Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 4, 2007
Created a pop culture phenomenon that probably has no equal and deservedly so as A New Hope is a classic that only gets better the more they try to expand this universe with sequels and prequels. It has a sense of wonder and discovery that no other film in the series can match. The plot is pretty simple, but the characters really make it come to life. Empire Strikes Back would expand on all the things done well in this movie, but because it was darker it wasn't as fun as this one. That's not a complaint, just an observation. A New Hope was as good of a start as you can get for a franchise.
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2010
The start of an amazing mythology, and the beginning of one of the most well known movie franchises of all time. This story tells the journey of how a young man gains knowledge of the universe he lives in, and becomes a force to be reckoned with. It is classic storytelling at it's finest. It may not have perfect dialogue, and the action is a bit weak for most of the film, but in the end, that is not at all what matters. The characters, the world, and the meaning behind everything is what really sticks out, and I love this film for that. A movie does not have to be perfect, to feel perfect. "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" is fantastic filmmaking and perfect storytelling!
Super Reviewer
March 4, 2008
Star Wars changed everything. That could be the review of the film. Nothing else needs to be said, but I will. It changed how movies were made, merchandise, released, controlled. Everything. Film was going into a transition period that saw the collapse of the huge studio systems into small, independent, personal films. A summer blockbuster was a foreign animal. The 1970's were a decade of sadness and disgust in far more than Hollywood films. Society dictated what film presented on the screen in 1977. Star Wars changed that. It was ok to escape. It is a watershed moment in film history, commercial history, and holds a place in billions of lives across the globe. Billions. Those are religion numbers and people actively practice it.

The scaled down plot of the film is simple. A princess in danger. A young farm boy with no sights of a future is wrapped up in an adventure with an old wizard, a scoundrel, and sidekicks to stop the evil that has engulfed the galaxy. It's all there and it was so different in 1977. In a decade that gave us Straw Dogs, Taxi Driver, Dog Day Afternoon, and all of those disaster films Star Wars was a breath of fresh air. It was a turning point for the dark view of American society in the 1970's. It harkens back to yesterday when heroes were heroes and villains were villains. A simpler time. Lines were not blended at that time.

The acting and the dialogue aren't the greatest with Harrison Ford delivering the best performance, but director George Lucas creates a world out of nothing but ancient religious beliefs. It carries on more than it's movie serial tradition, but an ideal of being one with the world. It wasn't just the marketing that pushed this film from beyond the silver screen, but those universal ideas of accepting what is good and shunning the evil that we encounter in our lives. I'm getting really deep on this so bare with me.

Overall, Star Wars is a magnificent film that captures not just one spirit, but multiple ideals from throughout history. There's thousands of years of beliefs rolled up into 125 minutes of intergalactic adventure. Of course Star Wars is a phenomenon, but when you get back to the basics of the film itself it stands on its own and has become a high standard that other filmmakers try to achieve
Super Reviewer
½ February 19, 2012
It is not a perfect film--unlike its successor--but still legendary with a powerful story, engaging characters, and brilliant writing.
Super Reviewer
May 14, 2013
The most incredible special effects for the time, but the story is poorly conceived/developed and lousy acting by Fisher and Hamill. Really, if it weren't for the then-ground-breaking special effects, I'd give this a sub-par rating.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2007
five stars!!
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ September 25, 2012
Trying to imagine filmmaking without Star Wars is like trying to imagine pop music without The Beatles: it simply isn't possible. The proliferation of Star Wars into every conceivable corner of our culture makes discussions of its legacy either pointless or severely tainted by the weight of history. But just as The Beatles were capable of writing bad songs (quite a lot of them, in fact), so we shouldn't blindly praise Star Wars simply in light of what it's left behind. While there is much in A New Hope to appreciate and enjoy, it's hardly as perfect as has been claimed.

The worst question that any journalist can ask a filmmaker is: "Did you know this film was going be a success?". The answer is always no, because filmmaking is a profoundly risky business: productions get delayed or shut down, people fall out or suffer injuries, and finances can fall through at any time. In the case of Star Wars, Lucas was even more uncertain that his pet project would ever get made. Despite the success of American Graffiti, the film was turned down by both Universal and United Artists, both of whom had excellent track records with nurturing new talent.

The production of A New Hope (originally just called Star Wars) was beset by many problems. Lucas quarrelled with his cinematographer Gilbert Taylor, who shot Dr. Strangelove and The Omen: Taylor rejected many of Lucas' lighting decisions and resented said director's desire to control every aspect of the production. There were frequent prop and costume malfunctions, as the newly-formed Industrial Light and Magic struggled to keep pace with all the ground-breaking special effects shots. The crew looked down on Lucas for his inexperience and for making what they saw as a "children's film". And the cast objected to both Lucas' vague direction and the script, with Harrison Ford remarking: "George, you can type this shit, but you can't say it!"

At this point you'd have every right to start making comments about how Lucas had the last laugh. You could equally point out the irony of studios laughing off his offers for merchandising to tie in with the film, considering that most contemporary blockbusters now come with some form of commercial tie-in. In fact, when you look at Star Wars outside of its status as a cultural phenomenon, you begin to realise how the criticisms of cast and crew all had some degree of validity.

A large part of the success of Star Wars lies in the huge technical leaps that it made. In the 1970s popular science fiction was dominated by TV shows and films whose capacity for exploring ideas far outstripped their visual creativity. Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Star Trek and Logan's Run - all were interesting and ideas-driven, but also ropey, cheesy, ponderous or naff (Star Trek at its worst being guilty of all these).

Star Wars shifted the goalposts for audience expectations of what a 'sci-fi' film looked like. Its aesthetics felt novel to audiences who had grown used to not hearing noise in space after 2001, and who were genuinely engrossed by the impressive model shots and the lightsaber battles. The film ushered in an age in which technical brilliance became as highly valued as narrative substance. It did so with such speed that Logan's Run all but vanished shortly after its release.

Because of this emphasis on technical brilliance, or surface rather than substance, we should resist referring to any Star Wars film as 'science fiction'. Science fiction is primarily a genre of ideas, in which outer space is used to explore inner space, and strange planets or exciting gadgets are a means to explore moral and social themes. Star Wars is a space fantasy or space opera, an epic story of good vs. evil with its roots in westerns and comic strips, as I pointed out in my Phantom Menace review. The success of Jaws and Star Wars not only cemented the summer blockbuster, it made it possible for B-movie material to be made with A-movie budgets.

The influence of various B-movie genres on Star Wars is plain to see in the archetypal characters. Luke Skywalker is the fresh-faced hero, who starts out being pretty incompetent but eventually grows into someone who can genuinely look up to. Han Solo is essentially a cowboy in space: he walks like he's wearing six-shooters, is dressed like a cowboy in black, is incredibly cocky, and shoots first and asks questions later (yes, shoots first - we'll get to that). We also have a princess or damsel-in-distress (Princess Leia) and a couple of evil overlords, with Peter Cushing in creepy Hammer mode and Darth Vader being based on Klytus from Flash Gordon.

The performances are what lift Star Wars out of generic convention, though they work for several different reasons. Some of the performers, like Carrie Fisher, stand out because they bring out the wit of the story in a way that their characters normally wouldn't do. Some, like Mark Hamill, have little room for manoeuvre but seem natural enough for us to feel at home with them. The best performances, however, come from the actors who either genuinely get their archetype or appear to be 'in on the joke'. Harrison Ford is note-perfect because he understands the rogue character, while Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness both seem conscious of how silly it all is.

I've been quoted in several places as saying that Flash Gordon is better than Star Wars, and here's why. Both are from the sillier end of science fiction and fantasy, with broadly drawn characters, clear divides between good and evil, and an emphasis on spectacle rather than character development per se. The difference is that Flash Gordon openly acknowledges its ridiculous nature, and embraces it. It laughs at its plot inconsistences, camp action and ripe dialogue, and encourages us to laugh with it.

Star Wars is cut from more or less the same cloth, and is still pretty light on its feet. But rather than acknowledge the silly nature of its plot or the contrivances therein, it is more po-faced and either ignores its problems or denies that they exist. This is what critics meant when they accused the film of infantilisation: passing off the relatively childlike and playful as serious, nuanced and complicated. It's also the reason why the series never reached the heights of Indiana Jones, another series based on ripe source material, in which the silliness reigned supreme and everything benefited from it.

When you attempt to cut through the mythology, you realise there's a lot of stuff in Star Wars that doesn't make sense. During the scene in the garbage smasher, Luke is dragged underwater - and yet his electronic com-link still works when he tries to contact C-3PO. Darth Vader's defeat is a big deus ex machina, with Han Solo coming back for no real reason and interrupting a scene that would have been more satisfying without him. And that's not including the unnecessary pirouetting during the lightsaber battle, or our heroes never being hit by hundreds of Storm Troopers.

Being someone who grew up with the Special Editions, I should address the 'Han Shot First' controversy. In the original cut, Han shoots Gredo unprovoked in the bar, while in the Special Edition, Gredo shoots first, missing Han at point blank range: Han is digitally 'shuffled' out of the way and shoots Gredo in self-defence. Not only is the 'shuffle' really obvious, the change makes no sense. Han is an unloveable rogue, who at this point in the story arc only thinks about saving his own skin - he would shoot Gredo to get away from him. It's as stupidly nonsensical as Steven Spielberg removing all the army's guns in the re-release of E.T., though he at least had the decency to go back on this decision.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope remains a game-changer in mainstream filmmaking, whose influence is still writ large, for better or worse, over popular sci-fi. Its effects are ultimately far more ground-breaking than either the story or the way that it's told, and it's not as enjoyable as Flash Gordon or Indiana Jones, both of whom are more at ease with their source material. But it's still pretty fun in its own right, boasting memorable characters and a number of good action scenes. Whatever its narrative limitations, it's still a force to be reckoned with.
Samuel Riley
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2012
The first to be made out of the Star Wars saga is quite possibly the best. This Sci-Fi masterpiece created so many iconic characters, locations and even phrases. This is one of few Sci-Fi films to change the genre and remain as popular today as it did then.
Super Reviewer
½ July 27, 2012
For a pop-culture film in the late-70s, the film is visually remarkable. With a story of epic peril and effects of high magnitude, Lucas raises the bar in, not only science-fiction, but film development and animation. 4.5/5
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2011
Star Wars is the orginal epic that matured science fiction. George Lucas has created an opera set in space, a drama taking place on different worlds since then nothing hollywood has brought us has ever been the same.
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2012
Forget the two crappy prequels and the one preally good prequel, this is what Star Wars is all about. This is the real beginning of the saga. Within the first couple of minutes watching this movie, you will get hooked into the storyline. The opening scene not only includes a cool action sequence, but the epic reveal of Darth Vader. He's only one of the greatest villians in all of film and he makes it know why within his first few lines. The plot of the movie is that a group of rebels who are against the Galactic Empire have to rescue a princess from the ultimate weapon of destruction, the Death Star, a space station capable of destroying an entire planet. Luke Skywalker is the would-be leader and he teams up with the smooth, concieted Han Solo, Chewbacca, a Wookie who has a way with words, two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO, and the Jedi mentor Obi-Wan "Ben" Kenobi. They have to rescue Princess Leia and the plot may be simple, but everything about this film works. The acting was superb; Harrison Ford is one of my all time favorite actors and I really bought into his performance. Mark Hamill did a really good job as Luke, Alec Guinness plays his role as the wise mentor really well and Carrie Fisher played a believable Leia. The special effects, to some, are considered "dated" but I speak for a large number of people when I say that, even by today's standards, the special effects are outstanding. This movie's storyline was really well written which came as a real shock because George Lucas wrote the script. When he wrote the prequels. the dialogue was really bad and some of the storytelling was very convoluted. But in this, it's just plain epic. What Happened Lucas? This entry in the series has great characters, engaging dialogue, awesome action and a fantastic musical score by John Williams. This movie is a masterpiece, but the sequel is something that deserves it's own word to describe how awesome it is.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2006
There are three Star Wars films. Star Wars is a magical rollercoaster ride of fun and excitement, populated with charming characters you actually CARE about, who have believable relationships in a fairytale universe of good and evil. Star Wars is my first movie love, and no matter how many times I see it (surely a dozen by now) I am still transformed into an eight year old boy for it's two hour duration. Star Wars is NOT a bloated, computer generated toy commercial vomited onto the screen by a beardy old fat bloke's ego. The "updated" version actually points to where the prequels were going to go so horribly wrong. The added fancy CG is distracting and unnecessary, and Lucas manages to neuter Han Solo nearly as soon as he appears by making a couple of amendments that completely miss the point of his character and appeal. Adding insult to injury, he managed to turn a menacing and ruthless underworld figure into a cartoon muppet who does nothing but repeat the lines of one of his minions from the previous scene. Do yourselves a favour and watch the theatrical version. THREE I tells ya!
Super Reviewer
April 9, 2007
George Lucas takes science fiction to a whole 'nother level in Star Wars: A New Hope.Story goes a long way and this film has got a good one. The plot moves and there always seems to be something essential happening for the entire 2 hours of screen time. It doesn't hurt that the light versus dark concept, wrapped in this science fiction universe, is fantastically done.The visual effects play a huge part in this film's success. From the colors of the laser blasts to the design of the ships and settings, there are many components to take in with the eyes. The sound effects are also a nice compliment to the visuals. This picture wouldn't be the same without any of it.The trio of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and the lovely Carrie Fisher provide a solid base to surround with supporting characters. The voice work of Anthony Daniels and James Earl Jones are just as memorable as the characters they voice.Star Wars: A New Hope has got all the makings of a great science fiction action adventure and it delivers. "May the force be with you."
Super Reviewer
November 5, 2011
Darth Vader: This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion. 

"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Easily the most influential and referenced series of all time. I believe that we don't go 24 hours without either hearing a reference to Star Wars or seeing something from Star Wars. This franchise is everywhere. Be it on tv, in music or just the geeks who have adopted these movies as their philosophy. The affect that Star Wars had on pop-culture is unmatched. Before someone even sees any of these films, they already know several things about them, such as the characters, some of the lines and a few of the situations. 

To be honest I put off watching this series for a long time, believing the stereotypes that anyone who loves these films are mega nerds. But that just isn't true. There is no way you can watch A New Hope and honestly say it wasn't one of the coolest and most fun films you have ever seen.

There really isn't a reason to go into plot details for this one, because even if you are in the small percentage of people who haven't seen this movie, odds are you still know what is going on. I will say that the movie pretty just grabs viewers with the first action sequence. After reading the words floating up your screen and seeing Darth Vader take Leia, there is no way you aren't going to be glued to your seat for the next two hours. 

The characters of the Star Wars franchise are just genius. There's the protagonist, Luke Skywalker, who is sick of living at home and just wants to get away from it. He doesn't know who his father is or what he did. Obi-Wan Kenobi then mentors Luke Skywalker in the ways of the force. They run around with two droids. C3PO and R2D2. They get the help of a cocky and seemingly selfish pilot, Hans Solo, who runs around with an enormous creature naked Chewbaca. Then there is the damsel in distress, who they all set out to rescue, Princess Leia. Last but not least, there's one of the greatest villains ever in Darth Vader. 

The movie doesn't skimp on anything. Everything is epic from the characters to the plot and from the special effects to the scenery. There's just so much detail put into a two hour run time. Watching A New Hope for the first time is a great experience. It's just insane how great it is.

Luke: I want to come with you to Alderaan. There's nothing for me here now. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father. 
Joel K.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2011
Possibly the most fun anyone can hope to get out of two hours of film, although it can come off as a little cheesy, under-budget, and badly acted in some places. Ignoring these bad points (as I'm sure we all do when we watch it) Star Wars is a brilliant film. It's an exciting and vibrant space drama, where everything in it has been done before, but at the same time it feels very original. Harrison Ford and Alec Guinness both have decent turns as Hans Solo and Obi wan Kenobi (or maybe they just look good next to Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamil), and James Earl Jones makes the character Darth Vader into a bold and intimidating villain with his powerfully deep voice. The plot just sort of takes the characters from one spectacular action seen to another, but with this film Lucas created a compelling world and characters, things that would be expanded in future instalments.
Super Reviewer
June 21, 2007
Genuinely exciting, imaginative, and just fun to watch, the first Star Wars movie made set the universe for an enduring legacy that's only grown with time. And even better, it's a good movie. The practical 70's special effects look great, the music is fantastic, it introduces some of the most iconic characters in the history of entertainment and whether you're seeing it for the first time or the tenth, you're going to have a big grin on your face by the end.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2011
A cult classic and a masterpiece. This movie is incredible to this day and especially for it's time. The story and and characters are superb. The action and effects are exciting. The music is unforgettable. This film is a film for the ages, a legendary sci fi, and one my favourite films from my childhood.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2007
Errr, what can I say? you all know this, its the greatest movie ever made, almost perfect, combined with the rest of the series its unbeatable. The first Star Wars film and the film that made cinematic history, it changed history and created film going for a new generation of viewers and directors, this film is a landmark in human history, its that big.
Even though its cheesy, hammy and very predictable its still probably the greatest film ever made, mainly due to its design and effects which STILL look good and better than modern films.

This film was everybodies childhood for people now in their 20's onwards, I find it so hard to believe that kids nowadays probably dont play Star Wars.
Super Reviewer
August 1, 2008
The Greatest Film of American History, "Star Wars" is our Modern Myth, as "The Iliad" was for the Greeks. Be forewarned, however, watch the original theatrical version only! The "Special Editions" ruin the legacy and greatness of the Original Star Wars Film! Anyone should watch this, even those who loathe Sci-Fi or products of the culture of the 1970s.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2011
Still holds up almost 35 years later as the best SCI-FI picture ever made, and it's so true. It's even better on Blu-ray.
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