Pros: Suspenseful story and great characters make for a fun film
Cons: Dated and cheesy at times, but it just adds to the fun
The Bottom Line:
Forget the prequels
This is where the saga starts
A long time ago...
These Aren't the Droids You're Looking for, but This is the Review You're Looking For
Unlike most in my generation, I did not grow up watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. (Of course, back in the day it was just called Star Wars.) But I was well aware of the original trilogy even if I didn't see this movie until high school or the complete original trilogy until college. I'm not sure how much that awareness contributes to my enjoyment of this movie, but I do still enjoy it.
Since this movie was done first, you can always jump in here. (In fact, it's fun to see the errors that develop because of the prequels like characters who don't seem to know planets they've been on before.)
The galaxy is under the oppressive rule of an empire. But there are a group of rebels trying to overthrow this empire. Among the rebels is Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). She's stolen some plans to the empire's new ultimate weapon, but before she can get those plans back to the other rebels, she is captured by Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). But she sends the plans to the nearby planet with the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.
The droid falls into the hands of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). But R2-D2 is determined to deliver his message to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness). That thrusts Luke into a wild new adventure as the pair try to smuggle the droids back off the planet with the help of smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Will they make it? Can the rebellion use the information in the droids?
There is a reason this movie is so popular. It is just plain fun action from start to finish. You start with a fire fight in space, and things keep moving from there. Yes, the time on the planet as we are introduced to Luke and Obi-Wan is a bit on the slow side, but it is needed to introduce the characters and really get the story moving. Once we have characters we can care about, we care about the outcome of the space battles and tight situations so much more.
And that's another thing that really helps this movie - you can't help but love the characters. Luke is so earnest and wants to help. Leia is very confident and even defiant. And Han appears to be only out for himself and his profit even if he cares more than he's willing to admit.
Praise really has to go to the actors for this. The characters are types more than true characters, but you'd never know it from the performances. We believe every moment on screen because the actors are pouring their heart and soul into it.
After noticing how cheesy the writing was in the first few movies, I was prepared for some cheesy writing here. Some of the lines were a bit on the cheesy side, but again the performances elevated it. The actors would deliver those lines with the right amount of sarcasm and wit to turn what could have been cringe worthy into some of the funniest lines of the movie. And you can't picture any other line fitting that scene.
This movie was first released in 1977, so the special effects are not up to today's high tech, CGI standards. And that means occasionally things don't look quite real. However, most of it does look very real. If you are willing to get lost in the movie, you'll find that you aren't noticing special effects but believe what you see and the story absorbs you.
Of course, the movie does scream 70's in other ways, like hair styles on the guys and at times moments of acting. To me, that is just part of the fun.
And fun is the key word when discussing Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Fun is the reason why so many people love it so much. I can't help but smile as I watch it.