Padawan vs. Jedi Master
A review of Star Wars: A New Hope from the first time to the 101st time
Before Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012, not many people would ask me about Star Wars. However, now that the Star Wars franchise has become such a large part of the Disney universe, people assume that as a Disney fan I like Star Wars too. However, the truth is: I’ve never watched a single Star Wars film… until now.
To me, Star Wars was something people fell in love with because their family showed it to them as a child. My family didn’t like Star Wars, so I didn’t have a parent who wanted to show it to me. I’m not completely clueless though, I knew the basic characters from the Lego Star Wars video game my brother made me play on the GameCube. And, I’m not ignorant to the fact that Galaxy’s Edge and Rise of the Resistance are great additions to Disney World — I just don’t understand the story they are telling. But, as a 23-year-old non-Star Wars fan, I watched Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
I will preface by saying I understand this movie is from 1977, so I won’t hold the age against it. Special effects were different and I wasn’t expecting a 21st century level movie. I was, however, expecting a fast-paced adventure movie, which I did not get. The bad vibes started when I logged into Disney+ and was greeted with the description “young farm boy Luke Skywalker is thrust into a galaxy of adventure when he intercepts a distress call from the captive Princess Leia.” Of course the basic plot is pretty well known, but if I was clueless and was picking a movie only off of description, I would give A New Hope a big SKIP.
I do have to hand it to George Lucas because there weren’t any major plot holes that I could pick apart and it was easy to follow throughout. Even the farming in the desert, which Megan and I thought was weird, was easily explained. However, I wish there was more explanation about the creatures that collect the scrap metal, which a simple Google search taught me are called Jawas. We basically just have to accept their existence and that Luke and his uncle just visit them like they’re visiting a Goodwill.
My biggest problem with the movie was that it is so slow. The story could have been advanced so much quicker if they took out the meaningless bits like Han Solo talking to the Bounty Hunter and Jabba the Hutt. I get it, he was in debt and was going to use this money to pay it back, but we didn’t need 20 minutes to explain that. I mean the plot synopsis on Wikipedia is five short paragraphs, but the movie was two whole hours.
When we finally got action, I did enjoy it. I wasn’t invested in the characters to the point where I was afraid they would die, but I liked watching them defeat the Stormtroopers. The garbage room scene was a little rough for me, but I’m just going to chalk that up to 1970s acting and directing.
The complete disconnect came from Obi-Wan and Darth Vader’s “big” fight. The entire movie essentially built up to this one scene and it was so lame. And then everyone just moves on and no one mentions it again. We all just have to believe Obi-Wan is dead, but there’s no body and no one cares. That doesn’t add up.
I was sure the movie was going to end with them leaving the Death Star after the fight, but apparently, we get bonus film. The scenes with the rebels trying to blow up the Death Star were extremely drawn out, I did not need to see every ship get shot down in extensive detail. Because of this, when they did destroy it, I didn’t even have a sense of relief. It was just an “oh my God, finally.” Plus Darth Vader totally could have killed them all and he chose not to… why? But I digress on that point.
Overall, I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it. I can understand the feeling of nostalgia it brings to people, but I probably wouldn’t choose to watch this film again. I’m not even sure it convinced me to watch the next films. Maybe I would like the newer films, but I’m not sure if I can endure five more movies to get there. For now, I’ll stick with enjoying Rise of the Resistance for the ride design and bumping to the jams at The Cantina with a Fuzzy Tauntaun in hand, completely oblivious.
The Jedi Master
My dad showed me Star Wars: A New Hope when I was only 8 years old. I quickly adopted it as one of my all-time favorite films. There is something truly special about going to Blockbuster with your dad and hoping the next Star Wars movie is waiting on the shelf. When I watched A New Hope for the 100th time, the lore and nostalgia came rushing back. I had to make a conscious effort not to say all the lines for Bailey’s sake. (Sometimes I slipped up.)
Viewing A New Hope for the first time as a child, along with the understanding that it was made in 1977, allowed me to give the special effects major credit. Let’s not forget George Lucas was creating an introduction to this vast new galaxy, with new rules and creatures. And he had to make it look believable with 1970s technology.
What makes this film so special is that it was something no one had ever seen up until 1977 and can still be relatable in 2021 with its fun dialogue, creative hero story and struggle between good and evil. The dialogue has the potential to sound cheesy, but I think it does a good job at building the world while still being coherent.
Even in 1977, audiences were bored of the “hero” story that had been done many times. They’ve watched a character get plucked out of their ordinary life to save the world. However, Lucas made this idea fresh by placing badass, and sometimes naive, characters in an imaginary setting. Not to mention, the audience can feel the intricacy of Lucas’ fully formed idea in this one film without the knowledge of the future or previous plot that was already planned.
The iconic trio of Han, Leia and Luke getting thrown together is beautifully orchestrated: a bad boy in it for the money, a farm boy yearning for something more after losing his family and a fierce princess fully involved in the war with the Empire.
I am also a sucker for a good quip — could Leia and Han’s insults get any better? Some of my favorites include: “You came in on that thing? You’re braver than I thought,” “What a lovely smell you’ve discovered” and “Can someone get this walking carpet out of my way?” These lines are truly iconic and perfectly delivered. Then, throw those two, Luke and a wookie into a trash compactor? Brilliant. It’s a great situation for these characters to bond while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Despite the older movie effects, it’s pretty nerve-racking watching them almost get crushed.
The Obi-Wan and Darth Vader fight feels important even without knowing the prequel history. Darth standing, lightsaber drawn, waiting for Obi-Wan was a little frightening. That being said I have to give Bailey some credit here: it’s not as cool as one would’ve hoped. At the time it was a unique concept with laser swords and a menacing Darth Vader. But it doesn’t quite hold up to the standards of other lightsaber battles. Even in the sequel Empire Strikes Back, the lightsaber battle is darker and more meaningful. Not to mention the epic prequel battle on Mustafar in Revenge of the Sith.
The ending space battle is not that intense when holding it to the standard of other prequel and sequel space battles. However, for the time, it has some notable details. For example, seeing each of these experienced rebellion fighters get blown away by the empire really shows just how powerful they are and how minuscule the rebellion is comparatively. Luke hearing Obi-Wan’s voice and blowing up the Death Star foreshadows his future as a Jedi. It leaves the audience wondering what’s next, what are we missing about the Force? Han returning at the last minute ensures the audience’s trust in (for lack of a better word) hope and that good does conquer evil. The audience can see the struggle in Han to stand up and fight or just continue to look out for himself. In the beginning, even Luke didn't think he could do anything about the Empire, that he was useless and it wasn’t his fight. In the end, the best parts of them won.
Overall, this film could be overlooked if not seen in the 1977 theater or as a child renting from Blockbuster but there are important themes and details that shouldn’t be ignored. Throw in some nostalgia and I think it’s safe to say this film is a masterpiece.