Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars [The Original Trilogy Review]

Since I'm basically done with my spring semester of college now, I only have two classes tomorrow and one test on Thursday, I'll have more time to delve back into doing more reviews. Today, May 4th, fell at good time because I'd been thinking about doing another trilogy review. Since I had watched the entire series earlier in the year and only touched on the prequels, now is probably the best time. I was a wee little tyke in the 1990s, but I can still vividly remember watching 'A New Hope' at my Aunt's house when I was really young, maybe 6-7, and being enthralled. I had a three VHS set of the trilogy in this golden Darth Vader helmet box that I would watch all the time as well. Let's be honest, who else didn't pretend that they can use The Force to move objects for funzies? The Original Star Wars Trilogy, 'A New Hope,' 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' are some of the best sci-fi films of all times, but not only that, but one of the best trilogies ever produced.


'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' takes place 19 years after 'Episode III' and follows the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) as the biggest part of the civil war that is happening in the galaxy is about to take place. The Rebel Alliance, led by Princess Leia, who has stolen the plans for Galactic Empire's Death Star. The Empire is led by the evil lord Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), and captures Princess Leia. Leia hides the plans inside of an R2-D2 unit (Kenny Baker), who along side a C-3PO unit (Anthony Daniels) escape to Tatooine. The two droids are found by Jawa traders and are eventually bought by Owen Lars, uncle of Luke Skywalker. One night, Luke accidentally finds Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) that was stored into the R2 unit. After tracking down and enlisting Obi-Wan, they hire Han Solo, and his first mate Wookie, Chewbacca (Peter Mayew), to smuggle them to Alderaan. They get there only to find out that the Death Star has destroyed the entire planet. They get captured themselves by the Death Star and begin the mission to escape, rescue Princess Leia and find a way to destroy the Death Star for good.

'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' takes place three years after the destruction of the Death Star in 'Episode IV.' The Rebel Alliance has been forced from Yavin IV by The Empire. Princess Leia leads a group that includes Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, to the ice planet Hoth, to a new base. Luke goes out in search of a possible meteor impact, which turns out to be a droid Vader  was tracking him with, and gets attacked by a Wampa. Han eventually goes out to find him after he doesn't return. In the sheer cold, Luke sees the spirit of Obi-Wan who instructs him to go to the Dagobah system and find Jedi Master Yoda. After a massive battle with Imperial AT-ATs, Han and Leia flee, from the mercenary Boba Fett (Jermey Bulloch) and hide in an asteroid field, while Luke heads towards the Dagobah system and crash lands in a swamp on Dagobah, where he meets Yoda (Frank Oz). Luke begins to undergo Jedi training and sees a vision of Leia and Han in pain and leaves, against Yoda's wishes, to save them. Leia and Han head to Cloud City to meet up with Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) who betrays them and hands them over to Boba Fett and Vader. Fett will take Han to Jabba the Hutt where he'll get a big bounty, an agreement Lando doesn't agree with. He also doesn't agree with luring Luke in so he can be captured. Han is then encased in Carbonite. While all this is going on Luke arrives at Cloud City, leading to the first face to face meeting and lightsaber duel, between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

'Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi' takes place one year after the events of 'Episode IV' and follows the story of our three heroes, Luke Skywaker, Princess Leia and Han Solo once again. Luke and Leia have devised a plan to save Han from Jabba the Hutt. Luke, Leia, Calrissian, Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, are in on the plan. Leia, disgusted as a bounty hunter, takes Chewbacca as her prisoner to infiltrate, with Calrissian disguised as a guard. They both get captured, but not until after Leia frees Han. When Luke arrives he is also found out and is forced to fight the Rancor and survives. Jabba sentences Luke and Han to death by way of the Sarlacc. Not going without a fight, Luke and Han begin to fight their way out. In the chaos, Boba Fett is knocked down into the pit, Jabba is strangled to death by Leia, and Luke destroys Jabba's ship as they all escape. Meanwhile, The Alliance has learned that The Empire is constructing another, even bigger, Death Star. Darth Vader is still being instructed by Emperor Palpatine (Ian Mcdiarmid). The plan to destroy the new Death Star consists of two parts. Leia and Han lead a team that will take down the shield generators for the Death Star, these are located on the forest moon Endor. Luke takes Vader's bait and infiltrates the Death Star and confronts him face to face, perhaps for the final time, as one of the biggest battles to save the universe is about to ensue. 


I really do love each one of these films and each one has a distinct style behind them. I could talk about the lightsaber duels and score in each film, and I will, but these films are much more than awesome fights, using the force and awesome music. 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope' for me is the weakest of the trilogy, but that by no means makes it a "bad film" in the slightest (I still give it a 9/10). Mark Hamill and Harrsion Ford are on point from the start and bring a great presnese, even in the early going of this series. Mark Hamill plays the young Skywalker expertly, as he's still in awe of everything happening around him, yet has the air of being capable of handling things. Harrison Ford, on the other hand, as Han Solo is the spark plug of the film. He brings a huge amount of presence to the film. Not only that his comedic and action timing is stupendous, you're drawn to every scene he appears in. Carrie Fisher (Leia) is, for a bit of the film a follower, but starts to come into her own by the time the end credits roll. The story and universe are highly original and it's a pleasure to learn all the ins and out of the Star Wars universe. The two factions, The Rebel Alliance and The Galactic Empire, are awesome opposing forces that are more than just feuding groups and have their own thoughts, ways and customs for everything. Being led by arguably one of the greatest villains ever in Darth Vader, makes both sides extremely entertaining to watch over the course of a film. The lightsaber usage in this film is light, but introduces it well. The space battles are where the meat of the action is and the final push in the trenches of the Death Star is iconic. The score, by John Williams, is also iconic and you know all know at least one Star Wars song if you were to hear it. Everything about this film sets up everything in the following two films in such a perfect way, not to mention, everything holds up really well.
The second film of the original trilogy, 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back' is probably the best of the three when it comes to character development and overall storytelling. The action is bigger when it happens, the AT-AT battle to start and the Luke vs Vader lightsaber duel to close is awesome. But everything in between feels more like we're really learning about everyone (and the Universe itself), and the is where Carrie Fisher as Leia really comes into her own as well and Mark Hamill as Luke. Harrison Ford as Han really doesn't change much as he's still the snarky, funny, wildcard with charisma out of the butt. Leia, while still thrust into the action, is shown as the diplomatic force that she is, as she's really shown to be a Princess more than a fighter. Luke on the other hand is brought to a whole 'nother level. From the moment the best character -- writing-wise -- Yoda, is introduced, Luke becomes a better person and character. Yoda is a fun but honest teacher and brings the inner Skywalker that Luke would need going forward. Darth Vader is also still written well and somehow becomes even more awesomely evil and builds upon the great villainous lore he was created upon. The lightsaber scenes in this film are awesome as we get to see Luke honing his skills with Yoda in the swamp and the epic first face to face confrontation between Luke and Vader in the Cloud City. The music, again by Williams, is iconic and perfectly accents a quieter or action filled scene. While the first film is more well rounded with character introduction and action, I feel that more story and learning about the characters and this universe really sets up the fantastic finale greatly.
The final film of the original trilogy of Star Wars, 'The Return of the Jedi,' is (film-wise) a perfect blend of the first two films. Full of character development, great action and one of the best endings to a trilogy you can ever expect. Something I haven't touched on yet is the CGI for these films. This is very early in the use of everything CGI, but Star Wars does a good job of not over doing it. While it sometimes looked off, there wasn't an over abundance of it, and when used it was good. The story ends awesomely with almost everything wrapped up nicely, but that doesn't keep it from being an overall great film. The rescue mission, the invasion of Endor to stop the shield generators and the infiltration and destruction of the new Death Star were awesome story lines. The acting was as good as ever in this film and all three leads, and Darth Vader, had really settled into their rols at this point. Carrie Fisher as Leia was strong, yet level headed. Mark Hamill as Luke was smarter and well rounded and possessed the qualities needed to lead (and be a Jedi). Harrison Ford still plays Han Solo perfectly and is probably, alongside Chewie, the most entertaining people in the film. All while Darth Vader has the evil layers (built upon him throughout the entire series) stripped off as he fights off the corruption of Emperor Palpatine. The fight scenes were awesome, especially The Rancor, the Ewok scenes were fun and the final lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader/Palpatine was just plain awesome. Score, John Williams, nailed it, again. I just loved everything they did with 'Return of the Jedi' and it's probably my favorite film of the original trilogy. The character, acting writing, action and lore are as good, if not better. The amount of detail put into not only this, but each of the films really is an outstanding feat.


The Star Wars Original Trilogy is one that if you get into it, is one that you're going to continue coming back to for your whole life. I was a kid at my aunt's house and now almost 20 years later, I'm still watching and enjoying the hell out of the universe that's been created. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader have all been pop culture staples for as long as I've been alive, and with all the new Star Wars films coming out in the future (later this year we get 'Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens') the trend isn't likely to just fade away. Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrsion Ford were awesome and I love seeing them pop up in other films, purely cause I get to see them on my screen again. The lore and story these first films told, stand tall and will lead into this modern age of Star Wars films. I really do hope that they do these films justice, because as a kid I'd be pretty sad if the Star Wars films that I first watched, weren't as good as Episodes IV-VI. These films, while not the best at times, do what a lot of films fail to do be creative, have fun and immerse the viewer into an awesome world.

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