Star WarsSTAR WARS: The Trilogy

S T A R   W A R S   E P I S O D E   I V

vader and leia one of Shadows' all-time best films A New Hope
dir-scr George Lucas
with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew
Fox 77,97/US 5 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
episode iv: a new hope To celebrate its 20th anniversary, George Lucas has brought his box office champ back to the big screen with a cleaned-up print, digitised sound, a few new scenes and completely updated special effects. The result, as he says, is Star Wars as it should have been in the first place. Well frankly, his enhancements don't change the film much ... besides giving it state-of-the art '90s sound and visuals. The real revelation here is simply having the film back where it belongs--and where it's still as thrilling and joyful as it was two decades ago.

Cleaning up and expanding the effects only makes the film more seamless--the effects are actually less noticeable now! The most obvious new effects are in the Mos Eisley sequence, where the quiet ghost town has now become a thriving, buzzing frontier spaceport full of outlandish creatures and little whizzy machines. And new scenes do add to the narrative--Jabba the Hutt was off-screen in the original version, but now he gets his big scene with Han Solo (Ford), setting the stage for the bounty hunt in The Empire Strikes Back and Jabba's appearance in Return of the Jedi. The other notable addition is a short scene between Luke (Hamill) and his home-planet buddy Biggs, which gives a helpful clarity and resonance to the final attack sequence.

It's hard to define why Star Wars has such an enduring appeal. Its story isn't exactly original (although it's quite compelling); its cast is merely competent (yet their earnestness, wit and camaraderie get you right with them from start to finish); its pace is frenetic (there's only one real moment of tranquility near the beginning). Yet it remains my very favourite film of all time--not the best film I've seen, but certainly the one that's gotten furthest under my skin. It simply must be seen on the big screen--again and again--and it will never disappoint. Maybe that's the secret ... and why it will still draw a crowd in another 20 years.

[U violence, suspense] 21.Mar.97

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S : E P I S O D E   I V
"Of course, we went to see it in its first weekend. WOW! Talk about taking me back to my younger days! It brought back a lot of memories for me. Also, it was so great to be in a theatre with bunches of kids and realize that this was their FIRST REAL VIEWING! And they loved it as much as I did!" --Karen G, Los Angeles.

"We just came back from seeing Star Wars on the big screen. It was GREAT. As you've heard there are a few extra scences, like Han Solo talking to Jabba and even stepping on his tail. I guess they erased the original Jabba and digitally added the one from 'Return of the Jedi'. There is a definite Star Wars craze happening here." --Al R, Los Angeles.

"Thoroughly enjoyable! Still a great story. I remember standing in line to see it the day it opened in 1977 (which was the day school let out that summer) and being just completely entranced with it--a great story well told. Nothing has changed; the 'enhancements' are mostly unnoticeable, but that's as it should be. The added scenes are minimal, but actually help the story make a little more sense, even if they do slow it down a bit. I think you'll love it." --Jim L, Los Angeles.

"I have seen the rereleased Star Wars twice, and thought it fun, but terribly dated, and campy beyond belief. I haven't seen Empire yet, but it is my favorite of the series, and apparently the least changed, I am told." --Dave S, Massachusetts.

"The Star Wars special edition in Ecuador! We've been waiting to take our kids so they could get their first Star Wars experience, but we heard that it was just long lines and soldout theaters. Finally a friend got in to see the film. It was so crowded, he had to sit on the front row. The movie started ... everyone was excited ... the first words were spoken ... IT WAS DUBBED IN SPANISH! Every gringo in the theater moaned; the Spanish speakers cheered. So the kids will get to watch it in Spanish, or will have to wait for the release on videotape. That's what you get for living in a Spanish-speaking country. Missionary life is tough!" --Russ C, Quito, Ecuador.

"The theatre was packed and it was a good time. I was surprised that the majority of the audience was 18 to 25-year-old men. It was kind of weird. Also it was SO funny to hear the first lines of Luke Skywalker--he could have given Doug & Wendy Whiiinerrr some lessons in whining. The whole theatre just laughed when he started talking. He did get better as the movie progressed. Also, HOW did they do that scene between Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo? That was WAY COOL!" --Becky O, Minneapolis.

"I saw it opening night. It was cool to see it on the big screen, because I had seen all the rest in the theatre except Star Wars: A New Hope. You must see it in a THX theatre! The Mos Eisley part was completely redone and it completely rocks! They have new scenes and monsters in the movie. With the new scenes they added a lot of scenes that explain the movie, like the new Biggs scene explains why Luke was able to fly a Xwing. Have you visited ?" --Jeff S, Texas.

"I've seen Star Wars' three times since its re-release Jan 31. (Impressive. Most impressive.) Seeing the Death Star blow up on the big screen (not to mention in THX sound) is THE GREATEST. But it gets better ... The Empire Strikes Back is re-released Friday (Feb 21)! I'm going to buy advanced tickets for my family to make sure we're there! I saw an interview with George Lucas and he said that the three prequels will be filmed at the same time. It'll save money with sets and stuff." --Al R, Los Angeles.

"It was the first time ever in a theater for me, and although the new stuff was interesting, overall I was not that impressed. It really feels 20 years old, and surely would not make it if it were released new today, in my opinion." --Dan S, Colorado Springs. back to the top

S T A R   W A R S   E P I S O D E   V

luke and yoda one of shadows' all-time best films The Empire Strikes Back
dir Irvin Kershner • scr Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, Frank Oz, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew
Fox 80,97/US 5 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
episode v: the empire strikes back The darkest chapter of George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy gets the "Special Edition" treatment now, and it's surprising how little the film has changed. Besides a couple of short new scenes and a wonderfully souped-up digital soundtrack, The Empire Strikes Back is still the same thrilling, adventurous, romantic film it always was, giving you plenty of meat to chew on before its maddening cliffhanger finale. The Empire strikes back indeed! And back in 1980 we had to wait three long years for the plot to resolve itself. Now it's only two weeks until the Return of the Jedi special edition hits UK theatres.

The sheer difference in budget has never been more apparent: Star Wars was made on a shoestring; Empire obviously had more to work with, from better sets and costumes to more experienced cast members. And director Kershner goes for a much more darkly humorous take on the story, getting more depth from the characters and situations, and using the special effects to superbly advance the complexities of the story, which was threadbare simplicity in the first film. We have the initial rebel hideout and Imperial assault on the ice planet Hoth; Han and Luke manoeuvring for the affections of the lovely Leia; the breathtaking chase through the asteroid belt; Luke's apprenticeship with Yoda on Dagobah; the plots, counterplots, betrayals and unwanted revelations of the cloud city Bespin. And it all plays today as well as it did 17 years ago! The only new enhancements are an extended visit from the Yeti-like creature on Hoth and a rollercoaster aerial tour of Bespin. Otherwise, the plot and characters still carry the film, with some very clever touches scattered through the script, direction and performances. This is quite simply a terrific film that can be watched over and over again without inducing boredom. Don't miss it on the big screen, where it works its magic best.

[U violence, suspense] 11.Apr.97

See also:
Secret Cinema Presents
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back


R E A D E R   R E V I E W S : E P I S O D E   V
"This is not much more than a two-hour build up for Return of the Jedi. (And believe it or not, I actually fell asleep during the Yoda sceens.) The new graphics were interesting, but.... I suppose I will have to see Jedi, but I am not expecting much. I look forward to the next three in the set as they should be considerably deeper with 20 years of experience and technologies behind them. (One can hope....)" --Dan S, Colorado Springs.

"They have outdone themselves again. My favorite of all the trilogy is Empire. The big screen adds a lot to some of the chases, especially in the asteriod field. They also had their new promised scenes, not as many as in the first, but a few. The part in Bespin Cloud City has been changed as much as Mos Eisley was in A New Hope. If you watch closely though, in one of the sequences toward the end of the movie, one of the added scenes is a clip from the beginning of Return of the Jedi." --Jeff S, Texas.back to the top

S T A R   W A R S   E P I S O D E   V I

chewie and han one of Shadows' all-time best films Return of the Jedi
dir Richard Marquand • scr Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Ian McDiarmid
Fox 83,97/US 4Ω out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
episode vi: return of the jedi The final part of the Star Wars trilogy ties up all the loose ends and then some. Return of the Jedi has a complex narrative with several twists and turns, some wonderfully dark moments and a few terrific set pieces. Still, it's always been regarded as the weakest of the three, and in making the special edition, George Lucas has tinkered with this film more than the other two. The most serious (and deserved) criticism is aimed at its touchy-feely finale--all those singing, dancing Ewok teddy bears plus the glowy-smiley figures of Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin. Well, in this edition Lucas reworks the entire sequence, cross-cutting across the galaxy to show Defeat of the Empire celebrations on all the principle planets. He even throws out the Ewok song and replaces it with a meaningful-sounding tune of anonymous origin. The result is a definite improvement, although the shimmering Jedi trio is still gag-inducing. There are other big changes as well--the musical dance sequence in Jabba's palace is all new, and the space dogfight between the Rebel Alliance and the Imperial Fleet is really souped up.

While there are still problems (those dreadfully cute Ewoks), the film still works well as it completes the Empire cliffhanger, then goes on to set up a powerful confrontation between Luke, Darth Vader and the vile Emperor, while at the same time pitting the bedraggled Alliance against the ruthless Empire in a final desperate battle. Memorable sequences abound: The extended rescue operation in Jabba's creepy palace (by the way, Jabba made of rubber here looks much better than the computer-generated Jabba in the new Star Wars); those speeder bikes racing through the forests of Endor; the flash-bang space battle; the inventive little Ewoks taking on the blasting Storm Troopers; and of course the Luke-Darth-Emperor zap-a-thon. All of this is greatly enhanced with digital sound and sharper visual effects. A must see! But keep a copy of the original version on video just for old times' sake.

[U suspense, violence] 25.Apr.97

“I wanted Han Solo to die at the end of Return of the Jedi. I thought it
would give the movie weight and resonance. But George Lucas wasn’t
sympathetic. He didn’t want me killed by those teddy bear guys.”
— Harrison Ford

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S : E P I S O D E   V I
"The men at Lucasfilm have outdone themselves again. They have added scenes that clarify sections of the film. They also added a scene on Coruscant in Monument Square, which will be an important place in the Clone Wars, which will be features in the three Star Wars prequels. The speeder scenes also are very entertaining in the theatre with surround sound. The end was extended and changed to definetely end the trilogy and focus to the first three. The overall enthusiam about Return of the Jedi was less, perhaps because the majority of all Star Wars fans had already seen Jedi in the theatre the first time around." --Jeff S, Texas.

"Well, imagine our shock when we all went to see Episode VI. The whole family agrees that the Ewok song is hideously sappy and juvenile, but we love it anyway and have sung it together many times in many places. It is almost our family song at this point. So there we are in a dark theatre, for two-plus hours, waiting for 'our' song and ... ARRGGGHHHH! They cut OUR song! How could they! We all just about died laughing and crying crocodile tears in our popcorn! But we had to admit the new scenes and new songs were a vast improvement. I was hoping for a nix on the 'shimmering Jedi trio' as well, but no such luck. It made me want to gag as much this time as the first (remember that, Rich? We skipped out on our first post-college jobs to go see it?)." --Nina W, Minneapolis.

"Very nice. The best of the three re-do's in my opinion." --Dan S, Colorado.

"It was much more serious and dark than I had remembered it. I had seen the other episodes on videotape, but I cannot remember watching this one since I saw it originally. I thought it was better acted and directed than the others, and very involving. My only complaint of it -- even more now than when I first saw it -- is that Darth Vader finally revealed looks a bit foolish and definitely out of shape, hardly the powerful man the costume anticipates. Maybe it was meant to be that way, but poor old Darth was definitely a disappointment in the flesh. I'm sorry to report that the end of Jedi is as awful as ever -- all of them glowing! There are a few added scenes of people cheering the end of the Empire around the galaxy -- especially Cloud City. That's nice. I have always loved the scene where R2-D2 tells the little furry guys about the exploits of Skywalker, Solo, Chewacca and the Princess. We've been there and seen how disorganized, conflict-filled, made-up-at-the-last-moment and lucky the whole thing was, but as it is told, it becomes noble and wonderful -- heroic. I wonder if some future telling of our stories will look so much better than the living." --Jim L, Los Angeles.back to the top
official Lucasfilm site
© 1997 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall