Confessions of a STAR WARS Virgin: Allison Watches EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE for the First Time

     November 19, 2012


Our daily series where Allison Keene watches the Star Wars movies for the first time. Read her 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).  Hit the jump to explore a slight disturbance in the force.

star-wars-a-new-hope-image-1There 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 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 …

star-wars-movie-posterBottom line: a good stand-alone film that gave me some feelings (a few “you go girls!” to Leia, some cheering when Han returned at the end to help Luke and the rebellion, and some squees 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.

If you missed my previous reviews, here’s The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Episode I: The Phantom Menace.  Look for Episode 2 tomorrow.


Around The Web
  • Anonymous

    I’d just like to start things off by saying fuck Ryan Sternfels before he can spew his usual BS over this site’s pages. That is all.

    • Fiz


      Allison, regarding your stormtrooper question, there was the whole sequence when Han and Luke wore stormtrooper outfits in the film. Would’ve thought that would answer it.

      • Lance

        Here’s what I wonder. After the prequels, are the stormtroopers still supposed to be clones, or not?

      • Matt

        To Lance, I believe some are still clones but a lot of them are recruited non-clones. May be wrong though.

      • Lance

        Thanks for the response, Matt! Wonder why the Emperor stopped using clones…

      • Austin

        Limited supply of clones

    • Ryan

      Way to be Anonymous you pussy.

      • Anonymous

        I’m glad this is all you could come up with. Go back to June Shelton Middle School child.

      • Steve

        Um, isn’t every comment in the “anonymous” section essentially… anonymous?

      • Anonymous

        Thank you. On behalf of all anonymous people here, get to school kid. That was the bell.

      • Ryan

        You took the time to Google where I went to middle school? I’m flattered.

      • Anonymous

        You’re other posts have been through Facebook, which say where you went to school. Now stop, no cell phones in class.

    • Ryan Sternfels

      Why does everyone pick on me? I just love movies. :(

      • Ryan

        Wow seriously?

      • Anonymous

        Excellent. Now we have pitted the two trolls against each other…

  • spider-fan14

    Good review that’s interesting to read from a first time viewer and all but…
    “I expected [Darth Vader's] 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.”

    …wut. It’s ****ing James Earl Jones, his Darth Vader voice is iconic -_-. And thank god he doesn’t sound garbled and incomprehensible like Nolan’s Batman does.

    • Anonymus

      So what, let her have her own opinion? You just liked the voice because you’d never heard a black man speak before.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, she has her opinion, but this is the feedback section, where we give OUR opinions on her opinions… idiot.

      • anonymous

        Again, what rock have you been living under if you dont recognize vader’s voice? Jeez, ‘i expected it to be mix of bane and batman’…. limited-knowledge-about-your-work much?

    • Spanky

      I’ve never much liked his voice in Ep IV, something with the audio mixing.. everything about Darth Vader is perfected in Ep V.. from his voice to his outfit.. they pumped that James Earl Jones bass up high!

      Notice his helmet is all smudged up with finger prints, then in Ep. V it’s all perfectly shiny.. and he just looks more imposing in general

  • Lance

    Glad you enjoyed the movie! The fact it still holds up is a sign it’s a genuine classic, probably.

    Of course, if the movie was released today people would complain the moisture vaporators were technically inaccurate, or something…

  • Anonymus

    I hope Ryan Sternfels doesn’t kill himself because you just said that. Go to hell, on behalf of Ryan Sternfels.

    • Anonymous

      I’m assuming this is sarcasm. Otherwise, you’re new to this site.

  • BK

    Here’s an interesting tidbit regarding Darth Vader’s voice: David Prowse is the actor who was in the costume, and he actually did the dialogue during filming. Problem is, he has a Scottish accent, and when everybody heard him talk, they feared the character would be a joke. George Lucas ended up finding an unknown stage actor named James Earl Jones to provide the voice. The rest is cinematic history.

    • spongefist

      Not Scottish, actually he was from Bristol, … and here comes the amazing bit, he lived just down the road from my Grandad !

      He was also the ‘Green Cross Code’ man, (not my Grandad, but David Prowse) who taught us all when we were young via T.V to look left and right before crossing the road.

      So he was actually a force for good, when not being a Sith Lord… which is nice.

      • BK

        Cool stuff!

      • Alison

        Oh, I remember those Green Cross Code man ads. He was like a mini super hero :)

    • chad vaughn

      “Unknown stage actor”? Jones was already starring in films well before Star Wars

    • JLC

      In fact, by 1977, James Earl Jones had already been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor – The Great White Hope, 1971.

      Fun fact: James Earl Jones made his film debut in Dr. Strangelove.

      • BK

        I did not know that. I stand corrected.

  • Steven Wheeler

    The reason Luke doesn’t cry when he see’s his Aunt and Uncle dead is because he is angry, and anger leads to the dark side. You will understand more when you see the next one.

    • Anthony

      By the way, he doesn’t even know the Jedi code yet.

  • Adam

    Great article, looking forward to the rest of your experiences!

  • James Freud

    Allison, they are human and they all look Temuera Morrison.

    • spider-fan14

      Actually, the clone program was decommissioned at some point after the Clone Wars ended and the Empire started transitioning regular soldiers into the Stormtrooper corps. The 501st Legion was one of the only few Stormtrooper legions to remain completely composed of Fett clones throughout the Empire era.

  • Northern Star

    Great review and welcome to the club Allison, you now have 35 years of obsessive dedication ahead of you; action figures, models, lunchboxes, conventions, prequel rage… ah, it seems like yesterday :-)…

  • ethomson92

    Just want to say that Han did shoot first…he always has

  • Austin

    Haha, the “Han shot first” stuff has to do with the original release vs edits in later releases, not what happened in the exact scene of the version you happened to watch

  • Austin

    Haha, the “Han shot first” stuff has to do with the original release vs edits in later releases, not what happened in the exact scene of the version you happened to watch

    Great review though!!

  • Alfonso

    This is the most infuriating article. How do you accidently watch the special edition? Everyone told you to avoid it like the plague because of all the awful changes. Now you’ve tainted yourself.

    “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 …”

    There is no quibbling about this. Greedo did not shoot first second or third because he didn’t shoot at all. There was only one lazer blast and that was Han’s. Han Solo smuggles drugs across the galaxy do you really think he’s going have reservations about shooting a dirty bounty hunter?

    I think she’s trolling us for page views.

  • Cpt. Hindsight

    In the next one there’s a major plot twist! Screw it, I’m gonna ruin it for u. Bruce Willis is a ghost THE WHOLE TIME!

  • MainFragger

    Its always cool to see someone watch something iconic for the first time. I got to see a new generations of people watch “The Exorcist” when they re-released it, and it was awesome to a see the reactions on all of the teenagers faces..Its still one of the scariest movies ever.

    I agree that its a little sad that you started with the special edition. It was the beginning of Lucas leaving the Light Side of the Force.
    There are quite a few quotes that come from Empire Strikes Back as well, Not so much from Return of the Jedi..
    I will warn you that if you watch the prequal movies JUST after watching the original episodes, you will find they make even less sense than if you’d seen them first. Almost nothing that Empire or Return of the Jedi establishes seems to agree with how the new movies plays out. Watching the new I-III movies is kind of like watching a movie about time paradoxes where you have a sense that somehow the past has been changed…

  • PhillB

    I like this post because it reminded me how I felt the first time I saw it (I was barely 10 and it really made a mark on me). The movie is extremely well executed. An instant classic, but I would totally suggest you, Allison, to watch the unaltered version. There will be time to watch re-mastered [special edition] stuff. And look forward to Episode V, it’s the epitome of the Star Wars narrative.

  • Kondorr

    Nice read… am waiting for the other ones :)

  • Chindogu

    Alec Guinness, luminescence on screen. Funny stuff. ;)

    If you enjoyed Ep. IV you’re going to love Empire.

  • Aidoooh

    So excited for you…Empire Strikes Back IS THE GREATEST FILM OF THEM ALL!

    • abs

      I concur.

  • Star Wars

    This is absurd. You poor ignoramus.
    You sound completely and utterly stupid when you right this.

    Please, do not write any more.

    • tarek

      You are write. Nobody will right this anymore.
      signed: Human Right watch

  • Mez

    Great to hear you enjoyed it! :D

  • Kenny B

    I’ve heard about watching Star wars in a goofy order… New Hope, Phantom, Clone, Empire, Sith, Jedi……….. But it makes a lot of sense, especially to first time viewers. Highly recommended.

  • Marlboroliteman

    Luke didn’t react to his aunt an uncle’s murder because he had to keep his pimp hand strong in front of Ben and the droids.

  • ZAR

    Ah, memories. My first time with Star Wars… 1979! Not the first release but the re-run.

    Our oldest cinema in town, smelling of wood and floor polish. An entry fee of 4,50 (front rows 1-7) – unimaginable today. And then the curtains opening… (yep, it still had those).

    What did I expect? Well, the pictures looked… colourful. Not easy to say, not easy to remember to be honest.

    First impressions? Regarding the score I expected something along the lines of… disco music. Not a classical score to hit me. But awesome! That star destroyer coming from above, fantastic. Laser battles in space were always my favorite ones. And those costumes and weapons. And Darth Vader with his VOICE. And him squeezing the life out of the captain. Not for children, definitely.

    And the rest? Well, it’s blurry for I’ve seen this movie for at least 50 times. But one thing I remember very clearly from 1979… Han shot first! And when he’s leaving before the death star run begins, you (or better me at age 12+) don’t expect him to come back to save the day. Which he did. :)

    After the movie was before the movie. But this one I watched only once in the cinema (before 1997). No more pocket money. Whereas Empire, I watched 4 times. 1980… snow in the movie, snow outside the cinema, a perfect match! :)

    Am I getting old? Yep. Sure as hell.

  • tarek

    Luke didn’t cry because he was glad not to stay another season for the harvest.


    He lives in a desert. So any drop of tear wasted is forbidden.


    George Lucas is a very bad director.

  • tarek

    what made me watch more than 100 times Episode IV was the charisma of Sir Alec Guinness, and the sublime music of John Williams.

    Episode IV is the best of the original trilogy with no contest. followed by Empire strikes back.

    What followed after was a waste of celluloid. Setting aside the fabulous music of John Williams.

    • abs

      John Williams is the man !

  • HeSaidSheSaidMv

    Darth Vader’s voice was disappointing? smh.

    • PhillB

      Darth Vader’s voice punches Bale Batman’s voice any day.

  • SethR

    Terrible experiment. Please stop while you’re ahead. I actually think her’s is better ->

  • SethR

    Puke. I actually think this is better –

  • SethR

    Okay, seriously though, the fact that you’ve gone 20+ (I assume) years without hearing Vader’s voice is just amazing. Where do you get these people?

    • Cahoot

      lol. I thought the same thing.

  • Caleb The Awesome

    Great article. It was great to think about this movie through your eyes, since I’ve seen it like a million times on my own. Looking forward to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!

  • Caleb The Awesome

    Great article. It was great to think about this movie through your eyes, since I\’ve seen it like a million times on my own. Looking forward to EMPIRE STRIKES BACK!

  • Anthony

    What about the music? You haven’t said anything about it and in my opinion it’s quite an important point. Without John Williams soundtrack, I’m not sure the movies would be as fantastic as they are.

    • abs

      Totally agree with you. Its the best thing to come out of Star Wars. I regularly listen to the soundtracks.

  • abs

    I’m glad you enjoyed Star Wars. You’ll definitely enjoy Empire Strikes Back.
    Try and watch it in surround sound with the volume cranked up, it will add a whole new dimension.

    After you’ve seen Return of the Jedi, STOP! just ignore the prequels. Or if you must see the prequels wait another 20 years before watching them. Don’t spoil these fond memories. You have been warned.

    BTW that kid at the very end of Return of the Jedi, just pretend that Luke knows who he is.

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  • Kelly

    This was such a refreshing, positive review! Thank you!
    I honestly don’t think it matters if you see the Special Editions or the originals, because the story is the same.

    I loved hearing your thoughts on the various characters.

  • bored

    Thanks for the spoiler alert!

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  • Rej

    ” was curious to know what made the Empire so evil that it made people want to rebel ”. All empires are evil. You cannot become an empire without land (in this case planets) markets, exploited labor, oppressive policy and monopolistic tendencies. All empires start out as fledgeling fiefdoms, kingdoms, or small republics.
    For example an enforced monopoly would necessarily create a black market and furnish men like Han Solo, a selfish smuggler. These characteristcs of empires, inherently unjust, will foster perpetual pockets of insurrection and outright rebellion always in need of new champions and would-be heroes (Luke , Leia and gang).

    Also this franchise spans millenia, And ”the force” has characteristics of world religions, so all this abounds in, and is dripping with storytelling possibilities for talented writers. For example after a successful rebellion how does the gang establish the rule of law? keep the populace productive? what form of government should they have? Is the Jedi order good for the society the fought to have? and best of all, how do they avoid becoming an Empire themselves? Mr. Lucas showed an insightful understanding of our current human condition and rendered it on a galactic scale. Let me stop now before I write my own column.

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