Sunday, December 19, 2010

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - 3.5/5

I will not lie to you oh faithful readers. I will not be kind to this film. That being said I also have a love for this film that goes beyond its obvious flaws and its the damn charm of this movie and sheer cheesiness that procures these kinds of feelings. So know that by the end of this review, even though I may poke fun at it, its still a fantastic watch and a fun time. "A New Hope" may not be the greatest film ever made as some claim it to be, but it works more often than not.

Luke Skywalker (Hamill) is just your average farm boy living on a desert planet with his uncle and aunt, avoiding Sand People, and planning his escape to bigger and better things. When a couple of lost droids happen to come to the farm, he discovers that there is more going on in the universe than the next harvest. He learns of a rebellion against the Empire and when he attempts to get a secret message to an old hermit named Obi Wan (Guinness), he finds himself suddenly on his way to thwart a giant planet destroying Death Star. With the help of a mercenary named Han (Ford) and a rebellious bitch of a Princess/Ambassador (Fisher), Luke is in for the adventure of a life time!

After reading my own description for the film's plot, I realized just how epically out there it is. Seriously? Who green lit that script? It's so out of the realm of mainstream moneymaking, what studio would ever touch it? I guess that's the difference between studios back then and studios now. They were willing to take a chance. Either that or Lucas is one sweet talker. Anyway. Let's move on.

One does have to respect "Star Wars" quite a bit. It took a ton of chances and they did pay off. The film likes to play it big. It's surprising that audiences accepted it as well as they did back in the late 70s. The story throws all kinds of new concepts at you like "The Force" and the entire political structure with almost no explanation to any of it. You have to just go with it and accept it for what it is. Luckily, if you watch the 'first' three prior to it (the prequels) then you have a much better understanding of it. Either way though, just go with it and have a fun time.

One thing that I think is completely overrated with "A New Hope" (notice I change what I call the film because no one really knows what to call it now anyway) is it's cast. I mean, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher can be complete 2D cut outs through most of the movie and even Ford as Han Solo is a pretty arc-less 'lead'. He's damn fun to watch and his charisma steals the film (when he talks to the guards through the intercom when breaking into the prison is priceless), but his poor character is left hanging. Luckily they got a few more films to really flesh things out.

The film is also insanely cheesy. It's dialogue, although still heads over tails better than the prequels, is not great and some of its 'epic' moments lend to almost laugh inducing hilarity. Some of it was intentional (good on them) but some of its not (good for us!). The final celebration sequence is head slappingly cheese ridden with some of its random cut-aways and awful acting. (If Luke looks at one more person/bot smiles, stifles laughter, and then looks happily into the camera I just might explode). Even some of its intense action sequences get to be really cheesy too, like the fighter pilot attack on the Death Star. Should be intense, but really isn't. Obi Wan won't shut the hell up with his voice overs (Luke better use the fucking force to shut him up!) and the half the pilots explode over nothing. One laser, they lean forward, and fire. Yeesh.

The film also seems to lack logic at times. Wow. That hasn't come up before in any of my review for "Star Wars" films. I mean, Luke spends what, like 2 days with Obi Wan and suddenly he's like a father. And why the hell does Obi Wan just disappear?! Other Jedi's don't just poof away. There was quite a bit more agony prior. And why the hell does the rebel force make Luke a fighter pilot? He's never left the fucking desert planet let alone FLOWN IN SPACE BY HIMSELF. The list could go on, but I digress.

Overall, "A New Hope" is a very flawed film that somehow is able to overcome all of it with its charm and fun. That in itself is a feat and worth its rating. When you try to pick it apart, it quickly seems to crumble before your eyes, but on the whole it works. Don't ask me how, but it does.

DARTH VADER'S BAD ASS MOMENT OF THE FILM: Originally I wanted to put the moment where Darth Vader hits Obi Wan so hard with a light saber he just disappears as the bad ass moment of the film, but decided it was just too damn illogical to actually be bad ass. So I'm going with choice number two, invisible choking. If only everyone could defend their religion with invisible choking by the Force, I'm sure the planet would be a more peaceful place. As if that guy who was smack talking didn't realize that Vader was the Emperor's right hand man and did some seriously sick shit. I mean, he sort of had it coming. Also its kind of bad ass that Vader took two steps towards him just to do it. As if he was like "Dude, I'm totally going to choke your ass" when he could have just stood there and done it. That. Is. Bad. Ass.

BONUS RANT: Also doesn't the first act of this movie really seem to drag on and on and on. It's as if the droids were supposed to be the lead characters. We sit for 20 minutes watching C-3PO talk to R2 as he beeps and they wander around really doing nothing. "Beep Beep". "Oh R2." "Blip WOOOOO!". "Not that way, R2!" "Beep Blip". Seriously. Fucking get on with it. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider


  1. I suggest watching Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, as George used that as influence on C3PO and R2D2's characters and the way their story is told in the beginning.

    Don't know if this will help the feeling of the film dragging on at that point.

  2. First off, way too much logic is applied here- it's a fantasy film. It doesn't deserve it.
    Why didn't Gandalf just summon those giant eagles and have them drop the damn rings into Mordor? Seriously?

    The acting was meant to be exactly that. No one is smarter than anyone else when they point this out. THAT'S THE POINT! the final medal ceremony was copied shot for shot by Leni Riefenstahl Nazi propaganda flick "Triumph of the Will." And the dialoge is gloriously stilted- it gives it its own charm, style and makes it memorable.