Star Wars Trilogy: IV – A New Hope

Instead of reviewing the trilogy as an entire entity, as it would no doubt receive all five stars, I’m going to look at each movie in turn. The main thing to remember here is that the review is based on the DVD version, that means much more than just the movie itself.

Extras aside, as they are on the bonus disc in the set, I was sorely disappointed with the movie when I watched it last night. The film was the same film as always, with the extra background bits added, and Greedo shooting first (that doesn’t annoy me as it does others, but it does change the original character of Han somewhat), what was different is the first outing on DVD and an opportunity for greatness.

The picture quality was excellent and throughout the movie, no issues with the picture at all. I wonder if this was made easier due to the work done for the video release. However, for me the sound was the issue.

Coming from the people who so promote THX sound certification I instantly felt let down, and unfortunately that feeling continued throughout the movie. Before I go on I have to say that my system is configured using the DVD Essentials Home Cinema configuration DVD and furthermore run through the THX tests included on some DVD’s (Star Wars).

The opening scene in inside the rebel ship is was where it all started going badly wrong for me. The limp sounds of firing lasers, the half hearted tinny explosions and the weak use of base just left me looking at the screen in confusion. I even thought that I’d chosen the wrong audio mix for a moment, no such luck.

The base was kicking in for the huge explosions, but also for the odd spaceship flying by, but there was a distinct and obvious lack of consistency with its use.

Talking of things flying past the screen, what of the use of Dolby Digital (there is no DTS option)? The most disappointing part was the audio mix, with all the action on the front speakers and the music track on the rear speakers, it was hardly immersive. In fact I usually have my rear speakers turned up slightly to increase the ambient noises – this is the first film ever I turned them down.

When a ship flies by from front to rear, or rear to front, there is no movement of sound. It all stays at the front. I didn’t even notice a sweep of sound from left to right (and vice versa) when ships when hurtling by in those directions.

Very poor indeed. It seemed almost as if the audio track was dumped on the rear speakers and the stereo audio dropped on the front without any real work on the seperation.

The stars here are gained by picture quality and the film itself. The audio was shockingly bad, and this really is a shame, I wanted and expected so much from a movie that made such an impression on my childhood, and I felt let down.

Still, let’s end it on a good note, the picture quality is excellent and the movie is still a well crafted and enjoyable film.

Star Wars Trilogy from Play

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