Star Wars IV: A New Hope (video box title), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (reissue title)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Running Time: 121 minutes
US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: U
Country: United States
So, here it is. Theres no need to be patient any more. George Lucas has finally decided to join the rest of us in the 21st Century and release his original Star Wars trilogy on DVD – and Im sure it wont come as a major surprise to any of you that its been worth the wait.
Its hard to imagine there might still be anyone out there whos unfamiliar with the basic storyline behind this first movie in the series but, just in case, heres a brief run-down. R2D2 and C3PO are two robots one a midget, one a bit camp who escape from The Death Star, a Russell Grant-sized war ship helmed by intergalactic sod Darth Vader (David Prowse, with vocal assistance from James Earl Jones). They end up on a remote desert planet, where adventure-seeking 70s-haired scamp Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) takes them under his wing. Upon hearing from them that Vader has kidnapped space-toff Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Luke teams up with the insufferably wise Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and smirking woookiee-loving mercenary Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and sets off on the rescue mission of all rescue missions. Huzzah!!
Along the way they go for a paddle in a vat of inter-planetary waste, dress up as Darths henchman, and even get into a pub brawl in the makey-uppy city of Mos Eisley. According to old Obi Wan, its a wretched hive of scum and villainy so think Dundee only with better-looking residents and a lower crime rate.
Part Samurai legend, part swashbuckler and part Buck Rogers, Lucas brainchild is a rip-roaring amalgam of practically every brand of adventure story you can think of. Its fantastically-paced to move practically seamlessly from one awe-inspiring cosmic setting to the next, and the plot under-pinning it all makes up for a teensy lack of depth with some gripping set-pieces. Meanwhile, John Williams heart-pounding score must go down as one of the most instantly-recognisable in celluloid history.
Of course, its not perfect: the characters are a tad under-developed, some of the dialogue is only so-so, and the CGI that was needlessly tagged-on back in 1997 sticks out like a sore thumb. But, faults or not, its largely down to this movie that big-budget action blockbusters have since become the staple diet of mainstream cinema-goers the world over. Its a ground-breaker, and its a good un.
It's Got: A rebel alliance comprised of the chubbiest fighter pilots youll ever see.
It Needs: A serious review of Health & Safety issues aboard the Death Star whoever heard of having maintenance walkways and balconies miles above floor-level with no safety nets, fences or harnesses? That Darth Vader wont be happy until someone breaks their neck.
DVD Extras The only extra feature in Disc 1 of the Star Wars Trilogy box set is an audio commentary from George Lucas with cast and crew. If you want the full range of goodies, you have to head for the bonus disc, where youll find original trailers & TV spots, exclusive production stills, posters & print campaigns, a shameless amount of plugging for the forthcoming Star Wars video games, and additional DVD-ROM content. The extensive array of documentaries and featurettes include The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, Episode III Behind the Scenes Preview, The Birth of the Lightsaber and The Characters of Star Wars. Suffice to say, its a necessity if youre a Star Wars buff, and fascinating viewing even if youre not. DVD Extras Rating: 10/10
Alternatives:Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
The galaxys favourite fairytale, on DVD at last its a must-have for anyones collection.