A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away George Lucas introduced the world to Star Wars.
In the 43 years since A New Hope debuted in theaters, the Star Wars brand has become one of the most valuable pieces of intellectual property in existence and a licence for Disney to to print money ad infinitum.
But four decades later does the original Star Wars series still hold up given the modern advancements in movie making? Let’s find out.
A New Hope
The journey that started it all is the quintessential hero’s journey. Farm boy Luke Skywalker leaves his home to become a jedi knight and save princess Leia from the clutches of Darth Vader.
While the first act drags until Luke Skywalker enters the fray, the overall plot is well-paced with action, intrigue, and a lovable cast of characters.
A New Hope introduces the world to the Star Wars without getting bogged down in the details or overwhelmed by the wide wide world of…well, outer space.
Verdict: A New Hope holds up
The Empire Strikes Back
The craziest thing that jumps out when rewatching The Empire Strikes Back is not that the sequel delivered on the promise of A New Hope, but how they did it.
After opening with a battle on the snowy planet of Hoth, the middle third of this movie takes place inside the Millennium Falcon during a game of hide and seek with the Empire and on Dagobah with Luke’s jedi training with the animatronic Yoda.
That’s it. There are some special effects but it is not glitz and glam. Instead a cast of characters stuck in close confines that pushes the story forward. The story then builds on the momentum to deliver in the third act with the dramatic confrontation of Luke and Darth Vader.
Verdict: The Empire Strikes Back absolutely holds up
Return of the Jedi
The third and final installment of the original Star Wars series suffers the sins of it’s predecessors.
In a vacuum blowing up a planet-destroying-space-station is a great movie climax, but ending two movies in a trilogy the same way takes some heat off the fastball.
Similarly Luke Skywalker’s showdown with Emperor Palpatine stands on it’s own but in the shadow of his Luke’s previous duel with Darth Vader.
Return of the Jedi fills the most onscreen time with action compared to the two previous films but doesn’t back it up with substance.
Verdict: Good not great