So once again we have survived.

Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (No Baggage Review)

nobaggage tn_starwars4Oh, thank the Maker’s, there’s a new one! I don’t know what the fuck 20th Century Fox were thinking ending part 3 with all our space heroes dead or running away to hide under a rock. Not everything has to be a Hollywood ending, but that was a little grim there, fellas.

PART 4: A NEW HOPE is like a new beginning after a final chapter. It’s all kinda stripped down, rawer, lower budget, 15 minutes shorter, minimal CGI and slower-moving, and refreshingly optimistic in comparison. I mean, a young man does find the burning corpses of the aunt and uncle who raised him, but no children are murdered and nobody gets more than one limb severed, so it’s pretty light-hearted compared to the last one.

Our former hero Anakin has turned into “Darth Vader” (David Prowse from FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL), stomping around in the black helmet, unrecognizable as he storms that ship that the robot droids R. D2 and C. 3PO live on now, accusing the humans of being part of a “rebel alliance.” And the guy’s got a pretty good case because when he and his soldiers (in white armor similar to the clones) board the ship a bunch of uniformed soldiers shoot back at them. They’re obviously some type of organized militia.

mp_newhopeMr. Vader and his guys have been sent by the governor (Peter Cushing, also from FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL) to stop the rebels from passing on the plans for their powerful moon-sized space resort “The Death Star” so they don’t find a weakness, give them to WikiLeaks, sell them to Boeing, nothin like that.

Our old friend Mr. D2 is kinda the main hero this time, he gets a message (and I believe the plans) from this rebel princess/senator (Carrie Fisher, FRANKENSTEIN [1984]) to deliver to Obi Wan Kenobi (now played by Alec Guinness from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA). We eventually hear this princess referred to as “Leia” (pronunciation varies) which means it’s gotta be Anakin and Padme’s baby daughter in my opinion, but if so nobody ever mentions it.

Anyway 3PO got his mind wiped last time so he doesn’t know who the fuck Obi Wan Kenobi is, but R2’s gotta be thinking “oh shit, the day has finally come.” Remember, D2 and Kenobi worked together alot, but there was some tension between them last time, when they saved the life of that, uh, evil Sith who then declared himself Emperor and has been responsible for decades of terror and misery ever since. D2 cannot be happy about having to go talk to Kenobi again, but he droids up and and does what he’s gotta do. The two robots sneak away to Anakin’s home planet Tatooine (Birthplace of Podracing) but get abducted by Jawas (the little hooded guys who gave Anakin directions when he was trying to rescue his Ma).

I don’t want to impugn the entire Jawa race, but these specific Jawas are robot poachers and re-sellers, and they sell our droids to a local farmer and his nephew. And I’ll be damned if it ain’t Anakin’s stepbrother Owen Lars (Phil Brown, VALDEZ IS COMING) and son Luke (Mark Hamill, THE BIG RED ONE), no longer a newborn baby but a young man. In fact, a talented and somewhat whiny pilot, just like his old man. So however old he is (late teens-ish) is how much time has passed.

That there is a testament to this new Empire’s Jedicidal effectiveness. In that short window they’ve killed all but two of the Jedis and eradicated the religion so thoroughly that anybody who’s heard of The Force tends to make fun of it, treating it like some laughable fad cult that nobody takes seriously anymore. Luke never heard of it. The British Empire guys that Vader works with on the space station give him a bunch of shit about it, even though they look more than old enough to have been adults during the Jedi-led Clone Wars. I guess they were just sheltered. A guy the heroes team up with later will make fun of it, and Governor Tarkin will tell Vader, “You my friend are all that’s left of their religion.” Kinda harsh but on the other hand kinda sweet that he calls him “my friend.” I bet a big magic guy encased in black plastic doesn’t get very many people calling him their friend.

Notably, though, there’s a later scene where some of the brass in the Rebel Alliance explain the game plan to their pilots and instead of “Let’s see some hustle!” he ends with “May the Force be with you.” So at least in this rebel subculture there is some amount of respect or recognition for the religion.

Lars owns the robots now but R2 is no man’s droid. He makes a run for it and leads Luke and 3PO to Obi Wan’s pad out in a rough part of the desert. Kenobi – who goes by “Ben” now, so please respect that – seems like kind of a lovable eccentric in his retirement. He’s “kind of a strange old hermit” according to Luke, and “that wizard is just a crazy old man” according to Uncle Owen. If their was any urgency to strike back at the end of the last one it seems like he’s kinda moved on in the post-star-war years. I don’t get the feeling he’s been biding his time like Darth Maul behind a force field, waiting to be called into action. Nah, he gave up on all that shit a long time ago and is happy to just live alone in his little house and occasionally go outside to chase away marauding People of Sandness.

When all this shit comes up again Ben is kinda playful about it, not very honest. At first he calls R2 “my little friend,” but I believe it’s just out of politeness. He definitely doesn’t recognize him, or he wouldn’t be so surprised when his old name “Obi Wan” is mentioned. If he does recall him he pretends otherwise. And when Luke asks him about his father he doesn’t say “oh yeah, it’s Darth Vader,” he gets all poetical and talks about Darth Vader “killing” his father.

It’s kinda sweet when he reminisces about their star war days, says Anakin was a good friend. It’s true, despite everything. Then he remembers to go into the junk drawer and get Anakin’s light saber, give it to Luke saying his father wanted him to have it when he was old enough. Of course we know that Anakin never said anything like that. Ben picked that thing up off the ground after triple-dismembering the motherfucker and leaving him for dead, crying in the dirt, catching on fire. But you know what, he’s right, if the old nice Anakin he knew had stuck around I’m sure he would’ve wanted to pass his light saber down to the next generation. And if not what’s the harm in letting Luke think he did?

Although you’re right it’s kinda sexist that the boy automatically gets it, maybe he would’ve wanted to give it to the girl, it’s not like Jedis are a strictly male order.

For Ben it kinda seems like a nostalgia trip. He gets this message and knows he can go off on an adventure, wants to bring the kid with him and teach him some Jedi shit. He talks self-deprecatingly about his tendency to go on “damn fool idealistic crusade”s, and notes that Owen Lars always disapproved of shit like that. Luke – who dreams of going to “The Academy” and perks up at any mention of “the rebellion against the Empire” – nevertheless demonstrates textbook apathy as soon as it becomes non-hypothetical: “Listen, I can’t get involved. I’ve got work to do. It’s not that I like the Empire, I hate it! But there’s nothing I can do about it right now… it’s all such a long way from here.”

Yep, that’s why there’s an Empire, kid. First they came for the Gungans, and I said nothing…

Well, Vader’s troopers (without him, because he has other shit to do) follow the droidprints to Luke’s uncle’s farm and kill everybody, so he decides you know what, maybe I don’t have work to do, maybe I can get involved, maybe there is something I can do right now. He straight up says “I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.” Packs the droids in the car and heads for the city with old Ben, to try to hitch a ride to the star war.

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This is not a total bummer movie though. R2 gets some funny parts, for one thing. I can’t understand anything he’s saying, but I can tell it’s funny. Like when 3PO says “No, I don’t think he likes you at all,” and we know that means that R2 asked him “Do you think he likes me?” Ha ha, bashful little guy worried about whether or not Anakin’s kid thinks he’s cool.

Also there’s alot of what the internet called “world building” when AVATAR first came out and that was their favorite obsession. Little details that aren’t important on their own but combine like pointillist dots to create a portrait of the place and time where this takes place. For example, when our boys are raising havoc on the Death Star one of these “stormtroopers” doesn’t know the facts yet and says to a co-worker “Maybe it’s another drill.” So we know that this is a place where they do an annoying amount of drills. Fucking tightass Governor Tarkin trying to keep everybody busy, justifying the expense of this Death Star at a time of mostly star peace.

One of the best scenes is when our heroes go to this little dive bar to mingle and find their pilot. It’s much smaller than the Coruscant night club from part 2 but in my opinion it’s got a better vibe to it, not as much of a corporate sports bar chain type of feel and more of a local watering hole. Then again this city is a “spaceport” so I guess you got alot of people just passing through. I think it would be more comparable to a truck stop than an airport bar, though. I don’t see any obvious tourists. Well, maybe this guy:

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It seems like a pretty cool place, kinda rowdy, the kinda place where Ben has to chop off some asshole’s arm and everybody looks over for a second and then goes back to what they were doing. Also they got live music.

I gotta say, Luke doesn’t have the best bar etiquette. He handles that guy that gets in his face pretty well, but when he wants to order a drink he actually grabs the back of the bartender’s shirt and yanks on it.

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What the fuck is that? That guy’s gotta be a saint not to toss the kid out on his ass like a droid. Not to be racist. That’s just the way it was back then, they didn’t serve droids, they made them wait outside like horses or dogs. I feel uncomfortable with that, for that reason I would never write a Yelp review of this place, no matter how cool it is to hang out there. I just can’t go along with a shameful, backwards policy like that.

Anyway, Ben meets a bigfoot type of individual named Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER) and his partner Hans (Harrison Ford, EXPENDABLES 3), offer them some cash they badly need (Hans owes a bunch of money to the jolly gangster Jabba, that podrace gambler who used to date Gardullah the Hutt) to fly them to the princess, who Mr. Vader is holding captive and torturing on the space station, it’s fucked up. Their whole ship gets swallowed up by the thing but they hide and manage to sneak around undetected.

The most interesting thing about this story is seeing Obi Wan come face to face with burnt up Ani all these years later. I’m sure he stands by what he did but Jesus, it’s gotta be awkward facing his old friend for the first time since making a teapot out of him.

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Gulp.

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Uh, hey… look man, that was– that Mustafar shit was a long time ago, you know? Plus there was a chick involved, emotions got understandably high… But let’s be the bigger man here, Anakin. Let’s not dwell on old shit. All right?

Plus back then Kenobi only had a slight edge. These days he doesn’t have a fuckin prayer. He’s not Randy Couture, training harder than a man half his age. He’s gone soft as butter. He’s been in his little hovel past the Dune Sea, probly doing puzzles and shit, watching Midsomer Murders. Vader’s younger, he’s mechanically enhanced, he’s more practiced than ever. When the Clone Wars ended he didn’t kick back, he’s been chasing Jedis and rebels down ever since, using the Force all the time, even practicing the Padme Amidala Memorial No-Contact Choke Hold on his co-workers. So Vader v. Kenobi II is an embarrassment, like Ali v. Holmes. Vader doesn’t break a sweat, doesn’t even have to climb onto anything or do any flips or try to get the high ground. He could be wearing a bib around his neck, eating corn on the cob during this fight and would still win easily.

Kenobi’s gonna get killed, and when I say “killed” I mean that he will actually be killed, that is what will actually happen in this scene (SPOILER). But he has a trick up his sleeve. He lets Vader win, almost definitely an idea he got from 3PO saying “I suggest another strategy: let the Wookiee win” during a star chess scene earlier. They should have a flashback to make it more clear. Ben just stands there and leaves himself open to saber-chopping, but he waits until Luke is there to see it.

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This is not an accident. When he knows he has all the pieces in place he actually smiles.

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He does this little meditation thing and when Vader swings on him he has turned into an empty cloak. Vader moves it around with his foot like “what the shit? Where did he go?”

Now, don’t get too excited, it does seem like a ninja escape technique, like in NINJA III where the ninja is surrounded by cops so he throws down a smoke bomb and buries himself and they think he’s gone, but that’s not what’s going on here, Kenobi actually died. See, earlier he said something to the effect of “you can strike me down, motherfucker, but I’m just gonna become more powerful than your Sith ass ever fuckin dreamed.” And this has both a literal and poetical type meaning:

LITERAL: Remember, after Qui-Gonn Jinn died we heard his voice trying to warn Anakin not to commit genocide in part 2 and then at the end of part 3 Yoda told Ben (then Obi Wan) that he has a message from Qui Gonn from beyond the pyre. Well, he musta taught Kenobi his trick, now Kenobi is dead but later in the movie his voice can speak to Luke, give him encouraging words that in a martial arts movie would be an audio flashback to a soundbite from an earlier training montage, but in this is literally the voice of a dead guy speaking to him. That’s powerful. Vader can’t throw his voice like that.

POETICAL: Kenobi gets struck down but he symbolically lives on through the lessons he taught Luke and the powerful actions Luke performs in combination with the rebel star fleet. One young Jedi with an army is more powerful than an old Jedi out in the desert alone.

The actual starwarfare in this one seems a little clunky and basic compared to what went down in the earlier pictures, but it’s got a great sense of speed and visual clarity, a distinct difference between the rebel ships and the bad guys as they drag race down a narrow trench on the space station that’s almost as long as the air strip in FURIOUS 6. There is a simple goal and a martial arts type bit of philosophy: Luke has to shoot a bullseye on this one sweet spot and he figures out the way to do that is to turn off all his equipment, shut his eyes and U.T.F., Use The Force. He hears Ben Kenobi telling him that but he might as well hear Bruce Lee saying “Trust your instincts.”

At this point Vader seems to be in a position in the organization where he wouldn’t have to get his gloves dirty, but he’s very robotic-hands on, he goes out there with the grunts to get shit done. And he’s gotta live up to Ben’s stories about him being a great pilot. I like that when he joins the space battle he has a ship that’s longer and sleeker than the other guys get to use. That’s just like Ani, going back to the pod race days. I bet he customized that thing himself. I’m just surprised he didn’t make it yellow, he seemed to have a thing for yellow sports ships in parts 2 and 3. But maybe he grew out of that when his life got darker.

This is a simple but solid entry in the series. They coulda fucked it up with all these recastings and new characters, but they pulled it off. Congratulations to returning writer/director George Lucas. You still got it, George.

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VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2014 at 11:50 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

60 Responses to “Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (No Baggage Review)”

  1. The Original... Paul

    May 15th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    That’s a really, really weird “Marathon Man” reference at the end, Vern. Not quite sure I “get it”.

    Anyway I’ve only seen this one once and that was years ago, but it definitely still held up then, at least until the Death Star sequence, when it lost it really, really badly for me. The thing that struck me on watching it for the first time – I’d already seen Star Warses episodes 1, 2, 5 and 6 by that point – was just how much personality the Jawas had compared to… well… anything I could imagine would appear in the hypothetical prequels that don’t exist in this universe.

    It’s a classic story, done well. I think it absolutely flubs it at the end where literally nothing anybody does seems to make any sense (why not just fly OVER the trench until the very end? Is this ever explained? Why is the most important man on the Death Star piloting a fighter ship in a dogfight, instead of staying on board the giant armoured spaceship? Why don’t the rebel fighters seem to be targeting the defences of the Death Star itself? Etc, etc, etc…) but that doesn’t detract from how strong the rest of the movie is. The characters are well-defined, the heroes are likeable, the villains are decently hissable, the world is set up nicely, and for the most part the film just works as a good adventure story.

    Definitely one I’d like to revisit to see if I think the same of it now that I’m a lot older than I was back then.

  2. Did you hear about that award buzz that this movie has going? People say it might even beat that new Woody Allen RomCom with Diane Keaton. That would be cool.

  3. One Guy from Andromeda

    May 15th, 2014 at 12:48 pm

  4. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    May 15th, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    “Ben picked that thing up off the ground after triple-dismembering the motherfucker and leaving him for dead, crying in the dirt, catching on fire.”

    Amazing.

  5. This one is intriguing because of the way your knowledge of part I-III changes the meaning of the things we’re actually watching in subtle way. I mean, Anakin never even realizes that he’s being foiled by his own son. Luke doesn’t realize Obi Wan basically killed Anakin and left him for dead; he sees Ben as kind of a father-figure. Uncle Owen knows what happened to Anakin, and consequently worries about what would happen to Luke if he “got involved” — but Luke doesn’t know that, and consequently his wise uncle seems like an old grouch.

    If you saw this movie without seeing I-III, it would seem like a perfectly self-contained, simple little story about good guys vs bad guys. But knowing the backstory adds all these strange shades of gray that belie it’s mythic simplicity.

  6. I was pretty skeptical about this one. I mean, it took some nuts to end the trilogy on a down note like SITH’S REVENGE, and I was worried that they’d fuck everything up trying to give the series a happy ending it didn’t earn. Then you’ve got the obvious budget reduction, a mostly younger cast to appeal to the kiddies, and Anakin walking around in that stupid robot suit from the end of the last one. It just seemed like a bad idea.

    Well, color me shocked, because this is the best one so far. I like the tighter focus on just a small group of people who aren’t necessarily at the center of the whole mess. In the other ones, we got to hang out with the jedis and the president of the galaxy and a bunch of queens and shit. People who were in the know. This time, they’re just regular folk who get caught up in something way bigger than them. It’s inspiring. The last ones were all about how even the most powerful people in the universe can’t always stop bad things from happening. This one’s about how the little guy can make a difference.

    I liked how all the technology seems to have devolved under this totalitarian system, like Cuba under Castro. During the Republic, you probably had all kinds of engineers and craftsmen working on their own projects, exploring new ideas and concepts. Now the only way anybody’s getting funding is if they work for the Empire. No room for self-expression there. They just build a thousand of the same ship. Just crankin’ ’em out to feed the war machine. They probably cut corners all the time, too. You can’t tell me those bow tie ships are safe. They’re not even designed for long-distance travel! What happens if you get separated from your unit? You just suffocate out there in space? That’s bullshit, Darth, and you know it. Serves you right, floating out there in the middle of nowhere with the rest of the Death Star debris. Oh right, but your ship probably doesn’t have the same limitations, does it? Typical. Management gets the perks, the working man gets the shaft.

    I think there might be some continuity errors, though. I can buy “Ben” (Sorry, I just can’t get used to that name) not recognizing R2. It’s been a long time, and it’s not like they were ever really boys. But how did Uncle Owen not recognize Threepio? He lived with the motherfucker for like five years! You’d think that just the sound of his prissy-ass voice would give him a flashback to those days when he had a new stepmom that he didn’t really approve of because of her shady past. And then there was that time his creepy stepbrother came by. What the fuck was that guy all about?

    I don’t know. I guess people are pretty droidist in this society. They probably think all droids look alike.

    Anyway, I like the new cast. Luke continues the Skywalker tradition of being a total wiener. The new Padme is even cuter than the last one. (And they clearly haven’t invented bras in a galaxy far, far away, if you catch my drift.) And this Hans guy is a great addition. He’s a bit more down-to-earth than the mystics and warriors we’ve met so far. He’s just a normal dude who wants to get paid. He really grounds the story. And he’s a lot funnier than the last comic relief character, Jar Jar. Hopefully he’ll stick around if they make any more sequels.

    I kind of hope they don’t though. Where else is there left to go? They blew up the Death Star. Everybody gets medals. The rest of the Empire is probably gonna fall. It’s a great, upbeat ending to a series that, until now, has kind of been a bummer. Maybe they shouldn’t push their luck. It can only be downhill from here.

  7. Vern, how come Darth Vader’s theme music wasn’t in this movie? It’s like the composer teases us with hints of it in parts 1-3 and then forgot to use it in part 4!

  8. Mr M — I figure Obi DOES recognize R2. After all, R2 clearly remembers him; he even knows, pretty much on his own, how to find him on Tattooine. Watch that scene again — when he says “don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid,” he gives R2 this long, meaningful look, and that shuts the little guy up.

    Clearly, having 20 years to think about everything that lead Anakin and the Republic off a cliff have changed Obi; he’s a lot more philosophical about the whole thing, less dogmatic and gung-ho than he used to be. And I think he deliberately avoids telling Luke the truth about the whole thing because he wants Luke to establish his own identity, not be stuck in his father’s shadow.

    If they ever do make a sequel — and I think they should, they definitely haven’t gotten around to giving that fucking weasel Palpatine what’s coming to him yet, and we still don’t know what happened to Yoda– they’re definitely going to have to explain some things. But I like that this one mostly doesn’t directly acknowledge a lot of stuff that we know, having watched the first three; it’s like Obi Wan is here, deliberately evasive but somehow more profound for it.

  9. Yeah, that makes sense. Obi Wan slips R2 a signal, and R2, unlike his chatty kathy life partner, knows how to take a hint and keep his mouth shut. This a droid who can keep a secret. I mean, he’s been living with Threepio for like 20 years and not once did he blab about the fact that he’s a deep cover sleeper agent for a renegade jedi. That’s some hardcore spycraft right there, keeping the truth even from those closest to him, just waiting for the time when a droid of his particular skills will be needed. And then when it happens, he doesn’t hesitate. He leaps right back into action like he hasn’t been out of the game for decades. Obi Wan could learn a lesson from him about keeping sharp in spacepeacetime.

    That’s why it irks me that this war hero has to get treated like a second-class citizen on some jerkwater sandball out on the edge of the galaxy. These fuckin’ rubes don’t even know who they’re dealing with. But I guess that’s the life of an undercover operative. If you do your job right, nobody knows you even existed.

  10. “why not just fly OVER the trench until the very end? Is this ever explained? ”
    Because the bigger turrets defending the trench can’t shoot down into it, but they can shoot over it, so it’s tactically sound to use the trench instead for the approach.

    Anyway, yeah, this was a surprisingly good entry in the series, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. The inclusion of this Solo guy is intriguing, as it brings a more rogueish, down to earth quality to the series after all these monk type protagonists. This guy even shoots a guy under a table! I know the guy had a gun on him and it was self defense, but it’s still rather cold. I wonder if they ever considered having Greedo shoot first to make Han more heroic? Probably not. Though hang on…Greedo? Wasn’t Annakin hanging out with a little kid of that species called Greedo in EPISODE I? My mind is BLOWN.

  11. Mr. Majestyk – “I liked how all the technology seems to have devolved under this totalitarian system, like Cuba under Castro. During the Republic, you probably had all kinds of engineers and craftsmen working on their own projects, exploring new ideas and concepts. Now the only way anybody’s getting funding is if they work for the Empire. No room for self-expression there. They just build a thousand of the same ship. Just crankin’ ‘em out to feed the war machine. They probably cut corners all the time, too. You can’t tell me those bow tie ships are safe. They’re not even designed for long-distance travel! What happens if you get separated from your unit? You just suffocate out there in space? That’s bullshit, Darth, and you know it. Serves you right, floating out there in the middle of nowhere with the rest of the Death Star debris. Oh right, but your ship probably doesn’t have the same limitations, does it? Typical. Management gets the perks, the working man gets the shaft.”

    You beat me to it. The minimalism was magical. This Lucas guy is getting better at creating atmosphere and matching thematics with the visuals. He’s been getting better at it since part 2 and this is the peak. He really came back strong. Not everyday you could say a part 4 is the best one in a series yet. Except maybe for STAR TREK.

    I wonder since Obi now goes by Ben does Yoda go by Joe? I mean you’re in a galaxy far far away you’d figure you’d get a more interesting pseudonym. It is indeed pretty obvious that these are the Skywalker twins. Which makes Anakin’s torture of the princess even more cruel. What a bad father. Since he had such a high midi chlorian count I would guess he’d sense his own seed especially with her Padme like hair and style. That should trigger some memory banks.

    Then again maybe since he’s more machine now he lacks the sufficient midi chlorian amount required to identify his bastard kids. Still one of them even kept the Skywalker name. That’s some balls right there like “yeah Anakin there’s a new kid on tattoine named skywalker what you gonna do about it?”

    It’s kinda weird seeing these “stormtroopers” if this is what clone troopers turned into do they still look like Jango under their? or did the dictator force people to have their first born sons join his army? also was that his boy Bubba walking after Jabba the Hutt there? interesting turn of events for him. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

    I really did like this rebellion too. Too bad we didn’t get to see Jimmy Smits again since his planet got blown up. But it’s appropriate that the Chewbacca guy we saw carrying Yoda like a backpack in part 3 is now part of a movement to take down the sith for good. Yoda would be proud. Speaking of where could he possibly be? I wonder why Lucas didn’t include him in this one. Could he have actually died? I hope not.

    Back to the rebellion well I think they showed a lot of heart in their brief screen time. It’s been like 18 years of this commie bullshit and they won’t stand for it so their uniforms actually have some color to them instead of just dictator white and puke green. By the time the death star gets blown up you want to clap for this team. It seems like they want the middle ground between jedi and sith we’ve all said would be fair for the galaxy in the end.

  12. Stu – ” I wonder if they ever considered having Greedo shoot first to make Han more heroic? ”

    the copy I saw was edited this way. Was there a different cut?

  13. Mr. Subtlety – Did it scare you how close to your pitch this movie ended up being? I think George Lucas reads this sight.

  14. Original Paul, I don’t think it’s a Marathon Man reference.

    I think it’s a reference to Ep III’s “Where is Padme? Is she safe? Is she all right?”

  15. Also how did Obi-Wan age so much in 18-19 years time? he didn’t look a day past 34 back in part 3.

  16. Overall I liked how the “universe” seemed more worn down, dirtier with a lot of the color drained away. Very black and white. Very “Absolute”… as we know “only a Sith deals in absolutes” so this what a galaxy run by Sith would turn into.

    The only thing that I didn’t buy was Chewbacca, who we last saw escorting Yoda to his ship on Kashyyyk in part III, suddenly appearing in the cantina scene talking to Obi “Ben” Wan Kenobi… AND he he happens to be the co-pilot on the ship they hire to take them to Alderaan!?

    That’s a bit of a stretch for me.

    Now that I think about it, the ceremony at the end seems a little premature…
    I mean they destroyed the “Death Star” (if you call your new weapons system a Death Star should you maybe take another look in the mirror to check who the bad guys are?) which is a great victory but we know the Empire is bigger than the one space station.
    Wouldn’t the rebels want to leave their current location ASAP?
    I mean, someone on the “Death Star” must have forwarded the location of the secret rebel base in am e-mail or a text message or… something right?
    The rebels can’t really think they are safe now can they?!

    Anyway, I really liked it… Overall a good, lean, well paced entry into the series.

  17. Man, the “clever” references are getting almost as bad as “GLRMC” commentary

  18. Broddie —
    “Yoda would be proud. Speaking of where could he possibly be? I wonder why Lucas didn’t include him in this one. Could he have actually died? I hope not.” Probably had trouble getting the actor back, like good ol’ Captain Panaka from part I. Get ready for the sequel where they introduce a new character who looks and acts a lot like Yoda, but has an eyepatch and a different name and is played by some other little green guy.

    As for this Lucas guy totally stealing the sequel ideas I floated last week… well, I was gonna wait til the end of the series to reveal this but, what the heck: I am George Lucas. I’ve been secretly reading everyone’s criticisms and incorporating them into the movies to make them better.

  19. The Original... Paul

    May 15th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Curt – well, I strategically erased as much of Part 3 as I could from my brain for the purposes of 1) keeping up with the premise of this review series, and 2) my own sanity. So I must’ve forgotten that bit. I will forever associate the phrase “Is it safe?” with evil dentists.

  20. Chewbacca totally got ripped off at that medal ceremony.

  21. Mr. Subtlety – “I am George Lucas.”

    Well damn. Any chance of us ever seeing another black character in this galaxy far away?

    MaggieMayPie – Leia is racist towards Wookies.

  22. I did appreciate all the call backs to the trilogy. Mr. Lucas you sure do think of everything. Characters talking about “I got a bad feeling about this”, Tattooine and all it’s weird inhabitants, the structure we saw Vader and the Emperor overlooking is now a Death Star, Luke having the same droids that helped his parents help him out, Anakin had embraced the Darth Vader identity all these years and then kinda ends up falling back into old Anakin shenanigans once he learns of “the son of Skywalker”. It gives it all a good patchwork like connection like a great American quilt.

  23. *Vader and the Emperor overlooking back in pt. 3

  24. You’re right, Chewbacca is the same dude that gave Yoda a piggyback ride during Order 66. I totally missed that. I wonder what the significance is?

  25. Broddie – Life in the harsh Tatooine desert will age a man beyond his years. That’s why Owen and Beru look old enough to be their own grandparents. Remember, they have two suns, so that’s twice as much skin damage.

    MaggieMayPie – The question is not why Chewie didn’t get a medal, but why Han did. He made a point of running away when everyone else went to war, and only came back at the end after all the hard work had been done and lives had been sacrificed.

    (Personally, I think Wedge and the unidentified surviving Y-wing pilot should’ve got some recognition too.)

  26. That Y-Wing pilot was probably in the crowd applauding with a fake smile. Then later on at some wretched hive of a cantina he was bitching to his friends about Han, asking why a fucking scoundrel deserves a medal.

  27. You don’t get medals for taking part in battles. You get medals for winning them.

  28. the only thing that’s weird to me about this movie is for a movie made after 2005 it sure seems like a movie made in the 1970’s, what’s up with that? maybe this George Lucas guy was intentionally going for a THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL retro throwback style?

  29. What’s the big deal with this Ford actor who plays Han Solo? He seems like a one-hit-wonder. I bet he ends up on some crappy TV series playing a P.I. or something, you know, and he might carry a Magnum as a weapon, so his moniker could be, and I’m just spit-ballin here, Magnum P.I.? I seriously can’t believe the casting directors passed up on that guy from THREE MEN AND A BABY, Thomas Selleck. Now that dudes got some charisma.

    The good news is I hear Lucas and some shark and alien nerd called Spielberg are gonna make a cool movie next about a professor of archaeology who goes on these awesome adventures all over the world, fighting fuckin Nazi’s and snakes and shit. I so hope they give this Mr Thomas Selleck a crack at the whip, he could really pull it off and have a wonderful career.

  30. Darren — oh, right. A bit player from AMERICAN GRAFITTI plays an archeology professor in some WWII period piece? Yeah, that’s gonna be a winner (sarcasm).

  31. I like the theme tune to this one. Somebody should make a disco version of that shit.

    They could use it for circus of the stars or john holmes movies os stuff like that

  32. Harrison Ford? Who is that? Oh, yeah… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5MbnrZFhEY

  33. Griff- They cut Lucas budget for this one,that´s why it looks older than it is, simply because nobody watched the first three and the studio simply weren´t willing to spend much money on this. I hear Lucas is going back,to do a dirctors cut so it won´t look as cheap as it does now. Good luck to him, I´d say.

  34. Well, I think Lucas dumped this down for the kids. He cut out all the political stuff, and basically turned his very complex and subversive space-serial into a typical “guy saves princess”. If I hand´t seen part 1-3, it would seem almost like a simple, but classic adventure. But of course we know that everybody’s lying and manipulating Luke, that he is on love with his own sister, and that Anarkin is torturing his own daughter. I´m not sure about mr Lucas feelings about parents. At first I thought he hated kids, chopping them up with lightsabers left and right. In retrospect the first three movies were very much about bad parenthood, and how strict religious parents fucked up their kids. And as soon as our teen-protagonist turned into a (religious) parent himself, the entire universe went to hell. It was like a horror movie for teenagers. This time it´s all about killing of parents. Lukes parents dies, Leia parents dies, and Luke newest father figure commits suicide. But this time our protagonist actually has friends, who unlike the Jedis accept him for who he is, and gives him the confidence to believe in himself, unlike Anarkins surroundings. Also, none of them believe in the religious jedi/sith crap anymore. It´s not about dogmas, it´s about believing in yourself, and following your feelings. That´s nice. But I guess that Yoda is gonna show and fuck everything up real soon. Also, this brother-sister-best friend triangle is gonna get really ugly.

    I really like how Anarkin is the emperors bitch in this one. He was promised power, to rule over the universe with his bad daddy, but is apparently more like a henchman. The military people make fun of him, and are basically calling the shots. He does´t seem like he has a lot of power. The poor guy got fucked over by another daddy-figure.

    The music is even better than the first three, not as whimsical and hectic, but with constant strong themes. It´s like everybody involved decided less is more. There is not billion of characters and locations. The princess wears the same clothes for the entire movie. Droids and machines constantly malfunction. The first half is basically people talking in a desert, but it works. It really builds up anticipation. And when the picture gets rolling, it doesn´t stop. I love these kind of old-fashioned action-movies, with a solid build-up, where you get invested in the characters, and the actions actually means something. I wonder if Lucas was inspired by Death Proof, and it´s old-fashioned approach to building up the action.

    The design of the movie is amazing. Everything looks dirty and broken down, kinda like the first Alien. One of the best scenes actually takes place in a garbage-dump. You really believe that this is an actual place, where people live. The decision to go with practical effects seems insane on paper, but Lucas is more interested in suspense than spectacle. I know that the guy has been criticised for not being the best director, but the film is filled with great suspense-set-pieces. The climax had me on the edge of my seat, and when Han Solo shows up and saves Luke, I totally geeked out, and immediately posted my reaction on twitter, thats how sick it is.

    It is an awesome movie, amazingly written, directed, scored, edited, etc, but what really sells this movie is the actors. I love these characters. Leia is fucking hot, Solo is genuinely funny and charming and Luke just seems like a real decent fella. The acting is real strong in this one, the humour is funny and the excitement is really exciting. I hope more directors take notice of Lucas almost classical approach to filmatism, and starts caring more about the characters, and less about effects.

    In conclusion, it´s the most accomplished of the saga, but doesn´t have the emotional gut punch of Sith, or the escalating spectacle of Clones. It´s is more simple, more cheap, and kinda traditional when compared to the rest of the saga, but the characters, and the almost mythical nature of the story, makes this one very special. It´s is a genuine great movie.

  35. Mr Majestyk; “I liked how all the technology seems to have devolved under this totalitarian system, like Cuba under Castro.” Make no mistake, my friend, this totalitarian system is based on the USA. No other empire in the history of man (or aliens) would have a masked man with an ashtray from a Morris Minor as a mouth piece as second in command!

  36. One thing I forgot to mention is the character of X-Wing pilot Anthony Porkins. He is the one live action fat guy in the movie, it seems kind of unfair that he has to be named Porkins. Why not Command Lardbutter or Blub Lovehandles?

    Curt – I agree, the harsh double suns of Tatooine seem to cause a faster aging process. The first example of this is Anakin aging from Jake Lloyd to Hayden Christensen on Tatooine while Padme didn’t seem to age a day on Naboo. Tatooinians Ben, Owen and Beru all look older than they mathematically should.

  37. But Obi Wan seem to have aged perfectly normal during his eremite stay on Tatooine. Or do you have to be a native Tatooiner to suffer from that condition?

  38. Obi Wan has the force man, even if he doesn’t use it, it will still affect the ageing process.

  39. I like that Chewbacca being nothing more than a transport for yoda in part 3 ends up being a total badass partner to han solo.
    Not to mention Tarkin who is only in part 3 for five seconds is the real villain in this one.
    I think it is great that minor characters from the first trilogy totally take the stage in this one. I know this is lower budget but that is a Classic dtv move!

  40. Well fuck, the Death Star had a KFC drive-thru? They must have had Tie-Fighter Tuesday, and X-Wing Wednesday, just to keep the balance in The Force.

  41. Curt – I forgot about Owen and Beru. Owen looked older than his daddy did in part 2 in this one and hasn’t even been 2 decades. Desert living sure is rough.

    Griff – I believe it’s a stylistic choice. There’s a lot of deliberate minimalism in this movie to show the effect of the Empire’s dictatorial ways on the galaxy. The technology looks more primitive, the aliens and clothes look more rugged etc. I also remember parts 1-3 having a growing 50’s like aesthetic with a sci-fi twist so it only makes sense that almost 20 years later things now look more like the 70’s from a production design aspect.

  42. Another beacon of consistency in this one is the fact that Obi-Wan still lies and manipulates the young Skywalker all throughout. Guess it’s tough for a Jedi to change his shady ways.

  43. wow, after three bloated epics, somehow the ship gets turned around at PART FOUR and starts getting really good. Seems like it must be a sign that god exists that they’d scale it back this far, add in heavy Kurosawa influence, all that shit. Who knew Anakin would be a waaay better villain in a suit than a hero as a normal dude? I’m stunned, this movie was awesome.

  44. seriously though, did you expect this thing to visually quote Yojimbo? Lucas must have been watching some Tarantino movies and taking notes

  45. Placing Chewbacca in a small roll in Episode 3 only to have him show up again in a completely different position in Episode 4 seems odd to say the least. They should have just made him a different Wookie since there’s apparently an entire planet of them. In fact, it makes the galaxy seem a little smaller that this character randomly shows up here. I’m not sure if I like that choice. Still, this is obviously a huge improvement over the first three. It’s lean, mean and exciting. Still, there are suggestions that there’s a ton going on in this world that we don’t know about. We only seeing one story in a galaxy full of stories. I got this feeling from the first few movies as well.

  46. Major missed opportunity here: They killed off Christopher Lee in part III, so they miss out on having a Lee/Peter Cushing teamup in this one. That would have been awesome.

  47. Vern and Broddie,

    That’s not just my fan theory. I’m pretty sure I read a quote from Lucas somewhere where he said that Tatooine’s harsh environment is why they (Owen and Beru at least) have aged so much between III and IV.

    OK, the “two suns, so twice as much skin damage” part was mine.

  48. You know what’s sad? I have the impression that if ANH came out today exactly like it is, people would shit on it for being “too slow.” Am I the only one that cynical?

    (Or maybe I’m just distressed at these folks online complaining about a well-paced disaster thriller/monster movie like the new GODZILLA film.)

  49. No, RRA, I’m with you. People would hate all their favourite movies, if they would come out today.

  50. I know JAWS would be a friggin’ indie drama by today’s standards

  51. RRA – Maybe people are complaining about it because there are valid complaints to be made?

    I enjoyed the movie but it’s far from flawless. I grew up on Godzilla joints and it’s one of the better ones but the movie did have a lot issues. For one thing unlike you I didn’t find it “well paced”. Still there was more good than bad and it was a very enjoyable franchise starter when it worked; one that anybody who enjoyed Godzilla movies growing up should check out. I just won’t go into details until Vern actually reviews the thing.

  52. I remember reading an interview with Ridley Scott where he said that the original Alien film would be too slow for today’s audiences. It may have been a swipe at today’s ADD addled moviegoers, but judging from the tone of the interview and frenetic pace of Ridley Scott’s recent films, I think he was mostly just saying that he needs to keep the audience constantly entertained. I understand the instinct to make your audience happy, but I also think a director needs to know what is best for the story he or she is telling. As a filmmaker, Ridley Scott lost sight of that long ago.

  53. RBatty204 -“I also think a director needs to know what is best for the story he or she is telling. As a filmmaker, Ridley Scott lost sight of that long ago.”

    Definitely.

    Funnily enough ALIEN is actually a movie I would cite when people ask me of examples of proper cinematic pacing.

  54. Even though Darth Vader was bodied by big Dave Prowse, TMZ is reporting that he was voiced by the African-American actor James Earl Jones (THE UFO INCIDENT, EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC).

    I’d sue if I were Christensen’s agent; it’s not like they couldn’t have brought back Hayden and used some CGI to make him look bigger, or do like Jackson and shoot him mostly from forced perspective or in long shot surrounded by smaller stand-ins for the other characters.

  55. But Hayden doesn’t have that captivating and booming Mufasa voice so in the end I’m glad they went in a new direction.

  56. The Original... Paul

    May 17th, 2014 at 10:57 am

    RBatty:

    “I remember reading an interview with Ridley Scott where he said that the original Alien film would be too slow for today’s audiences.”

    See, now I feel like an asshole for pointing out that the original Alien film is a little slow for me. Oh well…

    I don’t have many complaints with “Alien” at all, but that might just be one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s still an extremely good film with a classic score, but as a slow-burn horror movie it loses out to films like “Kairo” for me. I get that it was very much the prototypical film of its kind; like “Halloween”, however, I think it was bettered by at least some films that came after it. What I’m saying is that I give it a helluva lot of credit for inventing a lot of stuff that its successors perfected. Again, it’s still a great film, just not a personal favorite.

  57. CJ wins this thread with the ANNIE HALL reference. I still stand by HALL as the oscar winner.

    Vern, this is a phenomenal exercise for film criticism and for society. I am so frustrated when I hear the same arguments go on for years, especially in real social issues (gay marriage, hello?) but film is a microcosm and I think it’s always good to push the conversation further.

    For all the years Lucas said he wants people to watch the episodes in chronological order, has anyone ever actually analyzed them that way? This is a first for me, and kind of a no brainier critically speaking. It took Vern to show they way.

  58. Randy, aren’t 3PO and R2 based on the two guys from Hidden Fortress as well? There’s Kurosawa all up in this bitch.

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