STAR WARS (A NEW HOPE)

THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“STAR WARS: EPISODE IV — A NEW HOPE”

written by Dominick Cappello

“This is where the fun begins…”

POSITIVE:

Wow. What an amazing cinematic achievement. I usually don’t like to gush over a film because it can make for a dull read, but what the heck. Most everybody already knows everything that there is know about the original “Star Wars”. Yes, this is the first film in the saga, not “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” (1999). If you are introducing “Star Wars” to a young one, show the films in order of their release dates and not by episode number.

Of course, we are introduced to the story of “A New Hope” through the eyes of R2-D2 and C-3PO. George Lucas taking his inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s “The Hidden Fortress” (1958). A film which had lowly peasants witnessing a great struggle. The journey taken by Luke Skywalker is considered to be one of the great examples of the archetypical hero’s journey outlined by Joseph Campbell. Harrison Ford was chosen to portray Han Solo only after reading lines with actors who were screen testing for other roles. In my own humble opinion, Kurt Russell was the only other viable candidate. Everybody wishes that were Han Solo, but are in reality more like Luke Skywalker. Princess Leia seems to be the only female in the entire galaxy besides Luke’s aunt. Maybe there’s some women in the cantina scene or maybe they were added for one of the special editions? I’m not really sure. I can’t keep track anymore.

Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing brought gravitas to the production. As I mentioned above, Luke Skywalker is on a journey. On every epic journey, the hero needs a mentor. Luke’s mentor is Obi-Wan Kenobi. He teaches Luke about The Force and at no point does he mention the midichlorians. Now, some people gripe about the light saber duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader being lackluster in terms of choreography, but you must pay attention to the dialogue. That’s what matters.

Darth Vader: “When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master”.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Only a master of evil, Darth”.

Obi-Wan sacrifices himself so to become one with The Force. He can still guide Luke even after crossing over into another plane of existence. David Prowse is the man inside the Darth Vader suit. If you’re a fan of Hammer Films, you’ll know that he portrayed The Monster in “Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell” (1974). Peter Cushing was Baron Victor Frankenstein. They were reunited in this film as Peter Cushing portrayed Grand Moff Tarkin. It’s interesting to note that Governor Tarkin seemingly outranked Darth Vader. He actually barked orders at Darth Vader! The man from the dark side! So, Governor Tarkin is actually a pretty cool character, but no antagonist in these films will ever be as iconic as Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones. Too bad that his backstory provided in the prequels made him a mopey, rat-tailed, asshole.

I don’t mind that we don’t see The Emperor in this film. I like that there is some mystery. So, if I absolutely had to nitpick, I’d say that it would have been nice to see what life was like on Alderaan before it was destroyed by the Death Star. Other than that, no major complaints. George Lucas rode the wave of success created by “Star Wars” for decades. We forgave him for the bad movies he produced like “Howard the Duck” (1986). We took the 1997 special editions with a grain of salt. Personally, I didn’t mind seeing Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett cameo in Episode IV. It wasn’t until the prequel trilogy that we lost our admiration for him. But, that is an article for another time.

– Dr. Jelly

“Your powers are weak, old man”.

NEGATIVE:

HAN SHOT FIRST!!! IN FACT, GREEDO NEVER SHOT AT ALL!!! GREEDO NEVER SHOT!!!

Even a cynical bastard such as myself would keep my mouth shut when it came to the original “Star Wars”. Sure, in the past I have mocked films like “Jaws 2” (1978), but I would never dare say anything negative about the original “Jaws” (1975). “Star Wars” used to also be immune to criticism, but George Lucas has forced my hand with the special editions.

As you can easily tell, I’m not happy with the alterations made to the Han Solo / Greedo scene. Why? Why would George Lucas try to cut the balls off of an iconic character like Han Solo? But, that’s just the icing on the cake. The whole build up to that scene has been tainted. Far too many CGI extras were added, crowding around in the streets of Mos Eisley.

Droids punching other droids in the nose. Jawas swinging on ropes like idiots. A close up of the backside of a CGI dinosaur / giraffe creature blocking the frame. Is this why he was compelled to make the prequels? To add in shit like this? And it wasn’t even topnotch CGI. It has aged terribly.

I am now convinced that George Lucas lucked out when he made “Star Wars”. He clearly had no idea what he was doing, then was bailed out by the talents of everyone else involved with the production. That’s why he knew to hand the reigns off to other directors when it came to “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983). Unfortunately, he had gone mad with power by the mid-1990s and decided to release the special editions and direct the prequels himself. The Emperor has no clothes and I don’t mean Darth Sidious. I’m talking about George Lucas.

– Dr. Frisbee

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope”.

INDIFFERENT:

Are there any fans of the “Star Wars” special editions released in 1997, altered again in 2004 for the DVD release, and altered yet again in 2011 for the Blu-ray release? I mean, other films have special editions and directors cuts with alternate endings and restored deleted scenes. How many versions are there of “Blade Runner” (1982)? I know a lot of people who were excited to see the Richard Donner cut of “Superman II” (1980) when it was finally released in 2006. “The Godfather Saga” (1977) shows scenes from “The Godfather, Part II” (1974) out of order. I find that to be irksome, but I usually don’t get too up in arms about stuff like this other than “Night of the Living Dead: 30th Anniversary Edition” (1999), which I thought was utter dog-shit.

But, the “Star Wars” special editions coupled with the prequel trilogy turned the fans against George Lucas. I highly recommend that you view “The People vs. George Lucas” (2010). “Star Trek: The Original Series” (1966 – 1969) was given a CGI makeover in 2006. However, this was mainly for exterior shots of the USS Enterprise and outer space in general. There was no tinkering with the story, so I don’t think that it’s too big of a deal. The “Star Wars” special editions are guilty of retcon (retroactive continuity), especially in “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983).

There isn’t much retcon in “A New Hope” to speak of. It’s mainly just improved special effects. I’ll let Dr. Frisbee bitch about all the alterations that we decided were bad while I’ll list the ones that I don’t mind and, in some cases, actually kind of like. There are improved exterior shots of the Jawa’s Sandcrawler as it rolls across Tatooine and a greatly improved shot of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s previously cardboard looking hut.

Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett make cameos. Since The Emperor is only mentioned in passing and Yoda had not yet been created, it’s nice to give the audience a hint of this densely populated galaxy. It is commonplace in franchises nowadays to introduce characters in minor roles and then expand their parts in sequels. I love the new shot of the Millennium Falcon escaping Mos Eisley. The praxis wave, from “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991), is added when Alderaan is blown to pieces by the Death Star.

In the theatrical release, while training aboard the Millennium Falcon, Luke Skywalker’s light saber was white even though Obi-Wan had given him a blue light saber earlier in the film. His father’s light saber. So, why is it white? There’s no white light sabers in any of the other films. Maybe that’s what a light saber looks like with the power turned down, so that an inexperienced Luke wouldn’t hurt himself? I really don’t know. In the 2004 DVD release, the light saber was made green in all wide shots even though Luke doesn’t unveil his newly constructed green light saber until “Return of the Jedi”. In the 2011 Blu-ray release, the light saber is blue in all wide shots, which is how it should be, but it’s still looks white for all of the close ups, so now I’m really confused.

A “thud” sound effect is added when a Storm Trooper infamously bumps his head. That’s a nice touch. Han Solo encounters even more Storm Troopers while escaping the Death Star. Darth Vader’s red light saber is enhanced for wide shots after Obi-Wan becomes one with The Force. It had initially looked too diminutive. Size matters if you are a dark lord of the Sith. Improved shots of the Millennium Falcon approaching Yavin. Improved shots of X-Wings departing their hidden base and approaching the Death Star. The praxis wave appears again when the Death Star is destroyed.

I am aware that this is a sensitive subject. As a writer, all that matters to me is that these alterations don’t adversely effect the story. That’s why I totally understand the whole “Han shot first!” outcry because that alters the characterization of Han Solo. On the other hand, if I was someone who worked in visual effects, I’d have a bit more empathy for those who worked on “Star Wars” way back in 1977 and might feel slighted to see their contributions erased from history by George Lucas.

– Dr. Rochester

Author: Dominick

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