September 18, 2016 – George Lucas has often been pilloried for editing special effects, altering or removing minor characters, and sometimes even changing scenes (“Han shot first!”) years or even decades after a Star Wars movie has come out.
One key change for the better, which most fans seem to appreciate, is replacing the puppet Yoda in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). For the Blu-ray release in 2011, Lucasfilm inserted a CGI Yoda.
Watch the video comparison below and see if the computer-generated Yoda doesn’t look more true to form in terms of coloring, head shape, and facial expressions.
If there is a criticism with the CGI Yoda, it may be that the replacement looks too serious and frustrated all the time. For example, during the victory parade (cue to 05:54) Yoda looks far too concerned. Whatever happened to the levity and occasionally joyful Yoda we first glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back?
The other criticism may be that the CGI Yoda is not supposed to look like the Yoda from Empire. The Phantom Menace is a prequel, which occurs roughly 50 years before the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Therefore, prequel Yoda should appear somewhat different.
On the other hand, for the super long-lived Yoda (“When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not.”), a difference of 50 years in his appearance may not have noticeably changed his appearance.
Of course this discussion, and the great angst it causes Star Wars‘ legions of fans, would never occur if George Lucas would just leave things alone.