video – some of the sequences where live humans interact with CGI environments look a little soft and even slightly haloed.

Overall, however, the most eye-popping video quality to be had on any of the six films is in the latter two of the prequels. The opening space battle in Episode III is so good that you’ll want to use it as reference material to simultaneously view a display’s brightness, contrast and refresh rate.

On these last points, when viewing a whirlwind of six Star Wars films, you’ll often find yourself treated to a first-person view of a futuristic vehicle of one kind or another as it speeds across varied environments – this is a challenge for your display. At once, you’re treated to deep blacks of space contrasting with explosive reds and white. Then, at hyper-jump speeds, you’ll view subtle shifts in the colors of an emerging planet’s horizon. Now that’s a workout of nearly every conceivable measure of a display’s quality.

The Lucas team has given us a bold, high-contrast presentation, generally erring on the side of sharpness, contrast that pops. Don't expect gentle, soft, warm hues for an old-school cinematic look. Lucas is clearly trying for a hyper-modern, almost video game look for his films – and you should expect nothing less from the Star Wars saga.


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: DTS 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1

What can be said of the audio quality – it’s perfect! Running the films at high volumes, even the original trilogy has added bass so deep it shook the walls of my viewing room in ways no other movies have yet. Lucas hasn’t endeavored to exaggerate the surround effects or give us boomin’ LFE at every turn – the effects rise and crash just when they should.

It’s difficult to describe audio quality for six films overall, but if there were any weaknesses, as expected, it would be in the original films. John Williams' score came off a bit harsh in certain scenes of Episodes IV and V. It could be the age of the original source material, or it could also be the forward-sounding effect of brass instruments being released in your face.

The use of surrounds is exactly how it should be, an example for any studio to use as a case study in how to correctly distribute volume levels of surround channels during a movie. They're called upon only in certain instances, often to create immersive environmental effects or to signal off-screen action that is always sonically consistent and easily localized. There are no unnecessary calls to the rear channels just to give the audience more noise.

Special Features

Each movie-disc is loaded with at least two separate commentaries. Special features discs include separate Original and Prequel Trilogy deleted scenes, interviews and commentaries. But the final bonus disc contains the real treat for Star Wars fans and the biggest prize for choosing the Complete Saga…

Star Wars Documentaries and Spoofs

Robot Chicken

Spoofs: 1:24. The spoofs are presented in HD where available, but unfortunately, no effort was made to separate them for easier navigation. You just hit play and the whole thing begins with Weird Al Yankovic’s “Anakin Guy”. From there, the feature is peppered with one-after-another spoofs of all sorts, from a range of sources like Saturday Night Live, Robot Chicken, Colbert Report, That 70s Show, Simpsons – it's just a mix of pop-culture references to all things Star Wars.


Making of Star Wars: 49 minutes. This is the classic documentary of the making of the original Star Wars. You may have seen this one before, but you’ll love the shots of a very ’70s Chinese Theater in Hollywood and of a very young George Lucas and his beard.

The Empire Strikes Back: SPFX: 8 minutes. A look at the special effects of Empire.

Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi: 48 minutes. A look at the filming of Jedi, hosted by Carrie Fisher.

Anatomy of a Dewback: 26 minutes. One of the CGI creatures added to the original Star Wars, Dewbacks are the green lizards that carried the Stormtroopers over the sands of Tatooine.

Star Warriors: 1 hour 24 minutes. An interesting documentary about the 501st, a Star Wars costume club that does their thing for charity and community involvement. They’re a highly organized world-wide group.


Whether you’re new to the Star Wars universe or a long-standing Star Wars nerd, you won’t find the saga presented in such perfection anywhere else. Sure, we’ve had a bumpy romance with our favorite life-altering movies. But this version of the entire saga on Blu-ray is the final, yes – THE FINAL – time these movies ever need to be purchased.

When (not "if", when) a 3D-Virtual Reality version of the Star Wars saga is released, we can roll out the Lucas-shill complaints again. But for now, with this package, just sit back and bask in the glow of every scene from all six Star Wars movies, again and again.


About the author:
author portrait

Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

View full profile