This week, progressive/nerd/parent reviews of all six Star Wars films as part of the obsession with/buildup to/exploitation of the release of The Force Awakens. The reviews are in sequential order (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) although I recommend a different order for first time viewers.
Star Wars: Episode IV – “A New Hope”
Bechdel-Wallace Score: 1/3
Shukla Score: 0/3
Russo Score: 0/3
There is no LGBTQ representation in this movie. There are no people of color in this movie. There are two named women in the movie, but they do not ever speak to each other (at least they both speak, which I don’t think happened in Sith). I gave the movie four kittens, because it is quite good and it would be hard for the kittens to pull me away. I used the crying-kitten Emoji because the kittens, like me, are sad to be stuck with the “Special Edition” of A New Hope and would much rather go back to watching the theatrical release. (Please!)
Highlights: I love the early Vader voice, right at the beginning. By “early Vader voice” I mean the same kind of voice that James Earl Jones uses in Conan the Barbarian – badass, ruthless, angry villain. In Empire and Jedi we get more of the “this is CNN” Vader-as-galactic-subdespot voice, which is also excellent, but not as scary as Darth Thulsa Doom is here. Vader is the big highlight of the whole movie, really. We see that since his battle with Obi Wan on Mustafar, he has learned the benefits of not arguing the point and instead just choking people who disagree. During a meeting, no less! Can you imagine how scary it is for Imperial officers when they get the invite to a Vader powerpoint presentation? Ask a question, get choked, while the dude just says “I covered that two slides ago, I find your apparent lack of focus disturbing” and then hope Tarkin is in the room to save you. Does anybody in the Imperial Navy actually want to move up the ranks? If so, why?!?! But I digress.
Another highlight is to be doing something in another room when Leia says “put that thing away or you’ll get us all killed,” because the dialogue in that whole sequence is really funny without the setting. “Something just brushed my leg.” Etc.
Relative to having just watched all three prequels, there is an ironic highlight in watching A New Hope (even the “Special Edition”): Lucas supposedly made sure to include something like 12 different planets in Revenge of the Sith, so that the relatively few locales in A New Hope would create a feel for just how much had been lost with the fall of the Galactic Republic. Instead, what happens for me as a viewer, is a great sense of relief and pleasure that the over-focus on setting and imagery has been replaced by a focus on plot and characters. Yay for storytelling!
Low points: See George/Disney, if you just let me have the theatrical release, I would have no complaints to make. Instead, the low points are for sure the scene with CGI-Jabba and the fact that given the chance to redo the explosion of the Death Star, Lucas picked another explosion visual that could never happen in space. Also what is the crap with adding in more Stormtroopers during the Death Star hallway scene? The absolute, no doubt about it, lowest moment in the “Special Edition” (those are hate-quotes, fyi) is the Han and Greedo interaction in the cantina. Han shot first, it was important, and it must be restored. Help us, Disney! You’re our only hope.
An honorable mention here is that Hope has, in real-world-chronology, the very first unbelievably bad name for a character: Jek Porkins, the X-Wing pilot who maybe needed to stay on target at the gym a little more. Just sayin’
Dad edits: Honestly, we skip the Han/Greedo scene. When my son asks what happened, I tell him “a bounty hunter confronted Han Solo, and Han Solo killed him.” My kid also hasn’t figured out yet that those are Owen’s and Beru’s smoldering bodies on Tatooine, and I am okay with that being unknown for a while longer. I understand if some folks might want to skip over all the choking, but I for one love my kid force-choking me for laughs, so we keep all that in.