Stars of Star Wars (Compilation Documentary)
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
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.