In my opinion, if you want to watch great science fiction you look in 3 places. Alien, if you want suspense; 2001: A Space Odyssey, if you are looking for a visually stunning epic that explores a more realistic take on space travel; and Star Wars if you want pure fun and excitement. These are the trinity of Sci Fi. 3 brilliant films that have not been surpassed by anything that has come in the 30-40 years since they came out. Is any one of these better than the other 2? Who’s to say? But yes, Star Wars is better than the other 2.
It’s hard to discuss George Lucas’ masterpiece and not say what hasn’t already been said. 97% of the galaxy love it, 2% don’t and 1% haven’t seen it. I was talking with my good friend at Buddy Critic a few days ago and he asked me this question: “How much different would that movie have to have been not to be what it became?”. It’s something I’ve had on my mind since, and instead of looking at its plot (which everyone is familiar with) I will look at the many components that make it one of the greatest films of all time. WARNING! I make many comparisons to comic characters.
Let’s start with the opening of the film. Before anything even happens. Once 20th Century Fox, has finished its fanfare. you have the simple and silent “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” followed by John Williams brilliant theme as the words STAR WARS appear and you are filled in everything you needed to know (Yes, everything. We didn’t need episodes 1-3) This is a moment I won’t really get to experience for the time. Being born 10 years after it’s initial release, I watched Star Wars since I was too young to remember, before I really got into it, it was always just something that was there, same as both Star Trek and The Next Generation. I’m jealous of everyone who was old enough to go see it in the theatre and experience this for the first time. I have experienced a close version of this though. I rented an old theatre for a friend’s bachelor party and we watched A New Hope. It was pretty cool.
Immediately after the opening and the rogue paragraphs in space, we get our first look at some of the awesome ships that fill the film. The coolest of these, obviously, is the Millennium Falcon, a ship that is so good it can do the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. A design is a departure from generic space craft, it is not symmetrical and stands out. Scenes of it flying in and saving the day look so cool that every time I see it, I imagine myself as the pilot. Move over Han, it’s my turn. X-wings and TIE Fighters are nice, but they got nothing on the Falcon. Not as cool looking, but definitely bad ass is the Death Star. Actually it’s not a ship, it looks more like a moon. But it’s no moon, it’s a space station. It is the ultimate threat because, as everyone knows, its can destroy entire planets in one go. Again with a little bit of dissymmetry it is an image that stands out. Although still not as much as the Millennium falcon. They had a Death Star at the Lego Store in Calgary a few years ago, and I wanted it so bad. Can you image how cool having your own Death Star on display would be? The ultimate weapon for the ultimate villain.
There are 2 villains that really stand out as having the coolest and villainous look to them. These are Dr. Doom and Darth Vader. Both command immense power and authority and both mask terrible scars over their faces. Voiced by James Earl Jones, his voice is both awesome and terrifying. And he was on a mission to maintain his power, which made him dangerous and ruthless. This is one of the big things that I found lacking in Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronin looked cool, he was played by Lee Pace, an actor who can emote authority and power (watch Halt and Catch Fire, you’ll see what I mean), but his reason for villainy was that he had a cool stone and that he was a racist. He wasn’t trying to put out a fire that threatened continuous hold over an empire. We also never really see Ronin as a threat the same way we see Vader. Vader killed Obi Wan, an experienced and wise Jedi. A major threat himself. Ronin never killed anyone we cared about. I could go on and on about how much Darth Vader is better than Ronin. But there are so many other characters that make Star Wars what it is.
Darkseid and Apokalips Darth Vader and The Death Star you need T he Justice League a great group of heroes. The power trio of Superman Luke Skywalker, Wonder Woman Princess Leia, and Batman Han Solo. Alongside them is the ever so loyal sidekick Robin Chewbacca and Booster Gold C-3P0 and The Blue Beetle R2-D2 there to help out and provide some comic relief. Sorry about the typos. Freudian slip?
For real though they have many similarities with the Justice League. Luke probably has more in common with Batman and Superman, in that both are orphans, just as Luke becomes, and he even witnesses his newfound fatherly figure murdered in front of him. That’s Batman. He is raised as a farmer and has a history that he knows nothing about, and has powers of a sort, that’s definitely Superman. However when you get a blitz of “choose A or B” questions, one is Batman or Superman and one is Han or Luke. Luke and Superman represent a pure good. They do things they believe are right and have justice backing them up. Han and Batman work by their own rules, and may even say they are going to leave because they have other concerns, but they will both be back at the end of the day to help. Luke as played by Mark Hamill, is probably the best acting of all the characters, you see a range of emotions, from frustration with his uncle, hope of the future during the setting suns scene, happiness, when he’s about to head in to battle and finally believes he’s where he belongs, and horror when he watches Obi Wan kick the bucket. Hamill, while not as successful as Harrison Ford, is definitely a fantastic actor and has made a name for himself in the geek world as Luke, the voice of the Joker, and more recently, reprising his role from the original series, as the Trickster in Flash
Princess Leia is Wonder Woman not only because she is a princess, but because she is a strong powerful woman. Carrie Fisher is fantastic in her portrayal of her. She can do everything that Luke can do, she may even be stronger even without her military background. and she is definitely stronger than Han. They joined the rebellion a long time after she had been a leader in it.
But Han. He’s played by Harrison Ford. He’s got The Millennium Falcon, and by his side he’s got a throat gurgling, arm removing, Wookie by his side. And he’s got style. He shot first (not in the redo, but he does in the comic which is proof that he did in the original). And he’s the balls to keep Jabba waiting. While yes he was in it for the money, he does come around and show his heroic side. Even if he says he just did it for the glory, we all know the truth. I, personally, don’t think he is quite as cool as Indiana Jones, but that is an argument for the ages. Star Lord from Guardians has been compared to him a lot, they both have dirty dealings, but only slightly, they see the lines of good and evil, they just like to play in the middle. Where they differ is that Han is more likely to stand in the back and question a leaders decisions Wolverine style, where Star Lord is more the leader type.
Han and Chewbacca have a similar relationship as Rocket and Groot from Guardians, and I’m gonna be honest I feel Groot is a better Chewie than Chewie. He is the clear muscle, but we see little emotion except frustration from Chewie. At least in this film, but I’m trying to ignore the future films and only speak of New Hope. Nevertheless, he is a pretty cool looking character, and definitely a terrifying opponent. Han is lucky to have him.
Obi Wan is a character I never really grew to love. He has his importance, and he is a powerful ally, but maybe because he dies early on, and I find him super annoying in the prequels I just never liked him. I will say this. His lightsaber battle with Vader, great scene. Simple sword fight, no fancy techniques, no tricky moves, just attacks and defence. And in the end, he needed to lose to join the force and assist Luke, and he knew that. Admirable death.
It is said that 3P0 and R2 were based off of silent film era comedians Laurel and Hardy. I don’t know much about them, but I do see the physical resemblance. And they do have a slapstick type nature to them. If you’ve ever pretended to talk on a toy phone when a kid hands it to you, it’s the same type of jokes you would make there. For that matter I see the same type of jokes being used by Rocket and Groot.
The comedy in Star Wars is very clever and very subtle. It was more The Office type humour, where its not puns and clever quips, its in how the characters deliver the lines and the humour in the situation. Part of the appeal of the film to me, is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. They make jokes about Stormtrooper gear not fitting right, or that they are making too much noise while escaping. That is part of what makes it fresh even today. I also believe that that same tone is being duplicated in the Marvel films and that is part of why they are so successful too.
Grand Moff Tarkin. Sweet name. Movie would have been fine without him.
Storm Troopers, little white versions of Darth Vader, minus the cape. Also look cool. A hell of a lot cooler than all the rebels they kill in the opening scenes.
Confession time. Guess when I really got into Star Wars. 1999. When Episode 1 came out. I originally thought that the movie was great. In my defence, I was 12. When I was working at the comic store, our boss took us to see Episode 1 in 3D. I have no clue why I went. That movie was BAAADDDD. But, just like how one of the people I most despise in the world introduced me to my wife, it got me really into the original trilogy and for that reason I will always be thankful for it.
A) Han kills Greedo, and yes, he did shoot first.
B) Obi Wan attempts to diffuse a situation with kindness, but when that fails, cuts the dudes arm off.
C) The Cantina Band
D) This quote: “Mos Eisley Space Port. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious”
Worst scene: The final scene. Han walks in with Chewie and Luke on both sides of him behind him to get their medals from Leia. HAN WAS NOT THE HERO, LUKE WAS. Luke should have been in front them. Small gripe.
Second and last small gripe, this one is about the whole franchise. They have Tatooine, they have Endor, they have Hoth. They have entire planets and moons devoted to one type of environment. Why don’t they have a planet that has forests, and ice, and cities and deserts? Just my two cents.
I know that I have really only touched the tip of the iceberg of all that is cool about Star Wars. But everybody knows that its cool. And its best to see it with friends and talk about it than read me ramble on.
On that note, please do read my next 2 upcoming posts. The original Star Wars Comics which actually came out before the movie and The Star Wars, a comic based on Lucas’s early draft of the film.
Thanks for reading, May the force be with you!
Images from http://la-screenwriter.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/star-wars-episode-4-advance-poster.jpg, http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/Darth-Vader-voiced-by-Arnold-Schwarzenegger.jpg, http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–HE3syu_s–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/wdiqe7iqkcrwxxulazch.png, http://mediagirl.areavoices.com/files/2013/09/leia.jpg, http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/7/72848/1353968-han_solo___chewie.jpg, http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20070922141109/starwars/images/1/14/Got_A_Bad_feeling.jpg