Star Wars: The Force Awakens-Does it live up to the Hype? (Spoiler-free)

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*SPOILER-FREE ZONE*

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After seeing The Force Awakens at the midnight showing last night, we both left with some differing opinions about some aspects of the film. However, what we did agree on was the sheer amount of joy, humour, and fun that came through on the big screen.

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From the moment the opening crawl and John Williams’ score appeared, it seemed like everyone in the cinema had the biggest, stupidest grin on their faces, which is exactly as it should be when watching Star Wars. It just felt right, and from then on, I don’t think anyone really stopped smiling at the jokes, the heroism, or the great chemistry between the both the new and the old cast members. The practical effects were great, the CGI didn’t stand out as glaringly bad, and everything felt the way Star Wars used to feel. We were thrown into this used, beaten up galaxy that we had all come to know and love with the original trilogy, and, like I said, it just felt right.

The characters are very engaging, and the three new heroes, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac have a chemistry between them that speaks volumes about their personalities and talent. As well as our heroes, the film’s villains are fairly impressive themselves. Adam Driver is an interesting new take on the classic Star Wars villain, and makes for a very menacing and impressive character. However, the much-hyped Captain Phasma, Gwendoline Christie’s character, is terribly under-used, and I’d go as far as to say wasted. Of course, we have the return of our old heroes too, and it feels just like old times. To sum up the quality of the characters of this film, they always feel like real people, who say things that a normal human would say without a rant about sand in sight.

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Speaking of ranting about sand, if you’re worried that this film follows the prequels into any of their pitfalls, then have no fear, because this is about as far removed from those stagnant period-pieces as you can get. This is mostly due to the absolutely breakneck speed at which this movie progresses and the wealth of references to the original trilogy, as well as the quality of its characters and special effects. However, at times, this fast-pace and reliance on the original films does work against it.

It occasionally feels like some very key scenes are glossed over in order to flash onto the next big set-piece, and as amazing and impressive as they are, those key moments would benefit from a little more space to breathe and develop. Not a whole lot more, but they definitely required a bit more attention and care. Unfortunately though, this is a common issue with Abrams’ films, as they frequently rely on a surface-level development that moves at a ferocious pace. That being said, this refusal to slow down for anything does mean that the stodgy, over-explained prequels are nowhere to be found, and it closely resembles the action-adventure pace of A New Hope; or, more accurately, A New Hope on speed.

However, this is a resemblance that brings up another issue. The reliance on the original trilogy extends beyond pacing, set design and special effects and into the script. To be specific, the storyline of this film is more of a greatest hits version of the original trilogy than its own, original design. Granted, Star Wars has always been formulaic in its structure, but this was an opportunity to be innovative and creative in this new story, and unfortunately it was wasted in order to give fans something that they’ve seen before numerous times. The reasoning for this is understandable to an extent, they obviously wanted something tried and tested to kick off a trilogy that might grow into its own thing, but there’s a limit, and at times this film toed the line between homage and reboot.

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With that said though, there’s no denying that this was an incredibly fun film to watch, and if it’s done nothing else, it’s made us incredibly excited to see episode VIII, where these characters will hopefully develop even further, and give us more of the same fun. We both plan to go back and watch this film at least one more time, and who knows, maybe on a second viewing it will be even more enjoyable to watch.

 

Have you seen The Force Awakens? Do you agree with what we’ve written, disagree, or do you think we’ve overlooked something? If so, please leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts; and if you’re feeling generous, a like, follow, or share would be amazing. 

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi- Yeah, it’s OK

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Benportrait1The finale of the original trilogy has always been a bit of an issue for me. There are some parts of the film I really enjoy, while there are others I cannot bear to watch.

 

 

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The Bad-

As usual I will get the bad stuff out of the way early.

  • I have made it clear on a number of occasions, almost whenever I get a chance in fact, that I hate the Ewoks. The Ewoks are clearly aimed at kids, and the idea behind them is to primarily sell toys, but they were also meant to show how a less technologically advanced culture can defeat a more advanced society. This is all well and good, provided it is believable, and a bunch of 3-foot-tall teddy bears killing Stormtroopers with arrows and stones is about as far away from believable as you can get.
    If the downtrodden Wookies were used rather than the Ewoks it would make the fight much more believable, this would mean you could cut the shitty acceptance into the tribe segment for something far more interesting. It would also give us a proper look at Chewbacca’s home world rather than our heroes walking through a random forest.  We should have known that Jar Jar was on the way when Lucas gave us the Ewoks.
    As a far as I am concerned the only good thing about the Ewoks is that you get so see some of them die.
  • As I said in my review of A New Hope, I dislike most of the changes George Lucas has made to the original trilogy, but there is one that is head and shoulders above the rest. It is the insertion of Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi’s closing celebration scene. Christensen replaces Sebastian Shaw who plays Anakin in his dying moments, and I have no idea why this was done. When the ghosts of Obi-Wan and Yoda appear they look the same as they did when they died. Why does the Anakin character look like he did in the prequels?
    I did some digging with regard to why Hayden Christensen was added, and this was listed on a forum-
    ‘First, Lucas was trying to establish a “familiar face” to the character that would link the OT and the prequels together. If he had stopped there most “old school” fans would have still not liked it but would have let it slide … BUT … his second reason is asinine. He said that a Jedi’s “Force Ghost” is the image the Jedi had of themselves when they died and that Anakin died when he became Darth Vader.’
    http://scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/20339/what-was-george-lucas-reasoning-for-changing-anakins-head
    I can accept the idea of the force ghost being an image of the Jedi, but Anakin turned back from the dark side, saving his son and killing the Emperor. It is this action which allowed him to become a force ghost, so surely the Sebastian Shaw version of Anakin should be used? Anyway, even if we ignore the mythos, how does Luke know who this random younger guy hanging out with Obi-Wan and Yoda even is?
  • Return of the Jedi isn’t a bad film, but it is filled with reminders of its two better predecessors. There is an awful lot of exposition linking Hope, Empire and Return together. “Look! Captain Solo. And he’s still frozen in carbonite.” Firstly it isn’t needed. We know who he is and what has happened, and secondly, it just reminds us of the better films that came before, and I end up wanting to go and watch them instead. Throughout the film there are scenes that are just characters talking to other characters in order to explain and emphasise previous events that have already been covered. Seriously, we should have known what was coming in the prequels after what happened in this film.
  • If you remember my Attack of the Clones review, I said that Jango was more of a badass that Boba, and this film is the one that proves it. There was an opportunity for Lucas to show us how cool Boba Fett could be, but it was wasted completely. If the number of generic bad guys was reduced, a longer Luke/Boba Fett fight could happen which, as I suggested with a longer Windu/Jango fight, would be far more interesting. Instead, we get an unworthy death for a character that deserved a lot more.
  • The 5th spot on the bad list was tough, not because there wasn’t anything left, but because there are two things that could make the list; the Death Star 2.0 or the computer effects. I am going with the computer generated effects… I know Star Wars was a game changer, and I know Return is 30 years old, so I am not comparing it to modern day films, but I am comparing it to its predecessors and in all honesty the blue screen effects don’t hold up when compared to the two earlier Star Wars films. The shots of Luke looking up at the blue screen stop-motion Rancor, the blue screen Tatooine background, and the speeder bike back drop are particular offenders that spring to mind.

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A quick dishonourable mention goes to another terrible addition George Lucas has made since the film’s release. As Darth Vader contemplates saving his son from the Emperor, instead of standing there in silence, debating his morality, he cries-

“No… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooo…”

In a sentence reminiscent of that moment in Revenge of the Sith, that silent deliberation is ruined forever. People LAUGHED in the cinema when it happened in Revenge of the Sith, so what drove these morons to put it into this scene? God I hate it so much- Lewis, with the blessing of Ben.

The Good-

  • The Luke we see in Return of the Jedi is a badass. He isn’t the whingy, moany teenager we seen in A New Hope. He isn’t the cocky guy who thought he could take on Vader without completing his training. No, in Return of the Jedi, Luke is almost a fully-trained Jedi, and has no time to take any shit from anyone. From the moment we see him force choke the Gamorrean guards blocking his path, and then successfully use a Jedi mind trick on one of Jabba’s minions before calmly confronting the Hut gangster, the audience knows that this older Luke is now ready to take down the Empire. These events are followed by the massacre at the Sarlaac pit, where Luke cuts through almost every one of Jabba’s henchmen. This is how you develop a character arc over a series of films. (If you are wondering where the Luke/Vader duel is, don’t worry it is on the way).
  • I really enjoy two thirds of the last hour of Return of the Jedi, so they make up the next two points on my list. Firstly, the battle outside the Death Star to destroy the space station. This sequence is probably my second favourite of the 4 major space battles in the franchise (closely beaten by the Death Star sequence in A New Hope, then followed by the opening sequence from Revenge of the Sith and finally the one from Phantom Menace, if you were interested). I think this battle is brilliantly finished, and while we might not be as emotionally involved in essentially what is the 3rd part of the last act of the film. The ship to ship action flows smoothly across the screen, and still retains a high level of tension as we realise that the Death Star is actually operational, and see the outmatched Rebels struggle to survive long enough to get an opportunity to blow up the space station. This is a highly underrated segment of the film.
  • Right, now the Luke versus Vader duel. It may not be as iconic as the fight in Cloud City, but the duel between Luke and his father in the second Death Star really shows how the tables have turned. Luke now has the ability to kill his father but is desperate not to do so, desperate to save his father from himself. That is until the scene called ‘A Jedi’s Fury’. in this powerful scene there is an explosion of emotion as Luke bests his father in order to defend his sister, only to stop short of killing the Sith Lord after realising that this is what the Emperor wants. Only now does Luke understand himself what it is to be a Jedi outside of the instruction of Obi-Wan and Yoda. The sequence has some fantastic imagery, such as Luke’s face cast half in shadow and half in light, showing his internal conflict and conveying powerful emotions. A really brilliant sequence.
  • There tends to be one or two changes in the special editions that I don’t mind, and the one in Return of the Jedi is the removal of ‘Yub Nub’. The scenes where we travel around the galaxy are ok (except the trip to Naboo where we hear the Gungans, that bit can spend eternity in cinematic hell), but I honestly feel the music is an improvement. While still being celebratory, there’s a slightly sad note to the theme, almost as a commemoration to everyone who died in the fight for freedom. This might just be me, but I like the new music. Any time spent away from the Ewoks is an improvement in my eyes.
  • I debated putting the Yoda scene as my 5th point on the list, but I think it is a bit rushed. So instead, I am making another mention of the puppeteers and the creations they control. I mean how much more believable does the puppet Jabba look compared to the pile of CGI shit we see in A New Hope? (Damn you, George. Why do you have to keep going back and making pointless additions?) Also, how much more brilliant and inspiring is the puppet Yoda compared to the CGI one? Infinitely more so. The close up shots of the stop-motion Rancor show how impressive it actually is, but again, it is tarnished by the poor use of the blue screen. I also recently found out that Admiral Ackbar is a puppet, not an actor in a costume, which goes to prove how incredible the creations really are.

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So that brings our journey through the Prequel and Original Trilogies to an end. Hopefully you have found it mildly entertaining and at least a bit informative. If you disagree with anything we have said or think we have missed anything please do shout at us, and if you agree with anything, please shout at us about that too.

It’s now only a few more Hours until the midnight release of The Force Awakens, and we’re too excited for words. Look out for our reviews of the film; we’ll be releasing a short, completely non-spoiler version tomorrow to give you our opinion, and then a more in-depth version later in the week.

It will be amazing.

God I hope it is good.

But what if it isn’t?

No, no. In JJ we trust.

Thanks-

Ben

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back- It’s SO Good

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imageSo we’ve reached The Empire Strikes Back, arguably the best of all the entries in the Star Wars franchise, and definitely my favourite of them all. Much like Revenge of the Sith, this film was an attempt at a darker, slightly more serious continuation of the story of Star Wars, and boy does it really pay off. However, when it was initially released, people weren’t sure what to make of this tone, and it wasn’t widely recognised as the best of the trilogy until quite a few years later. I find this quite hard to believe, because it’s definitely the best directed and most well written of the three, but hey, I wasn’t there.

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You can really see that with a good script these films can be absolutely incredible. The story, the dialogue, and one of the most iconic moments in cinema history all combine to create a film that stands the test of time, and will forever be a part of pop-culture.

Anyway, like Ben with A New Hope, I’m going to have a hell of a tough time picking out some bad points about this film.

  • First of all, it’s a tenuous point at best, but the few scenes that really bug me in this film are introduced in the special edition changes. Every other change to this film is absolutely fine by me, but the establishing shots of Cloud City that were constructed with CGI stand out like a sore thumb compared to the practical sets. I have no problem with the idea to show more of the city, and in fact I like that we get to see more of it, but the execution of the idea is just pretty bad. In my book, if you can’t do it to a good standard, you might as well not put it in there, because all it does is detract from the film.
  • I have to say thank you to a friend who suggested that the characterisation of Boba Fett is lacklustre at its best. I’m so used to accepting that he’s just there to do a job that I always forget how little attention is really paid to him. As with Darth Maul, there’s a lot of wasted potential in the character of Boba Fett; a wasted potential that isn’t even remedied in Return of the Jedi which would be the best place to do it. Now, I know there’s the argument that the lack of characterisation is due to the fact that his mysterious nature is the key to his popularity, and I do agree with this to an extent, but they could’ve given him just a few more lines to reveal a little more about his motivations and character. They could even use these lines to create even more mystery and ambiguity around him, but hey, I can see why they did the things they did.
  • I personally don’t have any issues with the special effects of the original 1980 cut, and to be honest, that Yoda puppet is about a hundred-times more believable as a character than the CGI turd-pile they gave us in the prequels. Buuuuuuuuut… I guess some people MIGHT have a problem with the practical effects, as much as it hurts my heart to say it… and that’s all I’ll say on the subject, because they’re wrong.

This is getting really difficult now…

  • I’ll admit, the dialogue can be kinda melodramatic, and I think you’ll know what moment really does stick out the most; some line about something not being possible or something… anyway, the thing is, when you’re completely absorbed in this film, you don’t notice the melodrama, and it can even feel like the most natural line in the world when you’re committed to this world you’re seeing on the screen. Really though, it’s pretty over-the-top, but what part of Star Wars isn’t?

Right, that’s about all I can manage to think of in terms of bad points about this film. I’m very sorry that they’re weak in comparison to some of the points I came up with for the prequels, but I mean, when you hold up The Empire Strikes Back against the likes of The Phantom Menace, there really is no comparison.

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Ok, now let’s get on and dig into the good stuff. There really is a lot of it-

  • I’ve already spoken a little about the dialogue in this film, and I’ve already mentioned that the story is pretty damn good too, but I’d just like to expand on what why this script is one of the stand-out things that make The Empire Strikes Back For me, my love of the film definitely stems from the content of the script, and the great dialogue. It’s a much more personal story than A New Hope, all the stakes are directly related to the characters rather than the galaxy as a whole, and I think this allows for deeper explorations of their personalities and motivations. As well as this great characterisation, we aren’t force-fed much exposition at all, and we’re thrown into the action and tone of the film immediately, with the Battle of Hoth happening pretty quickly after a little adventuring with Luke and Han Solo. The entire Dagobah scene is one of my favourite moments of Star Wars, and don’t even get me started about Luke’s eventual confrontation with Vader, because I’ll be talking about that shortly…
    At its heart though, The Empire Strikes Back is a love story. We finally get to see Leia and Han’s relationship develop beyond some roguish flirting into a mutual affection for each other, with some pretty hilarious lines from Harrison Ford thrown in as a bonus.
    “I love you”
    “I know”

What a loveable dickhead!

  • Industrial Light and Magic reach an entirely new level of quality with the special effects of this film. I’m certain that most people went into the cinema thinking that they would never be able to do better than Star Wars: A New Hope, but boy were they proved wrong. Everything just looks so well put together and designed here, but despite this neatness of design, it still feels likes Star Wars, and still looks all beat-up and used when it counts. In particular, I’ve always been impressed with the effects used for the Battle of Hoth, which stand-up today with very little CGI enhancement. Another superb scene is the asteroid chase, which is just as fun and tense every time I see it. I have yet to spot the famous shoe though, so I guess I’ll just have to keep watching it…
  • The performances of the cast are at an all-time high here, which was probably made possible by the well written story and script, but I think credit where credit is due. It seems like they’re a lot more comfortable in their roles than before, and there’s a nice natural chemistry between Hamill, Ford and Fisher; Ford and Fisher in particular. Hats off to Mark Hamill for his interactions with Frank Oz performing Yoda too. It can’t be easy acting against a three-foot puppet, but he pulls it off very believably. I’ll just make a quick honourable mention of Billy-Dee Williams as well for playing the smoothest criminal the galaxy has ever seen.
  • Another move by the writers I have to acknowledge is the idea to use Empire to progress the characters’ relationships and create a conflict that would result in a very emotional and powerful finale in Return of the Jedi. The fact that the film doesn’t really have an ending is one that frustrated a lot of movie-goers, but it really isn’t an issue for me. Ending the film on a note of uncertainty and defeat is one of the things that makes Empire stand out from the other films in the franchise. We’re left with a lot of questions that we desperately want answered; it leaves us anticipating the conclusion of the saga.
  • Oh boy, the most iconic moment of the entire Star Wars franchise exists as the pivotal moment in this film. Even if you’ve never seen Star Wars you’ll know that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father from the countless pop-culture references and just general knowledge. This moment is such an icon of cinema that it’s almost become a part of the world’s collective consciousness; everybody knows it. The story goes that nobody but Mark Hamill, David Prowse and the writing/directing crew knew what the famous lines actually read. Everybody else was under the impression that the revelation was that Obi-Wan was the one who killed Luke’s father, rather than Vader (which is a pretty good twist in itself). As for the fight, rather than the twirly, over choreographed duels of the prequels, we see Luke in a far more realistic, almost desperate attempt to save his friends, avenge Obi wan, and not die in the process. It really is a one-sided fight, and it’s clear that Vader is just toying with him until Luke gets a lucky hit in, at which point Vader decides to end it, and try to bring Luke over to the dark-side. This is such a tense sequence of events, and the amount of emotion and substance in the fight is only rivalled by their duel in Return of the Jedi, but perhaps that’s a fight for Ben to discuss tomorrow…

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Again, I can only apologise for the lack of negative points here, but it’s honestly just that good of a film. I didn’t want to get pedantic and start picking out little details or subjective opinions, because they really don’t affect the overall enjoyment of the film. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this, and you can look forward to Ben’s review of Return of the Jedi tomorrow, followed by our review of The Force Awakens on Thursday.

It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan!

Lewis

Star Wars: A New Hope- Is it even that Good?

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Benportrait1In short, yes; A New Hope is that good.

The 1977 film ran overtime and was written off before its release, only to become one of the most successful and iconic films in cinema history. The original Star Wars film may not be the best (that goes to The Empire Strikes Back, hands down) but it is certainly my favourite of the franchise. This has meant that picking 5 bad things associated with the film was very hard, because I even love its flaws and short-comings.

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The Bad-

  • Han shot first. I could finish this point here and many of you would know what I meant, but I shall elaborate. To make Han Solo look like more of a good guy to kids, George Lucas went back and changed the original 1977 cut of the scene where Han kills a bounty hunter to make his escape. In the new version, Greedo, the bounty hunter that cornered Han in the cantina, shoots first. Han avoids the shot with a digitally produced jerky-head movement, and then proceeds to kill the bounty hunter, tosses the bar owner a few credits for the mess, and makes Greedo look entirely incompetent (poor guy). This may seem minor to the uninitiated, but it is the pointlessness of the alteration which is the most infuriating part. Han’s actions throughout the rest of the film prove him to be a hero. This scene is part of his character-arc throughout the film, which sees his development from the more morally grey rogue we all love to the slightly more classic hero we love just as much. The addition of Greedo shooting is pointless, and makes a once badass scene laughable.
  • While we are on the subject of Lucas and his changes, this is another one that grinds my gears. In the original cut of the film, we never see Jabba the Hut. The scene in which Jabba would have appeared was removed as his design wasn’t yet defined. However, in 1997, George went and added the scene back in with an unconvincing-melty-CGI Jabba, and then, in 2004, a more up to date CGI-version of the Hut was inserted. My issue isn’t really with the CGI construction of the Hut (however the puppet version of the crime boss seen in Return of the Jedi is far more convincing), it’s that the scene’s addition into A New Hope removes a lot of the suspense that once surrounded the character. He is alluded to in both A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, which was used to intrigue the audience, get them wondering “who is this character that has Han Solo worried?” Instead, we lose the wonder and gain some clunky CGI and a scene that only reduces the pace of the film.
  • Some poor direction and writing…. again. It has been well documented that George Lucas’ primary comments when directing were “faster” and “more intense”, so is it any wonder that some things slipped through the cracks? One of the clearest cases of this is Carrie Fisher’s strange English (-ish) accent “I recognised your foul stench when I was brought on board” (sorry Carrie, I didn’t want to bring it up, but I have to find 5 bad things). It pains me to say it, but some of the acting can be seen as fairly wooden from many of the cast members. You have to wonder if a better director who would have more to say than “Faster” or “More intense” would have picked up on this. The dialogue isn’t great in parts, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Alec Guinness and others have all made it clear what they thought of the script, “nobody talks like this”. Yeah the script isn’t the greatest, but the overall story makes up for it.
  • The Stormtroopers are incapable of hitting the target when it counts, which is really minor but I can’t think of much else wrong with the film. In almost every film the heroes aren’t going to die, and so the villains are rarely a good shot. I suppose the only reason it is picked up on in Star Wars is that it is repeatedly said they are very accurate marksmen, and we even see them wipe out squads of Rebel soldiers in the blockade-runner. I don’t know why they can’t kill our heroes, probably the force or something.  Although I did read an interesting theory that the Stormtroopers were intentionally missing the target. This was done so as to allow our heroes to escape the Death Star, which would then enable the Imperials to locate the hidden rebel base.
  • I can hear some of you thinking it, so I will mention it. Why didn’t the imperials shoot the escape pod that C-3PO and R2-D2 were in, destroying the droids and the stolen plans? I dunno, maybe because they didn’t have a back-up copy of the plans, and 2 new Death Stars had just got planning permission from the local council? It doesn’t matter, they didn’t shoot it. So shut up, stop being so cynical, and enjoy the film.

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The Good-

As I said in the introduction A New Hope is my favourite film. So when it came to pin pointing 5 good things I found it surprisingly difficult.

  • Firstly the story. How good is the story?! Lucas transports you to “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”, with a simple story; good versus evil. There isn’t a complex plot that involves trade disputes, council meetings and debates like the ones we see in the Prequel trilogy. Star Wars is, at its heart, an adventure film where good triumphs over evil. What isn’t there to love about that? Nothing, the answer is nothing. Yes, Empire is a better film with its darker tones and more in depth look at the characters, I am not denying that. But when it comes down to a film that I could watch again, again and again, the film where the good guys win will come out on top 9 times out of 10 and that film is A New Hope. Along with this are some of the most memorable character ever created in cinema; the young hero, his mentor, the rogue, and the princess. All of which are well rounded in the first installment of the film, allowing Empire to develop them all even further.
  • I know I gave George a bit of a hard time for going back and tampering with the original cut of the film, but there is one addition I do like. I like the addition on the Luke-Biggs scene that takes place in the Rebel hanger. The scene not only gives a face to the name mentioned much earlier in the film, it gives us a connection to the Biggs character, which makes his death scene in the trench run more potent and meaningful. His death strengthens our connection with Luke, and shows that despite the victory there is a price to be paid (don’t worry, that is probably as film critic-y as I will ever get). Also, most importantly, why would you cut that moustache? It is a mean moustache.
  • Star Wars was a game changer. Lucas didn’t have the effects he wanted to complete the film, so he created his own company to do it, Industrial Light and Magic, which is still an industry leader today. The fact that almost 40 years after its initial release the Practical effects used in the original film still hold up, while the CGI used in the 16 year old prequels is beginning to look very outdated is testament to the man hours they put in to A New Hope. As well as the practical effects, a mention must be made of Ben Burtt who gave us many of the iconic sounds we almost take for granted now.
  • There is no waiting around in A New Hope, the audience is launched straight into the action as the giant Imperial Star Destroyer chases down the much smaller Rebel Blockade Runner. We see the Rebels take positions nervously as the Stormtroopers blast through the door. Immediately, we know several things. We recognise the good guys from the bad guys, we also see what the Rebels are up against in the vastly superior Imperial machine. This wouldn’t have happened in the Prequels, instead we would have had to sit through 10 minutes of clunky exposition before any action even crossed the mind of Lucas. Following the initial fight, we see Darth Vader for the first time (lacking his theme which wasn’t written until Empire). The Dark Lord of the Sith is a menacing figure, standing much taller than anyone else and dressed entirely in black with his iconic breathing apparatus filling our ears. I can still remember being terrified of him as a child as he threw the Rebel commander across the space ship. What a way to start the film.
  • Finally the score. I know Lewis has mentioned it twice in his reviews of The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith (I was desperate, ok? – Lewis), but it happened here first, so I am going to mention it again. The iconic score adds so much drama, tension and emotion to every accompanying scene; in fact, by the film’s completion, Lucas stated that the only thing he was really happy with was the score. Star Wars would be much less of a film had John Williams not done such a fantastic job.

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So that brings my review of Star Wars: A New Hope to an end, I didn’t get a chance to mention many of my other favourite things about this film, but hopefully you have found this entertaining. I will be back with my Return of the Jedi review in a few days.

Thanks,

Ben.

Trailer Talks: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Ben: Oh my God! How amazing is the new trailer?

Lewis: Absolutely fan-fucking-tastic. It was a masterpiece in its own right.

Ben: It was incredible, I got goosebumps.

Lewis: I think I’ve watched it about ten times now, just so I can get chills all over again.

Ben: It was so well done; all three trailers have given us something new without giving anything away.

Lewis: Exactly, JJ Abrams is one sly sonofabitch; he knows what the fans want. I know it’s still just a piece of marketing, so it might not represent the finished product, but Jesus Christ I’m excited

Ben: I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk favourite bits and predictions.

Lewis: Right, well, just to get it out of the way before we talk about the characters- being the flight nerd I am, the dogfighting scenes just blew me away, I can’t wait to see how they fit in the film.

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Ben: There were a lot of in atmosphere dogfights, which were incredible, but they haven’t given much space battle stuff away.

Lewis: No, and to be honest, I’m kind of doubting that there’ll be many of them. Most of the film seems to take place planet-side at the moment.

Ben: If any at all. Apparently the “Starkiller” is planet based, which would make any space stuff pretty irrelevant in what looks like a packed film.

Lewis: From the looks of it that second dogfight we see over a snowy planet is probably an attack they’re making on Starkiller base (it even has a trench and everything).

Ben: Very reminiscent of A New Hope.

Lewis: Indeed! But better to be reminiscent of the original trilogy than… you know…

Ben: Yeah, for sure. As for the music, the use of the slowed “Leia’s theme” was another thing that gave me chills.

Lewis: Best romantic theme ever composed, I just can’t believe how talented John Williams is…
But anyway, onto the characters. So it looks like Rey might be scavenging that downed Star Destroyer we saw in the teaser,

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and it looks like BB-8 might actually belong to her? Even though we saw him in Poe’s X-Wing in that dogfighting scene.

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Ben: The music was just fantastic. Yeah, is the film her story? Like how the original trilogy is Luke’s?

Lewis: I’m not actually sure at the moment, because Finn’s the one with the lightsaber, but my theory is that maybe she has it, but, during the fight with Kylo Renn, she drops it or is incapacitated, so Finn picks it up and tries to defend her? I don’t know, but I’d be inclined to say that she’s the focus of the story. Also, in the teaser we see a woman handing the lightsaber to someone who looks like Rey.

Ben: Yeah I am thinking a very similar thing. I want to know who the ‘you’ is that they are talking about when discussing the force choosing someone. With regards the Finn/Ren fight, Finn does look like he is shitting himself, perhaps he has picked up the lightsaber to protect someone else…

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Lewis: Yeah, his “holy shit I’m gonna die” face is what made me think along those lines too. As for the “you”, apparently the woman speaking is Maz (Lupita Nyong’o) who might be the resident of that fortress we see Han, Rey and Finn walking up to. So my money is inclined to be on her speaking to both of them.

Ben: Fair enough. Speaking of Han, he seems to be the guide for the two younger heroes this time.

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Lewis: Yeah, he’s definitely taking on the Obi-Wan role, which leads me to ask, is Han Solo the character lying on the ground who Rey is crying over?

Ben: I think it might be. Could that be why the metal hand reaches out to R2? If it’s Luke it could be a reaction to his best friend’s death.

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Lewis: Now that is an interesting idea, I hadn’t thought of that… there’s already been speculation that it’s a funeral. We also haven’t seen C3PO yet.

Ben: No we haven’t, we also haven’t seen anything of Max Von Sydow, who could also be the unfortunate person to die. It was also only in this trailer that we have seen Leia.

Lewis: I’d forgotten about him, but I’d be inclined to say that he might be on Jakku rather than the snowy planet. That embrace between Leia and Han was interesting, it was either an emotional reunion or they were comforting each other about something…

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Ben: Yeah that is a fair point, or is it their last moment together before the unfortunate event happens?

Lewis: Hmmmmm, there are so many possibilities it’s almost impossible to guess.
We haven’t talked about the first order yet, they had a lot of screen time this time around.

Ben: One last point before we get to them, it’s interesting how the Jedi and the dark side are legends already, Finn and Rey knew nothing about them.

Lewis: Well 30 years is a long time, and I guess it’s been 50 years total between the present time and the time of the Jedi council. Considering that Rey is on such a barren, outer-rim world, it’s quite believable that the Jedi would have passed into legend, and it doesn’t help that they were destroyed so swiftly. We don’t know that Finn doesn’t know about them though.

Ben: Well even in A New Hope the Jedi were fading into myth and legend. As for the First Order, they had an awful lot of screen time, which brings me to my one and only gripe; I am not the biggest fan of the voice used for Kylo Ren.

Lewis: Well, I assume he’s trying to emulate Vader, who he’s obviously obsessed with. Speaking of Kylo Ren though, we got a glimpse of a group of people who look like they might be the other Knights of Ren.

Ben: Yeah that makes sense, but it is something that could get on my nerves…
And they’re surrounded by dead bodies, I have heard that the Knights of Ren are a group of dark Jedi, but Kylo is the only one with a lightsaber (that we can see anyway).

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Lewis: I’m not sure about that, I think they aspire to be Jedi, but yeah, Ren was the only one with a lightsaber out.
That new super weapon they have looks pretty brutal, but I don’t think it’s going to be as powerful as the Death Star.

Ben: I think they are Dark Jedi, the boundaries between Light and Dark could have been blurred. Is that the Star Killer thing? I have heard people saying that is has to be operated from space.

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Lewis: That would explain why Kylo Ren is standing on the bridge of a Star Destroyer watching it. It looks pretty epic whatever it is/does. Is there anything else we’ve missed?

Ben: Only the torture of Poe Dameron, which is pretty dark for Star Wars, and the Mandalorian flag which could hint at a return for Boba Fett. There is probably loads we have missed, we could be here all day discussing it.

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Lewis: Yeah that was a really intense moment, I hope he gets out of it alright, although I’m inclined to say he does. And yes, there were actually rumours that Max Von Sydow will be playing an older Boba Fett, but I don’t buy that. It’d be really interesting to see an interaction between Han and Boba after 30 years though.

Ben: It was really intense, but is Finn getting him out of captivity when he is dressed as a First Order Stormtrooper?
Part of the brilliance of the trailer is that we still don’t know.
Yeah, I have heard that as well. It is a possibility, but how would Boba Fett fit in? I don’t want him squashed in just for the fan service.

Lewis: Mmmm, maybe they need help, and he’s the baddest motherfucker in the galaxy? I think that Finn is definitely a deserter, but apart from that I have no idea. I think we’re gonna have to cut it off here though, otherwise we’ll be here discussing it until the film comes out.

Ben: See he may well be a deserter, but he could actually be an infiltrator?
Yeah, I suppose everything will become clear in December, but one last thing; very little Luke, which is making me think that Finn and Rey finding him will be the climax, and he will be more heavily involved in the next two films.

Lewis: Well that forest planet set was in Ireland, which is where Mark Hamill was seen filming stuff, so he could very well only come into it towards the end if that planet is the film’s climax. I’m a bit worried they haven’t shown him though, because to me that means that he isn’t the way we remember him…

Ben: Perhaps he has become a Yoda like character? Or perhaps he has become scared of his own ability? Either way, I see it as realistic character development considering what has happened. Yoda said in Return of the Jedi for him to pass on what he has learned, if Luke passed on what he knew and the Knights of Ren formed, perhaps he exiled himself.

Lewis: That’s a very good point, I heard rumours that he’s exiled himself to guard an ancient Sith tomb. There’s no way to know for sure though.

Ben: We will find out in December, there’s not long to wait now.

Lewis: No it’s not long, but it’s still too long. I wish I could be cryogenically frozen until it’s released.

Ben: Well I am quite happy with the trailer, but I’m not going to do anymore reading around the film; the rest will be a complete surprise in December.

Lewis: I think that’s for the best. Who knows what might end up being leaked?

Ben: Exactly.