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Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Comparison:

  • Blu-ray Edition (Fox)
  • 4K-Remastered Blu-ray (Disney)
Release: May 27, 2020 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Muck47 - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the first Blu-ray edition by 20th Century Fox (various releases starting in 2011) and the new Blu-ray edition by Disney (from 2019 as a stream on Disney+, from 2020 on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K-Blu-ray).

 

The versions of STAR WARS and specifically the prequel trilogy

The problems surrounding George Lucas' lucrative baby Star Wars should be sufficiently well known. Especially the original trilogy, which was created between 1977 and 1983, experienced 4 different versions on home cinema media, as we recently summarized in the 4K reports on A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.

While the Episodes VII to IX as well as the spin-offs Rogue One and Solo only exist in one version each, there were also some changes in the unloved prequel trilogy. Both Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Episode III - Revenge of the Sith were updated when jumping from DVD to Blu-ray. Episode I - The Phantom Menace hit the 4K-remastered evaluations more often and now again.

First there were already various adjustments with the jump from VHS to DVD - a step which was no longer necessary with the two successors. With the Blu-ray first edition 2011 new changes were added. Work on a 3D re-release had already begun in 2010 and only Episode I was subsequently re-released in cinemas in 2012. Episodes II and III were scheduled to follow in 2013, but with the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and the rather disappointing box office results of Episode I, these plans were discarded.

 

3D-related differences in the 4K remaster of the prequel trilogy

To Episode I it was already confirmed at that time that for the 3D re-release a shot of Anakin's magnetic wand during the podrace had been polished up a little bit. Not a really a serious or otherwise somehow spectacular adjustment, but definitely another change. And exactly this version, which has not been evaluated on any home cinema medium so far, was released in 2019 on Disney+ and from April 2020 on the new Blu-rays/4K-Blu-rays/DVDs from Disney. Actually, that was it, otherwise we could not find any differences. Also in terms of colour, the HD versions are almost identical and have not been provided with such extensive new colour grading as it was the case with the original trilogy.

Furthermore, there are no differences in Episode II and III. This is not surprising, considering these films were annoyingly only shot with 1080p digital cameras and no new scans were made here. What was considered state-of-the-art at the time naturally turned out to be a fatal mistake in the long run, since the same source material could only be upscaled for 4K use. After all, a sensible integration of HDR does indeed have an advantage, which has been attested to by various reviews.

 

Runtimes are ordered as follows: Fox Blu-ray 2011 / Disney Blu-ray 2020

The Fox and the Lucasfilm logo are slightly different. In contrast to Episodes IV to VI, the introductory blue font afterwards is identical. The following yellow credits, as usual, have no difference either.

New Blu-ray 0,7 sec longer

Fox Blu-rayDisney Blu-ray / Disney+ / 4K-Blu-ray




26:42 / 26:42

Probably not a real change, but exemplary illustrated: Due to the occasional slightly darkened image, the stars are less clearly visible on the new Blu-ray.

Fox Blu-rayDisney Blu-ray / Disney+ / 4K-Blu-ray




From the 31st minute on, once again, burned-in subtitles in the 4K remaster, just like in the initial theatrical releases. However, only applies to the English version, in other languages the picture remains clean and only player-generated subtitles are shown.

Fox Blu-rayDisney Blu-ray / Disney+ / 4K-Blu-ray




64:48-64:49 / 64:49-64:50

When Anakin repairs his podracer while driving, the magnetic wand was reworked in the second frontal shot. He holds the end here directly into the camera and for the 3D conversion at that time there was probably the intention to present it a bit more stylish.

Fox Blu-rayDisney Blu-ray / Disney+ / 4K-Blu-ray