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Movie Review: "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 5/25/1977

Theatrical Release: 5/25/1977

Synopsis

After a young farmer named Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) uncovers a secret message stored on an astro-droid, he leaves his home out to find the person for whom the message was intended. Luke believes the message, a call for help by a princess in danger, was intended for the mysterious Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness). The mysterious old man claims to have been a Jedi, who were once the protectors of peace across the galaxy. However, that was a long time ago, before the Empire rose to power. After getting the message to Ben Kenobi, the two meet with a couple of smugglers, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), with the hopes of hiring them to take Ben and Luke to Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher).

Unfortunately, getting to the Princess will not be so easy. She has been captured by the Empire, and she is being held on the super weapon known as the Death Star. The Death Star is a massive space station with the firepower to destroy whole planets. Rescuing the Princess seems like an impossible mission, as the Death Star is swarming with Imperial Storm Troopers, but Luke knows they need to try. To make matters worse, there is far more than just Imperial Storm Troopers on board the Death Star. If they plan to sneak onto the space station and save the Princess, they will need to avoid detection by the dark presence on board, known as Darth Vader (David Prowse and James Earl Jones), who is extremely powerful in the ways of the dark side of the Force.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Group (+10pts)

Whining Luke (-2pts)

Darth Vader & Old Ben Kenobi (+8pts)

The Duel (-1pts)

The Death Star (+6pts)

The Weakness (-4pts)

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Pro: The Group (+10pts)

This movie had such a great group of protagonists. There was Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, "Ben" Kenobi, Princess Leia, R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). These characters are now iconic, and this movie was a large reason why. Luke's story was a coming of age story, but it was a story that was filled with science fiction, fantasy, and adventure. Luke came from a small moisture farm, but he always dreamed for more. He had never been outside his small town, so it was easy to relate to him, as we were discovering the galaxy through his eyes.

Then there was the excellent group of supporting characters around Luke. R2-D2 was a droid who was full of tricks and who had plenty of personality. C-3PO was a scaredy-cat protocol droid who translated characters that did not speak the common language. Han Solo and Chewbacca were a smuggler duo who had a really entertaining friendship with one another. Ben Kenobi was the wise mentor who introduced us to the Jedi and the Force. Princess Leia was the "damsel in distress", although the filmmakers very much flipped that stereotype on its head. It was a great group of characters, who all together made it very easy to get invested in this world.

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Con: Whining Luke (-2pts)

This was a part of the movie that really has not aged well. In a time of more over-the-top acting, this may have worked just fine. Now, however, Luke's whining comes across as really annoying. I get that he was supposed to sound like a teenager, and I get that he was longing for more purpose in his life, but the way the filmmakers brought this to the screen felt like too much, and it takes me out of the movie every time I watch it. Fortunately, this was really only an issue while the character was on Tatooine, so it did not have a huge impact on my enjoyment of the movie.

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Pro: Darth Vader, Old Ben Kenobi & The Force (+8pts)

This movie really only scratched the surface with these things, but I really liked how the filmmakers set them up. The Force was established as something that connected all beings and things within the galaxy. Special individuals were "Force sensitive" and can control the Force. This allows them to move objects with their mind, improve their physical ability, sense things that are happening in the galaxy around them, improve their reflexes, and do countless other things that others within the universe see as magic. It feels a little silly having to explain the Force in this day and age, but this was the first movie in which the Force was introduced, and I really enjoy the concept, as well as all of the possible applications of it.

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Now for the two expert Force users in this movie. Ben Kenobi was the Jedi Master that took Luke under his wing, and Darth Vader was the menacing dark side user who captured Princess Leia. The two characters were opposite sides of the same coin, and it was clear that the two had a long history together. Their confrontation was emotional, and went a long way in establishing the deeply rooted conflict between the light side and the dark side of the Force. Again, this movie only scratched the surface with these two characters, but it set them up really effectively and it left me wanting to see so much more of both of them in future movies.

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Con: The Duel (-1pts)

This was a very minor issue, as I understand that it was a product of its time. However, while the duel in this movie was emotional and suspenseful, the choreography definitely did not age well. This is especially true if you have seen any of the movies from the prequel or sequel trilogies. I get that this duel did not feature these characters in their prime, but knowing the physical capabilities of older Force users in the prequel movies, that argument does not justify this issue. I am very forgiving of this issue, because it was the first Star Wars movie, and that it only seems to have aged poorly because of how significantly lightsaber duels have evolved in the movies since. However, it is definitely noticeable when watching the movie today, and it momentarily takes me out of the movie when I watch it.

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Pro: The Death Star (+6pts)

The Death Star was a very effective concept for Star Wars, which should be evident by how many times filmmakers went back to that well over the course of this franchise. The Death Star was so effective because it was intimidating, it was a symbol of fear, and it forced an underdog story. By being built to handle large fleets, the Rebellion determined that a small scale attack would be more effective. This naturally made the climax of the movie an underdog story, in which the protagonist's best chance was only a very small one.

Then there was the rescue mission. Trying to get inside the massive space station to free Princess Leia gave this movie a heist vibe for a little while. It was entertaining to see the protagonists trying to execute their plan, and it was suspenseful in the sense that they felt very much behind enemy lines. This was then followed by a space battle has become an iconic piece of cinematic history. The battle was epic, it was personal, it was exciting, and the stakes were high. With how well the Death Star worked for this movie, it is no wonder why the filmmakers have revisited this idea so many times.

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Con: The Weakness (-4pts)

Okay, I understand that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would go on to rectify this issue, but that does not change the fact that this was a convenient plot device for the filmmakers of this movie. They wanted the small scale assault by the Rebellion to have a purpose, and they wanted the protagonists to have some amount of hope during the climactic battle. However, the obstacle that the protagonists had to overcome was a massive, heavily weaponized space-station, in which the Rebels should have had no hope of success whatsoever. The filmmaker's solution was to throw in an oddly convenient weakness in the design of the Death Star, one that the Rebels would try to exploit. Again, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would go one to rectify this issue, but at the time of making Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, this design flaw was lazy filmmaking in an otherwise great movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: A- (92pts)

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope was the first Star Wars movie to be released, so it should be no surprise that it was a good one, as there was clearly a reason why the filmmakers would go on to make a whole franchise of movies, video games, television series, action figures and so much more. The movie was a hit, but it was not perfect. Neither the choreography in the duel sequence, or Luke's whining aged very well, but these things are somewhat forgivable as this movie was made in a different time. Then there was the design flaw in the Death Star, which was really just lazy writing by the filmmakers.

Fortunately, these issues were very minor in the grand scheme of this movie. I enjoyed this movie a lot, and i enjoyed the galaxy that the filmmakers setup within it. The main characters were incredibly easy to get invested in, as they would each go on to become cinematic icons. The Death Star was a great setting, as it provided an interesting heist-like sequence, as well as an epic climactic space battle. Finally there was Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the Force. These two characters were really interesting, they clearly had a lot of history, and their use of the Force left me wanting to learn a lot more about these two characters, where they came from, and what their respective roles would be going forward. The movie had some minor issues, but it would go on to create one of the biggest franchises in cinema history, and that is a testament to how great this movie was.

Best of the Star Wars Franchise

RankMoviePoints

1

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

95pts

2

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

93pts

3

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

92pts

4

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

90pts

5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

89pts

6

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

87pts

7

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

86pts

8

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

83pts

9

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

79pts

10

Solo: A Star Wars Story

78pts

11

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

77pts

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