Wednesday, June 1, 2016

AFI Top 100, #15: "Star Wars" (1977)

Movie Stats:
Released 1977 (USA)
American, in English (made-up alien languages, some translated, some not)
Director - George Lucas
Stars - Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness

Plot Summary:
It’s the classic hero’s tale. When young, restless farmer Luke Skywalker (Hamill) intercepts a message from imperiled Princess Leia (Fisher), he sets off on a rescue mission with the help of handsome rogue Han Solo (Ford) and the aged knight Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness). Along the way, they find themselves caught up in a rebellion.


Bad Stuff:
Luke’s android companion C3PO (Anthony Daniels) is annoying as all get out. All he does is complain and be useless to the point of making things harder for everyone. If I were Luke, I would have left him behind on Tatooine.

I find the character development poor. For me, it’s difficult to believe that these characters like each other as much as they do as quickly as they do. For example, [SPOILER] Luke shows far more emotion at the death of Obi-Wan, who he’s truly only known for a few days, than he does at the death of his aunt and uncle, who raised him [SPOILER]. Either the movie is bad at showing the passage of time and the characters have known each other for longer than they seem to, or important scenes were cut, or George Lucas is terrible at character development (judging by the prequels, I’d say that’s the more likely problem).

Good Stuff:
I like that Leia isn’t a damsel in distress (at first glance it seems like she is but she’s not).

I actually enjoy that this film is one giant trope. It’s the same hero story that’s been told since the beginning of human imagination. The characters are all the same archetypes that you’re familiar with. It’s comforting. At the same time, it’s not boring because there’s just enough that’s different to keep it from delving into “same old, same old” territory.

I’d say what it lacks in character development, it makes up for in pacing. There are few points where the film drags. It’s action-packed from start to finish.

Composer John Williams is a god.

The Verdict:
Look, I like this film. Practically everyone likes this film. It’s fun and entertaining, a story for the ages. The special effects were groundbreaking for the time, and I feel that, for the most part, they’ve held up well. However, I don’t find it quite as special as most people seem to. There’s a lot missing between characters. That seems to be a Lucas thing. I think he’s simply bad at developing them. Also, I’ve always been a little bewildered by how people ragged so hard on Jar Jar Binks (truly a terrible character) without mentioning how awful C3PO is. Like, he nearly ruins the movie for me. I wish I could mute just his character. (Of course, Jar Jar has the added layer - many people feel - of being a racist caricature.) I digress. This is an enjoyable romp. I don’t begrudge its place on the list because it’s been such a huge phenomenon - for nearly 40 years now!

I give it 3.75 stars.


Patricia said...

I thought Luke knew Obi-Wan as "Old Ben" and he lived in the area? Good point about the death of the Aunt and Uncle though.

I like this movie too, though I don't think I've watched it since it was re-released in the 90s. I have a very happy movie of renting the original trilogy one summer day and watching THE WHOLE THING with my mom, brother and then-boyfriend. It was the first time I'd hung out with my family with a boyfriend present. And it was when binge-watching wasn't really yet a thing. My first binge watch!

balyien said...

Yes, he knew of "Old Ben" but it's not like they were buds or anything. He was basically "that weirdo who lives down the street." Whenever I bring up his aunt and uncle people are like, "But he was mad at them when they died!" I'm like, "Unless he's a sociopath, he would still be devastated by their deaths whether he was mad at them or not." Lol. Criticizing this movie can be treading on dangerous ground.