STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed, by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:
- ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
- EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
- EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
- EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
- EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
- EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
- EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!
So fun fact about my history with Star Wars, I actually didn’t see A NEW HOPE until the 1997 Special Edition releases. Even to this day, I’ve never technically seen the very first original releases, which is such a shame in my opinion, knowing that the Special Edition, the subsequent DVD, and eventual Blu-Ray releases are my definitive Star Wars experiences. Having said that, I do know some of the changes. For example, the scene with Han Solo talking to Jabba the Hut was never in the original version. It was a cut scene featuring a dude in a fur coat or whatever. Also, I’m pretty sure the new editions have Luke’s lightsaber actually blue, as opposed to the original white. Regardless, I hate that we’ll never get the original cuts on Blu-Ray, but I guess that’s life.
In case you were wondering, I haven’t done a “special review” of ROGUE ONE. This is because I’ve already reviewed it. No duh. So I’ll quickly go over why I think if you’re going to watch the movies in my order and why ROGUE ONE is the movie that you should start with. Mostly, I think anywhere else would make it an awkward placement. In retrospect, it sets up A NEW HOPE rather perfectly and flows quite nicely since the two films don’t take place too far from each other, timeline-wise. ROGUE ONE doesn’t have too many prequel references, if any, so there’s no risk of anything being spoiled in later films. It keeps itself quite self-contained, there’s no Jedi, it strictly focuses on the war between the Rebels and the Empire, which is mostly the focus of A NEW HOPE, just with characters that we’re destined to follow. I don’t like that A NEW HOPE isn’t the first movie, but while adults may be bummed, kids who will be watching these won’t know the difference.
Anyway, onward to this film.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mark Hamill (BRIGSBY BEAR , BATTLE FOR TERRA , VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED , and the upcoming CON MAN ), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 , FIREWALL , AIR FORCE ONE , and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones film ), Carrie Fisher (FANBOYS , WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… , TV show FAMILY GUY [1998 – ongoing], and the upcoming WONDERWELL ), Alec Guinness (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA , THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI , and 7 episodes of TV show TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY ), and playing the iconic Darth Vader, David Prowse (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE ) and voicing Vader, James Earl Jones (THE LION KING , FIELD OF DREAMS , EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC , DR. STRANGELOVE , 4 episodes TV show STAR WARS: REBELS [2014 – ongoing], and the upcoming THE LION KING ). In support, we have Peter Cushing (THE MUMMY ), Anthony Daniels (THE LORD OF THE RINGS  and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 ), Kenny Baker (THE KING AND I , AMADEUS , and FLASH GORDON ), and Peter Mayhew (EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and 1 episode of THE MUPPET SHOW [1976 – 1981]).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is George Lucas, known for EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, and AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). Composing the score is the living legend, John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MUNICH (2005), AMISTAD (1997), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and the untitled Indiana Jones movie. Finally, the cinematographer is Gilbert Taylor, known for FLASH GORDON (1980), THE OMEN (1976), and DR. STRANGELOVE.
This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE
Set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The evil Galactic Empire just lost the plans to their ultimate planet destroying weapon, the Death Star. Hiding the plans in a little robot droid named R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), he and his robot companion C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has been attacked by the nefarious Darth Vader and the droids escape to a desert planet where they arrive at a farm and meet young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who decides to help them look for the for an old ally of the Rebels known as Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), who may be a great help to the Rebels.
Surprised? The movie holds up hilariously well. And I really do mean that.
It’s a sad day in Disneyland when you realize that a vast majority of the miniatures used in 1977 look infinitely better than a majority of the computer generated imagery of 2017. Seriously, the art and visual effects department would be laughing their collective butts off if they knew what they created. And if I remember correctly, they were worried it’d look too fake.
Well, to be fair, they weren’t always wrong. Weirdly enough, it’s only when things explode that it looks fake. When ships are just flying by the camera and firing at each other with no visible damage being done to the ships in question, they look amazing. I’m basically referring to the opening scene between the Tantive IV and the Star Destroyer right after the opening text crawl. Like I said, flying past the camera, looks amazing. But as soon as the Tantive IV explodes, well… because we’ve seen many sci-fi space films in the last forty years try to portray physics in space, and many succeed to the point of being scientifically accurate, the explosions are just obviously not… real. As far as space physics are concerned, if that makes sense. But hey, it’s the late 70’s. It’s hard to be upset about something that the technology at the time wouldn’t be able to pull off well. In any case, one can still admire that the explosions themselves are real and not CG.
Beyond that, what else do we have? Quite a bit, so let’s get to listing.
Luke Skywalker, hell of a name, even to this day. Quick story, I had a theater class in high school and we were playing an improv game. I forget the specifics, but basically someone shouted from the audience, “Luke, look! It’s a skywalker!” A clumsy exclamation, to be sure, but the student in question immediately responded with, “What, is it Star Wars? I’ve never seen the movies.” First off, BLASPHEMY!!! How do you live in the modern age, surrounded by television and not seen Star Wars?! Second, what an extraordinary testament to the influence of this franchise that even people who haven’t seen the films will know where it comes from. It’s like the original jingle to the Super Mario game. Everyone knows it. it’s just that iconic. Having said that, it’s just a shame that Luke is a pretty whiny character. “But I was going to the Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” “You bet I could, I’m not such a bad pilot myself!” “Well why don’t you outrun ’em? I thought you said this thing was fast!” Yeah, I love Hamill, believe me, I LOVE Hamill, but Luke was more akin to a child than a young adult. Thankfully, it eventually runs its course, particularly after the Death Star.
Han Solo. Can someone explain to me why everyone cares who shot first? Like… who gives a @#$%? Even Harrison Ford didn’t give a crap! (skip to the 2:00 mark)
I’m pretty sure people only ask at this point because his reaction is so hilarious. Anyway, Han’s a jerk. But you know what? He made it look fun and cool before Robert Downey Jr. did, so don’t forget that. He’s no hero, but he’s honest about it. He charges extra to avoid Imperial entanglements, he doesn’t want to save Princess Leia (bet he’s grateful that he ultimately did, as he got to boink her later on), even says to her face that he doesn’t care about her or the Rebellion and coldly tells her that expects to be well paid for his actions. What an ass! But still, he’s not without his redemption. On the one hand, he does show concern, and he it’s not like his quips aren’t funny. “Look, your Worshipfulness.” Still cracks me up.
Anyone else think that Princess Leia was ahead of her time? I mean, she’s kind of bad-ass, she’s just as wise-cracky as Han, and plus, her wickedly cool hair style. Ugh, no one else will ever wear anything that she wore better than Fisher. It’s always the ones we love, never the ones we hate. Sure, the random British accent was odd, and sure she’s not given the best lines, but you know what, she made it work! Fisher did wonders with her character.
Maybe that’s the best way to describe the characters of A NEW HOPE. They’re simple, no real depth, but they’re distinguishable, and the actors are so charismatic and charming that the characters just work. In a way, that actually best describes the film as a whole: simple, yet functional.
Now, is that to say the movie is without flaws? Eh, no. A part of the reason it sort of bums me out that the prequels were so thrashed for their problems, few people ever acknowledge that those same problems existed here too. The bad dialog, the sub-par direction, it’s all present.
Seriously, what’s that Imperial Officer on the right doing? He was literally given an order and he just stands there, watching Vader talk to himself. Look, for all intents and purposes, the reason why a lot of the flaws are overlooked is because there was a simplicity to the story and the actors were charmingly simple as well, plus the ground-breaking visuals for the time (and even today, lets face it) were only magnified in the prequels because the charm wasn’t there, the story was far too convoluted, and the visuals were a little too in our faces. In retrospect, the movie was lucky to have so much working for it that no one really cared about the flaws. Regardless, the flaws are there.
The truth is though, A NEW HOPE is a timeless film that stretches the imagination, creating something that not only revived a genre that wasn’t doing well at the time, but made it so popular that it’s still in demand to this day. It’s legacy isn’t just felt, it’s the standard and for damn good reason. Iconic characters, visuals, that music that will never leave our heads, it’s an incredible experience that I think anyone and everyone can enjoy.
My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE: 5/5