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Star Wars

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Star Wars

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill
Director: George Lucas
Rated: PG
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: May 1977
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Classic

*Also starring: Peter Mayhew, Denis Lawson, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels

Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

What can be said about "Star Wars" that hasn't been said already? It finished its lengthy theatrical run in 1977 as the highest grossing movie of all time, then reclaimed that title with another massively successful re-release in 1997. The two films that have replaced "Star Wars" atop the all-time Box Office charts, "E.T. the Extra Terrestial" and "Titanic", also relied heavily on special effects. This was the true impact of "Star Wars" and its many sequels: it raised the bar for audience expectations of blockbusters. No longer was a great story sufficient, as it was for "The Godfather" in 1972.

I doubt that anybody reading this hasn't seen the film, but a plot summary is obligatory. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is an excitable, idealistic young man who lives with his 'uncle' as a farmer on the remote planet of Tatooine. He hungers for adventure, and gets his wish when he encounters Obi-Won Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Kenobi endeavors to train him as a Jedi, a master of a universal 'force' that can be used for good or evil.

Skywalker and Kenobi hire Han Solo (Harrison Ford), who is a mercenary with a heart of gold, to help deliver 'death star' plans stored in the robot R2-D2. Solo's sidekick is 'walking carpet' Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and R2-D2's sidekick is comic relief C-3PO (Anthony Daniels). Along the way our heroes rescue beautiful but independent Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from the clutches of imposing, panting Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones).

"Star Wars" is refreshingly innocent, lacking the cynicism common to 1970s films. With its good versus evil theme, it is easy to criticize the story as simplistic. But the plot is elaborate, and the depth of the main characters has been underrated. Luke, for instance, may be a goody-goody, but his boundless faith in Kenobi and his unjaded enthusiasm for adventure is winning.

As far as genre goes, the "Star Wars" series seems derived principally from "Flash Gordon" 1930s serials, albeit with far greater production values. But the thrills of the old serials are lost on adults, who can see through the hokey script and sets, while only the most stubbornly snobbish viewer can disregard the magic of "Star Wars". Except for a gratuitous awards ceremony at films end, this is one blockbuster that really delivers.

"Star Wars" received 11 Academy Awards, winning in all the technical categories (sets, score, sound, editing, costumes) but losing in the major categories (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Guiness)).

Copyright 1997 Brian Koller

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