To celebrate the finish of the nine Star Wars films, I’m writing reviews of the films and taking a break from book reviews. I am reviewing them in the order they were made not the timeline sequence.
Star Wars IV – A New Hope 1977 Written and directed by George Lucas
Released in 1977 this was eight years after the moon landing and space exploration was a new frontier. George Lucas brought space travel, lightspeed, alien creatures, a death star, and so much more to the screen. For that, he deserves everyone’s thanks. I won’t dwell on the technology and science of the movie. That was cutting edge for the time and opened up doors for special effects in all genres and the acceptance of droids, artificial intelligence, and nerds. Since I’m a writer, I’ll focus on characters and plot.
What I liked: The plot was straight forward with bad guys (the Empire) destroying whole planets with a Death Star battle station and good guys (the Rebellion) stopping them.
A hiccup: The Empire had two goals – find the stolen plans and find the rebel base. They knew the plans were in a robot but allowed R2D2 to escape from the Death Star (that wasn’t logical). Leia was smart enough to know they let them escape to track them to the base and kill them. This increased the urgency to find a weakness to destroy the Death Star. As a writer, you have to increase the stakes as the story progresses.
The characters grabbed our imaginations and hearts. Obi-Wan Kenobi, portrayed by Alec Guinness, was an excellent choice as the wise teacher who sacrifices his life so the student can escape and grow. Nearly all adventure stories have the combination of teacher and student. He introduces the Force – a mystic energy field created by all living things that surrounds, penetrates, and binds the galaxy together. I thought it odd that everyone seems to know about the Force (a lost religion) as they say, “May the force be with you” at the rebel base before the attack.
Han Solo (Harrison Ford) is the lone mercenary who realizes friendship is more important than money and the role launched Harrison Ford’s career as a hero and leading man. Han shows the most growth as a character from cynic to loyal rebel fighter.
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is the young dreamer who discovers his destiny is far bigger than he imagined. He is the everyman who has a special force within him to fight evil. As the hero he must save the day with the shot – using the Force – to destroy the Death Star.
Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is defiant to her captors and after Han and Luke rescue her, she takes charge, shooting her way out of the detention center. Women and girls wanted stronger role models, and Leia provided that – all by herself in this predominantly all-male cast. She is affectionate and hugs or kisses the main characters. This shows they care about each other and focused on the friendships.
Darth Vader became one of the greatest villains of all time. Not only did he wear all black, his breathing mask made a scary sound to announce his presence and James Earl Jones’ voice was perfect for intimidation and authority.
R2D2 and C3PO were the storytellers that link all nine movies together and provide comedic relief. Ownership was debatable. C3PO knows Princess Leia initially but then doesn’t recognize her in a hologram. He says his old master was Captain Antilles. Then Luke takes ownership.
What I didn’t like: While the male roles were well thought out and defined, Leia seemed an afterthought. Lucas didn’t even know how to label her. Was she a princess, diplomat, senator, or rebel leader? Pick one. He gave us the cinnamon bun hair-do that makes Leia instantly recognizable even though she wore that hideous white gown that no young woman would be caught dead in.
What scene/dialogue was missing: If Lucas knew Leia was Luke’s twin sister and they were the children of Darth Vader, why didn’t Vader recognize the connection? He senses Obi-Wan and Luke from a distance while Leia is inches from him on the deck of the Death Star. He does remark that Leia’s resistance to the mind probe is considerable and she won’t break under torture but senses no power of the Force in her. A weak excuse is she isn’t trained but neither is Luke at this point.
As a writer, I would have hinted at the parentage by Vader showing an unusual interest in Leia, one that freaks her out. Also, when they destroy Alderaan, her reaction should have been more emotional. Her father and everyone she knows has been killed. A few tears were expected – even if she waited until returning to her cell.
Problems: The stormtroopers wear full body owner but it doesn’t seem to protect them. They are referred to by numbers which may explain why they are expendable. They aren’t portrayed as individuals until Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens when Finn shows a human side to the stormtroopers.
History: Uncle Owen tells Luke that Obi-Wan Kenobi died at the same time as Luke’s father. He also describes Ben Kenobi as a wizard who is a crazy old man. He’s afraid Luke has too much of his father in him.
Ben admits he is Obi-Wan and says he hasn’t gone by that name before Luke was born and doesn’t remember owning a droid (although he should have recognized both from his younger years).
Luke said his father was a navigator on a spice freighter and didn’t fight in the Clone Wars (lies told to him by his uncle no doubt).
Ben tells him his uncle didn’t want his father to get involved. Ben admits he was a Jedi knight like Luke’s father and they fought in the Clone Wars. He was the best star pilot in the galaxy and a cunning warrior. He was a good friend. Then he gives Luke his father’s lightsaber – he wanted him to have it when he was old enough but his uncle wouldn’t allow it – he was afraid he’d follow Ben on an idealistic crusade like his father did. It is the introduction of the lightsaber, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age – Jedi’s were the guardians of peace and justice in the old Republic before the dark times of the Empire.
Luke asks how his father died. Young Jedi Darth Vader, who was Ben’s pupil until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy nearly all the Jedi knights and murdered Luke’s father.
General Kenobi served Leia’s father in the Clone Wars.
I make a note of the history to compare to the earlier stories beginning with The Phantom Menace. A lot of the facts given here do not match with what was revealed in the earlier stories, which is why I have an issue with them. Do you?
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