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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was a significant part of the childhood of almost every American born in the later third of the 20th century. This doesn't change the fact that Mark Hamil's acting is simply terrible and the action scenes are simply atrocious. There is no explanation as to why the Storm Troopers cannot aim their guns to save their lives. I don't understand why Obiwan is considered a crazy hermit, when the uncle knew him to be a Jedi knight. I still don't get the flashing lights and buttons on Darth's chest, why didn't Obiwan just use his force powers to switch off the power on the jump suit. Also it is supposed to be about twenty years from episode 3 to episode 4 but Obiwan ages like 40 years. Whats up with that? That whole suicide by Vader thing is incredibly lame, too. Don't get me wrong parts of the movie were absolutely brilliant (esp. acting by Harrison Ford), but it definitely leaves a lot to be desired.
I don't think there's any denying that Star Wars changed cinema history
and deservedly so. At the time of its release, science-fiction was
considered a dead genre with the only major films from Hollywood's
recent cannon being the work from Stanley Kubrick and cheesy, yet still
fun flicks like Logan's Run. Yet, no other futuristic movie wowed more
than George Lucas's space opera. From that infamous opening scroll,
featuring that amazing heart-pumping score, to the end credits, people
were gripped and hoping their heroes that had grown to know those two
previous hours could come out alive. While, George Lucas did give his
Jedi knights more adventures, I don't think any of those sequels and
certainly not the prequels have managed to come close to the original
Star Wars that practically defined the baby boom generation. Watching
the film again recently, I am still impressed by the awesome power of
the movie and the fact that even after thirty years after its release,
it gets me more excited than the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Sorry,
Michael Bay, but you're no George Lucas, that's for certain.
After two droids crash-land on the desert planet of Tatooine, they are immediately captured and sold to a young farm boy called Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who desperately wants to leave the rock he lives on with his aunt and uncle. While fixing one of the droids, he finds a message from Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), requesting the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness). Luke finds Kenobi, a hermit living in the mountains, who tells Luke of his family history. His father was a Jedi knight, killed by the evil Darth Vader and now Kenobi decides it is time to teach him the way of the Force. After Luke finds his family's home destroyed by stormtroopers looking for the two droids, they decide to find their way to another planet. They enlist the help of space pirate Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who decides to give them a lift. On the way, they find the Death Star, a giant space station run by Darth Vader, with the ability to destroy any planet of the solar system. Now, they must enter the Death Star, find and rescue the Princess and destroy the station before it produces anymore harm.
George Lucas has been criticised for his so-called lack of direction and screen writing abilities, but I don't think most people can deny that Star Wars packs a mean punch in terms of solid entertainment. While Star Wars is playing, all eyes are on the screen savouring every delicious moment, whether it be a fantastic lightsaber duel or a quiet scene between Luke and Obi-Wan. The visual effects (including those in the special editions) are seriously some of the best in motion picture history as they manage to make the viewer believe they're in space, surrounded by various creatures and flying ships. Lucas has gotten a lot of negative criticism for the fact that he believes that the updated version of Star Wars is the ultimate way to see the film, but I don't mind. The special effects are better and they certainly do add to the experience. Greedo shooting first? It's such a quick, minor scene that goes by at such a fast rate, that I don't really mind. I understand where the die-hard fans are coming from, but for the casual viewer, it's practically nothing. Adding to the impressive technical delight of Star Wars as well is John Williams's magnificent score, the best in any Hollywood film. I seriously don't think the film would be as highly regarded as it is, if it wasn't for the fantastic music. I seriously would probably enjoy the film even less without it.
Yet, I think the lasting appeal of Star Wars has to be the characters. Every child growing up wants to be like Luke Skywalker, the young Jedi who just wants to save the universe from possible destruction. Meanwhile, the older folks in the audience have the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi to relate and as Yoda shows in the other five films, that old age does not remove one of their abilities. Han Solo represents the coolness of Star Wars and Harrison Ford plays him with enough spunk and gusto to warrant what might be a minor character as a personal favourite of mine. And then, there's Darth Vader, the most famous character and the most chilling villain of the 20th century. James Earl Jones will always be connected with with this constantly breathing menace with a past of many hidden secrets. Even the stormtroopers tremble in his wake, for fear that he will force-choke them to death. With thrilling action, impressive visuals, lovable and both frightening characters and a world full of fascination and adventure, it's hard to go wrong with Star Wars, the epic journey of our hearts and inner wants.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is no denying that this film was the start of something big, and
you cannot take away from it the fact that it changed the face of the
sci-fi genre, maybe even the whole film industry, in to what it is
today. For its time, the effects, story, characters and detail in this
film are are beyond exemplary. Most action and sci-fi films aim to be
compared to star wars, a feat that is rare and, in my opinion, has only
been achieved by Terminator 1 and 2, the lord of the rings trilogy and
marvels: the avengers.
A new hope works brilliantly as a first chapter to a saga, however, I feel that it works better as a stand alone film. Unlike many films that are a 'first part', it has a beginning, middle and end, tells everything that needs to be told and leaves the characters in a satisfying place. I feel that having seen the prequels does not diminish anything about this film like it does to episodes five and six.
The only problem that I have is that the original theatrical release doesn't really exist anymore, you can only really get the version that has been tinkered with by Lucas to put needless CGI extras in. This is the original and best of the star wars saga, however i do feel that many people see this through rose tinted glasses and will not see any faults in any of the three original films, even though they are happy to say that the three prequels do not exist as far as they are concerned. Awesome film, great legacy, and now that Disney has the rights away from Lucas, a great future too.
The ingredients that made Star Wars a revolution at its time of release
are clearly noticeable, without a doubt, but the visual encapsulation
of this epic space opera has aged very badly & today looks like an
unintentionally funny (or stupid) ride than a masterpiece adventure.
Still, there is no denying that Star Wars is a cinematic feat of
imagination, fantasy & creativity that hypnotized an entire generation
with its freshly envisioned & awe-inspiring world, gripping story,
first-rate adventure, celebrated characters & legendary score.
Set in a galaxy far, far away... Star Wars lifts the plot structure from Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress and presents a time period in which a civil war has broken out between the evil Galactic Empire & the Rebels. It tells the story of Luke Skywalker who joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee & two droids to save the universe from the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star which is capable of destroying an entire planet, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil lord, Darth Vader.
The film may not look as dazzling & groundbreaking today as it was during its time but its vast influences can be seen in plethora of sci-fi space features that came after it. Nicely crafted by George Lucas from scratch & featuring sweeping visual effects, the outer surface of Star Wars may have degraded over time but the core still hasn't aged a day, resulting in it making an impact in the sci-fi genre, blockbuster filmmaking & marketing even today and will continue to do so for a few more decades.
George Lucas' Star Wars is a project unlike one I've seen before, as
cliché and as empty as that statement might sound. It's a monumental
achievement in the cinematic world, arguably the biggest one ever, that
pioneered special effects work and accommodated for other
science-fiction projects to follow in the next decades. When released
in 1977, with sufficient hype and outstanding reviews, it was a
movie-going experience; thousands of showings were sold out (something
you never hear about anymore), universal audiences were captivated,
cultists and enthusiasts were born, and the eye-popping technology was
cherished and admired by many.
Watching Star Wars today (now called Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope with the release of the three prequels), there is still a uniquely affecting vibe that it sends with its compelling visuals and wonderfully articulated characters. It's over thirty years old, but it effectively holds the torch that makes it timeless. No matter how far technology progresses, and even with the onset of computer-animation and a heavy reliance on digital cinema, the look and beauty of Star Wars will likely never die out.
Since it appears that everyone has seen the Star Wars movies except for myself, I will spare you the boredom of hearing the plot reiterated for the umpteenth time. Besides, I'm not sure if I could explain it accurately. The film is fast-paced, dynamic, and just works so competently, that after a while, I began to dissolve any questions I had about the plot and just go along for the ride. Consistent readers know what I think of constant cinematic evaluations, and that I find them to often be without a reward and potentially lethal to the likability of a film. Things happen in Star Wars; crazy things, logical things, smart things, frightening things, but above all, enthralling things.
Speaking of enthralling things, I must admit how often I felt tension build and suspense become prevalent during the course of this film. For one thing, it's blatantly obvious to people who haven't even seen the series that these characters will make it (hence the two sequels). Yet, during several sequences, I found myself tense and extremely worried for these characters (most notably the scene in the trash chute). When a film can make you fear when you know the outcome is when you know true filmmaking tactics are at hand.
Something I have notice happen with older science-fiction films is that one of their downsides is their length due to their special effects showcase. Let me explain; Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a visual marvel when it first came out, but its story was extended out about twenty-five minutes longer than it needed to be because they were showcasing the technology, which was breathtaking at the time. It appears, too, that many fans even recall this fact with a bit of sourness, which is why when people refer to the "original trilogy" of the Star Trek films, they usually mean the second film through the fourth one. Star Wars doesn't bear that same quality; it doesn't need to turn the story into a methodical plod just to show off its creative design and visuals. It doesn't feel like a showcase. We get a perfect feel for the environment without having to stare at for an upwards of five minutes.
One thing that disheartens me greatly about this series is how controversial it has become. With numerous releases on DVD, and a new one on Blu-Ray, to my knowledge, the only original cuts of the Star Wars films you can see are on the Laserdisc/VHS versions. Because of this, fans have found themselves lambasting decisions made by Lucas, criticizing all the changes he has made to the series on the new releases of the DVDs, his re-releases of the movies in theaters, and lucrative branding/licensing of the figures in the money that, in 2013, continue to flood the store aisles of a Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us near you. I believe that's one of the contributing reasons to why I never saw or even felt like seeing the original films until now; I felt alienated and bullied, with the series seemingly shoving itself down my throat.
On a final note, another impressive element is the charisma and talent of a young Mark Hamill, portraying no one else but Luke Skywalker. Hamill seems like the kind of guy who, after breaking out in Lucas' trilogy of films, would have gone on to do unprecedented projects, but alas, no. Hamill has only acted in either small roles or cameos in films, and hasn't really worked on any other mainstream picture aside from the Star Wars trilogy. While this fact is slightly depressing, as one can only imagine what he could've done, it's fortunate we weren't burdened of seeing him in anything atrocious.
Star Wars is, in short, an incorruptible masterpiece on film. A film that launched the genre of science fiction, propelling films about outer space to unheard of heights. It's just incredibly unfortunate to see what dismal treatment it, and its fans, have had to endure since its release.
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. Directed by: George Lucas.
How many influences did Lucas bring together for the first truly big
sci-fi (ish) box office smash? Classic Samurai films, Edgar Rice
Burroughs, Buck Rodgers. He took a clash of the greatest adventures of
the first half of the twentieth century and brought them all into a
single, sublime movie.
Read/seen/played a kid with his parents/guardians murdered by the bad guys? Or a slightly mysterious/wise/cooky old teacher to teach the protagonist the "ways" of whatever? Or perhaps a grinning, sarcastic buddy that gets the protagonist out of trouble? Odds are if it was made sometime past 1977 you have Star Wars to thank for that.
Heck, the very idea of background characters being named and rising to prominence is thanks to this movie. Or more specifically thanks to the toys eventually born out of it. Lucas negotiated the toy and merchandising rights and went right to work putting out every character there was, and since they had to have names in order to sell they were given names. Thus birthing the idea that characters once thought totally unimportant might be more than they seemed for fans of an IP.
Oh, and as for the movie itself? One of the best scored movies in history, there might not be another movie in history with music more easily or widely recognizable than Star Wars. It was also written in a way so easy to wrap your head around that much of the dialogue can be recognized even by people that have seen it maybe once or twice.
But the biggest claim I would make for the original Star Wars is that its the best edited and paced movie in history. Every movie study and screenplay writing example I've seen (and having taken college classes, and seen quite a few I have wide sample) has the original Star Wars as its perfect example of how to pace a movie. If you want to look for the perfect example of "the roller-coaster" of movie excitement, rising action spaced out with occasional dips, rising to a peak and then falling as the story ends are tied together; well, you're going to find its the original Star Wars.
Like with any category of product or scientific field, forms of entertainment have things that shove them forward, that innumerable people after the fact owe a lot too. "Standing on the shoulders of giants" as it were. And Star Wars is one such thing, a giant of entertainment that so many works after it have stood upon to reach for their own heights.
But even more important than that, it's just a damned fun movie. I've seen it more times than I care to admit. And yet even years later, years after the rabid Star Wars fanhood of my preteens has long faded, after I've grown bored and have little interest in seeing most any movie a second time I can still watch the original Star Wars and by the end have a huge grin on my face.
Before there was a trilogy, before there were prequels, before there
was an expanded universe with hundreds of books, comics and video
games, before Greedo shot first and before Jar Jar Bink was a speck of
light in George Lucas' eye, there was Star Wars. Even if it's not the
best film in the series (it's not), Star Wars deserves its own place in
the history of cinema, as a work that changed Hollywood forever. It
brought back the grandness of the epic cinema of the 30's and 40's and
multiplied it, creating a new era of spectacle and excitement.
Unlike the rest of the films, there's absolutely no need for an expanded universe or a complete saga to appreciate the original Star Wars by its own right. It's a complete tale, a classic saga that takes its queues from historical epics, samurai films and serials, and contains every aspect of the timeless hero's journey. The fact that it takes place 'in a galaxy far, far away' is trivial - though it did help the film have a bigger impact.
Star Wars has very little to do with science fiction; not much of the science in it makes any sense, it might as well be magic. But that's what made it so powerful, and what made the prequels - that tried to explain everything away - so disappointing. Luke Skywalker's story is a classic story of the simple farm-boy who leaves his home and becomes a hero, and for that reason exactly it's timeless, and resonates with audiences even now.
Now go see The Empire Strikes Back.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George Lucas spent four years developing and working on the galactic fantasy Star Wars. This was after he directed the dystopian science-fiction film THX 1138 (1971) and the rites-of-passage American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars was inspired by the Flash Gordon cartoon strip. It cost $8 million to make in Britain with three little-known Americans in the leading roles, supported by British actors. The story is a simple adventure yarn, and Lucas draws on samurai films, Westerns and every kind of myth, ancient and modern. The dogfights are based on a close study of World War II films. Star Wars was an immediate success. It became one of the great phenomena of cinematic history. It spawned two sequels, three prequels and endless imitators, creating a demand for spectacular blockbusters that has not yet ended. Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects unit that served the film, became a multi-billion dollar organization. Lucas himself also became and has remained one of Hollywood's most powerful figures. The film certainly struck a nerve in an America recovering from the humiliations of the Vietnam war. Ronald Reagan, elected president three years after Star Wars was made, spoke of the Soviet Union as 'the Evil Empire' and gave his proposed space-defense system the title Star Wars. The original Star Wars trilogy contributed to the worldwide renewal of the filmgoing habit, but in creating an appetite for child-like blockbusters that depend on special effects rather than on character and subtle narrative, the film unfortunately played a key role in what was to be called 'the dumbing down' of America and popular culture.
I grew up behind the iron curtain in Hungary. We hardly had the chance
to see Western movies. I was 8 when I saw it, in 1982. I remember we
were late from the movie (I went with my brother and grandmother) and
we arrived to our seats when R2D2 was trying to find a way out from the
icy base of the rebells on Hoth.
I started to watch the film in awe, as I have never seem anything like it in my life. It's difficult to describe what impacts it gave me. Yes, on first level the special vision complex of the movie, the freedom fight against dictatorship, the novel landscapes and then the modern technology, but also the Asian (Buddhist, New Age) philosophy, that I had never encounter until then.
I couldn't get out of its spell for several years. (I think I was in love with Han Solo for several years, too.) And with the movie - even now.
Thanks Gorge Lucas and the Hungarian Distributor, who dared to bring it it in!
After seeing the latest and last Star Wars (Episode 3), I wondered if the first was as good as I remembered it, or had I just gotten tired of all things Star Wars. Tonight we watched the DVD of the first one (The New Hope or Episode 4, as its now called). What a contrast! Real people, real feelings and emotions, humor, adventure, The Cantina Bar, Luke getting in touch with the Force within, Han Solo's sarcasm, Obiwan's wisdom...Alec Guiness brings a depth to the role lacking in the recent movies....but then again, all of these elements seem lacking in the recent movies. The first one is still a gem! Lucas should have stopped here.
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