Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Directed by George Lucas. With Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness. 

Star-Wars-Original

This is going to be the hardest, yet most enjoyable film review I have written. With anything in life, there’s a catalyst for why something happens. My passion as a film fan, moreover, the reason why I write this blog can be traced back to one film experience that changed my life. That film – George Lucas’ Star Wars.

Firstly, I’ve never been comfortable with calling it ‘A New Hope‘. To me, that’s the name it took on when it began to expand into something else entirely. Of course, the release of the ‘Special Edition’ in 1997 was to see far more controversial changes to the actual film – changes that continue to irk the fans to this day. Even with Lucas’ 1997 brand of CGI graffiti, this is so more than just a silly space film. Oh, and Han most definitely shot first!

Star Wars is Luke Skywalker’s adventure. A young farmboy on a remote planet is plunged into a galactic war. In a nutshell, that’s the plot.

Those resistant to its undoubted charms, complain that there’s no story, or that Mark Hamill’s acting is a bit weak. The truth is, there’s a beautiful, fairytale simplicity to the story that cuts through with the most stunningly imagined realisation of a universe ever put on screen. It’s easy to take for granted the lasting impact of Star Wars – to attribute its appeal to the tastes of fan-boys locked in their bedrooms with life-size cardboard standees of Princess Leia and co. As we well know, it’s infinitely more far-reaching than that. With its potent mix of mysticism, the struggle of good vs evil and cool spaceships, Star Wars is the cultural phenomenon that changed the landscape of cinema history.

Along the way, the naive but plucky Skywalker (Hamill) meets a host of characters so familiar in pop culture, that we’ve almost forgotten where they originated. With such a broad mix of personality, the film is filled with minor eruptions as they clash and banter their way through one adventure to the next. As Han Solo, Harrison Ford’s wry, mocking delivery sparks perfectly against Carrie Fisher’s sarcastic comebacks, while as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness brings a gravitas that arms the narrative with an overarching weight of mystery.

Then there’s Darth Vader. There has arguably never been a better villain in the history of cinema. His imposing, wordless entrance still sends chills, not just for the character’s sinister grace, but for what he has come to represent. With that, Star Wars doesn’t waste a single second of screen time. Who can forget the ‘Cantina’, the emotional hit of the ‘binary sunset’, the Obi-Wan Vs Vader lightsaber duel, the first jump to hyperspace, the calculating cruelty of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, the bickering droids and that finale!?  All of that and so, so much more.

There are many reasons why I still love Star Wars, but they don’t just have their foundations in childhood. When I watch it today, it still resonates with a vital energy, supported by an absolute masterpiece of a musical score. Just like Luke Skywalker feels the power of the force, you can feel the power of joy leaping off the screen. It’s not hard to fall in love with something that makes you feel this good. 5/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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28 Responses to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. aarohpalkar says:

    A very nicely worded review..learning a lot about writing reviews from movie reviewers like yourself

  2. Nicely put. I totally agree.
    “Star Wars is the cultural phenomenon that changed the landscape of cinema history.” FACT! Well written. J’approve.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much, the film influenced me so deeply, that I can’t fathom how anyone could take against it.

      • Me too. I was 7 when this came out and I saw it at the cinema. Nothing came close to the effect the original trilogy had on me, as with most kids my age.
        I saw Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress a few years back and was AMAZED by how much Lucas has stolen for SW. Well worth a watch.

  3. rlterry1 says:

    Excellent review! And I am someone who doesn’t particularly have a strong affection for the movies as an adult. Oddly enough, as a kid I really liked them. But I really feel that you wrote a review that captures the essence of the film.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much, it’s very encouraging and kind of you to say those things. It’s not unusual for the shine to come off something that you’ve loved as a kid. When I think of the stuff I held dear as a child, I can’t count many that remained wondrous into adulthood.

  4. bloggeray says:

    Nice review. I had always read a lot about the original Star Wars trilogy with eminent actors and directors being effusive in its praise. So I decided finally to watch it. A month or so back, I finally watched the three films. While I didn’t find the plot very original, the special effects caught my eye, quite similar in that regard to Avatar which also had a generic plot backed by groundbreaking VFX. For a 38 years old movie to have the kind of visual effects that Star Wars had is absolutely massive. And then there were the characters. From Chewbacca to R2-D2 to Obi-Wan, all were iconic in their own right. A special movie undoubtedly.
    Thanks for following my blog. Keep your great posts coming.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much for such a great response. It’s great to share some appreciation for the original Star Wars. You’re so right in what you say, the film was decades ahead of its time, technically. I often wonder how cinema would’ve evolved without it.

      In terms of the plot, such is the richness of the universe Lucas creates, I think it creates such wildly imaginative depth, that it’s easy to immerse in the wide variety of characters and worlds. It’s just an open canvas to explore and despite the 6 films (I only count 3, really) it still is.

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Great stuff Gareth (quite possibly youe best review, it really is straight from the heart), you’ve certainly stoked my enthusiasm and aniticipation levels for The Force Awakens with you’re wonderful Star Wars reviews. Not just that, I’m looking forward to revisiting the original trilogy in the coming weeks. It’s great that you talk about how this film is the defining moment for your journey into cinema and the wonders of the imagination.

    As for Hamill, I feel that his growth as an actor over the course of the trilogy matches that of his character’s development – for me, it’s Luke’s story that has always resonated the most and perhaps the most compelling element of the series.

    Admittedly Star Trek has always been my ‘thing’ (of many ‘things’ I enjoy/obsess about) but that doesn’t mean I don’t still get a high level of enjoyment and appreciation out of Star Wars.

    Oh and who is George Lucas kidding, Han most definitely shot first!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Chris, it’s great to hear from you on this one. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I’m glad that I’ve managed to convey my love for it and I completely agree with you about Hamill, and have never had a problem with his performance, the contrary actually – I love it! He’s naive and over-eager at times, but it fits the character and balances well with the other players.

      My fire is well and truly stoked for The Force Awakens, my friend, and I’m glad that yours is too. All we have to do wait a few more weeks, now. Might you write some new reviews for the films? I hope so. 🙂

      • Chris Evans says:

        I’ll definitely be writing a Force Awakens review and quite possibly cover the original trilogy as well. I never had a problem with Hamill either and your comments about the naivety and over eagerness are spot on, they’re well balanced and he never comes across as an annoying brat. I also love Hamill’s performances elsewhere – his performance as the Joker in the 90’s Batman animated series is legendary and more recently he gave an electricly camp performance as the Trickster in the Flash tv series.

  6. filmfunkel says:

    “sinister grace”: man, that says it all doesn’t it. I remember first hearing the light saber. I stopped, my jaw hung a little, and I thought :”Yes, that’s precisely how a thing like that should sound.” The whole film is rather like that.

  7. Everyone who tells you it doesn’t have a story, you should just throw a copy of “the hero with a thousand faces” at there head.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I try to be polite about it, but anyone who negatively criticises the 1977 Star Wars film, tends to have all of their future opinions treated with a pinch of salt. It’s amazing, and I’m pretty sure that’s all there is to it.

  8. Sean says:

    Star Wars IS amazing. I also don’t call it “A New Hope”, just Star Wars, and it’s such a joyous ride. That is what made it such a phenomenon, it’s absolutely a feel-good fairytale and it’s chock full of classic moments. Thanks for making me want to watch it all over again for the millionth time!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Great to share some love for this masterpiece. For my 7th birthday, my mum rented the VHS and invited all my school classmates round to watch it. For those few hours (and a few after) I was possibly the coolest kid in the class. It didn’t last long, but I enjoyed it while it did.

  9. Zoë says:

    I love the passion here! Awesome review!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Zoë, thank you so much. I’m glad some of my passion made it into my review. Love is a strong word to use for something that isn’t a person – but I genuinely love this movie.

  10. Your review is fantastic! I don’t think I could have put it down in words as well as you have; I lived through it in much the same way so I totally understand how you feel about the movie. 🙂

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