Monday, November 11, 2013

Star Wars IV: A New Hope

Well l have a slightly awkward confession to make. The first Star Wars movie came out in 1977, when I had both the means and the interest to see it. I was very quick to go watch Star Wars I when it came out and have seen bits and pieces of the various Star Wars movies as they have shown up on TV. Throughout my life, I have participated in countless conversations in which there have been Jedi, Princess Leia and R2D2 references and "may the force be with you" has taken on a life of its own. I have not, however, sat down and actually watched any of the Star Wars movies except for the first prequel. Time, I think, to rectify the situation.

Starting in the middle of a shootout, I can already see that a sequel could be useful to provide a backstory as to what is going on between the Imperial Forces and the Rebels - we are obviously supposed to be with the Rebels. When Darth Vader comes on the scene, it becomes obvious the men in white are after the deathstar plans, but I do think Darth Vader needs a more manly voice. I am impressed by the sharpness of the images - no doubt there has been some digital trickery. R2D2 and C3P0 (not that anyone seems to ever refer to him by name) make an unlikely pair (almost a squabbling couple) to send on an important mission - it is comical and a bit sad when R2D2 is shot by the Jawas and falls over! Luke Skywalker is surprisingly petulant and whiny when we meet him. But he quickly grows on me, when he and C3P0 chase after R2D2 and meet up with Obi Wan Kenobi - and there goes the Jedi light sabre.

The quest is now on, to get Princess Leia's message to her father, and have Luke learn his heritage, knowledge of the force. It is a big thing: Darth Vader has to warn the Imperials that no matter how good their tech, the force is stronger. But like most people in power, they think they are impregnable. They prove it by blowing up a planet with no defences at all, Princess Leia's planet. Killing Luke's guardians now means it is game on. The Force:it has a strong influence on the weak minded - so Obi Wan Kenobi can easily get past the Imperial security droids. Discrimination shows its ugly head when Luke and C3P0 go into the rough bar replete with criminals of every strip but gentle droids are not welcome. Han Solo: so nonchalant "sorry about the mess"! Is it really safe for Luke to be trying out his light sabre inside the space ship? Certainly isn't safe to fire a weapon in a sealed garbage storage unit. 

About an hour in, there's a significant change of pace: sure, there have been the occasional skirmishes, but now they are sucked in to the Death Star and, even though they can't be found, they're prisoners. And there it is - "the force will be with you". Nice big shoot out, rescue mission and now Luke meets Leia - all precursors to the showdown between Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi. She's sassy and not grateful to guys who rescue her without any proper plans - even Han Solo likes her. "One thing's for sure - we're going to be a lot thinner". More humour when C3P0 thinks they're all dying but are actually jubilant at surviving. "this big walking carpet" = Chewbacca. So many Imperial forces and yet they hit no-one.

Escape turns out to be surprisingly quickly achieved - I was sure we'd see most of the hour used up on it, but all the fighting is in short bursts. But now there's space fighters and Leia is now willing to hug the carpet. Think she's disappointed with Solo - but the overall mission is a success, in that they find a way into destroy the Death Star. But why is R2D2 flying along with Luke in Red5? They really needed a squad of fighters to protect the fighters going in for the kill - they're being picked off by Darth in the rear. Luckily the commander's sense of invulnerability hasn't left him yet, which is what makes the Death Star vulnerable. Up to you Luke, with your bush pilot skillz. But three minutes to go and Darth right on his tail and the Rebel base in range of the Death Star - the force is with him. Up she goes. Missed Solo coming in to help. Poor old R2D2 not looking so hot.

So, the last 30 minutes turned into a pretty tense sort of fight and I have to say that for a movie nearly 40 years old, it is holding up pretty well, with the tech looking good. I don't watch many modern movies of this ilk, but my impression is that they tend to make fights into long drawn out melodramas: the fighting here was all taut and short and sweet.