New details on the special features coming on the Star Wars films in 4K Ultra HD

From StarWars.com:

“[…] And on March 31, coinciding with the physical release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, eight Star Wars films are being released on 4K UHD for the first time: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

4k_set


From The Digital Bits (before the official announcement):

“All right, what were we just saying about European studio and retail leaks? LOL. Here’s a big one for you…

Disney has yet to officially announce them (though we do expect the official word any day now), but the Swedish retailer CDON.se has just posted cover artwork for all of the catalog Star Wars films in 4K… not just the front cover art but the back details too…

… and they include special features details! So, let’s get right into them all, film by film and disc by disc…

It appears that all of the discs will include Dolby Atmos audio and HDR10 high dynamic range (no doubt Dolby Vision HDR will be restricted to the 4K Digital offering).

Be aware that the discs may also include additional features not listed below. However, here’s what the packaging shows…

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, and Dennis Muren) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 181 minutes) will include The Beginning (feature-length documentary), Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back, Discoveries from Inside: Models & Miniatures, and George Lucas on the Digital Revolution (we suspect this will also include a Making of Collection but it’s not listed here).

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Ben Burtt, Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll, and Ben Snow) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 196 minutes) will include the From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters in Episode II (feature-length documentary), the State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II documentary, Conversations: Sounds in Space, Discoveries from Inside: Costumes Revealed, The Art of Attack of the Clones, and a Making of Collection.

Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Rick McCallum, Rob Coleman, John Knoll, and Roger Guyett) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 327 minutes) will include Within a Minute: The Making of Episode III (feature-length documentary), The Journey: Part 1 & 2 documentary, Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was, Discoveries from Inside: Holograms & Bloopers, and a Making of Collection.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the exact same 2-disc Special Edition released on 4K and Blu-ray previously and reviewed here on The Bits (click here for details).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will include The Stories: A Rogue Idea, Jyn: The Rebel, Cassian: The Spy, K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & The Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections. (That is the exact same list of extras found on the previous Blu-ray release, reviewed here on The Bits.)

Star Wars: A New Hope will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt, and Dennis Muren) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 101 minutes) will include Aboard The Death Star Overview, Conversations: Creating a Universe, Discoveries from Inside: Weapons & the First Lightsaber, Anatomy of a Dewback, and a Making of Collection.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt, and Dennis Muren) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 125 minutes) will include Conversations: The Lost Interviews including George Lucas on Editing The Empire Strikes Back (1979) and A Conversation with the Masters (2010), Discoveries from Inside: Matte Paintings Revealed, and a Making of Collection.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi will include audio commentary (with George Lucas, Carrie Fisher, Ben Burtt, and Dennis Muren) and an archival commentary (by the cast and crew) on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 163 minutes) will include Death Star II Space Battle Overview, Conversations: The Effects, Discoveries from Inside: The Sounds of Ben Burtt, Classic Creatures: Return of the Jedi, and a Making of Collection.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will include audio commentary with director JJ Abrams on Disc One. The Bonus Disc (running time 149 minutes) will include the exact same extras found on the deluxe Blu-ray 3D package (reviewed here). [Editor’s Note: Sources indicate this will in fact be the bonus disc from the 3D Collector’s Edition, which includes previously retail and digital exclusive extras.]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will include audio commentary with director Rian Johnson and a MUCH welcome surprise: The Score-Only Version of the Movie that was previously a Digital exclusive. The Bonus Disc (running time 165 minutes) will include the exact same package of extras found on the previous Blu-ray and 4K version of the film (reviewed here). [Editor’s Note: Sources indicate this will include the Target-exclusive Meet the Porgs featurette.]

And finally, the official details for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker have yet to be revealed. [Editor’s Note: This title has in fact now been announced and the details can be found here on The Bits.] […]

Keep in mind that we expect all of these titles to be released individually on Blu-ray and 4K, while all of the Saga films (minus Solo and Rogue One) will also be included in the Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Blu-ray and 4K box set on 3/31. […]”

 

Jake Lloyd’s family gives an update on his health

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From Geek News NOW:

“Jake Lloyd was only six years old at the time he auditioned for the role of “Anakin Skywalker” in the Star Wars prequel film “The Phantom Menace”. Although the movie was a box office success and revitalized the franchise for decades to come, young Jake Lloyd would face a short acting career and a long history of bullying and unnecessary criticism. Much like Ahmed Best (who was almost bullied to suicide after he played Jar Jar Binks), Star Wars fans were not especially kind to the child actor, despite his best intentions and warm interactions with them.

On June 17, 2015, Lloyd was arrested in South Carolina for reckless driving, driving without a license in his possession, and resisting arrest; he failed to stop for a red light, which initiated a high-speed police chase. He was released to a nearby psychiatric facility, with schizophrenia listed as the reason.

Tragedy struck their family when his younger sister, Madison, died peacefully in her sleep on July 16, 2018 at the age of 26. Lisa Lloyd, Jake’s mother, described it as “shattering” to both her and Jake.

Since then, it’s been all quiet for the young man. He has been living a peaceful life and has been focusing on himself a great deal. I spoke to his mother, Lisa Lloyd, at length about how he is doing. As an author’s note, I have had the pleasure of interacting with Jake Lloyd on several occasions and found him to be a brilliant mind and a hilarious sense of humor. He filled in for me as a host on my podcast once, where he spoke directly to the fans and also put to rest the rumor that he hated Star Wars.

The following statement is approved for release by his mother, who is tirelessly working with him.

“We would like to thank everyone for their kind words, their support, and goodwill. Jake has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but unfortunately he also has a symptom called anosognosia which causes a lack of insight into his illness. This only adds to the struggle he faces, which has been very difficult after the tragic loss of his younger sister, Madison. He has moved closer to his family and we are all working hard to help him with this. He is still a kind and caring person and we hope to have him back to his fun and entertaining self as soon as possible. Jake will continue to make progress with the love and support you continue to show.”

[…]”

Video: “Every Starfighter in Star Wars Explained By Lucasfilm”

From WIRED:

“Lucasfilms’ Doug Chiang and Amy Beth Christenson explain each and every type of starfighter from the Star Wars movie franchise. These small, combat-focused spacecrafts have become a canvas for some of the most iconic designs in all of cinema. Ever wondered why the “snout” of the X-Wing is so pronounced, or why the Y-Wing’s paneling is so bare? Amy Beth and Doug offer all these insights and much more!”

Washington Post ranks the best lightsaber battles in Star Wars; Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan vs. Maul is #1

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From Washington Post:

“This weapon is your life.” Those wise words about the lightsaber from Obi-Wan Kenobi to a young Anakin Skywalker resonate throughout the Star Wars films, positively glowing with mortal meaning.

And ever since Force-sensitive warriors began wielding their plasma blades in 1977, the lightsaber duel has been a central Star Wars spectacle. From Luke Skywalker to Yoda, from Darth Vader to grandson Kylo Ren, these battles are more than physical showdowns — they are windows into who has greater power or purpose, whether the result is apparent victory or higher self-sacrifice.

There are numerous battles to choose from when debating the hand-to-hand highlights. With this month’s “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” seemingly wrapping up the great family saga, The Washington Post’s resident Star Wars nerds have ranked the top five lightsaber duels:

5. Darth Vader’s Hallway Rage

“ROGUE ONE” (2016) […]

 

4. Yoda vs. Palpatine

“EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH” (2005)

Veteran Force warriors Yoda and Darth Sidious go head to head. Will Sidious live to rescue apprentice Darth Vader from his scarring and charred defeat to Obi-Wan — and will Jedi Master Yoda be forced into exile?

Athleticism & choreography

4/5

At last, George Lucas has the technical tools to stage a high-quality duel between a live actor and an entirely CG character — with the freedom to create any maneuver his team can dream up.

Gee-whiz effects

3/5

Force lightning! Yoda levitation! Speed and powers are on equal display.
Use of the Force

3/5

The battle in the empty Senate chamber lets us see just how closely matched these two fighters are, as each tests the highly trained powers of the other.
Story impact

4/5

The Dark Side gains an edge here, leading to the rise of Darth Vader.
Total score

14

 

3. Obi-Wan vs. Anakin

“EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH” (2005)
Former dear friends, Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and apprentice turned Sith Lord Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), square off. Can Obi-Wan prevent Anakin from fully turning to the Dark Side?

Athleticism & choreography

3/5

The lengthy mano-a-mano movement through the mining complex is a flashy mix of flips, kicks, leaps and clashing lightsabers.

Gee-whiz effects

3/5

The appeal of this scene largely rests upon your appetite for saturated green-screen wizardry, as the combatants work their way toward the eye-popping lava.
Use of the force

4/5

The Jedi and the Sith rely on the power — including Force-chokes and telekinetic Force Pull — to gain an upper hand. “You underestimate my power,” says Anakin, who is ultimately not as strong as he thinks, falling to Obi-Wan’s blade.
Story impact

5/5

With the Sith Lord left to die, limbs sliced and body burnt to a crisp, there is only one path forward for the man who will become Darth Vader.
Total score

15

 

2. Luke vs. Vader

“EPISODE VI – RETURN OF THE JEDI” (1983) […]

 

1. Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul

“EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE” (1999)
In “The Phantom Menace,” Sith villain Darth Maul (Ray Park) travels to Naboo, where he faces off against Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Jinn’s Padawan apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in what’s been dubbed “Duel of the Fates.”

Athleticism & choreography
5/5

The original trilogy duels look inelegant compared with this massive step up in physical artistry, especially from Park, a trained martial artist who moves like a stalking jungle cat. Stunt coordinator Nick Gillard told Vulture that he had to “invent an entirely new form of sword fighting” for the exhaustively rehearsed scene.

Gee-whiz effects
5/5

The prequels gave Lucasfilm the chance to go bigger visually, and this battle — featuring Darth Maul’s double-bladed saberstaff — is a pinnacle.
Use of the Force
4/5

Darth Maul wields his Force powers to slow the approach of Obi-Wan — but the young Jedi taps new Force abilities to bring the duel to a sudden acrobatic climax.
Story impact
5/5

Obi-Wan enters this fight a green Padawan; he walks away a master.
Total score

19
[…] Yet unless “Rise of Skywalker” gives us something spectacular, the “Duel of the Fates” fight soars like young Obi-Wan, technically and narratively head and shoulders above all others.”

Video: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace team talks to IGN about the big lightsaber fight

From IGN:

With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wrapping up the nine-movie Skywalker Saga, IGN is celebrating the occasion by looking back at one of our favorite parts of the franchise: the iconic lightsaber duels. Each episode of Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels will focus on one of the many lightsaber fights as we catch up with the cast and crew members that created them. They share behind-the-scenes stories, offer insightful commentary, and even toss in some trivia you might not have known.
In this episode, Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Ewan McGregor, VFX Supervisor John Knoll, and Stunt Coordinator/Fight Choreographer Nick Gillard reflect on the crown jewel of the Skywalker Saga’s lightsaber fights, known as the Duel of the Fates. The fan-favorite fight from The Phantom Menace saw Jedi duo Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn take on the Sith assassin Darth Maul in a two-on-one fight for the ages. They explain why the fight had to be so spectacular and point out some cool details they put in the fight, and McGregor makes a bold statement that many are likely to agree with.You can watch the episode in the video player above or keep reading to see what the cast and crew had to say. And be sure to keep an eye on our main hub page as every week we add new episodes of Star Wars: Breaking Down the Duels.

“[It’s] got to be the best lightsaber fight in the history of Star Wars movies,” McGregor said in a chat with IGN. “We rehearsed it so much. Me and Liam [Neeson] and Ray [Park] and then especially the bit after Liam’s down where [it’s] me and Ray. We just had it so well-rehearsed. They were having to overcrank the camera to slow it down a bit because we were so fast. I’m not joking. It’s usually the opposite: They undercrank the camera to speed it up a bit. But we were doing it so fast they thought ‘no one’s going to believe it,’ so they slowed it down a little bit.”

Despite having filmed the fight over two decades ago, McGregor lit up with enthusiasm while talking about it. It was clear that the same passion he put into the fight still burns within him, and he’s immensely proud of the work he did. (Which bodes well for McGregor’s return to the role in the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+.)

“We were young and on fire. And it was the first movie and we just got really good at it. We didn’t hurt each other. We just could see what was happening. It was like … It was a blur. It was so good fun to do,” McGregor enthused. “And I think it set the bar quite high, you know? And I don’t know that anyone’s ever got better.”

The lead visual effects supervisor for the prequel trilogy, John Knoll, explained why the duel had to be so spectacular when compared to the fights we saw in the original trilogy.

“It wasn’t lost on me that all throughout the original trilogy you’ve never seen Jedi at their prime fighting. You saw Obi-Wan versus Darth Vader; Darth Vader now kind of getting up there in age. In Empire, it’s Luke who’s a kid who’s never really done this before, has just sort of started his training, fighting against Vader who is not really going at him particularly hard,” Knoll said. “Now you go to a situation where you have two Jedi that are in their prime against this baddie that is supposed to be also at his prime, just going at it. It was clear that the choreography had to be something really very dramatic and special because the expectations would be pretty high for this.”

When it came to orchestrating the fight choreography for the three-man duel, prequel trilogy stunt coordinator Nick Gillard started with one guideline that informed everything else. He explained that his “one rule” was that the combatants had to project their heads at all costs. You can lose an arm or a leg, but if you lose your head then it’s game over forever. That’s why all strikes and blocks are oriented around defending their heads and informs when it’s safe to turn your back to an opponent and how they’re always looking at where the enemy saber is going.

The Phantom Menace featured the franchise’s first-ever double-bladed lightsaber, which was obviously a key tool that allowed Darth Maul to take on two opponents at once.

“The fact that it was a double ended lightsaber in fact helped us because you can maneuver the thing quicker if you’re against two people,” Gillard said.

But ultimately there came the moment where, after Qui-Gon was taken out, Obi-Wan fought Darth Maul solo and cut his lightsaber in half. That was by design, Gillard says, because it freed him up to have Darth Maul do something different.

“We were interested as well in breaking it in half, only because there’s only so much you can do with a quarterstaff,” Gillard said.

Seeing his master killed then sparked a fire within Obi-Wan. “After Qui-Gon gets killed and Obi comes through, it did have to be more intense. I mean technically Obi would have remained the same in that fight. But we wanted to show that [the Jedi] had passion,” Gillard explained of Obi-Wan’s aggressive, vengeance-fueled attack on Darth Maul.

Knoll also had a bit of trivia about that segment of the fight, saying, “There’s also a wonderful little moment right before the electron beam opens, Ewan was just sort of anticipating the door’s about to open and he’s kind of bouncing up and down a little bit. That wasn’t directed. That was just what Ewan was doing to kind of psych himself up for the take about to start. But George [Lucas] liked it so much that he included that in there.”