Review: Star Wars [1977]

a review by the Swan!

This crow is very proud to introduce the first of our guest reviewers: the Swan! (No relation to this Crow’s home pub.) Otherwise known as the Lion, this boy is the biggest Star Wars fan this crow has ever seen.

So… who better to review this classic movie?

I’ll flap-flap away and let our resident Jedi master take it away.

– Crow out


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OPENING CRAWL

Star Wars. Oh, where to begin.

It’s one of the film franchises that has captured the imagination of many children and adults over the globe (it’s certainly captured mine). The fact that the movies combine spectacular visual effects with a moral storyline is something that’s always a plus in my book.

It’s also one of those film franchises that has produced toys, video games, Lego sets, spin-off books, as well as spin-off television programmes (e.g.: Clone Wars and Rebels). And with Disney having bought the rights to the franchise, we’ve had the opportunity to watch the adventure continue. Case in point: The Force Awakens (released 2015) and the upcoming Rogue One, which will be in the cinemas come-the-Santa-Claus-period.

But let’s start reviewing the movie that began it all.

1977: The year the first Star Wars film came out. No cinema audience had seen anything like it, and it’s all thanks to the man that made it happen: George Lucas. So, let’s turn on those shiny lightsabers, make the jump to lightspeed, and begin…


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THE TRENCH RUN

WARNING: THIS SECTION CONTAINS SOME [MINOR] SPOILERS

After the opening crawl, we see a spaceship (the Tantive IV) being attacked by a larger spaceship (a big scary thing called a Star Destroyer) over a desert planet. This immediately tells us that shit has already hit the fan.

Inside of the ship, we are introduced to two droids, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) who are soon caught in the crossfire between Rebel soldiers (the goodies) and Imperial stormtroopers (the baddies).

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As C-3PO desperately tries to get himself and his companion to safety, he sees his pal picking up a small disk from a pretty woman in white. This would be one of the main characters, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who’s given R2-D2 the plans to the Death Star, as well as a message to an elderly Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Meanwhile, a big man in black enters the ship. He stands over the corpses of his fellow men and enemies. Meet Darth Vader (Dave Prowse fills the body, while the booming voice is supplied by James Earl Jones): the dragon of the story, and the man hoping to get the plans back from the Rebels. And, boy, does he NOT fuck around. His very next scene has him strangling information out of a Rebel captain. He ends up killing the poor sod, when he doesn’t get the necessary info. Vader then has Princess Leia captured and brought before him. Leia tries to tell him that she’s a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to her home planet of Alderaan. Vader doesn’t buy it and has her taken away.

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The story then shifts back to the two droids, who have escaped via one of the pods and crash-landed on a desert planet called Tatooine. The two immediately go their separate ways after a petty argument… and are promptly captured by a group of tiny scavengers known as Jawas.

Gonna digress a bit here, slightly. You know that trope in a movie/TV-programme where you have best friends bicker constantly? Well, Star Wars is one of the films that pushes this trope in your face; and it’s pretty effective.

Anyways, the two main droids are made to be part of a sale to farmers around the area and it’s where we’re introduced to the main protagonist: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). This chap lives with his relatives on a farm and is introduced as a typical whiny teenager with lines such as this, “But, I was going to the Tosche station to pick up some converters”. Nonetheless, young Skywalker and his relatives buy the two main droids to help with the farming.

The story then moves to Luke’s dilemma: He’s bored and yearns for an adventure beyond the twin suns. So, it’s no wonder he gets excited as soon as the droids give him an inkling of life outside of the desert planet.

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There’s a scene I quite like in the movie; and yes, it does involve Luke. He’s just found out that he can’t go to the Imperial academy, as his uncle needs him to work on the farm. He’s now alone outside his house, staring desperately at the twin suns. At the same time,  John Williams’s emotional piece of music, “Binary Sunset” plays in the background. Over the years, I’ve fully learnt to appreciate that piece of music. Not only does it remind me of Star Wars, but it reminds me of hope and that firm belief that things will work out just fine.

But, I digress. Luke eventually gets his wish when R2-D2 goes running off to complete Leia’s mission. When Luke and 3-PO catch up to R2-D2, they are ambushed by a group of nasty looking heathens known as Tusken Raiders. Fortunately, help comes in the form of Obi-Wan (Alec Guiness), who takes Luke and the droids back to his hut. We find out that Obi-Wan has wisely adopted the name “Ben” in order to avoid detection from the Galatic Empire.

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Inside the hut, Obi-Wan tells Luke the “truth” about his father (if Empire and Jedi are anything to go by), before giving him one of the objects that provide prominence to the Star Wars universe: a lightsaber belonging to his father. Obi-Wan also tells Luke how his father “died” (We all know what really happened to Anakin Skywalker, right? The prequel Star Wars films have practically spoilt everything!), before listening to a recorded message from Princess Leia. She begs Obi-Wan to take R2-D2 (with the Death Star plans) to Alderaan, as he’s her “only hope”.

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Obi-Wan wants Luke to go with him to Alderaan, in order to help the princess and learn the ways of the Force. Luke initially refuses, as he’s duty bound to help his relatives on the farm. In a horrible twist of fate, he discovers his relatives have been murdered by stormtroopers. Somewhere inside, cruel as it seems, I bet Luke is silently punching the sand in excitement. But, I digress.

With nothing left for him on Tatooine, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids head to a dingy bar in Mos Eisley in order to find a ship to take them to Alderaan. It’s a pretty weird scene, although it does have that piece of music which is famous as “The Imperial March”. After saving Luke from a scrap with two alien bellends, we’re introduced to two of the other main characters in the series: Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Han and Chewbacca agree to take our heroes to their chosen destination, after agreeing on a price. Fair do’s.

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Meanwhile, Han Solo has his own problems. He owes some bad people a lot of money and this is evident when he is confronted by a Rodian called Greedo at the bar. There’s been a lot of debate over “who shoots who” first, due to countless reworkings of the film. But, anyways, we all know that Han wins. Moving on…

Han Solo and Chewbacca fly our heroes out of Tatooine via one of the beloved spaceships of the franchise: The Millenium Falcon. At the same time, Princess Leia is brought before an unpleasant Imperial offical, Governor Wilhuff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). He attempts to get information out of Leia, by making her reveal the location of the secret Rebel base. Leia gives Tarkin the wrong location, but more fool her, as her home planet of Alderaan gets blown up right before her eyes! This tells us that this Tarkin fella is a real prick.

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Meanwhile, Han, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids discover that Alderaan has blown up. They are almost immediately sucked via a tractor beam into the Empire’s latest superweapon/space station: The Death Star. After incapacitating a fair few stormtroopers, Obi-Wan leaves the heroes in order to shut down the tractor beam. The droids tell Luke, Han, and Chewbacca that Princess Leia is about to face execution in one of the holding cells. Luke and Han (disguised as stormtroopers) set off to rescue her, as Obi-Wan successfully shuts down the tractor beam.

One of my favourite scenes in the movie has Obi-Wan face off with Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. I also love the fact that Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in order to allow the Rebels to escape. It’s a sad, yet touching moment. Anyways, our heroes fly to the planet of Yavin 4 and R2-D2 gives the Rebels the plans to the Death Star.

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The rebel pilots are briefed on the plan to destroy the Death Star and Luke naturally goes along with them, since he’s a pilot himself. The final sequence of the movie has the Rebel pilots engage the Imperial pilots in a dogfight, in order to destroy the Death Star. Who wins?

Well, this is where you should find out for yourself.


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THE REBELS

LUKE SKYWALKER: 7/10

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Luke was my favourite Star Wars character as a kid. He’s who everyone would root for, if they got invested in a fantasy series. The typical every-man (every-boy, rather) who eventually becomes the hero of the story. In hindsight, Luke is a bit whiny and naive. He also has the tendency to go “ga-ga” over the film’s main heroine (a big, BIG no-no, if you’ve seen Jedi – which is a point which will be touched upon later on).

However, I’ll cut Luke some slack. He’s just started the hero’s journey and it will take two films for him to develop as a character.

HAN SOLO: 9/10

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Ah, Han Solo. The cynical pirate and smuggler who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but himself and his profits. To begin with, at least. Yet, Ford provides the character with a type of swagger and charm that makes the audience not hate him at all. He really is a classy fucker. The way he stealthily gets his pistol under the table while confronting Greedo gets me every time. After shooting Greedo dead, Han tips the bartender with some loose change as well as this dialogue: “Sorry about the mess”. Ahhh…

There’s also a bit of tension between him and Luke, as they both take a fancy to Leia. There’s a scene where the heroes are about to jump into the garbage chute and Han comes up with this line, “Wonderful girl. Either, I’m gonna kill her or I’m beginning to like her.” Who hasn’t felt that way, before? 😛

PRINCESS LEIA: 8/10 

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Yeah… she’s alright. I like how she’s an example of women kicking arses. Even when Luke, Han and Chewbacca rescue her, she takes the initiative to save THEM at some point during the movie. Good on her!

OBI-WAN (BEN) KENOBI: 9/10

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Another cool character. Kinda representative of the wise old mentor who provides life-lessons to the hero. A Mr Miyagi type, if you will. Plus, Obi-Wan has got some great lines of wisdom (one being: “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world”).

C-3P0 & R2D2: 7/10

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Yeah, they’re okay. Just plot devices to keep the story moving. But, hey, they’re entertaining to watch, sometimes. Sometimes, being the very operative word.


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THE EMPIRE

DARTH VADER: 7/10

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The dragon of the movie. Vader has some bad-ass moments in this film. There’s a scene where an Imperial officer disrespects his “authoritah” and gets subject to his Force choke. An epic line of dialogue soon follows: “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Apart from cool moments here and there, Vader doesn’t really do much in this movie. Like Luke, it’ll take the next two movies for Vader to spread his wings. Or cape, I should say.

GOVERNOR WILHUFF TARKIN: 8/10

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A bit of a standard bad guy, but excellently acted by Peter Cushing; Tarkin’s the sorta bad guy that you want to punch. Hard. And, in the face. Especially, after he ordered the death of almost a billion people.

GREEDO: 6/10

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A typical baddie who tries his luck with Han Solo. Nah, mate. Eat some bullets.

JABBA THE HUTT: 5/10

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Another baddie, but one that Han Solo owes money to. He’s not very prominent in this movie, but it’s okay seeing him, I guess – albeit in the Special Edition version of the movie, and in a CGI format.


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ENDING CREDITS

All in all, a really good film. Not my favourite Star Wars film, but it’s third on the list.

I do think Empire and Jedi are a lot better, as they set the formula for what a Star Wars film should be like.


Rating: 7/10

(Not bad for a young Padawan, Lucas, not bad…)

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6 thoughts on “Review: Star Wars [1977]

  1. The things I’ve always loved about this movie is the sense of wonder it evokes early on. I’ll always wonder what it was like to see the movie when it first came out, without anything else to really reference it to.

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    1. Hey Jason! I’ve passed your comment along to the Swan(!), since the review is ultimately his. Hopefully, he should get back to you soon.
      The swan(!) recently sat this crow down to watch the original trilogy (which this crow had so far avoided), and I must say, considering the year it came out in, it certainly is quite the creative achievement. There are a few people I know who watched it at the time it came out. Might be an interesting question to pop around the pub.

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  2. Hey, Jason. It’s the Swan, here. Yeah, I imagine audiences would be blown away watching A New Hope for the first time. For me, the movies have always just provided a way for me to escape into a world of fantasy and imagination (well, the old ones at least). Looking forward to Rogue One and Episode 8?

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