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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Compilation > Documentary > The Stars Of Star Wars (Compilation)

The Stars of Star Wars (Compilation Documentary)

 

Picture: C Sound: C Extras: D Compilation: D

 

 

The Stars of Star Wars is a five-year-old product that seems to exist for one purpose: capitalize on the Phantom Menace mania gripping America -- and the world -- in 1999.

 

Found on the disc, which is plastered with disclaimers that it's endorsed by neither 20th Century Fox nor Lucasfilm, Ltd., are two programs. The first, "main" program -- or Show #1 as it's labeled on the back of the case, is the titular " The Stars of Star Wars. The second, Show #2, also labeled as a "Special Bonus to This DVD!," is "The Complete Interviews." Neither "show" is really what it claims to be.

 

Show #1 is a nearly hour-long exploration, albeit cursory, of the Star Wars phenomenon up to 1999. While this might be a fun jaunt down memory lane for Star Wars fans, it's rendered moot in comparison to the excellent, expansive, exhaustive documentary found on the extras disc of the official DVD releases of the original Star Wars trilogy.

 

Of course, comparing the two programs isn't really the point; rather, it's how well The Stars of Star Wars lives up to its billing. And the answer to that is it doesn't. The description of Show #1 claims to be, from the title alone, something about the stars of Star Wars. But it proceeds to focus on comparisons and similarities between Star Wars and Star Trek (see the DVD that compares both elsewhere on this site) as well as promote interviews with people who have no ties to the Star Wars franchise: Sharon Stone, Gary Busey, Hugh Hefner, Magic Johnson, Jennifer Tilly, Christina Ricci, and Fran Drescher, among others. Add to this that their takes on the Star Wars phenomenon don't go much beyond the canned red carpet jibber-jabber, and what you have is one ultimately pointless product.

 

But that's until you watch Show #2, The Complete Interviews, which is neither a show nor complete.

 

The balance of the interviews and interviewees come from the press junkets for Episode I. Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman, Sam Jackson, and Jake Lloyd all sit in front of the camera while one of those cringe-inducing, Jiminy Glick-inspiring entertainment "reporters" lob softballs to some of the major players from The Phantom Menace. There is a certain amount of fun to be had watching these stars not want to be there while the interviewer thinks he's the main man interviewing these celebrities (his opening banter, especially with George Lucas from an interview meant to promote the Special Editions, it looks like, is priceless). But this itself ultimately turns cringe-worthy.

 

The rest of the interviews come from the junkets for The Empire Strikes Back, with Anthony Daniels and Harrison Ford being interviewed together and Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher gabbing together, and another interview with Daniels from what looks to be the Return of the Jedi press tour. The Ford interview has a bit of appeal, if only because he's now one of America's biggest stars. But these interviews are just like the ones from the Phantom Menace junket, except conducted in 1980 rather than 1999. What's more, the same guy that is seen interviewing the stars of Phantom Menace is the same person interviewing the stars of Empire! Talk about career longevity.

 

Because these interviews were conducted as, it looks like, television programs; the visual and audio quality of them is nowhere near decent. Show #1 is slightly better, only because it looks to have some production value. But the interviews themselves in Show #2 are all across the board. The material from Empire is murky and cloudy visually, while pops and hisses course through the soundtrack. Then again, what kind of quality can you expect from a quick cash-in on a resurging pop culture phenomenon? It doesn't help the quality woes of the disc that whoever is responsible for the DVD couldn't take five minutes to check the grammar of the disc's packaging, either by reading it or using a grammar check on a computer's word processor -- on the back of The Stars of Star Wars box, it's written that "This DVD is neither endorsed nor authorized by the 20th Century Fox or Lucasfilm, Ltd. Nice.

 

There are no extras here to speak off, so there is therefore little to redeem it. Again, it's possible that The Stars of Star Wars will appeal to die-hard fans (especially of the vintage-era Han Shoots First variety) of the franchise or those interested in the interviews found on the disc. But beware -- the interviews are canned, uninteresting PR and the program itself is lacking in comparison to so many others like it.

 

 

- Dante A. Ciampaglia


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