Thursday, November 10, 2005

Guiltless Review: Star Wars

Star Wars? But everyone likes Star Wars, right? Well it seems like that used to be the case, but lately the understandably negative reaction to the prequel trilogy has colored many people's opinions on the original films. I've had several friends who grew up loving Star Wars now talking about the original film as a flukey piece of camp that succeeded in spite of itself. That if we were to look back as adults with an 'objective' eye (whatever the hell that means, objectivity when discussing one's preferences is a bit of an oxymoron), we'd see the film much like we see the prequel trilogy: wooden, clumsy, overly concerned with selling toys to kids. Well, I've seen Star Wars fairly recently (although it was the special edition), and I'm happy to say it bares little resemblance to the profound mess found in much of the prequel trilogy. And now, the Guiltless Review:

Summary: Yeesh, there's something I say there's something a little bit 'Ewwww' about someone who's never seen Star Wars (Foghorn Leghorn rules)! Ok, 1977 Space Fantasy that along with 'Jaws' practically invented the summer blockbuster. Essentially the story of restless young farm boy Luke Skywalker who responds to a mysterious distress call from a distant world and finds his destiny in an intergalactic struggle between a heroic rebellion and an evil empire. Featuring heroes, villains, droids, wookies, space battles, lightsabre duels, Star Wars created spectacle the likes of which had never been seen at the time. So how's my reaction to it now?

1.) Laughs (6): Mostly provided by the sheer charisma of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher in their iconic roles as Han Solo and Princess Leia. Some good stuff with the droids R2-D2 & C-3PO as well. Ford's smugness as Solo is the winner here ("You've never heard of the Millenium Falcon?" "What a wonderful smell you've discovered," ).

2.) Tears & Lumps (3): Exactly one scene was potentially sadness-inducing when one of the characters dies, however that character's continued existence in every other film in the series prevents any true tears.

3.) Awe (10): Ok, I'd be remiss if I didn't give it up to the man responsible for more feelings of awe than any other person in film history: the great John Williams. I have no idea how he does it, but the musical cues at 2 key moments in the film are for lack of better words - incredible, amazing, profound. When Luke stares at the twin suns of Tatooine, realizing he's doomed to life as a farm fresh egg boy and again when he lets go of his dependence on technology during the final space battle and embraces the use of the force; these scenes accompanied by the music just create chills.

4.) Thrills (8): The actual battle scenes in this movie pale in comparison to those found in the rest of the original trilogy with the exception of the final death star battle which is still brilliant.

5.) Dread (7): Darth Vader is a true cinematic badass in this movie. He combines supreme physical and mental power with a very short fuse, evidenced by his willingness to kill even allies who 'disturb' him.

6.) Investment (10): Here's where the film flies despite it's somewhat dated effects and action sequences. Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Obi-Wan are all likable protagonists, I have no problem whatsoever caring about what happens to these characters. Incidentally this is where the prequel films failed most miserably.

7.) Twists (5): Nothing terribly unexpected happens, not the point of the movie so it doesn't detract.

8.) Bizareness (7): Hard to gauge since everything is so familiar by now. Still the Jawas with their travelling droid junkyard, and the alien cantina with the obvious rubber masks are pretty weird.

9.) Spectacle (11): Off the charts; alien species, planets, technology, and religions are introduced throughout at a breakneck pace. By the time the music at final awards ceremony (which I incidentally marched to at my wedding) is blasted triumphantly from the speakers you're in a completely other world.

Final word: Not a fluke, not a hallucination, Star Wars is still a great movie.


Roe said...

Finally, a movie review that I can relate to! My reactions:

1.) Laughs Ford's smugness as Solo is the winner here - Amen, my friend. And let's not forget Alec Guinness' response to Solo's "You've never heard of the Millenium Falcon?" A wonderfully dry, "Should I have?" It's a great moment. "What a wonderful smell you've discovered," ).

2.) Tears & Lumps - I still well up when Luke screams "NO!" when Ben's cut down.

3.) Awe: Again, Amen. John Williams doesn't just compose music, he creates moments. E.T. - when Elliott watches the ship fly away for the last time, it's heartrending. And really, who doesn't want to jump up and grab a horse when you hear the Indiana Jones music?

4.) Thrills: One of the best space dogfights in movie history.

5.) Dread: "I find your lack of faith disturbing" is still one of the greatest lines in movie history. I use Darth Vader's lines as a wife and mother on an almost daily basis, prompting my husband to refer to me as "Darth Mommy" when he's trying to get the boys in line.

6.) Investment: We're in our early to mid-30s and still discussing this movie. Investment much?

Stacey said...

It's a completely different experience to try to watch these movies again with an eye for what it would be like for someone now to see it.

It was such a completely different expereience when this movie came out, because there had been nothing like it. Even on it's limited effects budget at the time, you're still giving it a huge score on spectacle many many years later. At that time, it was insane.

Ian Sheridan said...

hehe this got me thinking So I wrote an entry about startwars myself.