Star Wars DVD Bonus Features Review

The fourth disc of the Star Wars Trilogy box set contains just about everything you could possibly need to know about this franchise. It does become a bit too promotional at times, but with the almost flawless "Empire of Dreams" documentary, all is forgiven. A few other shot featurettes round off this disc.

Running at an unheard of two and half hours, "Empire of Dreams" is worth the price of admission for most fans. If you have only seen the version on A&E, you're missing out on a lot. This is a documentary so good, it even had a small theatrical release. The majority of time is spent on "A New Hope," but that's hardly a real complaint. This is a thorough look at these classics, one that hardly misses any detail. In fact, it is so complete, it makes the individual film commentaries seem obsolete. There are only a dozen chapter stops for the feature, which seems quite low considering the running time, but once you start watching, you can't turn it off.

Three featurettes of various length focus on the characters, the series legacy, and on the creation of the lightsabers and are a nice compliment to the main documentary. "The Characters of Star Wars" runs at just under 19-minutes with multiple interviews. It looks at how each character was created and how the actors felt about them. "Birth of the Lightsaber" looks at how the iconic weapon came to be and how it has become more prominently featured in each of the films while running just over fifteen minutes. "The Legacy of Star Wars" branches out a bit to other people in Hollywood as they tell how the films affected the way they make movies. You'll sit down with this for about thirteen minutes.

A brief nine-minute preview of "Episode III" focuses on Darth Vader and how he will come to be. Another "Episode III" item include a look at how the video games come together (6:09) while XBox owners can check out a playable demo (non-owners can watch a trailer) for "Star Wars Battlefront." Supposedly never-before-seen production photos are split up between the three films and are beyond extensive. Each photo comes with a caption explaining what you're looking at. Finally, for those who need view everything related to the movies, an exhaustive trailer gallery is featured and includes countless TV spots.

On a final note, a raise should be in order for those who created the menus for this set. "Empire" features a fully rendered Luke and Vader in a lightsaber fight as you browse through the chapters, an ingenious way to create some excitement before the movie even begins. The other discs in the box are just as good.

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