March 30, 2016

Redux - Special Edition: Star Wars (1977).


Review #113: Star Wars.

Cast
Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin), Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi), David Prowse (Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) Directed by George Lucas.

Review
In my original review (#113 - March 30, 2012), I had given the movie a 10/10 rating, and while I stand by the rating, I regretted not saying more about the movie. I barely mentioned the acting at all, among other aspects that I should have talked more about. Because of this, I decided to finally make a Redux Review (which I had done for A Christmas Story, Halloween, Licence to Kill, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service). Enjoy this "Special Edition" version, if you will. 

Star Wars is a mythical tale that has entertained audiences all around the world for nearly 40 years, and the scope of its influence on cinema (and filmmakers) can't be understated. It's interesting how a space opera like this had been influenced by other movies such as The Hidden Fortress and Flash Gordon serials, but also works by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Star Wars at its heart is a fairy tale with the mythical nature of the characters, legends in an epic that is not set in the beginning, but rather the middle. You don't have to watch the prequels before seeing this because Star Wars manages to introduce itself and its story extremely well, right from the opening crawl. I remember watching this when I was around 13 years old, and I can recall that I didn't know much about Star Wars at the time (aside from the name), but the Battle of Yavin (amidst other scenes) managed to stick out the most in my head, even years later. Perhaps it was the memorability of the characters, or the music (by John Williams) being so in tune to the movie, with Binary Sunset being especially memorable, but other music (Cantina Band - which sets up an atmosphere of a bar in less than three minutes, and also the Battle of Yavin - which fits with the key climax of the movie) also working to the movie's advantage.

The characters are interesting to watch interact with each other (particularly our main trio), which is more interesting than the actual acting with regards to the dialogue. While admittedly Hamill can come across as slightly whiny, the progression of his character throughout the trilogy means that it is worth it in the end. Ford is a charming rouge who (along with Chewbacca) manage to be entertaining from the first scene they are in, primarily because of the sheer magnetism of the duo. Fisher also does a fine job, alongside Cushing and Guinness (both already well established actors of film), who are both memorable in their own ways. Cushing is the perfect actor to play a role that really is the main enemy of the film (as he is the one that commands the Death Star, orders the destruction of Alderaan), even with a Sith Lord at his side. Guinness manages to seal the mysterious wise aspects of an old warrior in his first few scenes while putting Luke onto the path of adventure (even if what he says is true from a certain point of view) and realizing what he must do to play his part in trying to bring down the Empire. It's interesting how David Prowse plays the physical aspects of Darth Vader, and he sure fits the imposing frame of a villain perfectly, with James Earl Jones' voice being quintessential for the character.

Even though the movie has had fixes over the years (most notably the "Special Edition" version), the effects are still impressive to me in the sense that I love the effort it must have taken to get the look and action right, such as the TIE fighter attack and how it was based off of dog fights from World War II. The fun isn't in the themes or the dialogue, but in the adventure that ensues, and how it satisfies you by just being a charming movie that doesn't need slogs of backstory to be enjoyable. You can watch this first instead of the prequels and still not be too confused because it isn't one to try and fill background information, rather it is one that has a story of its own with a mythos that eventually got expanded upon.

Next up on the Redux Review / Special Edition: The sequel that many argue is one of the best sequels of all time...

Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.

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