Star Wars: A New Hope critique
Ah, Star Wars. A cultural phenomenon. It is said by many (myself included) that the "Original Trilogy" of Star Wars is far superior to the prequel trilogy. For many, Star Wars and its pair of sequels, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, are a corner stone of memories of childhood (or at least of younger days). That in itself generally causes people to give the movie "the benefit of the doubt" and let things go that they might be quick to gripe about in the new movies. Really, though, the reason I think the original trilogy better is because it had a much more "intimate" feel. Lucas claims to have been inspired by pulp sci-fi space operas when he was penning the first movies, and the original trilogy (the first movie especially) has this feel. It's a movie about characters who are pushed through a galaxy far, far away rather than movies about a galaxy far, far away with some characters that are there incidentally. The other thing that hindered the "prequel" trilogy is that it took characters we already knew and about whom we'd formed opinions and it forced them into some (in my opinion) poorly written archtypes. The most notable example of this is the problem reconciling the Darth Vader we see in this movie with Anakin Skywalker in any of the prequel movies, even the end of Return of the Sith when he is Darth Vader. They are two completely disparate characters that you wonder what could possibly have happened between Episodes 3 and 4 to cause the shift; the flimsy premises Lucas puts forth as reasons for his "fall" don't seem to carry the weight of this change. Despite all this, though, the original Star Wars movies are not without their flaws, and while my personal affection would prevent me from coming up with 70+ critiques of each movie, there are enough "wtf" moments that we forgive that don't seem to be forgiven in the new movies. The point of this isn't to defend the new movies by any means, but just to get people to take them with the grain of salt that they take the Original Trilogy. As a final note, since this is the Original set of movies, I'm going to keep the comments about continuity with the prequels to a minimum; those are problems with the prequels that should have been addressed, not problems with the original trilogy, even if they come after them in the timeline of the Mythos.
And so, without further ado, 20-something critiques of Star Wars: A New Hope
- 1) At the beginning of the movie, 3P0 makes the comment "There'll be no escape for the princess this time." When the hologram of Leia pops up later, though, 3P0 has no clue who she is, other than "A Passenger of some importance". It seems to me that as the captain's protocol droid, if 3P0 knows there is a princess, he would also know who she is and what she looks like.
- 2) Something that has always bugged me is the way the commander orders them not to shoot the escape pods, because it was a supposed "misfire". If they were there to shoot escape pods that did have people, then why bother to discriminate against ones that don't? What, is there a premium on laser energy?
- 3) Leia is "a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan". Ignoring the oxymoron that is the term "Imperial Senate", why would Leia be on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan? She's FROM Alderaan! If she's their Senate representative, then wouldn't any trip to Alderaan be considered a diplomatic mission? This is a silly premise.
- 4) So R2-D2 and C-3P0 have crashed in the deserts of Tatooine (a name we don't hear until the very end of Empire, and don't connect to this planet until Jedi) and they're arguing which way to go. R2 says he thinks settlements are in one direction, to which 3P0 responds "what makes you think there are settlements that way?". R2 probably responds with "Because I've been here before dumb-ass" or "Because I have life form sensors that are telling me there are settlements that way.", to which 3P0 responds "Don't get technical with me!" What kind of a response is THAT?! What did he expect in answer to his question, some sort of "I don't know, it just sounds like a good idea"? Was it a rhetorical question? What kind of a droid poses a rhetorical question in this situation? Just another example of why 3P0 doesn't always make sense.
- 5) "Look sir, droids". I suppose this isn't really a huge problem, but it's always bothered me the way the Stormtrooper pops up from the ground, totally covered in sand with this stupid head cant like he has a dumb grin on his face, holding a lugnut or something which obviously implies that droids were in the pod. It just seems too cheesy.
- 6) It's at this point in the movie as the Jawas line up all the droids for purchase that we learn that R2-D2 is, in fact, not the only R2 unit in existence. In fact, all astromech droids of his generation are apparently labelled with the R2 designation. So why does HE get the nickname "Artoo"? Wouldn't it make more sense to call him "Deetoo", since that appears to be the part of the ID number that is distinct?
- 7) As Luke and 3P0 go out to look for R2, the close-up of the landspeeder reveals something interesting: Neither of them appear to be doing anything relating to driving. I guess in this sci-fi universe, ground transportation has some nice autopilot. I wish my car had more than cruise control; I bloody hate I-5.
- 8) It always makes me laugh how Luke is trying to hurry the droids along because of the threat of Sand People ambushing them, but as soon as R2 lets him know that there actually are Sand People in the area, he decides it would be a BETTER idea to go check it out. Yeah, that makes sense.
- 9) "I don't recall ever owning a droid". I know I said I was going to keep the continuity problems to a minimum, but this is just the best place to mention this. How could Obi-wan not recognize R2? Did somebody give the Jedi a memory wipe too?
- 10) Why does Luke hate the Empire? He mentions this as he's telling Obi-wan why he can't help him, but it doesn't really make sense. We come to find that Tatooine is a backwater hole with more of a gangster presence than a governmental influence, so why would Luke give two shits about the Empire? The Empire must suck at the brainwashing propoganda out there on Tatooine, even though it seemed so effective at making most of the galaxy forget about the Old Republic in 20 short years. Really, the only logical answer I can think of is that Biggs was going on about it from his post with the Rebellion. Still, Luke had an awful lot of emotion in that hatred for something that's "all so far away".
- 11) What in the hell happened to Owen and Beru that they got turned into skeletons, and why does it happen to NO ONE ELSE IN ANY OF THE MOVIES?! Seriously, whatever weapon did that must be bad-ass, and we never get to see it? Boo! Boo I say!
- 12) The interrogation droid that approaches Leia on the Death Star has to be the least intimidating "enemy" figure ever. The music is telling us something scary and dramatic is happening, but watching that droid float across the room at 2 miles per hour is not, in any way, shape, or form, scary. It's like the Quad Laser from Aqua Teen; you just expect Leia to calmly step to the side and watch the droid float slowly past her.
- 13) Up to this point, the special edition changes have been minor and mostly superficial in nature. It's the trip into Mos Eisley, though, where we first start to think that maybe Lucas really has gone bat shit loco. The original scene has Luke, Obi-wan, and the droids cruising into town in the landspeeder. Really, you'd think they'd be the focus of the shot, right? Not in the special edition! In fact, in the special edition, we don't really get a clear shot of them until after they've started their conversation with the Stormtroopers! Instead, we're treated to a parade of imbiciles including a giant dinosaur, a few dumb-asses following the giant dinosaur, and a R2 unit following them. Sometime after the first sentence or two of dialogue, we finally see Luke, Obi-wan, and the Stormtroopers. Now that is some brilliant directing. Oh, wait, no it isn't.
- 14) So while we're talking about special edition changes, how hard would it have been to take the blood off of the severed hand in the cantina? All subsequent demanifications (a word I just made up meaning "chopping off of hands") have no blood (assumedly because the wounds are cauterized by the lightsaber); why is this one special?
- 15) I was willing to let the name Luke Skywalker go. This is a space opera, ok, cool. It's when they introduce Han Solo that I have to start taking objection with Lucas' naming scheme. Luke Skywalker...a character who leaves his planet to *gasp* travel the stars. Han Solo, the "lone ranger" type out on his own. That's some real creative nomenclature George. What's next, a fish race named Mon Calamari? Maybe a large, angry beast named a Rancor? Oh, wait, that is what happens.
- 16) Are Stormtroopers lazy, incompetent, or both? Upon encountering a locked door (which, by the way, contains their quarry), instead of going to a significant effort to gain entry, they just say "The door's locked, move on to the next one." Because seriously, it's not like someone that's hiding from the stormtroopers would lock the door. Now, that just wouldn't be sporting, would it?
- 17) What is with those helmets that the crewers on the Death Star (and Star Destroyers) have to wear? Seriously, these helmets go back so far down the neck, they look like the little hard-shelled beetle guys from Super Mario Bros. In case of emergency, do Empire crew members turtle-shell under their huge helmets for protection? They're on the Death Star here, the self-proclaimed ultimate power in the universe; for some reason the whole premise of needing a helmet doesn't make much sense; there has to be some better attire that could be part of the uniform.
- 18) I love James Earl Jones as Darth Vader. It's another part of Hayden Christiansen as Anakin that just doesn't reconcile; even after his "catastrophe", there's no way that whiny voice becomes Darth Vader. No way. But that's not what this critique is about; no, this critique is about how bad the synching is between Vader's dialogue and his body motion. There's one conversation between Vader and Tarkin, for example, when Vader has stopped talking, then we pan to a wide angle shot and we see him pointing his finger as if accentuating some sort of point. My point is, a lot of times in the movie, the synching between Jones' voice-overs and David Prowse's acting just don't mesh.
- 19) After bringing in the Millenium Falcon with the tractor beam, the Death Star crew discovers the ship is "abandonded" and that the escape pods have been jettisoned. This never made sense to me. Han and Obi-wan didn't start planning to "hide" until after they were trapped in the tractor beam...when did they ditch the escape pods that the Empire wouldn't have noticed?
- 20) 9 Cameras? Nine cameras? I know this is a detention cell, but how can a room the size of a office lobby need NINE cameras? And how is it that no one noticed that each of the nine cameras were losing picture until they were all gone? It seems to me that with that kind of redundancy, someone would have noticed the first three or four going out, then looked at the still operable ones to see a huge Wookie blasting the shit out of them.
- 21) Why does Leia have to shoot open the garbage chute? What, any time a stormtrooper in the detention cell wants to throw something away, they have to get out the hydrospanner and pry off the grate? Silly. It seems to me like it should be some sort of flap type thing like you see at McDonald's.
- 22) It makes no sense for there to be a creature in the garbage bin. No sense at all. Starwars.com describes this creature, the Dianoga, as "a disgusting garbage parasite that infests the refuse systems of large Imperial installations and warships." First off, why? And second off, why does the Empire let it? I get less impressed with these Imperial types all the time.
- 23) More than anything in the first movie, the thing that bothered me the most was the trench run. Now, don't get me wrong, the trench run is intense and exciting, but why is it that Vader and his TIEs can so easily drop behind the assaulting X-Wings, but Luke's group, which is supposed to be flying cover for Red Leader on his attack run, is unable to drop behind the TIEs? This is especially questionable as, in the end, Han does exactly that in the Falcon.
- 24) An extra point on subsequent viewings: What happens to the Lars' property? I mean, I know Luke wanted to get out of there, but wouldn't he have been set to inherit the moisture farm when his Uncle died? It seems to me it would worth a pretty hefty sum of money; more than the landspeeder they had to pawn to get off system. I guess they were in too much of a hurry to drop in to the local Coldwell Banker.
- 25) Finally, why does Obi-wan call Vader "Darth". We come to find out that "Darth" is actually a title for all sith lords: Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Darth Tyrannus. Again, as with Artoo, it would make more sense for him to be called Vader (as he is later, consistantly). Just more evidence that George is making it up as he goes along.