Finally got this baby delivered yesterday. Pre-ordered on Amazon ages ago and cost me the princely sum of £180 squiddles, but so worth it! They’d be about £25 a pop individually anyway, so what the hell. All 9 Star Wars films in the “Skywalker Saga” as they seem to be calling it now. Doesn’t include Solo or Rogue One unfortunately, but I have Solo separately and Rogue One is getting a 4K release soon. It will take 20 hours and 36 minutes to watch all 9 films back to back seamlessly one after the other. Not something I’m going to attempt, but I’m finally being furloughed for 3 weeks on Sunday, so something to keep me entertained over the long weeks of lock down ahead.
I checked out Episode 1 for a bit to see how the 4K conversion was, as I knew that the 3 prequels were going to be the most problematic in the 4K upgrade. Not at all bad, but the quality could be a bit variable from scene to scene, with some of the animated bits looking a bit cartoony or just showing their age quite badly now. Some scenes with the actors would look nice and crisp with plenty of detail as you’d expect from a 4K remaster and others were still a touch blurred. The 3 prequels were always going to be a mixed bag in this respect due to the source material having all the digital effects done at 2K, but overall the quality was good and really it’s the best it’s ever going to get. Apparently Ep 2 and 3 are much better quality though, with 3 being very good. So that bodes well.
Also of course had a brief look at Ep IV: A New Hope, as the 3 original films were the ones I was most interested in seeing remastered in 4K. As with other good 4K remasters such as Blade Runner, Alien and 2001, they’ve rescanned the original negatives at high resolution and done the whole colour grading thing on them, so the film now really pops with detail and colour. You can see all the dusty grime and scuffs and scrapes on R2 and 3PO, making them look a lot more weathered and beaten than I remember them from their standard definition incarnations. So really looking forward to watching those.
Haven’t looked at the new films yet, but I know they’re going to look great as they were shot on 35 and 65mm film and finished as 4K digital intermediates. I mean how are they not going to look anything less than stunning.
If I have one disappointment, it’s that the original unsullied cinema versions of the 3 original films are not included. Instead we have to make do with George Lucas’s somewhat divisive special editions. Oh well.
I don’t know if any of you are into the whole 4K UHD thing, but for me it’s revitalised my love of film. It’s been like the jump from VHS to DVD. I bought many films in VHS and DVD but after that my interest in film started to wane quite considerably. In a post Matrix and LoTR world, there just didn’t seem to be anything coming out that excited me. Blu-ray didn’t seem a big enough leap from standard DVD for me to get invested in either. Then Mad Max Fury Road came out, which started to perk up my interest in film again. Then last year, as the prices had come down enough to make them affordable, I bought a 50" 4K HDR set and a UHD player and bought a few films in order to catch up on some missed viewing, like Blade Runner 2049, Valerian and a few others. The release of 2001 was the first remaster I bought and wow! That just blew me away. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen that film, but watching it in 4K was like watching it again for the first time with fresh eyes, the quality is that good. It’s like watching it through a window and it feels like it was filmed just yesterday. Quite amazing. I would never have thought you could get so much extra detail from a scanned in old film negative. The HDR really does wonders for the colour too. So yeah, these 4K remasters, they really are more than just watching the film at a higher resolution. It’s like seeing them at their very best and being able to watch them again with fresh eyes. I hope more and more classics end up getting this treatment. I know some of the big manufacturers have stopped doing UHD players. Whether that’s due to them now pushing 8K or the general trend towards streaming, I don’t know. I know there are no plans for an 8K UHD format though. Both the new Playstation and XBox will have UHD players built in though, so hopefully that will give the format a bit of a boost. I certainly hope so, because I think it’s the best thing to happen to film in ages.