Star Wars – 5 Best and 5 Worst Changes to the Original Trilogy

An interesting quirk that Star Wars fans have to deal with in the re-releases of the Original Star Wars Trilogy is that, since the original film was released on VHS for the first time in 1985, George Lucas has been tweaking his creations by implementing changes to all aspects of the film – effects, dialogue, sometimes entire characters and scenes have been removed, added or altered in all three original films and even some of the prequels. The topic of the re-release changes has created some debate in the fandom, with some arguing that the changes improve the films and others preferring the original releases. It wouldn’t be as bad if there was a version of the original Star Wars film out there, but since the changes began with the original release, it is now impossible to watch the film in its original state, regardless of whether you like the changes or not. With that in mind, here is my list of the 5 Best and 5 Worst changes to the beloved series.

Best Changes:

battle_of_yavin.png

5 – Improved Effects

This is an obvious choice, but the re-releases do improve most of the effects in the film, with just a few exceptions. One might argue that the film’s original effects were part of what made it so good – after all, at the time of release the visuals were one of the major selling points of Star Wars. But most fans agree that there’s nothing wrong with bringing the original films up-to-date with modern special effects, and that certainly shows when you compare scenes like the Battle of Yavin where the older effects do somewhat break immersion, particularly if you are used to the newer releases. The improved laser blasts and lightsaber effects make the action scenes appear less scratchy, and improve continuity between this trilogy and the ones that come before and after it in the timeline. It would certainly be

oola.jpeg

4 – Oola

It’s strange to consider when you watch it now, but in the original cut of Return of the Jedi Oola’s death scene was much more brief – she simply falls down the trap door into the Rancor pit in Jabba’s Palace, and the Rancor reveal is saved for later. Amazingly, the actress who played Oola filmed the extended death scene over a decade after first appearing in Jedi, with no difference to the visuals whatsoever. The Rancor isn’t revealed completely, meaning that the impact of its later appearance isn’t spoiled, but it does create a menacing scene showing more of the mercilessness of Jabba’s henchmen. Interestingly, Oola was allegedly supposed to have a much larger role in the film, but due to changes in the script her role was drastically reduced, so if anything this change simply provides a bit more screen-time for a fan-favourite character.

endor-celebration1.jpg

3 – Victory Celebration

This one might be controversial, but the change to the music at the end of Return of the Jedi is, in my opinion, one of the best decisions George Lucas ever made. The original song that played during the celebrations on Endor was ‘Yub Nub’, a nonsensical and comically puerile ditty that doesn’t do the finale justice, but the replacement, John Williams’ aptly-titled ‘Victory Celebration’, seems a much more fitting tune to end the original trilogy. For comparison, one needs only to look at the ending of A New Hope – the tune used there fits the tone and gravitas of the scene, and ‘Yub Nub’ simply does not. Whilst it is a fan-favourite, that doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for what is to some the conclusion of the Skywalker saga. But, then again, the dancing doesn’t sync up with the new tune as well.

original-palpatine.jpg

2 – The Real Palpatine

As important as  it is to remember Marjorie Eaton, the original actress who portrayed the Emperor – and yes, I said ‘actress’, as Clive Revill was merely dubbed over her performance – for the sake of continuity her original scenes as the Emperor no longer work. In heavy makeup with digitally inserted chimpanzee eyes, the 78 year old effectively filled in for the Emperor in the original 1980 release of The Empire Strikes Back but, after Ian McDiarmid was cast as Palpatine for Return of the Jedi and then again in the prequels, it only makes sense to retroactively insert him into Empire as well. Admittedly, as many have stated before, the original Emperor does appear more visually intimidating, with some criticizing the newer editions for making the Emperor look outright bored as he calmly drops the bombshell onto Vader that Luke is Anakin’s son, and sort of ruins the idea that Vader came to that conclusion himself. Nonetheless, A+ for effort.

ghost-anakin.png

1 – Young Anakin

Okay, before I even explain the details of this change, I would like to get one thing out of the way first: I understand why people hate this change. In fact, for many years I too cringed in resentment at the awkward, out-of-place looking Hayden Christensen who had been clumsily imposed over the charming, warm smile of Sebastian Shaw that was in the original cut of Return of the Jedi. Upon reflection, however, I have also conceded that I understand why this change was made, and in many ways it is one of the most important changes to the Star Wars films because it establishes something interesting about the Force and about the character of Darth Vader that was only hinted at in the original films. By showing Anakin’s ghost as he looked in his youth, it firmly establishes the idea that the dark side corrupted and twisted Anakin to such an extent that by the time he had been burned alive on Mustafar he wasn’t even the same man anymore. Anakin being burned and chopped up and turned into a Cyberman is just a formality, Vader consumed him during the events of Revenge of the Sith meaning that, in returning to his former self in death, Anakin lives on through the Force in the way that he was before his turn. This brings a whole weight of validation onto the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi who, when you consider how he goes about relating the events of the prequels to Luke, comes across as a manipulative and downright inconsiderate arse-hole who attempts to warp Luke’s perception of reality to fit his worldview. If, however, we accept that the redeemed Anakin Skywalker appears to Luke in the form of his younger self, it not only metaphorically shows that the corruption of Vader has fallen away to reveal the man he once was, but it also shows that the nature of the Force itself backs Obi-Wan’s claim that Vader and Anakin are separate entities, and that is arguably far more important to the story than just seeing Vader as he would have looked if he hadn’t turned evil. From a technical standpoint, the change itself needs work (mostly to make Hayden look less creepy for no reason) but ultimately I believe it adds to the depth of the lore of the Force and I will gladly agree to disagree with anyone who says otherwise.

But now, let’s take a look at some of the really bad changes to the Star Wars films…

Worst Changes:

jabba-ep4.jpg

5 – Jabba the Hutt in A New Hope

Although some like the inclusion of the unused ‘Jabba’ scene from A New Hope that digitally replaces the man who was originally going to be ‘Jabba’ with the slimy slug-like Hutt that we all know him as today, this change is fundamentally awful for a number of reasons. For one, when it was originally included in the 1997 re-release of A New Hope, the CGI Jabba looked absolutely horrendous – it would be hard to distinguish between it and the Globgogabgalab if the latter didn’t periodically break into song. In fact, if my previous list of terrible CGI characters had included a section on the original trilogy, this Jabba would have topped the list. Thankfully the 2004 re-release of A New Hope changed Jabba into something that looked a little bit more like what we remember from Return of the Jedi but that still doesn’t answer the question of why this scene is even necessary in the first place – for one, it spoils the reveal of Jabba from Jedi, and it doesn’t establish anything that we didn’t know from the previous Cantina scene. To add insult to injury, Han steps on Jabba’s tail, something he would probably have been killed for if this was the real Jabba instead of a CGI imposter.

vader-no.jpg

4 – Vader’s ‘Nooooo’

This change is a perfect example of how altering the tiniest detail can have a whole lot of impact. Adding in Vader screaming ‘No’ Revenge of the Sith-style into the climax of Return of the Jedi essentially threw any hope of subtlety in the scene out of the window, with the Emperor cackling maniacally like the pantomime villain that he is in Jedi. After all, wouldn’t the Emperor hear him say it and blast him with lightning instead? The point of his betrayal originally was that it was totally unexpected – the Emperor never had a chance to stop Vader by the time he had been lifted into the air and hurled over the balcony to plummet to his death, but now it just makes Palpatine look like an idiot. Speaking of treating people like idiots, surely the audience can basically figure out by his body language and actions that Vader is saving Luke without a clear statement from him? But according to Lucas, everything needs to be spelled out for us, it’s not like we’ve had over 30 years to figure out what Vader must have been thinking during the final scene.

giant-creature-blocking-the-shot.jpg

3 – CGI creatures everywhere

It’s almost comical when watching it back, but the iconic ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for’ scene in A New Hope now begins with a really close up shot of a reptilian creature lumbering in the way of the camera, totally blocking the shot and obscuring all of the main characters for seemingly no reason whatsoever. But that’s not the only creature that was added in to the original trilogy, there are plenty – a Dug (one of Sebulba’s species, for anyone who wanted a grim reminder of The Phantom Menace) can now be seen in Jabba’s palace, the Wampa now gets a full reveal (spoiling the ambiguity of the creature) and that dance number in Return of the Jedi makes me want to burn everything in my house that links me to Star Wars. Seriously, it’s that bad. Heck, they may as well go and retroactively add Porgs into the films, scurrying around on the Millennium Falcon or screeching over the dialogue in Empire. In fact, it’s not just the addition of creatures that make this so bad – Lucas couldn’t even digitally insert a rock in front of R2-D2 whilst he hides from the Tusken Raiders without having it disappear between shots, and the gap when it is there be too small for R2-D2 to even fit through. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

greedo-shot.jpg

2 – Greedo Shooting First

It may surprise some that this isn’t number one, because it has become the most infamous change to the Star Wars films with, the motto ‘Han Shot First’ seemingly encompassing the Star Wars fandom’s rejection of the majority of George Lucas’ changes to the films. After all, Greedo shooting first not only detracts from the firm establishment of Han Solo as a no-nonsense, quick-triggered badass, but it also devalues him as a character – what kind of bounty hunter can fire at that close a range whilst sitting down and having a totally clear shot and yet still miss? Is this another attempt by Lucas to add out-of-place slapstick humour to Star Wars that absolutely fails at every level? Ignoring the neck-breaking head motion that Han has been edited to perform in newer releases with this edit, the change just doesn’t look right. Everything happens so fast that it’s impossible to tell why Lucas felt this was necessary, aside from a vague excuse that ‘good guys don’t shoot people’. Well George, tell that to the dozens of Stormtroopers who are dispatched by Han throughout the movies, they’re people too.

boba.jpg

1 – Boba Fett’s voice

This is the change that I take most issue with, regardless of the whole ‘who shot first’ fiasco. In fairness, this change was obviously made with continuity in mind, rather than just a random desire to pollute the frame with more random CGI creations like the Stormtroopers on the Death Star or the Max Reebo band – for those not aware, Boba Fett is revealed to be a clone of Jango Fett who features in Attack of the Clones. Obviously by replacing James Wingreen’s voice from the original cut of Empire with the voice of Temura Morrison, who played Jango, Lucas was bridging the gap between Clones and Empire and admittedly, this change could have been done well under different circumstances. But the fact of the matter is that Wingreen’s performance was just so much better than Morrison’s, and even if you apply the logic that Boba is a clone, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that he had the exact same voice – after all, environmental factors have much more of an impact on accent than genetics, making this change ultimately pointless.

So that was my list of the Top 5 Best and Worst Changes to the Star Wars movies, I hope you enjoyed, if you did then you can always leave a like either here or on Facebook, and be sure to follow us if you want to read more content like this!

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who – Know thy Enemy – Top Questions about the Daleks answered!

All too often do you see fans of Doctor Who nitpick the show to no end. I do it myself, as anyone who has read any of my previous articles will know. However, certain aspects of Doctor Who lore are often criminally misunderstood by both general viewers and die-hard fans alike, leading to pointless discussion or criticism that is based on simple misunderstandings. To keep things simple, I’m going to focus this article on just questions relating to the Daleks, but any more I do in the future will certainly branch out to other aspects of the show. So here are my answers to the most common questions and criticisms about the Doctor’s most feared enemy – the Daleks.

Why do the Daleks always shout ‘Exterminate?’ rather than just shoot people on sight?

This is a question you hear all too often about the Daleks. In the lore, the Daleks are supposed to be intergalactic mass-murders who destroy cities, fleets of warships and sometimes even entire worlds in their spare time, and yet when you see them on-screen they appear to dawdle and get caught up screaming ‘Exterminate’ over and over again rather than actually just shoot people. Why is that?

Well, for a start, that isn’t necessarily the case 100% of the time. There are plenty of examples of Daleks shooting on sight, mostly to kill nameless characters or anyone not relevant to the plot. You could say then that the real explanation for the Daleks’ inconsistent behaviour is due to a classic case of plot armour – the Daleks can’t just shoot the Doctor, because then there’d be no Doctor Who, and wouldn’t that be a tragedy.

In-lore, however, there are actually two other possible explanations for this, the first makes its appearance in The Witches’ Familiar, in which Missy finally explains why the Daleks shout ‘Exterminate’ all the time – their weapons channel hatred, and their battle cry is how they reload. It’s an interesting concept, and it’s great that it comes from Missy – the Doctor would be much more likely to try and explain the Daleks’ ways in a more philosophical sense, whereas Missy just gets to the technical ins-and-outs. This not only provides a great insight into how Dalek technology functions (as well as perhaps paying homage to the psycho-kinetic mobility systems that are explored in their very first episode, The Daleks) but it also covers for several instances in Dalek episodes in which they seem to get stuck like a broken record, shouting ‘Exterminate’ over and over again until some convenient plot device comes in to save whoever is in danger (usually the Doctor).

The second explanation for this is slightly more simple, and relates to a concept that, for better or worse, is introduced in Asylum of the Daleks, which relates to how the Daleks view the concept of hatred itself. The Daleks admire anything that can hate as much as they can, and since the Doctor hates the Daleks, they actually admire him for it. Not only that, but they work themselves up into a frenzy over it – imagine each Dalek who tries to kill the Doctor agonising internally over whether or not to kill their greatest enemy, or spare him simply because of the raw untapped hatred that festers within. This can count for any hate-filled species, which might also explain the Daleks’ initial poor luck in their war against the Movellans – but we’ll get to that later.

Why were the Daleks set back by 1,000 years in Genesis of the Daleks, when all the Doctor did was blow up some fish tanks and collapse a corridor?

This one is interesting, to say the least. In Genesis of the Daleks, the Doctor fails in his mission to destroy the Daleks before they are even created, but he does achieve one small victory – he manages to destroy their embryonic growth tanks, and also destroy the one entrance into the Dalek bunker, effectively trapping them inside. But he then says that he estimates that these two actions have stunted Dalek development by a thousand years, which seems unlikely, particularly given their persistent nature. So why is this?

Essentially, it comes down to a cascading effect, and also relates to the death of Davros. In destroying the Dalek embryo tanks, the Doctor wipes out all of the Daleks growing inside, and also destroys their means of reproduction. Since the Daleks also kill Davros, their creator, as well as all the other Kaleds, they have no means of procreating, and basically have to start from scratch. Given the limited resources available, it’s a small wonder that the Daleks don’t just die out there and then, and having to rebuild a delicate and precise genetics laboratory with no arms is no simple task.

Why do the Daleks always seem to lose, when they have such a fearsome reputation?

Another common criticism of the Daleks is that they lose too much. I can definitely get behind that, it would be nice to see some proper Dalek victories on screen, even if it does blow the entire BBC CGI budget for that year. Whilst the obvious answer to this question is that ‘if the Daleks won all the time, there would be no show’, I like to look for potential lore explanation for problems like this rather than just take the easy option, so let’s break this down.

The Daleks aren’t invincible, even if they don’t realise it, and despite this, there is plenty of evidence on-screen to suggest that they have conquered a significant portion of the galaxy. We see humans in conflict with Daleks in the future in plenty of classic Doctor Who episodes, and we also see the Daleks subjugating alien races too, like the Thals, the Aridians and the Exxilons. We see an example of a Dalek prison camp in Destiny of the Daleks, giving us an idea of how the Daleks treat the residents of the planets that they conquer. But they never actually manage to destroy the human race. In The Parting of the Ways, the humans on Satellite 5 know of the Daleks from legend, but claim that they ‘died out’ thousands of years ago, relative to their time period of 200,100, obviously to fight in the Time War.

So the Daleks are spread out across the Galaxy, fighting what is essentially a war with infinite fronts – it is in their nature to attempt to destroy everything that they encounter, which is no easy task, even for them. And then you must take into account the instances where, by pure fluke, the Dalek expanse was halted or reversed, such as the Movellans devious virus, the Dalek Civil Wars, or their mass exodus out of time and space to throw all of their resources at Gallifrey’s planetary shield at the conclusion of the Time War. If the Daleks hadn’t suffered these setbacks, judging by what we have already seen on-screen, there is no doubt that they would have conquered the Galaxy.

Why do the Daleks change their appearance over time, when they regard themselves as the pinnacle of all evolution?

Again, the real-life answer for the Daleks’ changing appearance is due to the evolution of the BBC’s production values and materials, similarly to how the Borg in Star Trek change their appearance over time despite existing in their original form for millions of years. In-universe, the Borg appear to adapt when they encounter a race that benefits them, and the same can be said for the Daleks.

As far as the casings are concerned, the Daleks undoubtedly incorporate new materials and techniques into their design as they encounter them, such as the Metalert that was accidentally discovered and absorbed by the Dalek scientist Zeg, which was later used to create the casing for Dalek Sec. Although the Daleks constantly view themselves as supreme, they are not above altering certain aspects of their design when they feel that it was make themselves even more ‘supreme’.

As far as the actual physical appearance of the mutant is concerned, there is a simple in-universe explanation for this as well, although it requires some explanation. Although the Daleks central philosophy is maintaining their own genetic ‘purity’, their physical form does mutate over time. This stands to reason, as they were created using nuclear radiation, and it is very possible that by the time the Daleks go off to fight the Time War, they are practically a different species to the Daleks we see in the city on Skaro. This is proven by the alterations to the Dalek physical form that we see in Remembrance of the Daleks and The Parting of the Ways. One thing that is clear, however, is that following Victory of the Daleks, the Dalek Empire has returned to its original, ‘pure-bred’ state after surviving for years as half-mad hybrids or derivations, which the new Daleks dramatically destroy in the climax of that episode.

Why would a race like the Daleks ever fight a Civil War?

Speaking of Remembrance, that episode and its two predecessors, Resurrection and Revelation, introduce a fascinating new aspect to Dalek lore, and that is the concept of an all-out Dalek Civil War. It seems odd that a race as single-minded and fanatically loyal as the Daleks would ever fight such a war, since Dalek rebellions or dissent among the ranks are unheard of given their nature. But the seeds for this idea were sowed as far back as Evil of the Daleks, in which the Second Doctor causes a civil war to break out in the Dalek city on Skaro by infecting a significant portion of the Daleks with the ‘Human Factor’, making them able to express emotion and question orders.

In terms of the actual full-scale Civil War to follow, however, one must look to Destiny of the Daleks for the first stages of the answer. The Movellans, who are able to effectively combat the Daleks due to their development of a synthetic virus which is the only disease which affects them, reduce the Dalek Empire to rubble overnight, cutting dozens of Dalek holdouts off from each other, which continue to exist even after the Movellans are eventually wiped out. Cut off from the main Empire, and believing themselves to be the only survivors, these Daleks go on to adapt and change for the same reasons discussed earlier, leading to several splinter factions who regard all of the other factions of Daleks as inferior.

And then Davros gets thrown into the mix, and he takes this a step further by actually creating Daleks from different template species, such as humans, and also altering the Dalek base design by incorporating far more cybernetic elements to make them obedient to him, basically creating a race of Daleks that are more machine than organic. The result is a Dalek Civil War on many fronts, with many factions, that lasts for centuries as the main Dalek Empire focuses on wiping out all of the smaller splinter factions, which they consider to be an affront to their existence. It is even implied in Remembrance that the Daleks hate non-pure Daleks more than they hate humans, which certainly explains why they get so caught up in constant in-fighting rather than focusing on destroying humanity.

And finally, arguably the most pressing question of all…

Why do the Daleks have a toilet plunger?

Ah, the quirks of 1960s prop design. I suppose the idea of a totally inhuman appendage that defies our understanding and is made of the most terrifying substance known to man – rubber – must have scared people back then. In truth, the toilet plunger is a bit of a weird choice to have opposite the gunstick, and I’m frankly amazed that it has been retained, particularly in the new series. The Americans did away with the plunger for their Daleks, instead preferring a more sinister silver claw, but we Brits like to stick to our guns – or, rather, cleaning utensils.

In fairness, the revival did wonders for actually trying to make this appendage seem scary – it looks less like a toilet plunger with its detail, but still retains the same shape, and it is revealed in Dalek that it can not only morph to fit around panels and buttons to use a an actual manipulator, but it can also form a tight seal around a human’s face to suffocate them to death and also apply enough force to crush a man’s skull like it was polystyrene.

The in-lore explanation for the manipulator arm, as it is officially named, is that it is a catch-all device for performing as many tasks as possible with one standard attachment. The problem with the Daleks having a claw is that this is a recognisable human shape, a hand, and that detracts from the Daleks’ most chilling aspect which is their utterly unapologetic non-humanness. When one takes into account the fact that it can change shape, it actually makes a lot of sense, especially since the Daleks aren’t likely to carry spare tools around with them. It also doubles as a scanner, a brainwave-extractor, a tea-tray-carrier and, if the situation requires it, it can make quite an effective close-range weapon for ripping people’s faces off. I think I’d prefer a quick extermination, thanks.

So there we have it, the most pressing questions about the Daleks, finally answered. I hope you learned something, and maybe this explains some of those nagging doubts you had about the nation’s favourite genocidal cyborg warrior-race. Thanks for reading, and expect more articles like this soon!