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Star Wars Episode 4:
A New Hope

Special Edition
Starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and the voice of James Earl Jones.
Written and Directed by George Lucas
website: www.starwars.com

IN SHORT: The Force is definitely with this Special Edition

Trepidation: what Cranky felt upon news that there was to be a "Special Edition" of George Lucas' Star Wars. Other SEs (most notably Terminator 2) were major disappointments; adding old material messed up the visual and story continuity.

Excitement: what Cranky felt upon news that there was to be a "Special Edition" of George Lucas' Star Wars. So excited that he was prepared to spend two hours on line in minus twenty degree wind chill weather, just to get a good seat. Thankfully, the theater opened early and let us wait in the lobby. Cranky got his good seat, and waited . . .

Oh boy, was it worth it! A greatly expanded Mos Eisley sequence now connects A New Hope solidly to its sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. There are dozens of other, subtle additions and modifications which make the Special Edition even more satisfying than the original. I should know. I watched the original the night before the SE.

Virtually all the technical flaws have been fixed. Optical matte lines are gone. New computer generated imagery (CGI) replaces old, rubber alien critters with moving and breathing "characters" that move in and around, behind and in front of the action. Original battle scenes that featured three painstakingly stop-motion animated starfighters now feature 30. Cranky was enthralled by it all . . .

. . . Just as he was twenty years ago.

George Lucas accomplished, all those years ago, something rarely seen in the movie business. He created a new genre of movie. True, there had been adaptations of comic strip space operas such as Flash Gordon done as movie serials in the 1940s, but this was the first time a space flick integrated action, high technology, and operatic elements. The film dweebs at Northwestern University (where I was) raved for the entire week prior to the official release -- they had a preview. Cranky attended the second show, and saw his TV professors, and I'm talking about the old guys, walking out of the first show. 50-year-old men grinning ear to ear. It was amazing.

For those who have never seen the trilogy -- and there's one in the Entertainment Drive office, so I know you're out there -- it goes like this: There are the Good Guys (the Rebel Alliance) and the Bad Guys (the Galactic Empire). The bad guys are personified by Darth Vader, a Jedi Knight who has fallen to the "Dark Side" of a mystical religion called "The Force." The Empire has developed a battle station that can destroy a planet, but the Alliance has a copy of the plans secreted in a spunky little 'droid called R2-D2. In short order, a teenage kid (Mark Hamill), an elderly Jedi (Alec Guinness), and a smuggler (Harrison Ford) get pulled into the Rebellion; not so much to liberate the Galaxy as to liberate the beautiful Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). You have little time to catch your breath, but you won't care.

Star Wars: A New Hope is at times funny, exciting, scary, and seat-of-your-pants thrilling. It is on the big screen for the first time in years, and the additional scenes and CGI imagery do not get in the way. Indeed, they make a vastly improved picture.

Why are you reading this when you could be buying a ticket?

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Star Wars: A New Hope, he would have paid . . .


Are you surprised? The lovely thing is, this time around, it's only three weeks until The Empire Strikes Back, which continues the story.

Cranky reviews:
Click to purchase video:
Star Wars 1: The Phantom Menace vhs wide
Star Wars 4: A New Hope vhs SE
Star Wars 5: The Empire Strikes Back vhs SE
Star Wars 6: Return of the Jedi vhs SE

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