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Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope

 

Rating: PG

Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: September 21, 2004
Review posted: May 18, 2005

 

Reviewed by Keith Helinski

 

SYNOPSIS

 

The Jedi Knights have been exterminated and the Empire rules the galaxy with an iron fist.  A small group of Rebels have dared to fight back by stealing the secret plans to the Empire’s mightiest weapon, the Death Star battle station.

 

The Emperor’s most trusted servant, Darth Vader, must find the plans, and locate the hidden Rebel base.  Princess Leia, a captive Rebel leader, sends out a distress signal that is intercepted by a simple farm boy, Luke Skywalker.  Seizing his destiny, Luke takes up the challenge to rescue the princess and help the Rebellion overthrow the Empire, along with such unforgettable aliens as the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi, the cocky Han Solo, the loyal Chewbacca, and the droids RD-D2 and C-3PO. 

 

Part of the Star Wars Trilogy (Widescreen Edition) box set.

 

CRITIQUE

 

This is what started it all.  While Star Trek came first and took us where no man has gone before, providing a philosophical approach of the beyond – Star Wars provided a space opera that hasn’t been seen before and will always be ripped off years later.  Before the better sequel(s) to follow and the iffy but still fine prequels, this is truly what set the stage of filmmaking and storytelling today.  In fact – this is the sci-fi’s film version of Lord of the Rings.  Lucas approached the whole saga, almost similar to how JR Tolkien approached the writing of Lord of the Rings.  They both pre-planned a whole other world and history to place their story in.  Not a lot of writers have that craft. 

 

I grew up with Star Wars like anyone else.  I was heavily into it nine/ten years ago when Lucas re-released the films for the first time in THX format on VHS.  That Christmas, I had the Millennium Falcon micro-machine, the books, and various toys.  I even recall one time imagining being a part of the climatic sequence in A New Hope when the X-Wings beat the living crap out of the Death Star. 

 

On one hand AT THE TIME, this film provided imagination to both pre-and-after the film events.  So – the prequels didn’t exist and all you had was this fine line trilogy – A New Hope is looked upon first since it is the mack-daddy of the series. 

 

Without knowing too much on scenarios and events to follow – it’s awesome.  Now – with the sequels that follows this and the prequels that is in front of this film – it flows and makes more sense.  It disregards some imagination but nonetheless, after looking back up to now where the supposed last film, Episode 3, will be making its debut into our lives May of 2005; you have to give a hat’s off to Lucas for preplanning everything so he can fool us all and not just that – create this fictional history.

 

I didn’t mind the 1997 special edition.  And I don’t mind him farting around now.  In fact, I kind of gotten disappointed as I read in Cinescape.com two years ago that there was suppose to be an insert new scene “with Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, Princess Leia’s adoptive father, into STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE just before his home planet of Alderaan is destroyed by the Death Star.” 

 

Obviously, that doesn’t seem to appear in the film.  But nonetheless, I don’t mind the guy inserting things now or years to come.  HOWEVER – the whole point of films is not just to create a period but the reflection of the film being made at the period of time.  In other words, there is a reason why fans wanted the originals out on DVD as well as these iffy special editions.  Spielberg had the courtesy of releasing both his ‘02 and ‘82 versions side by side on the same package deal a couple of years ago.  Why couldn’t Lucas do the same?   

 

Needless to say, the wait is over.  The movies don’t come separated YET but I don’t think anyone is particularly complaining since the films do go together. 

 

THE VIDEO

 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Video presents Star Wars: Ep. 4 – A New Hope in 2.35.  Nothing short but AWESOME.  It’s amazing how much they truly cleaned up.  I was kind of worried with the prequels and this…since the prequels were filmed recently.  But rest-assure, the quality is just beyond what we all can wish and dream about.  I mean – it looks ten times better then the 1997 versions.  Pretty much in the same vein as the Indiana Jones set – BUT BETTER.  Picture is darkened and enhanced with the widescreen format – so you see MORE! You will almost question that this is a film that was filmed in 2004, rather then 1977! 

 

THE AUDIO

 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Video presents Star Wars: Ep. 4 – A New Hope in English (Dolby Digital 5.1 EX), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), and French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround).  Star Wars has always been film(s) that I would blast in stereo – whether it is on VHS or on TV.  It’s an unwritten law, really.  When viewing Star Wars, surround sound speakers must be attached to it.  So I was very excited up to and when I got my hands on this set – to blast the movie in surround sound.  Let me tell you, it delivers.

 

Dialogue is clear.  Music is heard with total loudness.  And the sound effects are in short, AWESOME! 

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Commentary by George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher

 

Other extras are found on a bonus disc.  I think they should’ve done a two-disc for all three movies instead of doing the same style Lucas did for Indiana Jones but nonetheless, it’s better then nothing at all.

 

And I must say, the commentary track is rather enjoyable. Burtt gave insight on his unique findings of various sound effects.  Muren gave wisdom on the aspects of special effects.  Fisher was only there for comical relief, as she didn’t really offer much thought,

 

But the true guy that offered the most was Lucas himself.  Not the most exciting guy to hear.  He can be very dry at times (as I viewed the two prequel commentaries).  But he gave the most insight.  Without giving much information about the track, you do have a nice appreciation for the film, the special editions, and the series as a whole.  Hearing him justify everything makes things more tolerable.  Whether it is agreeable, is another debate.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Star Wars and DVD was truly meant for each other and it’s a shame it took all this time to finally get it out there but for what is presented, the wait was worth it.  I’m sure this isn’t the final cut version – which is a shame, but for right now, it’s worth investing in.  The 1977 that you thought you’ve seen aren’t the same – for the good and for the bad.  With enhanced effects, sound quality, and picture quality – you’ll be nuts to pass this up.

 

VERDICT: DVD COLLECTOR SERIES

 

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:: The DVD

 

:: DVD Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

10

THE VIDEO

10

THE AUDIO

10

THE EXTRAS

5

OVERALL

9.5

 

:: Merchandise