Anyone who is desperately craving copies of all of the Star Wars movies on DVD should look over the options available and think about what they want, because at this point there are good commercial copies of all six movies readily available. The discs that we have finally received from Fox prove that LucasFilm does at least provide high quality audio and video as well as some good extras, when they finally get around to releasing a title on DVD. The original trilogy's 2004 DVD release, reviewed below, makes any SE bootleg irrelevent, just as the Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith discs did in 2001, 2002, and 2005. I've retained reviews of the Phantom Menace and SE trilogy bootlegs just for the sake of amusement at this point, even though I don't recommend wasting your time on any prequel or Special Edition bootlegs. Bootleg activity continued beyond 2004, however, solely because of the changes made by Lucas to the original trilogy for the 1997 Special Edition re-release and the subsequent changes for the 2004 DVD's. Fans' desire to have a digital archive of the original theatrical versions of the trilogy led to a strong interest in bootlegs based on the 1993 or 1995 LaserDisc releases. By the time the Limited Edition discs arrived, those bootlegs had gotten surprisingly sophisticated, so I've left my reviews of those discs in place along with the reviews of the official releases. Links to each page are available below and are reproduced at the top of each review.
The November 2002 DVD release rush is over. By the middle of the month, Spider-Man, Band of Brothers, Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition, and Attack of the Clones had all hit store shelves, along with the sixth season of X-Files and several other titles. Arriving on the same day as the Extended Edition of Fellowship of the Ring, Attack of the Clones takes the format established by Phantom Menace in 2001 and reuses it. That's certainly not a bad thing, as Phantom Menace was a very impressive disc.
This isn't a very long review, as the reviews of Attack of the Clones are already numerous and clearly positive. As I mentioned in my review of Phantom Menace, the reported artifacts and edge enhancements on that disc were not apparent on my 27" set. On the same set, Attack of the Clones looks even better than Phantom Menace did. Definitely an excellent transfer. The Dolby Digital EX soundtrack is likewise excellent. There were a few comments at Home Theater Forum that the soundtrack's LFE track was "cooked" similarly to the theatrical cut DVD of Fellowship of the Ring's exceedingly bass-heavy LFE. Using an SVS 25-31PCi subwoofer calibrated with a sound meter, I found the track to be very well balanced. It is worth noting that the people objecting to the track were primarily (or perhaps exclusively) using unpowered subwoofers, typically SVS CS subs, which may be related. Whatever the case, I was very pleased with the audio and video quality of the disc.
I have gone through many of the extras on disc two of the set, and they are certainly as excellently done as those on the Episode I DVD set. The deleted scenes provided some extra back-story to the development of the relationship between Padme and Anakin, as well as some of Padme's motivations and history, but they were somewhat slow and certainly would have hurt the pace of the movie had they been left in. Anyone hoping for extra action from the deleted scenes may be disappointed. It's great fun to check out the theatrical trailers again, but many of the TV spots were just sort of bad (albiet still with good transfers).
As with the Phantom Menace discs, there are a couple easter eggs included on the set, and at a friend's request I'm adding them to the review. First, you can select which of the three menus you get when loading the movie disc: press "1", "2", or "3" during the FBI warning screen to choose which menu scheme is used ("1" is Coruscant, "2" is Kamino, and "3" is Geonosis). An outtakes is hidden in the "Options" menu; it can be accessed by pressing either "11" or "10+" and "1", waiting for a pause, then "3" followed by a pause, and then "8". There are also a few goodies tucked away on the bonus disc. First, there are images of the flyers from the Star Wars Want-Ads college campaign, which can be accessed from "Still Galleries" menu in Dex's Kitchen. Once in the Dex's Kitchen menu, select "Main Menu" and then move the cursor to the left to highlight a small flyer on the wall behind Dex and press "Enter". There are also some CGI animation outtakes in the credits of the "State of the Art: The Previsualization of Episode II" documentary; to see these, just wait for the credits to run past.
Bottom line: While I would still like to get my hands on DVD's of the original trilogy in Dolby Digital EX with anamorphic transfers (and of course the original theatrical cuts as well as the Special Edition versions), Attack of the Clones offers an entertaining and enjoyable viewing treat during the long wait for Episode III and the original trilogy DVD's. In addition to being a better movie than Phantom Menace (even with the bits of cumbersome dialog), it is presented in fabulous quality on the DVD.
Specifications for Episode II: Attack of the Clones