Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Film Review

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Directed by George Lucas.

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In Star Wars: A New Hope, there’s a scene in which all the heroes are trapped inside a giant garbage compactor. In truth, that’s exactly where this overrated film belongs – in a giant bin, where it is crushed and forgotten forever. Look, I know this is a controversial opinion, but I can’t help but think that most people who profess to ‘love’ this film, pretend to do so to fit in with ‘cool people’.

As Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill’s acting is of the standard that you’d see in a daytime soap opera. Compared to the prequels, the visual effects are so ropey, that can almost see the strings on the spaceships. Yes, some of the music is OK, but really, people talk about John Williams like he’s Beethoven, which clearly, he ‘aint.

If you want a good story of good vs evil, you can get the same message in your average Scooby Doo cartoon, and it won’t bore your brains out for two solid hours.

The film is crammed full of silliness; there’s a giant space station called a Death Star, which is basically a planet with a massive laser weapon on it  – yeah right!! There’s Princess Leia, wearing ridiculous space buns on either side of her head, there’s also Darth Vader, a walking-talking parking cone with a serious asthma problem. It’s like Lucas was on hard drugs, while writing the screenplay.

Lucas improved the film in 1997, when he added some CGI wizardry, which blends seamlessly with the footage shot in 1977. One scene in which Han Solo meets Jabba the Hutt, temporarily raises the quality of the film.

If you enjoy wanton stupidity, then Star Wars – A New Hope might float your boat. It’s dated and brash, and struggles to find any rhythm. It’s young cast try their best, but they can’t conjure any chemistry and just end up embarrassing themselves, spouting laughable dialogue in a space fantasy that is as childish as it is moronic. 3/10

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Siths (2005) Film Review

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Siths (2005) Directed by George Lucas. 

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Star Wars – Revenge of the Siths. Don’t you just LOVE that title!? Ok, the film itself is a step down in quality from the sublime Attack of the Clones, but there are huge positives here too.

Written and directed by George Lucas,’Siths‘ features a career-best performance from Natalie Portman, who positively transcends with an illuminating portrayal of a woman torn between the love of her husband and what she knows is right. Portman’s tears as she cries out through the pain –  “You’re breaking my heart“, recalls Shakespeare.

There is one scene, between Palatine and Anakin, during which Palpatine seduces the promising young Jedi at some weird opera, which drags on longer than an insurance seminar.

The digital effects are a complete knockout, showcasing the firepower of CG animation at its finest. The final lightsaber duel is the best of the entire saga – taking place over lava streams on the hostile planet of Sullust.

The comic relief of Jar Jar Binks is missed, but on the whole, Revenge of the Siths is a gut-wrenching experience that hits you hard. I cried, during the emotional finale, which like MacBeth, studies tragedy in a way that mainstream cinema has never done before. Powerful and utterly brilliant. 8/10

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) Film Review

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) Directed by George Lucas. 

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After the runaway success of The Phantom Menace, this sequel had a lot to live up to. George Lucas’ screenplay is incredibly imaginative and brings his characters to life. Not only does Hayden Christiansen have the looks, he also has the acting skills. I particularly enjoyed his scenes with Padme – the sexual tension gave depth to the story, and somewhat redeemed the awful chemistry between Han and Leia in the ‘original trilogy’.

John Williams’ score is a little repetitive, but thanks to the strength of the characterisation, the film is elevated by two highly resonant central performances, by Christensen and Portman. One waterfall location is so beautiful to look at, that you shouldn’t be surprised to find yourself in a state of complete enchantment. This is the power of cinema, writ large.

The middle act of any story is traditionally the ‘meat and veg’ of what makes the narrative tick…and here it is most evident. The emotive love story is like a beautiful mashup of Gone With The Wind and Titanic. It pull our heart-strings and reminds of how potent and dangerous young love can be. Lucas understands love.

Disappointingly, we get less Jar Jar, but in the end, Attack of the Clones is a blockbuster with genuine heart. It speaks to us about romance in way that recalls the classic love stories of the past, but sells it to a new generation. Bring a box of tissues to go with your popcorn. 10/10 

 

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) Film Review

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) Directed by George Lucas.

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Fuck the original trilogy! Alright, I realise that’s a strong statement, but for the love of the force guys, those crappy old films look shoddy at best. The Phantom Menace is where Star Wars truly begins.

It doesn’t take a genius to notice how the special effects in the 1999 classic were superior to the originals. The jaw-dropping landscapes, awesome explosions and breathtaking battle scenes create a convincing, immersive film.

As a character, the much maligned Jar Jar Binks is actually a stroke of genius. In a sense, we’re all Jar Jar. He’s the classic underdog, underestimated, but fiercely loyal and true to who he is, which makes him more real and relatable than most people dare to admit.

The casting of Jake Lloyd was an extraordinary choice. He excelled in portraying the cheeky, confident and somewhat cocky character of Anakin Skywalker. Even for a young boy, the romantic  connection between himself and Padme is established with such finesse and subtlety.

Overall, The Phantom Menace encapsulates what a trip to the cinema should be about. It kicks the living shit out of the overrated originals, and like great sex, it leaves us gagging for more. 9/10