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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Review: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The greatest movie ever? Hard to say. I'll say this though: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is definitely in the running. It's up there with Citizen Kane, Forrest Gump and The Dark Knight as one of the greatest movies ever made. It's a perfectly organized symphony of characters, story, music, and groundbreaking special effects that usher it into the pantheon of great movies. As a fan of Star Wars, I of course love it, if that wasn't made clear already. I happened to watch this movie in celebration of Star Wars Day.

The film stares Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, a farm boy on a desert world (later known to us as Tatooine through the Expanded Universe) who comes across a pair of droids (robots). But these two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, are more than what they seem. R2-D2 carries with him secret plans vital to the rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire, previously secured by the valiant Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). With the help of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and smugglers Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), Luke must battle the Empire's forces, led by the terrible Darth Vader (James Earl Jones/David Prowse) and the devious Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), who with their deadly weapon, the Death Star, are able to destroy entire worlds.

Where do I start with saying how great and awesome this movie is? True, I don't have access to the original version, or even the 1997 re-release, but rather the 2004 re-release. However, that does little to diminish the movie's excellence. This version, although making some additions that has broken some bases among the fandom (Han did shoot first), nicely cleans up the film, rendering the footage in glorious splendor. But now I'll cut to the chase. The film has magnificent music by John Williams, awesome acting on the part of all the actors and actresses, both big and small, craftily conceived characters, engrossing effects, which were state of the art for their time, sensational cinematography, such as the shot of Luke looking at the twin suns of his home planet, and some amazing action.  It's also pretty fast paced, going from beginning to middle to end in a well arranged order and speed.What I'm saying here is that it's a classic for a reason. It's a great, fun film, good for ages twelve and up due to some minor swearing and a shot of a bloodied severed arm. Also of possible concern to parents is the quasi-Buddhist philosophy of the Force exhibited by Kenobi.

If I was asked to pick a favorite character, I'd have to go for Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has just that right blend of mystery, wisdom, and wit to make what is possibly the greatest supporting character ever to be seen on film. Heck, I liked all of the characters in this movie, even Luke's grouchy Uncle Owen. But of the sequel trilogy, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker are where it's at for me. I'm particularly interested in the unabashed portrayals of good and evil, which is something often lacking in today's films, which tend to paint the area as a little gray.

But all this said, is Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope the best Star Wars movie? I'm afraid not. That honor is reserved for Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. But that's another post.

RATING: 10/10

image courtesy of markheadrick.com