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Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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Even though I was not around to see it during its original run, I was still able to grasp the phenomenal impact this movie had on pop culture. By the time I was old enough to comprehend the movie (I’ve been told I “saw” Empire when I was an infant), all three movieshad already finished their sting in theaters, but were still extremely popular. They still are to this day.  Books, comics, video games, toys, cartoons, fan-made movies, it just doesn’t stop.

Like many others, I am totally captivated by these movies. I remember when I was in my early teens, I would watch these movies almost every night at one point. I’d go out with my friends and do the “cool kid” thing, but the second I’d come home I would pop A New Hope into my VCR. The next night it was The Empire Strikes Back, and after that it was Return of the Jedi. A few nights later I’d start the whole thing over again. I think I did that for an entire summer.

Star Wars: A New Hope

I just recently watched the original trilogy for the first time in almost two years and I already find myself wanting to go back to the Star Wars universe. They aren’t entirely original, but not a blatant rip-off of anything else either. They are a mix of several things that might seem like they should contradict one another, but work extremely well together. Star Wars is your basic story of good versus evil. It’s very simple and innocent in that sense, but it’s also an epic saga. There’s politics, family drama, romance, and it all unfolds through several different chapters, which take place over the course of years. There is action and adventure, but a lot of laughs too. At its heart, they’re fantasy movies. There’s a farm boy, a princess, wizards, a dark knight, and more. However, there is another layer to them because the genre is transported to outer space. It adds a little something special to the whole experience. There’s so much going on that he shouldn’t work, but it does. Seamlessly too. The words “movie magic” were invented to describe stuff just like this.

Plus there’s lightsabers! They have got to be one of the coolest things ever imagined. Who didn’t want one growing up? I still want one. I would use it for all kinds of unnecessary things: cutting sandwiches in half, lighting people’s cigarettes, or some other ordinary task that doesn’t require the coolest (fictional, unfortunately) weapon ever invented.

Star Wars: A New Hope is the tale of a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Luke lives with his Uncle Owen (Phil Brown) and Aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser) and helps them maintain their farm. He dreams of something bigger though. He wants to leave Tatooine (their home planet) and go off on an adventure. He gets his wish and is thrust into the heart of an intergalactic war when his aunt and uncle are murdered after having purchased a pair of very high profile droids.

Star Wars: A New Hope

These droids are property of Rebel Alliance member Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). While her ship is under attack by Darth Vader – who is a high-ranking member of the evil Empire that rules the galaxy – she puts some very important information inside the memory of one of the droids; hoping they’d find their way to legendary Jedi Knight Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). The droids flee the scene in an escape pod. Instead they end up coming into contact with Luke when his uncle purchases them from some scavengers. This seemingly insignificant event is how Luke becomes involved in the epic struggle between the evil Empire and the Rebel Alliance.

Luke actually knows Obi Wan, but doesn’t realize it. He knows the old man as Ben Kenobi and wonders if the two are related. Before he gets a chance to ask Ben if he knows Obi Wan, one of the droids runs away. R2D2 (Kenny Baker) sort of has a knack for things like that. He is a very resourceful and helpful little droid, but he often gets himself into trouble. Determined to complete his mission and deliver the information to Obi Wan, R2 flees the farm in an effort to find him. Luke and the other droid – C3P0 – sneak off the next morning to find him. C3P0 is the exact opposite R2 personality wise. Where R2 will rush into a situation guns a blazin’, 3P0 (Anthony Daniels) likes to avoid danger. These two are a regular Odd Couple and their hilarious. They are both the epitome of a well-executed sidekick (whereas Jar Jar Binks is not).

Star Wars: A New Hope

While trying to locate R2, Luke encounters Ben, who reveals that he is Obi Wan Kenobi. Obi Wan also reveals that he was a Jedi Knight who fought in the Clone Wars with Luke’s father. Luke did not know his father was a Jedi and he certainly didn’t know he was killed by Darth Vader, who was Obi Wan’s apprentice. After some events unfold, Luke decides to go with Obi Wan and the droids and help the Rebel’s cause.

Along the way he meets the sleazy, but likable smuggler Han Solo (played perfectly by Harrison Ford) and his Wookie sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). For a variety of reasons, this group begins on a quest to rescue of princess from the Empire. These differences in philosophies lead to all kinds of chaos (and fun for the viewers) for this rag tag group. Han just wants to get paid, which drives Luke crazy. Luke is really buying into the cause. Han thinks Obi Wan is a crazy old man, but doesn’t care as long as he gets paid. The group eventually makes their way to Princess Leia is being held prisoner. It just so happens to be the biggest, baddest, most intimidating thing ever built in the entire galaxy: the Death Star!

The Death Star is a space station the size of a moon and with the firepower to destroy a planet. They are outnumbered about 1,000 to 1. With a little stealth and a lot of luck, the group makes its way through the bowels of the space station and finds the princess. Leia and Han hit it off real well, something which unfolds in more detail in the next two movies. Luke seems pretty keen on her, as well as the whole Rebel cause. He’s really buying into the whole thing.

The group gets away, but barely. Not to mention the Empire is still in power. After making their way back to the Rebel leadership, Han and Chewie split, and the rest of the group prepares for a big showdown with the Empire.

Star Wars: A New Hope

Every so often, I run into someone who says A New Hope is boring. I scoff at the very mention of this. This is the one that started it all. Personally, I find it to be the most all-encompassing of the entire series. There are space battles, a lightsaber fight, gunfights, and an awesome scene in an alien bar.The cantina scene was mind-blowing because it showed us that there is a whole lot going more going on in this galaxy far far away than what we were seeing. The story so far was a great one, but the cantina scene was a sign of just how big and grand it all was. We see lots of new and alien things before this point, but this was always the unofficial introduction into Star Wars universe.

The whole experience is helped by the acting, which is very appropriately done.  It is completely in-line with what it should be. Harrison Ford is absolutely perfect as Han Solo, who seems interested in noting more than self-preservation, but he’s also just a cool guy, so you want to root for him. Alec Guinness is just the right mix of mysterious, annoyingly confident, and a cool old dude who has kick-ass mind powers. Hamill totally nails the conflict and emotion of a young man thrust into a larger than life situation. He wants to help, but the whole thing just feels so above him. Carrie Fisher embodies the fire and passion of the Princess Leia. She is small, nice to look at, but one fiery gal. James Earl Jones struck fear into the hearts of moviegoers as the voice of Darth Vader. I have to give credit to David Prowse as well. All too often we give Jones credit for the voice work, but Vader’s appearance and mannerism are intimidating as hell, and it’s because Prowse own the physical part of the role as much as Jones did for his vocal work. Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew are all excellent as the sidekicks who come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and personalties.

Star Wars: A New Hope

So if you haven’t seen this classic in some time or are one of the few people out there who live under a rock, I encourage you to give this movie a viewing. Simply put, it’s a lot of fun. It’s a classic fantasy movie that is guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on April 8, 2011.  it was revised on January 20, 2013.

Note: I own the 2004 version of these films on DVD. Lucas started toying with the original trilogy when he re-released them in theaters in 1997. He has added even more since. The ones I own are different from what was released in theaters in 1997. The ones I own are different from the most recent versions. He has slipped so many things in there over the years that I don’t even remember them all (it's been ages since I saw the original version of the movies). Most of them over nothing to the storyline at all. They are not good, not bad, but simply not necessary. The extra things in the background or in passing don’t bother me at all, but they weren’t needed. The Jabba scene wasn’t anything special, but could have been a lot better if Jabba simply hadn’t looked so bad. Considering Star Wars was known for its fantastic effects when it came out, this is awful. It was awful period. And George? I’m sorry, but Han shot first. If you want to view all the changes, you  may see them here.

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