Rewind Reviews: Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope


Yesterday’s break was meant to symbolize the fifteen-some year gap in between Episode III and IV, and the huge shift of cast, characters, plot line, and everything else that’s different between the two trilogies.

 

Today we rise from the ashes of Mustafar and begin anew with Episode IV: A New Hope.

 

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I can hear the original trilogy purists sighing in relief. For the past few days I’ve had an image in my mind of an old guy reading my posts and being like, “FEH, new Star Wars.

 

This is the movie that actually started it all. Back in the the 1970s, this movie was the Avatar of special effects. Filming intergalactic space battles and introducing hundreds of new alien species was a huge breakthrough in the world of cinema, thanks to George Lucas.

 

Normally I would say that Episode IV begins fifteen or so years after Episode III, but it feels weird saying that. So it begins with ambitious juvenile Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) living with his aunt and uncle on the desolate planet of Tattooine. The galaxy is overrun by the cruel Galactic Empire, who seek to build a weapon strong enough to destroy entire planets. Luke is going through his vicious teenage years, and longs to break free of Tattooine and explore the rest of the world, er, galaxy. However, Uncle Owen (Phil Brown) forbids his departure, using the excuse, “You need to stay and help harvest the crops.” Surprisingly mundane for a movie like this, but I guess it makes sense.

 

Elsewhere, rebel Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has stolen plans for the weapon of mass destruction (perhaps the plans Dooku protected at the end of Episode II?) and is being pursued by hundreds of clone, er, stormtroopers and Darth Vader (now played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones). Leia records an SOS on R2D2, who is inexplicably present on the ship with C3PO, before being recaptured. The droids narrowly escape, and after crash landing, separating due to irreconcilable differences, being captured by tiny hooded figures known as Jawa, and ultimately being reunited, they both end up in the possession of the Skywalker family. Luke discovers Leia’s message, which leads him to crazy old wizard Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi (now old, wise, and played by Alec Guiness), who apparently lives in the desert. Obi teaches Luke about the ways of the Force, and tells him his father was a powerful Jedi slayed by Vader himself. Tracking R2D2, stormtroopers arrive in Tattooine and kill Luke’s aunt and uncle, leaving him no choice but to flee with the droids and Obi in hopes of rescuing Leia.

 

But there’s a problem – they have no ship! Not to worry, for scruffy (“Who you callin’ scruffy?”) on-the-run outlaw Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his deadly living teddy bear Chewbacca (Peter Matthew, voiced by Sasquatch in a blender) are desperate enough for money to pay back enormous slug/mafia leader Jabba the Hutt that they decide to agree to Obi’s request. Han flies clunky ship the Millennium Falcon to Leia’s home planet Alderaan, which has been blown up to test the Death Star. Falcon is captured by the Death Star, but Han manages to hide everyone in the ship’s hidden compartments used for smuggling.

 

With the droids in the Death Star’s command center, Luke, Han, and Chewbacca search for Leia while Obi seeks one last duel with his old apprentice Vader. Leia is found and rescued, though there is immediate friction between the Princess and Han. The four end up in a hellish trash compactor with some sort of tentacled living creature living below the water and walls that slowly close in to squoosh them. R2D2 ends the chaos with his(?) impeccable skills. Obi and Vader enter their final Lightsaber duel, this time with much less lava, and Obi sacrifices himself to create a distraction long enough for the Falcon to escape.

 

Leia guides Han to the rebels’ hidden base, where they formulate a plan to destroy the Death Star. Having collected his promised reward, Han leaves, despite Luke’s and Leia’s disapproving glances. A fleet of rebel ships fly out, but most are killed in the assault. Luke, pursued by Vader, is one of the very few who have avoided exploding so far, and is moving in to the Death Star’s weak point. Han undergoes a change of heart and redirects the Falcon to the Death Star, exploding Vader’s TIE ship just in time. Luke explodes the Death Star just before it unleashes its deadly power on the rebel base, and the surviving rebels escape. Luke and Han are awarded for their valor and bravery, and everyone happily poses for the camera.

 

The bad:

Technically there is nothing about this movie I can call “bad.” So right now I’m confused as to why I have this movie ranked as my fourth favorite out of the six movies. (I only have actual gripes with Episodes I and VI, though.) I suppose it’s because, though no fault of the film, that this is the earliest installment, and therefore most limited in its cinematic achievements. The jump in special effects and imagery in between Episodes IV and V is very noticeable. To kids born in my generation and after (Generation Cinematically Spoiled) the movie’s technology might not be enough to grab out short attention spans and hold it as, say, Inception‘s would. But once again, I am not blaming the movie for this.

 

Why this is a worthy addition of Star Wars:

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Um, hello. This is the movie that started everything. The unforgettable music. The iconic ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away’ tagline. The scrolling yellow text in the very beginning explaining the complex backstory.

 

It invented Jedi, dozens of imaginative aliens, Lightsabers, droids, stormtroopers, Darth Vader, outer space ship fights, “May the Force be with you”… I could go on. You get the point. It’s one of the most original and trailblazing films of all time. Lest we forget the epic story it began, one that could rival and beat most book series.

 

Are you satisfied, purists? Isn’t it cool to relive the original trilogy after watching Vader and Obi grow up in the newer trilogy? Are you as mystified as I was that C3PO would be so willing to part ways with R2D2 after all they’ve been through? Please leave a comment, rate, like, etc. 🙂

 

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About Logan Krum Movie Reviews

Hi. I’m Logan Krum, now going into my third year of studying journalism at Temple University. I created this blog to help create a portfolio of my work as an entertainment journalist and screenwriter. Though I usually disagree with the Tomato Meter, I hope you enjoy my thoughts on current pop culture movies. I can be contacted at logan.krum@gmail.com.

One response to “Rewind Reviews: Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope”

  1. MJ says :

    Summed it up quite well logan.

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