Classic Film Review: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Directed by: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness

 

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) has the plans to blow up the Death Star, but it becomes a space adventure for them to be finally placed into the right hands, all the while the rebellion are being chased by Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones, Empire Strikes Back) and the Empire at every opportunity, and Princess Leia herself has been captured (leaving the plans with a robot). Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) eventually stumbles across the R2-D2 unit and its message and tracks down Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) to pass it on to him. Together with Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Blade Runner) and Chewbacca, they must rescue the Princess and destroy the Death Star.

In chronological, timeline order, this is easily the most complete Star Wars film. Between characters I can be invested in to a plot that has nice pacing and a clear hero and villain divide, as well as the pleasures of an adventure, it is a well-rounded and entertaining film. However, it still has the wipes. I didn’t like them in A Phantom Menace, and while they’re not as bad or as hideous in this film, I still don’t like them.

One of my favourite things about this film, though, wasn’t necessarily the special effects or the score or the action (which were all impressive), but the friendship between R2-D2 and C-3PO; the entire film they were squabbling and fighting, but you could see underneath that even for droids they had an affection for each other, and this shone through after R2-D2 was hit and C-3PO finally cared about his friend. It brought humour, it brought emotion, and I was especially thankful that the comedic element in this film wasn’t as dire as it was in the first of the prequel trilogy.

Despite never having been a major fan of the franchise, I struggled to find quite a lot I disliked about this film, so the new ‘Five Negatives’ addition at the end of my reviews was quite tricky. However the film was far from perfect: firstly, despite the largely decent acting throughout, it was obvious that this was Mark Hamill’s first major movie role; his pretty poor performance standing out in a sea of otherwise solid acting.

But the biggest disappointment I had with this film was Darth Vader. In Rogue One he had this aura around him as a genuine villain, and in Revenge of the Sith it’s established that Anakin is a formidable Jedi, yet in this film Darth Vader was more just there than anything else. He stands behind a chair answering to people and his fight with Obi-Wan was a bit boring; he just didn’t have this aura of a massive, massive villain to me. I know that will change in the next films, but judging this film as a whole, he felt similar to Darth Maul (Ray Park) in The Phantom Menace: strong, skilled, but under-utilised.

But that aside, as the Empire itself and the Death Star were more the villains of the film, rather than specifically Darth Vader, the heroes are well created, and their connection well established (I liked the slight subtleness of the love triangle, without it throwing it completely in our face), and, unlike in any of the other Star Wars film’s heroes, I actually care where they go next. And what their reaction is to the Empire striking back.

 

Plot: * * * *

Acting: * * *

Writing: * * *

Presentation: * * * *

Overall Rating: * * * ½

 

Other films in the Star Wars series:

 

Five Positives:

  • R2-D2 and C-3PO’s relationship.
  • Impressive score and special effects.
  • Investible characters.
  • Nicely written dialogue for the love triangle.
  • Han Solo.

Five Negatives:

  • Some moments of poor dialogue.
  • Darth Vader doesn’t feel too villanous.
  • Mark Hamill.
  • Stormtroopers are useless.
  • Disappointing battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan.
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