Rouge One: A Star Wars Story is so close that we can feel the heat coming off of the blasters firing overhead. So, to welcome the second installment in the new Star Wars era, I decided to revisit the classic film that started it all with a critical eye and not the fanboy mindset that I have had since I can remember watching the movie when I was a 5 years old.
Now before we begin, the version that I will be reviewing is the 2006 DVD version that featured many altered scenes. I would love to have watched the original in the way that I remember, but I just didn’t feel like looking for a working VCR and digging through my tapes to find the HBO recording that I would watch back then. This review will mainly focus on the plot, the effects that are obviously from the original (or the ones I can remember) and the acting.
The plot is still the same and hasn’t really changed since being released in 1977. It’s the story of a boy on a moisture farm, his burnt to a crisp Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, the smuggler we all really wanted to be, the princess to be rescued only to do the rescuing, and the evil empire riding in a moonlike (“That’s not a moon”) battleship.
To be honest, the movie is kind of boring for most of the first and a little bit of the second act. I know there are some iconic scenes like the Tantive IV being attacked and docked by the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Devastator, but after that, the film moves at a snail’s pace. After the prison break, that is when everything just keeps ramping up and it becomes a great ride that gives us just the right amount of bites from this universe to keep us interested. Some of the plot points are pretty ridiculous and don’t really work in the time frame of the film.
One strong example is the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the effect that has on Luke. We don’t really know the history of Luke and Old Ben or their level of friendship. When they leave Tatoonie with the help of Han and Chewy, the time frame is at most 2 solar cycles, not allowing a whole lot of time between the two. Yet, when Obi-Wan is struck down by Vader, we are led to believe that Luke is really heartbroken, when we should be really feeling bad for Leia because of the whole her-home-planet-and-loved-one-being-destroyed thing happens.
And Darth Vader is just so stupid at times in the movie. How are you going to say that you sense something in the force that you haven’t felt for years and not know what that is? I mean, the Jedi that you called master since you were a child, who’s still tapped into the force, is around and you can’t recognize the homie?
One part of the film that still holds up to this day is some of the acting and chemistry between the three main leads. You get a sense that they had an absolute blast while making this film and can understand why the three actors are still very close to this day. Harrison Ford really sells the Indiana Jo-, I mean Han Solo, role like it was made for him. Mark Hammill plays a great whiny little bitch in Luke Skywalker that lets us know which parent he got that from… I’m looking at you Anakin. Carrie Fisher is an excellent example of strong leading lady roles that inspire women to this day, even though in some scenes you can tell she must’ve been coked out of her mind.
Some of the effects of this film are still amazing. A lot of the practical effects were so good and ahead of its time that most of it was unaltered. The space battle scene between the Millennium Falcon and the Empire’s Tie fighters is still entertaining to watch and The Battle of Yavin is just a spectacular action set piece. Even though you can still see where they updated the effects, it’s still a great scene to relive.
Star Wars is a film that not only changed the spectrum of moviemaking, but also created a mass amount of influence that still reverberates after all these decades and will continue to do so. I still find myself laughing at the little comical faults in the film (stormtrooper hitting his head on the door) in the film when I share them with my daughter. There are people out there who still haven’t seen the original films and they should probably take two hours out of their day to check out the first one. To those I say:
“What are you doing? Just see the movie already and stop being a snobby prick about it. But avoid Episode 1-3. You don’t need that stank in your life.”