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November 24, 2000

Star Wars Trilogy on VCD

On a little different vein today, we have a video review for you... We recently were contacted by the web site CoolVCD about doing a review of the new VCD release of the Star Wars Trilogy. This is the 1997 Special Edition release with new packaging with really nice artwork, and an exclusive Episode II sneak-peak. The sneak-peak includes commentary by George Lucas, Bonnie Piesse (young Aunt Beru), Joel Edgerton (young Uncle Owen), Gavin Bocquet (Production Designer), and Anthony Daniels (C-3P0) as well as some pre-production shots on the set of the Skywalker homestead.

While I'm not normally a big VCD buyer, this particular set has its own appeal for me. See, I already have the pre-re-edited, THX version on laserdisc, I haven't been able to justify buying the new versions of the film on LD because the new footage didn't really add anything to the story IMHO. Also, I don't buy movies on video tape anymore (actually I've always tried to avoid video tape as much as possible). So, with this set you actually get a set of the movies, with the new footage added, plus the sneak-peak all for less than the cost of any of the other mediums, or even buying the LD set imported from Japan. And, you can watch it on most DVD players (except the PS2... blame Sony!) or on your PC. In fact if you watch most of your movies on PC, this is another good reason to pick up this set.

As for the quality of the reproduction. While there is some noticeable MPEG-1 compression artifacts, that's more inherent to the nature of the medium, and not the film itself. I did find that of all of the Windows based PC players I looked at the movies on, the best quality came from Windows Media Player. And the film looked pretty good on everything from the top end system in the house to my kids Pentium 166.

Actually that brings up a good point. If you have kids with a computer in their room, but not a VCR, this is a great way to give them a set of the movies to watch that doesn't have them touching the living-room A/V setup. Considering the price, and the fact that they're on CD, you don't have to worry about the kids trashing them out after a billion watch-throughs.

My only real complaint about this release is that it only appears to be in a Pan & Scan format in the VCD medium... but then again, I realize that most people don't seem to really care about that.

In any event, check CoolVCD for this film or other VCD releases if you're interested.

Be sure to check back here soon as well... We've got a large number of reviews coming in the next week or so.


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