In honor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ release, we’re re-running our series from 2012 when I watched the Star Wars movies for the first time. Read my intro/explanation here.
First of all, I can see why A New Hope was a surprise hit. Though there’s a great amount of world-building that could leave room for prequels and a satisfying, but still open ending that could pave the way (and obviously did) for sequels, the core story is both compelling and entertaining, and introduces a cast of instantly likable characters. There’s something strange too about how even the non-human elements (the droids) and alien forms (the Jawas) are kinda, well, cute with their bleeps and blips and bloops. There’s a little something in A New Hope for everyone, and I found it to be a pleasant surprise (admittedly I came to it with haughty reservations).
There are a few missteps, like pre-Obi-Wan Luke who looks 20 but acts 11, and who is particularly petulant in between playing with model airplanes. But after he finds his purpose, that clears up and Mark Hamill plays him just right from there on out. It was shame, too, to lose Alec Guinness so early (or does he return? Don’t tell me!) because he was a luminescence on screen. And it bothered me — and probably just me — but are the Stormtroopers human? I really, really wanted them to take off their masks. Just one. Maybe they will in the future. The fact that I even care proves in some way that there’s something intangibly magnetic about the film that’s difficult to really describe. I liked the other alien life forms, too, even though they were essentially just humans with weird masks, and I was curious to know what made the Empire so evil that it made people want to rebel (you know, aside from their penchant for blowing up planets here and there).
As for the technical aspects, apparently I accidentally watched one of the special editions instead of the theatrical release, which added in some random CGI creatures (including a CGI Jabba which was odd, I was expecting a muppet of some kind). It wasn’t distracting, just confusing, since I know those graphics obviously weren’t possible in their own day or they would have been used elsewhere. I didn’t find anything about the original graphics unfortunate, though. They’re dated, sure, but not in a way that detracts from the film in any significant way. And as for whether Han shot first, well, I think it was simultaneous. At least, that’s how I read it as my first reaction …
Bottom line: A good stand-alone film that gave me some feelings (a few girl-power cheers to Leia, some more cheering when Han returned at the end to help Luke and the rebellion, and some so-cute-I-can’t whenever R2 more or less did anything), and I’m quite looking forward to Episode V.
Episode IV Roundup:
Favorite Character(s): C-3PO, R2-D2, Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Leia
Least Favorite Character(s): None, everyone was cool by me.
A-ha! Moment: I was floored by how many pop culture references come out of this movie alone, are there any in the other movies? “These are not the droids you are looking for,” “a great disturbance in the Force,” “may the Force be with you,” “the Force is strong with this one,” etc.
WTF? Moment: I think I’ve always conceived of Darth Vader as being some all-powerful evil villain, and to see him just hanging around the council, running his own errands and in fact getting in a fighter jet to go out on an attack run himself confused me greatly. Doesn’t he have minions for that sort of thing? Also I expected his voice to sound like something in between Christian Bale‘s Batman and Tom Hardy‘s Bane, but he was quite normal, which disappointed me a bit.
What worked best: The rich world-building, with lots of backstory to help flesh out the characters. Also, strong personalities and pairings (C-3PO and R2-D2, Han Solo and Chewbacca). Introducing the characters slowly was good, too, and not overwhelming, yet as they came together they gelled well together.
What didn’t work: It was almost laughable how Luke didn’t react all to the murder of his aunt and uncle, and also barely to the death (well … the bodily death) of Obi-Wan Kenobi. I know there really wasn’t time but still, not even a tear?
Best Quotes: Everything C-3PO said, he’s great.
Tomorrow: Episode V.