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Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

During the week when George Lucas finally released his Star Wars saga to Blu-ray (see below), this little movie also made it to the format. The Orson Welles classic looks terrific, and has certainly aged well in its 70 years.

However, I just wouldn't give this my vote for Best American Film Ever. My pick would come from a pack including Jaws, Taxi Driver, Barton Fink and the original King Kong. Heck, I might even like Caddyshack more than this one.

Still, it's a major achievement of storytelling and special effects. The film has many special-effects shots you can't even really detect until you dig deeper during repeated viewings. Welles was a true innovator.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get the awesome Roger Ebert commentary, and another good one from Peter Bogdanovich. Interviews, deleted scenes, opening-night footage and incredibly cool packaging make this a must-have. On top of all this, you get the documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane and the film RKO 281 on separate discs.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

George Lucas has taken things too far with his alterations of the Star Wars films.

I didn't gripe so much when he added some creatures or cleaned up a few shoddy special effects with CGI retooling. I did, however, piss and moan when he had Greedo shoot first in Episode IV: A New Hope, which most of us know as just-plain Star Wars: Greedo, sitting just feet away from Han Solo, took out his blaster, shot first and MISSED. In the original version, Han Solo shot first; it was cold-blooded, and it made sense. Regrettably, this change remains in the film on Blu-ray.

Until now, that was the dumbest thing Lucas had done in his multiple rounds of tinkering with the classics. However, that stupid move pales in comparison to what he done to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. In the pivotal moment near the finale when Luke Skywalker is getting blasted by electricity from the emperor's fingers—moving him close to death—a very moronic thing now happens: Instead of silently contemplating what to do, Darth Vader now says, "No!" Twice!

This ruins the one true moment of dramatic tension in Jedi, a moment that might've been the most-exhilarating in the entire series. That first "No!" comes out a few seconds before Vader makes his move to destroy the emperor. When Vader now says "No!" it gives everything away a few precious seconds too early.

George Lucas ... I love you, but you have an amazing capacity for clueless alterations to your movies. And Jedi isn't even your directorial effort. Richard Marquand directed that one, and he's dead, so he doesn't get to punch you in the balls for screwing with his film.

As for the transfers, all of the movies look spectacular and sound great, as one would expect. Even with the terrible alterations, it's good to have the films in this format. It remains to be seen whether or not Lucas will release the original cuts of the films to Blu-ray in addition to his "special editions," as he did on DVD.

My grades for the films have changed a bit over the years, in part due to the alterations, and the fact that the prequel trilogy (included in this package) failed to captivate me as much with repeated viewings. I still like the prequels, but my enthusiasm has diminished a tad.

If Lucas wants to make some worthwhile alterations, let him please excise Jar Jar from all of the films, and take out that stupid business of stepping on Jabba's tail in Episode IV.

Movie grades: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace (B+); Episode II—Attack of the Clones (B-); Episode III—Revenge of the Sith (A-); Episode IV—A New Hope (A), Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back (A); Episode VI—Return of the Jedi (B-).

I took Jedi down a whole grade because of the whole "No!" thing. It totally screws the movie's ending.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get all of the commentaries included on the DVD releases, along with many documentaries and photo galleries. New to Blu-ray are some pretty cool deleted and extended scenes, including a long sequence with Luke Skywalker hanging out with friends on his home planet. You also get some new interviews.

The Twilight Zone: Season 5 (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

These Twilight Zone Blu-rays have been outstanding, and this, the show's final season, is one of the best. Among these episodes, you'll find William Shatner's epic performance in "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," and the infamous Talky Tina in "Living Doll."

The show, thankfully, returned to a 30-minute format for its final season after an unsuccessful attempt at 60 minutes in the season prior.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Tons of commentaries, interviews and more. These are the high-water-mark for TV-show Blu-rays.

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