Star Wars: A New Hope viewing

For a long, long time now (in a galaxy far, far away), I’ve eagerly desired to do a Mutant Viewing of A New Hope, but have held off from doing so because it’s been done.  And done.  And done some more.  The original Star Wars trilogy has been dissected and analyzed, frame by frame, by fans far more knowledgeable than I.

And yet, I can’t help myself.  I have this weird fascination with A New Hope, because I see it as unique in the Star Wars movie series.  It was made before sequels were even greenlit, before it became a certified smash and pop culture phenomenon, and back in the 70’s when special effects used to blind children if they stumbled into the theater by accident.  It stands apart from Empire and Jedi, because this is a 100% George Lucas effort.  Not the Lucas who let CGI and bad romantic dialogue go to his head for the prequels, but the old school, cinema-slinger who took a confident shot in the dark and turned what could have easily been a forgettable B-movie into one of the most significant scifi masterpieces of all time.

Therefore I must climb this personal Everest, ascend to the top and see if I triumph over the human spirit, or some such.  It’s a great movie, but it’s also cheesy as hell in all the ways Star Wars fans have come to love over the years.  I also thought it’d be interesting to revisit this film in light of the prequels, and how the events that Lucas retconned into the franchise cast a new light over this movie.

I can’t remember the first time I saw this, but it was definitely at home, on our TV.  It might have even been the TV version – we taped those a lot.  I didn’t get to see a Star Wars film in theaters until Return of the Jedi, so I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to see this on the big screen back in ’77.  I will say that I am a huge advocate of the “old” version, without the late ‘90s tweakings by Mr. Lucas, but I’m not as up in arms as I used to be.

Away we go!  Cue credits… cue scroll… IT IS A PERIOD OF CIVIL WAR.  Heck yeah, it is.  It’s ‘cause Yoda left his post, stupid little spaz.

Looks like Princess Leia got the family car after all… it’s “her” spaceship now, after being Mr. Smit’s property in Episode III.

The initial Star Destroyer pass over the camera is still suitably impressive, as is John Williams’ score.  Geez, can anyone ever praise this score enough?  I can’t imagine what this movie would’ve been like without it – if the characters are the heart of the film, the music really is the soul.

It’s pretty interesting that the first characters we see are robots – how’d people react to that back then?  And there’s a duplicate C3P0 in the background, clearly lost and without a comedic foil at his side.

I’ve always wondered if that was the only door to the ship, and if so, perhaps the Stormtroopers should’ve just cut a hole in the roof or something and dropped in.  “Hey guys!  Surprise!”  The Rebel troops and their funky backwards hats line up and then get their butts handed to them in the one and only successful foray by Stormtroopers in this entire trilogy.  You may note that one of the Rebels kind of does a sideways leap to *catch* a blaster bolt in the chest.

I love how pessimistic C3P0 is from the start.  Golly, who programmed him to be that way?  Could it be… the big black robot-man who’s storming the castle right now?  I think it is!  Man, I so wish Darth Vader would see the robots at some point in this film and be like, “Hey guys!  Remember me?  We used to do adventures together!  Guys?  Guys?  Wait up!”

It’s really considerate for that Stormtrooper to clear a path through the corpses for Vader.  I never actually noticed this before, but Vader has his lightsaber hanging from his belt even in this scene (far before he ever uses it).

R2D2 gets a little nooky time with Leia.  Good for him.  I always root for the short guy.  Leia is sporting the same side-buns that her mom wore like 17 years previous… guess that trends come back, unless it’s a genetic condition of sorts.

Heh, Vader interrogates the Rebel guy by choking him via muscle power alone.  Who needs the force when you’re this bad to the bone?  The guy makes a really gross noise as he dies, then Vader faceplants him into a wall.  Good to see Anakin’s worked out those anger issues.

I really, really dig the look of the ship’s interiors – even in 2009, it still looks sexy, sleek and futuristic.

Leia and the wimpiest gun ever manages to kill a Stormtrooper by clearly shooting three feet to the right of his head (seriously, slow-mo it sometime), and the Stormtroopers do their one and only “set blasters to stun” attack in the series.

“Inform Lord Vader we have a prisoner.”  Um, doesn’t he have a whole ship-full of prisoners at this point?  Does he need to get informed as to each and every one?

Notice that C3P0 only gets in the escape pod when he’s being shot at – why doesn’t the shooter notify command central that a droid just left the ship?  You think that might have influenced the decision not to shoot the pod or something.

Darth Vader and Leia go at it, while a smarmy Imperial officer just stands there and sneers.  Leia: “You’re not my real dad!”  Vader: “Am too!  I just thought you were dead because my new boss told me I killed your mom, and now I can’t use my Force-sense to realize that you’re my offspring even though I’m able to do so in the next film with your brother – oh yeah, you have a brother, hope that’s not a spoiler or anything.  Don’t fall in love with him on the very long odds that you’d ever meet.”  Leia: “Oh, GRODY, dad!”

Carrie Fisher has huge, huge eyes.  I think her mom did ‘shrooms.

Vader dictates to his lackey, who nods a little too much and comes across as a total sycophant.  I think it’s interesting that, 17 years later, the Senate still exists (but not for long!) and that Vader has to cover up his evil doings from them.

After that slam-bang 9-minute opening, we get to the duller part of the film: a tour of Tatooine, where moisture evaporators and Jawas are about the most exciting thing you’ll see all day.  The robots bicker, and C3P0 ends up not trusting R2’s GPS.  Speaking of R2, I read a comment a couple weeks ago that they found it odd that this highly futuristic society couldn’t equip him with a voice synthesizer like most droids, but that everyone seems to understand his beeps and bloops anyway.

C3P0 willingly gives himself up to slavery.  So, do Jawas just roam the dune seas looking for lost robots who have ejected from transport ships?  That is not a growth industry, trust me.  Meanwhile, R2 gets a face full of electricity and goes down, hard.  Too bad he didn’t remember he had rocket boosters and could just fly to civilization or something.  Interesting observation: the top of R2’s head looks just like the window of a Tie Fighter (or many other windows in the Star Wars universe).

Jawas are so dang cute, they’re awesome.  I want to be a Jawa when I grow down.

It’s kind of funny that in the Special Edition, you have lots of shots of Stormtroopers awkwardly riding Dewbacks – what, were their AT-ATs and AT-STs on backorder?  Couldn’t they just get a dune buggy?

“Look sir, droids!”  “Well, DUH.”  Ladies and gentlemen, the crack elite troops of the Empire.

C3P0 pronounces doom for the second time.  Man, I *wish* they’d melt you down, you pansy.  At least R2 lit some droids on fire in the prequels, you just went around naked in the first movie and have been mincing ever since.

Hey, minute 17, and we finally get to meet Luke.  Luke!  Me boogie!  He doesn’t make a great first impression with his whole “But I was going to Tashi Station to pick up some powerrrr converters!” whine, but if that’s some of the worst petulance we’ll see from him, he got off lucky compared to his dad.

R2’s like, “Hey, dude, buy me!  I was your dad’s best robot buddy!”  The Star Wars universe has 20 characters, and they are all part of the same incestual family.

I always thought Luke’s home was pretty cool, a little sunken hole in the desert.  I really like how Luke plays with the toy spaceship (just like all us kids did with Star Wars toys) – he’s got this wide-eyed childish nature about him, but in a good, hopeful way.  No killin’ younglings for this Skywalker, no sirree!

They have oil baths?  Do they… get used a lot?  By… Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru?  No, I don’t want to know.

R2 spits out the hologram of Leia – “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”  Now, how you react to this scene really depends on how you originally saw these films.  For all of us older folks, we had no idea who Obi-Wan was, or why he’s so full of hope and candy.  For the new generation that probably watched the prequels religiously and then the original films as an afterthought, maybe they get a giddy thrill that Beardy is finally coming out of retirement.  I don’t know.

Luke begins his creepy fascination with his twin sister (“Who is she?  She’s beautiful!”).  Yeah, pal, and you get to make out with her in the next film before George Lucas decided you were related and then made you hurl chunks in the third movie as you realized what you’d done.

C3P0 doesn’t even know the name of Princess Leia?  Really?  She was on the same ship, dude.  At least he mentions “Captain Antilles” (cue fanboy screaming).

So Luke does know of Kenobi, but has never met him.  Wonder how he came across that info?  “I wonder if he means Old Ben Kenobi, that guy who’s always following me around and staring at me from across the room like he’s some pedophile waiting to get me alone in a closet somewhere.”

This is C3P0’s best line, because it’s so harsh.  “No, I don’t think he likes you at all.” [R2 beeps]  “No, I don’t like you either.”  BOO-ya!

Aunt Beru, can I ask: can you finally spill the beans on what is in that blue milk?  Is that ultra-ultra Bantha skim?

It looks like Owen and Beru aren’t too fond of Kenobi these days.  Man, do THEY have stories for Luke.  “Why, the mom we never told you about and the dad we lied to you about came by for a visit, until your dad found your dead grandmother, became a mass murderer and had to hoof it out of here.”  I like how Owen calls Obi-Wan a “wizard”, and then sets Luke off with the “I don’t think he exists any more – he died about the same time as your father.”  Okay, let’s think about this for a second.  If that is true, then how does Luke even know OF Kenobi?  And why would Owen say anything about Luke’s dad in relation to Kenobi?  It’s really a weird statement to hear from Owen, but, hey, whatever gets a plot moving I guess.

I’ll give Lucas the benefit of the doubt and believe that he had the whole “Vader is Luke’s dad” thing set up from the get-go, but part of me still feels as if there were a lot of unknown holes he had to fill in when Empire Strikes Back got green-lit.

Ah, the Luke-staring-at-the-twin-suns moment – classic.  Too bad Uncle Owen already did it, for some reason, at the end of Episode III.

Luke tells C3P0 to “hit the accelerator” – um, who’s driving?  The pansy-droid?

Luke defends himself inadequately with what looks to be a Revolutionary War-era musket.  Obi-Wan does him just a little bit better by using scaaaaaary noises to frighten away the Sandpeople.  Obi!  How’s exile treating you?  Geesh, you’ve aged.  Obi-Wan’s hood reveal actually plays a lot better now that we’ve seen him in three films prior, like some sort of awesome mini-reunion.

Question: is there some reason that Mr. Kenobi does not recognize the very same R2 unit that traveled the galaxy with him and Anakin for quite some time?  Senility?

Another question: just how old is Kenobi, anyway?  He’s supposed to be 57, but egads, he looks well into his late 60’s, early 70’s.  This is only 19 years from Episode 3.  I guess you don’t age well in the Force.

Luke gets his first taste of how much everyone is going to lie to him – Obi-Wan isn’t dead, he’s the guy standing right there.  Thanks, Uncle Owen!

C3P0 has a running motif in the films of getting torn apart.  He just keeps adding to his useful traits, doesn’t he?

Okay, so here we come to one of the more problematic conversations of all of the movies, as Kenobi fills Luke in on his father.  First he states that Owen wanted Luke’s dad to “stay here and not gotten involved” with the Clone Wars – when did this ever come up in the prequels?  Does it even make any sort of sense with what little interaction we saw between Owen and Anakin?  Then there’s that awesome quote that tells me Lucas was fudging things a bit – Kenobi tells Luke that Vader killed his father, a bald-faced lie that Kenobi tries to cover up in the sequels by doing a bit of Jedi double-talk (“from a certain point of view”).  Why couldn’t Kenobi just tell Luke the truth?  It really would have done more good than bad, to warn the son that his father is a homicidal maniac with a plasma sword, but nah, just lie to the kid after telling him that his uncle lied to him as well.  Great Jedi training there.

Although, again, to give the benefit of the doubt – when Luke asks Kenobi about his dad’s death, Kenobi does this shifty-eyed look that could suggest he’s intentionally deceiving Luke for some reason.  Or really, really embarrassed.

At least Kenobi passes down Anakin’s lightsaber to Luke – “Oh, that black smudge on the grip?  Just dust it off.  Bits of your father, you understand, from when I nabbed it off of his burning flesh.”  Man, this movie gets WEIRD in light of the prequels.  Even though Luke’s seen with the lightsaber on most of the Star Wars posters, him waving it carelessly about in this scene and fighting the training droid on the Falcon is about it for this movie.

“Before the dark times.  Before the Empire.”  Brr.  Awesome speech.  “Now the Jedi are all but extinct.”  Maybe if you had trained up a few in the past three decades instead of sitting on a rock they wouldn’t be so extinct?  He does seem to be pretty eager to enlist Luke into Jedi training, however.

Now we finally visit the Death Star, presented here without a word of introduction or a subtitle, yet exuding military strength and power.  It’s a brilliant stroke to contrast its size to the Star Destroyer, which looks like a tiny speck against it.

“The Rebel alliance is too well equipped,” the Imperial fleet commander intones during one of their lively staff meetings.  “They’re more dangerous than you realize.”  Uh… yeah?  You’ve had like 17 years to dominate the galaxy, and from what we see of the Rebels in this film, they just have one planet and about 30 starfighters.  I think you could project a bit more confidence, Ted.  But hey, way for you all to be sporting those funky disco sideburns – that’ll show the rebels.

Grand Moff Tarkin, tall cup of grooviness that he is, comes in with Vader in tow (?), informing them that the Senate is finally dissolved.  I always kind of wondered why Vader comes off as Tarkin’s subordinate instead of vice-versa.

“If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this station,” Ted interjects helpfully, “it is possible, however unlikely, that they will have analyzed it and found a weakness and exploit it.”  I love Ted.  He’s really smart, probably one of the best guys on the Empire’s payroll.  I mean, he nails how the Rebels win at the end of this movie, calls it 100%, and nobody listens to him.  Ted: He could’ve saved the Empire.

I like the station commander, if only that he’s really, really, really, REALLY into the Death Star.  Like, I think he has a scale model of it and curls up next to it at night.  “Oh, who’s the ultimate power in the galaxy?  You!  You are the ultimate power!  Tee hee!”  Darth Vader is there to be the party downer, proselytizing the Force and ignoring the fact that he was part of the whole “Go Team Death Star!” from the beginning.

Station commander takes the bait and starts dissing Vader (“your sorcerer’s ways”) and the Force, calling it an “ancient religion”.  Ancient?  Just 19 years ago there were scads of Jedi everywhere in the galaxy!  Vader isn’t having any of that, and begins to Force choke him with a snarky, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”  HA!  At least Anakin got a sense of humor in the last two decades.

Back on Tatooine, Luke and Co. come across the remains of a Jawa massacre (aww), where Kenobi hilariously points out that “these blast points, too accurate for Sandpeople… only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.”  So precise?   Uh… huh.

This part always kind of freaked me out when I was a kid, because they showed Owen and Beru’s smoldering skeletons – you have to admit, it’s a pretty effective scene.  Follow that up with another scene that gave me nightmares – the torture droid and its scary long needle.  Man, Star Wars was big into torture – Empire worked over Han, Luke got fried with electricity in Jedi… good times.  Good times.  Good times.

C3P0 then adds a new subroutine to his programming – Jawa corpse removal.

Mos Eisley.  I like how R2D2 has to travel in the landspeeder on his back.  Kenobi does a bit of mind control, instituting another classic moment into Star Wars lore.  “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”  “What, yes they are!  There’s two of them!  Fred over here even saw the prissy one getting into the escape pod.”  “Move along.”  “Like heckfire!  Guards, arrest them!”

Woohoo!  The cantina!  For the record, this is the only place on Tatooine that I ever liked – Lucas and his crew went all out with the alien designs and funky Casablanca feel of the bar.  And the music… how could anyone ever forget this funky little ditty?

Kenobi hooks up with Chewbacca (no, not in that way… c’mon, this is a family site here!) as Luke proceeds to demonstrate why he’d be the plaything of Cell 9 if he ever went to prison.  He’s not there fifteen seconds before Ugly Alien 1 and 2 start picking a fight with him, which Kenobi settles peacefully, using the light side of the Force to chop the guy’s arm off.  Way to keep a low profile as a Jedi in exile, there.

HAN SOLO!  HANNNNNNN!  HEY!  WOOOOOO!  …sorry, give me a second.  Have to get my breath back.  I keep forgetting motion pictures can’t hear me the way I can hear them.  Anyway, 48 minutes into the movie, and Harrison Ford decides to show up for a day of work, what with his dour expression and totally groovy 70’s vest.  Seriously, you could move him over to the set of Saturday Night Fever, and he wouldn’t look too out of place.

Han and Kenobi haggle over a price while Luke pitches another whining fit about how awesome of a pilot he is.  Kenobi has a great little moment when he grabs Luke’s arm and shoves him back down, all the while wearing this haggard expression that reads, “What is UP with the attitude in the Skywalker clan?  They’ll be the death of me, I swear.”  Oh, speaking of which, if they Kenobi and all them were trying to hide Luke and Leia, why did they never change Luke’s last name from Vader’s?  That’s Witness Protection Program policy, Step 1.

I always thought the Stormtrooper’s massive rifles in the cantina were nifty.

Ah.  Greedo.  Do we have to do this?  The whole “Greedo shooting first” thing?  You know what?  We don’t.

It’s amazing, when you think of it, how many truly distinctive Star Warsian sounds there are.  Lightsabers, Jabba’s laugh, Darth Vader’s breathing, and so on.  But for some reason, the TIE fighters’ signature scream nails the franchise for me.  It’s like the spacecraft are truly angry with everything and everyone.

“[Leia’s] resistance to the mind probe is considerable,” Vader reports.  “It’s almost as if she’s wallowing in midichlorians and has the ability to cloud my awesome Jedi senses.”

Meanwhile, the Empire’s crack troops are stymied by something as exotic as a “locked door”.

Apart from perhaps the “Greedo shooting first” fiasco, the addition of Jabba’s scene to A New Hope is one of the most controversial changes by Lucas to the special editions.  For one thing, it really throws off the pace of the spaceport sequence; for another, it’s really kind of boring.  I mean, listen to the dialogue (the line “dumping cargo at the first sign of Imperial starship” is recycled a couple times in this scene alone), and ask yourself if this scene really adds anything to the Han story that Greedo didn’t already.  Nevermind that the CGI Jabba looks terrible, and that by introducing both Jabba and Boba Fett here, it robs the later movies of their impact.  Boba looks like a ninny.

I still chuckle at Luke’s description of the Falcon as a “piece of junk”.  When you look at it objectively, if you really can, the Falcon doesn’t really look that cool – more like a deformed beige Pac-Man.  Astounding that it became one of the key symbols of the series and the most famous spaceship of the next couple decades.

Han does a great wild eyes expression as the stormtroopers bust in.  A few blaster shots from him, and the ceiling is literally falling down.  Meanwhile, the stormtroopers legendary accuracy takes a hit.

Han’s boastful “few maneuvers” designed to lose the Star Destroyers looks suspiciously like “flying in a straight line”.  Then again, I’m not a pilot.  Luke keeps annoying them by pointing at everything, sort of like a hyper child in a candy store.  “What’s THAT thing?”

“The more you tighten your grip, Tarken, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”  Yeah!  You GO, girl!  This is the sort of thing that made me love Leia.  I mean, in a platonic sense.  The other sense didn’t come until the gold bikini of ROTJ.

I kind of get a kick out of how over the top the Empire becomes here, wiping out planets all willy nilly.  I mean, there’s evil, and then there’s Hitler and Stalin, and then there’s Tarkin.  Billions of people killed just for an object lesson?  That’s harsh, dude.  But pretty neat, from a special effects perspective.

Question: wouldn’t the original trilogy have been so much more cool if, at any one point, Chewie actually did rip someone’s arms out of their sockets?  I can just imagine little kids, traumatized after seeing a stormtrooper scream as the big hole in their shoulder bled out.

“You don’t believe in the Force, do you?”  Luke, seriously, before yesterday, did you?  I agree with Han here – the Force kind of is “simple tricks and nonsense”.  Another thought on the Force: Jedi are supposed to suppress and control their emotions, and yet Kenobi’s instructions are all about “reaching out with your feelings”.  Seems a bit oxymoronic.

“That’s no moon… it’s a space station!” Obi-Wan says.  Perfect delivery.

I’m not a big enough Star Wars nerd to know exactly how many stormtroopers there were on the Death Star, but there must’ve been quite a few, considering its size.  And except for the random fugitive captured freighter, they really don’t need to be tromping around all decked out in armor all the time.  I wonder how they kept them busy.

Vader, why don’t you just go onto the ship yourself?  Can’t you sense people hiding beneath a quarter inch of deck plating?  Lazy Sith.

Meanwhile, two stormtroopers fall for the oldest trick in the book.  TK-421, do you copy?

Kenobi hustles off a little too quickly than the situation calls for, if you ask me.  I think he’s just eager to be away from another malfunctioning Skywalker.  “Suicide mission?  Count me in!  Wheeeeee!”

Speaking of suicidal missions, Luke finds out about Leia.  I think this was the first time in cinema history that we witnessed a guy totally falling for a girl just by seeing her hologram, a girl who turns out to be of a rather close blood relation.  Luke, always thinking with your little lightsaber.

A cool background observation: as Han, Chewie and Luke wait for the elevator, an evil-looking version of C3P0 walks by them.  Elsewhere, Vader continues to play hide-and-go-seek with Kenobi.

It really cracks me up how the three boys just rip the prison lobby to shreds, a little too enthusiastically.  And then Han endears himself to me forever with his botched conversation with the intercom: “We’re fine, everything’s fine here.  How are you?”  Man, Harrison Ford was about two pay grades cooler than everyone else in this flick.  *BLAM!*  “Boring conversation anyway!”

Now what’s funnier?  Leia saving their bacon by blasting a hole into the garbage room, or Han kicking Chewie down into the hole?  It’s a close call, really.

The garbage room, for better or worse, is one of the most defining set pieces of the movie.  It’s not just discarded Weight Watcher meals and orange rinds either – it looks like it’s a lot of scrap metal, garbage water and wires.  What kind of party did the stormtroopers throw last weekend, anyway?

Side note: did anyone else have the Death Star playset as a kid?  They had the garbage room in it, and the “garbage” was represented by a couple pieces of spongy foam.  Pathetic.

I love how C3P0 interprets their happy noises as the screams of the dying.  He’s such a pick-me-upper, isn’t he?

As Kenobi shuts down the tractor beam (perched over one of the Death Star’s two thousand bottomless pits, no less), we get treated to a pretty nifty conversation between two stormtroopers that’s notable in its mundaneness.  “Maybe it’s another drill.”  “Outgassing, don’t worry about it.”  I want to see more slices of everyday stormtrooper life like this.

Han’s finest moment, charging a squad of easily frightened stormtroopers – this looks cool and certainly has a lot of comedy value, but isn’t very much in line with stormtroopers’ lemming-like devotion to throwing themselves into danger.

Meanwhile, Leia has her saddest moment, cowering in fear as manly Luke figures out a way to get past another bottomless pit.  As a bonus, she is tasked with delivering obvious exposition – “They’re coming through!”  “Hurry!”  “Find the controls that extend the bridge!”

Vader and Kenobi finally square off, which I suppose was the conversation of many stormtroopers that evening.  “Hey, did you catch the Big V doing a bit of stage fighting with a geriatric dude while the rest of us were working for a living?  What a loser.”  It’s not a very energetic fight, considering how the two fought like high powered bunny rabbits in Revenge of the Sith – what, not even one summersault?

And after all these years, I really don’t get why Kenobi lets himself get killed.  His death doesn’t stop Vader – a set of blast door does.  I guess he just really, really didn’t want to be around Luke or mentor him past the initial 24 hours.

I just want to say that William’s score during the TIE fighter attack is still 100% boss.

Did I mention how huggy Star Wars is?  Leia hugs Chewie in celebration, even though they weren’t exactly on speaking terms prior.  I guess hugs were big in the 70’s.

So… Leia’s keen insight reveals that she knows the Empire is tracking the Falcon.  I mean, she KNOWS they are.  So why does… why does… why does she lead them STRAIGHT TO THEIR SECRET HEADQUARTERS?   There must’ve been a million better solutions than remaining on the same ship the Empire is following, like mailing a copy of the Death Star plans, or getting another ship, or use the Falcon to lure the Death Star into a supernova.  But no, secret HQ it is.  Thank Leia later.

The Rebels have taken up residence in what appears to be Mayan pyramids.  Nice taste.

Oh hey, it’s the Death Star!  Good call, Leia.

R2D2 is seen with his evil counterpart as well.  I think every droid in the Star Wars universe is mirrored like this.

So it looks like it took the Rebels about a half hour to figure out the Death Star’s key weakness.  Guess Ted was right, after all.  The awesome computer graphics shown here — reminiscent of an Atari 2600 or Tempest — simply boggle the mind.  At least they upgrade to a hologram in Return of the Jedi.

Ask yourself, if the Death Star destroyed Yavin, what would the Rebels have lost?  Like 100 guys and a few grounded fighters?  That’s a pretty weak rebellion.  And why don’t the Rebels use the time to evacuate the ground forces while their fighters are off trying to do the impossible?  You’d think they’d want to double down on their operation, particularly if it really was that tiny.

Han takes the money and runs.  Good for him.  Luke seems bewildered, because Luke is the most sheltered boy in the universe.

Here’s one Special Edition change I approved of: adding the Biggs reunion with Luke.  It gives Luke a bit of credentials, and the whole conversation is pretty chummy and fun.  And it makes Biggs’ death later have more weight to it.  Bravo.

Ben Kenobi’s disembodied voice: “Luke!  The Force will be with you!”

Luke: [piloting] “Holy crap!” [crashes]

Did Lucas really, really need to name the fat guy “Porkins”?  That just seems mean.  At least he dies.  The fat guy always dies in Star Wars.

The Death Star battle is pretty genius, when you consider all its elements.  You really can’t get any more David and Goliath than 30 guys in vehicles the size of an SUV attacking a station the size of a planet.  The surface gives a nice “up and down” orientation to the fight, and making them do a trench run to hit the target was certainly more interesting than just doing a top-down attack run.

Y-Wings… man, they suck.

So riddle me this: why wouldn’t Luke’s Death Star-destroying blast just detonate against the shaft’s far wall?  It curves in, like a marble rolling down a pipe.  I’m overthinking it, I know, but it’s always bugged me.

I feel a little bad for Tarkin – he *almost* won, if the controller didn’t do the whole “standing by” thing three or four times in a row.

More hugs: Leia with Luke, Luke with Han, Leia with Han.

You have to laugh at Luke giving C3P0 the barest of condolences over R2’s destruction before grinning and skipping off to celebrate.

I’ll end with this: the award scene music was featured as the recessional at my wedding, and is still one of the greatest scores of movie history.  I even had Poolman roar like Chewie.


  1. It’s kind of funny that in the Special Edition, you have lots of shots of Stormtroopers awkwardly riding Dewbacks – what, were their AT-ATs and AT-STs on backorder? Couldn’t they just get a dune buggy?

    I would think that whatever ground vehicles available from the Star Destroyer wouldn’t be conditioned for operating on Tatooine (sand getting into everything, etc.) and would have to use what the local garrison has. As they are a backwater, said garrison would likely have a low priority as regards equipment acquisition.

    C3P0 doesn’t even know the name of Princess Leia? Really? She was on the same ship, dude.

    I always thought Threepio was just showing some discretion and had decided that this shmuck didn’t need to know too much.

    Question: is there some reason that Mr. Kenobi does not recognize the very same R2 unit that traveled the galaxy with him and Anakin for quite some time? Senility?

    Well it’s been a while, and it’s not like Artoo is a unique design. Could be any astromech.

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