Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness
Directed by: George Lucas
Written By: George Lucas
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 1 min
I can only imagine what it must have been like for movie lovers back in 1977. They hear a few good things about a new space fantasy film so they head out on opening night, and in two hours, the world has changed. A New Hope is loaded with fantastic characters, playing out a simple story of good versus evil. It’s incredibly entertaining, ground breaking and moving. It just all comes together so perfectly. From the beautiful score by John Williams, to the charismatic performances from Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. Darth Vader is possibly the coolest villain to ever hit the silver screen, and R2D2 and C3P0 provide great comic relief.
The 20th Anniversary Changes:
In 1997 George Lucas released the original trilogy again to celebrate 20 years of Star wars. The results were a mixed bag to say the least, but I’ll highlight a few of the changes here.
Tatoonie and Mos Eisley Spaceport: Most of the minor changes here are extra visual effects shots. The Storm Troopers ride CGI Dewback’s, and the spaceport is given a plethora of extra CGI nonsense to fill the foreground and background of the old footage. The new CGI effects do not blend well with the old film footage, and do not add anything to the story. The spaceport extras are actually an annoying distraction in some places. There are however two big mistakes added to the special edition during this segment of the film. The first involves the character Greedo. In the original Han Solo realizes this bounty hunter is there for his head, so he slily readies his blaster and shoots Greedo first. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this scene, and it fit perfectly that Han would do such a thing. They changed it anyway, and Greedo, who is only three feet away from Han some how shoots first and misses. The second is the inclusion of Jabba the Hutt. In the original we never see Jabba, but we learn enough to know if you owe him money, you had better watch out. In the special edition, we get to see a really bad CGI version of Jabba, and the scene between him and Han just repeats information we got from the scene with Greedo.
Meeting with Biggs: In the original we initially hear about Biggs as he used to work at the same farm as Luke. Later he’s actually one of the x-wing pilots taking on the Death Star. The two references are so far apart, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t make the connection. The Special edition helps out there by including a scene where Luke and Biggs reunite. While the scene doesn’t move the story forward, it was still nice to give Biggs his moment.
Final Battle: The only special edition changes I really approved off were made to the final battle above the Death Star. The CGI ships looked great and the new shots blended perfectly with the older effects footage. The dog fights were also really improved with the new computer generated footage. I only wish they did more here. There are still several shots of explosions on the surface of the Death Star left in that clearly look like models being attacked with fireworks!
Conclusion: If they only focused the CGI wizardry on the final battle scenes, and left the rest of the film alone I think a lot of us would have been very happy with the results.
This is more science fantasy than fiction, and that’s intentional. The story doesn’t hold up under too much scrutiny, so just sit back and enjoy the rich characters, effects and John Williams score.
Best viewing format:
If a showing on the big screen becomes available then certainly try to do that. At home a HD showing is a must.
Best Moment: << very mild spoiler >>
With all the great moments in A New Hope, there’s one scene that always stands out for me. It’s when Luke (Mark Hamill) and Leia (Carrie Fisher) are trapped on a small ledge after Luke blasts the controls to lock the door behind them. Those controls were also needed to extend a bridge, so they’re now trapped, and taking fire from Storm Troopers above their position. John William’s score fires up. Luke and leia are shooting Storm Troopers and then they both swing to safety. For me, it just perfectly encapsulates what this movie is about. A great fun adventure.