It's Star Wars. You know? PG. Star Wars? You've seen this one. Why are you asking me what it's rated. You've seen this one. It's...you know, Star Wars.
DIRECTOR: George Lucas
For a guy who is known for being a director, George Lucas hasn't directed a ton. I have American Graffiti from Netflix as one of my next movies. So if I watch THX-1138, I will have seen every George Lucas full length film. This is George Lucas's last great movie. That's weird.
When I was writing my review for Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace, I posited the question "How do I review a movie that has been savaged to death?" or something of the sort. Now I have another movie by the same director that has been universally lauded. It is also one of those movies that has such a cultural impact that most people have seen it, liked it, and have become students of it. When I was a kid, I loved Star Wars. (I'd also like to establish that this version of the movie is the original release. It isn't even known as A New Hope yet.) This movie was everything to me. I even had an unfortunate AIM handle about Boba Fett, a character that wouldn't even show up until the Christmas special a year later. There is something absolutely wonderful about a movie that presents such a bizarre universe, but makes it so accessible that people can make allusions to this movie in everyday conversation. This initial franchise changed the way we saw film.
And then it got a little old. I'll be honest. I still really love Star Wars, especially since Disney acquired the rights and revived the franchise. But there was a period there where the Kevin Smiths of the world had to include Star Wars jokes into everything that they made. Star Wars references became so blah that they became associated with nerds. I mean, there was an era where Star Wars was simply a cultural talking point, like Stranger Things is today. In a handful of years, Stranger Things will only be for nerds and the series won't make even close to the cultural impact that Star Wars did. So then it comes down to watching Star Wars as a movie by itself.
But I've seen this movie so many times before. I can probably quote the whole thing. On top of that, Star Wars isn't even my thing. I like it, but I'm not the fanboy that I used to be. How can I view a movie under these conditions? Honest to Pete, I was kind of bored for a lot of the Tattooine section of the movie, but I can't even blame Lucas for that because I used to love it. There's something there that I can never recapture. But I could at least experience that joy from the point of view of fan. I played this movie in the Villa theatre during finals and kids got super excited for coming into the movie. The theatrical cut was something most of the students have never seen before. They are used to the Special Edition and its very dated CG robots punching each other. There was a moment of newness for the students as they crowded into the back of the theater to watch the movie before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came out. (Bee tee dubs, that's the next review. It's very hard not to discuss it here.)
The joy from this movie comes from the chracter relationships. Star Wars is about the closest group of frenemeies that every sailed in a spaceship. They are constantly annoyed with one another, but there is an instant relationship there that is entertaining. The movie is almost kind of zany in some ways, the characters constantly getting into unbelievable situations that forces them to work together to overcome issues. Honestly, Luke gets attacked by sand people, fights stormtroopers, fights a squid monster in a garbage disposal, rappels across a bridge, shoots out TIE fighters, and blows up a small moon. But then Lucas is smart and adds a fun myhtos that is never truly explained. I weirdly feel bad for George Lucas. Yes, a lot of Lucas's problems come from having a complicated relationship with his own creation. It has defined him and he likes the product that he made, but he is also aware that he can never have it as simple as it was during the filming of the original movie. He was limited by not having infinite money and having to figure out problems the old fashioned way. He had to have characters that were full and well developed because a computer couldn't tell his story for him. Complete freedom means you create your own problems. That's why smaller genre movies sometimes have greater impact. The best science fiction and horror movies tend to be ones where the director had to deal with realistic problems.
Once I got into watching the original cut, I loved it again. Yes, it is boring for someone who has seen it a whole bunch of times, but there's something there that makes a lot of sense. It's once all of the characters are on screen together and cracking wise. It is the epic score and the pacing and the love put into each panel. George Lucas created something absolutely brilliant here and he deserves that again.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.