Originally titled just ‘Star Wars’ in its theatrical release in 1977, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is the film that kickstarted one of the most influential, important movie franchises in the history of the movie industry. It’s science fiction at its absolute best, and there’s a very good reason it’s still so beloved today.
To be completely honest, it’s not easy putting my opinion of this movie into words. I fondly remember renting it from my local library when I was about five-years old, and being completely blown away by every aspect of it. And as the years have gone on, my respect and love for this movie has gotten nothing but stronger.
A New Hope is a perfect example of genius storytelling. Its premise is a brilliant combination of complex backstory, deeply developed motivations, and straightforward adventure. It’s reference quality science fiction, and there’s something here for everyone and anyone to enjoy.
Following young Luke Skywalker, a humble farm-boy with ambitious dreams, A New Hope has a large and lively cast of characters, ranging from mercenary Han Solo, his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to spunky and headstrong Princess Leia.
And in some cases, such as Han’s, these characters, and their respective actors, single-handedly create a caricature that has been used and re-used for years on. When someone thinks of the lovable rogue, they think of Harrison Ford as Han Solo. And, in all honesty, is there any other character to ever be in a film that’s more iconic and immediately recognizable as Darth Vader?
While some characters do come off as slightly annoying (such as Luke when we first meet him, and C3PO for, well, for most of the movie), you won’t find a better cast than in Star Wars. Darth Vader set the standard when it came to chilling villains, and R2-D2 told the world how to properly implement droids into a sci-fi movie.
While many are quick to criticize George Lucas’ dialogue, I beg to differ. While, yes, some of the lines do fall a little flat, but more often than not they deliver in magnificent ways. I quote this movie more than I quote any other film. Lucas is such a good storyteller that he’s actually able to endear his viewer to not one, but two characters that never even speak a single discernible word.
And that alone is worth the respect of anyone.
Star Wars also sports one of the best villains to ever grace the film industry. From his chilling introduction, to the initial mystery surrounding his origins, Darth Vader is brilliant in physical appearance, dialogue, and screen presence. Never, ever, has there been a more recognizable character in an movie.
The same can be said of nearly every character in Star Wars. Even to the obscure who occupy only brief scenes in all the franchise (such as Greedo), to the nameless, faceless Stormtroopers who all happen to be horrible shots; they’ve all become iconic in their own, equally important ways. You can criticize Lucas all you want, but he is still a genius. And it shows in his film-making.
As a whole, A New Hope holds up incredibly well. While the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi shows its age, the action scenes as a whole are just as exciting today as they were in ’77. Thanks to Lucas’ great mixture of practical effects and computer effects, the many costumed aliens, blaster bolts, and intricate, space ship props still look great.
And the climactic space battle between the Rebel’s X-Wings and the Empire’s Tie Fighters, which is still the standard to which every aerial combat scene will be compared to, is a brilliant piece of film-making that is forever ingrained in the minds of whoever is able to witness it.
Whatever your opinion of Star Wars is, you really can’t deny just how great this movie is. It has everything anyone could want from a movie: action, romance, adventure, great characters, and just enough nostalgic campiness add that extra layer of fun over it all.
If you’ve read through this whole review, and haven’t yet seen Star Wars, then I highly recommend you do so. If you know me at all, you know it’s one of the things that encouraged me to pursue both writing and storytelling, and if I’m being honest, there’s no better place to start than with this movie: the one that started it all.
Star Wars: A New Hope is brilliant film in its own right, thanks to its instantly memorable characters, exciting action, quotable dialogue, and just all around great storytelling, and still stands as one of the best movies to ever be produced. It a testament to storytelling in the best way, and I have complete faith that it will forever be a timeless adventure for people of all ages.