The original Star Wars films from the least liked to the most liked, although all three get four star out of four star ratings.
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) Han Solo’s friends, one by one, make their entrance into Jabba’s Palace to save Solo. It is obvious they have a plan. A hologram of Luke Skywalker is projected by the droid R2-D2 to bargain for Solo’s life, but the message is rejected by Jabba and the droid is employed into the service of the palace. Back-ups follow, in disguise, until it comes down to the last man, in a crucial action scene at the Tatooine dunes. The rescue mission is punctuated by a sense of fun instead of heaviness and Jabba’s Palace is filled with sketchy, caricatured low-lives who appear less sinister than what they probably are. Fans would be buying the Palace toy and every figure that inhabits it. The story progresses from Jabba’s Palace. Hero Luke Skywalker is seeking to convert villain Darth Vader to come to his senses and stop his madness. Luke’s also coming to terms with losing a Jedi master and the revelation he has a sister, but all his existential angst is in the shadows of fun moments. Moments like the Rebel Briefing where the Rebels gather to discuss the strike on the Empire’s half-completed Death Star. You can’t take the overt statesmanship of this scene with gravitas. The Rebel strike showcases the best action scenes and visual effects in the movie; heaps of fun. Moments with Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, the Empire’s head honcho. He buoys the scenes he is in. The Emperor’s theatrical plays of power is a lot of good “innocent” fun. Vader and Luke’s story, which is supposed to resonate, doesn’t entirely nail it. The human moment that Vader and Luke share strains for effect, the sentiment somehow misses the mark. But other serious moments resonate. One watches Vader and Luke duelling to the sounds of quasi-religious music on the soundtrack. Return of the Jedi may be more about the fun moments, but the serious moments do count for something and compassion results in redemption. 9.0/10.0
What we get from Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is a tense cat and mouse chase as the Empire attempt to take over the Rebels. We are rooting for the Rebels right through. The Imperial forces bare down on everyone we’re identified as good, especially the key character. The hero is instantly knocked from his animal right from the start and struggles throughout the film to be at ease. In this one it’s about the struggle between good and evil, but resistance to evil can be stronger than succumbing to it. This sequel to Star Wars: A New Hope is efficiently made in the best way, from script to direction to visual palette, and boasts action packed scenes and moments, like the asteroid field scene, the climatic duel between the hero and the villain. New characters Yoda, a Jedi Master, and Han’s friend Lando Calrissian, who has an unexpected shadow side, though forced into a corner he was, make their grand and welcome appearances. 9.0/10.0
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) juxtaposes massive images of humanity with massive images of technology. Humans face battle stations head-on and attempt to overpower the dreaded machine. The point is that humans should not be the slave of technology. There’s an art to the transitional devices between scenes. Seamless lead-in to scenes and wipes that turn over a “new page” as it was to continue the story from a new point. The visuals are so astonishing as to be sublime; a new world has been created in all the visual capacity that it can hold. Meeting Ben Kenobi for the first time, the young fool being pulled away from home and finding himself unable to stay there anymore, the tight-knit “boardroom” of grey suited elders discussing the future of their enterprise the Death Star. Han Solo’s cool. There are probably many more moments that just sneaked up on me without noticing too much. Star Wars A New Hope can’t be easily forgotten. 9.0/10