Jesus christ. What is there to _actually_ say about ‘Star Wars’ that’s remotely original? How am I to pad out this review with anything remotely insightful, witty, or radical? Let’s make this absolutely clear – I’m not. I’m really not. Absolutely everything remotely communicable about this film, this series, etc, has been whittled down and siphoned off over the past three decades. It is phenomenal just how much the franchise has enveloped, and impacted, culture and popular fiction. Even if you haven’t seen the films, you know who the good guys are. You know who the baddies are. By god, you even know what The Force is. This is a cult film, turned franchise, to end them all. And of course, it’s been the archetypal cash cow, too – but that’s beside the point.
Up until last night, I’ve not sat down to watch any of the original trilogy (I’m keeping the prequels at arms’ length for now). I have made it to twenty-four years old without having seen Star Wars. Let that repeat a little. Some may call it pathetic, others worthy of applause. But alas, some day, I knew this dubious accolade had to perish. How could I call myself a purveyor of science fiction without having seen bloody Star Wars? I couldn’t. Last night was a rite of passage. And while I agree with what a few have said in that at my age I’ll probably not draw anything new from the original films, I still found it massively entertaining.
And you know what? I didn’t think I would. What’s instantly likeable about this original film is the sheer amount of threads playing out at once. The cast, while relatively small in its foregrounded main characters, number an absolute bumload in its background creeps. From the opening mantra onwards we’re thrown into a world full of weird aliens and annoying robots – this storytelling choice may make some films fail horribly, but the accessibility of the characters and the surprising simplicity of the storyline (seriously, I was expecting UBER SPACE JARGON to be flying out me ears) allow us to get up to speed in what’s actually the fourth story of the saga. There is a massive, silenced story world behind these characters that will obviously come more into play in the following films (and the preceding ones) – and the fact it’s so far removed from our own reality gives this a bit more fascination.
The acting’s mostly great. Nothing wrong here. Brilliantly cast (though Alec Guinness would tell you otherwise) and visually superb, you almost don’t realise that next to sod all actually happens. Pretty much, the Death Star gets destroyed after Luke, Han, Chewie and the bots spring Princess Leia from Darth Vader’s imprisonment. That’s it. But it’s well-contained as a story – mainly in part to how bloody well lavish it all is. This is a fascinating piece of film work – and that’s probably why it rollercoastered into the cash farmyard it’s since become. Boredom is an awful thing for a film to slip into, and New Hope doesn’t. It’s one of the least boring films I’ve seen so far.
Enough gushing, though. I mean, come on. I stood being exiled into the stratosphere if I didn’t have anything positive to say about SW. The only things I would criticise would be the over-reliance upon shooty-shooty-lasery-firing bits near the end (technical terms, kids!), and looking back, there is quite a bit of standing around, or standing around trying things out, or standing around waiting for something. But you don’t notice them when you’re seeing them. That’s the key. And this is even with knowing full well what’s going to play out. I think, despite it having taken very little and having pulled it out to two hours long, the rich backstorying (new word, I made it) at play stops things from slowing down.
But, yeah. Labouring the point, here. I liked it. And I can finally say I’ve seen it. I wouldn’t say I’d marathon them all in one go and join the whole Greedo debate but, hey. I feel slightly relieved that I have little to no urge to dive into a cupboard and film myself twirling around with a broom. God. What a topical joke. I’ll start quoting ‘Chocolate Rain’ in a minute.
PROS : Rich story world, strong characters, simple story, excellent wardrobe / effects
CONS : Story is probably a bit too simple, can be slow in places (though never boring!)
8/10 – Doesn’t feel like a nine. And, as I’ve said, I can’t see myself becoming one of those people. My thing was Lost. And look how that ended. I’m restraining myself from investing so deeply in fiction again for life. But, I liked it. This is a very entertaining and accessible film that probably deserves a lot of the fawning it gets. That ok with you people? Bring on Empire and Jedi.