Star Wars: The Special Edition Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

He's not a farmer... he's got too much of his father in him.
That's what I'm afraid of.

When I was eight years old, I remember my parents taking me to the theatre at the Manulife Centre in downtown Toronto to see this new science fiction movie with no recognizable actors (except Alec Guinness)...

Yes, Star Wars has been with us for a long time, pervaded our culture, and made us spend millions on merchandising tie-ins. For science fiction theatre in general, "Star Wars" was a refreshing change-- the universe of "Star Wars" was not unlike our own: instead of the sterile and brand-spanking new future of films past, everything looked kind of used, from C3PO's beat-up metal-plating to the Millennium Falcon looking 'like a piece of junk'; bartenders were prejudiced against 'droids'; and greasy Jawas with less than scrupulous marketing practices scavenging and selling used droids.

Now, 20 years later, George Lucas has re-issued the trilogy with some added footage and touched up special effects, which is both good and bad, and each film will be released one month apart.

On the good side, we see some restored footage and seamlessly-added footage that adds some depth to the Star Wars universe. Mos Eisley is a bustling spaceport town, with droids and odd creatures of every shape and size. Jabba the Hutt waits for Han Solo at the Millennium Falcon, and one of the henchman is Boba Fett, who in the old trilogy, never showed up until "The Empire Strikes Back". Luke has a brief conversation with one of his buddies from Tatooine, Biggs Darklighter, just before the Battle of Yavin, adding more emotional resonance to the destruction of Biggs' X-Wing in the final battle. And the final battle actually looks like a real dogfight, with more X- and Y-Wings in the shots.

On the bad side, there has been the debate over interfering with the integrity of the original trilogy, and it has been equated with the blasphemy of colourizing old B&W movies. I personally don't have a problem with it... I am always intrigued by Special Editions, and consider them the definitive versions if they are how the director had intended the films to be seen ("The Abyss", "Blade Runner", and "Terminator 2" are three other films in which there is value-added by seeing the Special Editions), which according to Lucas, is the case with SW. However, there is a problem with one scene that has been altered. In SW:TSE, Greedo shoots first before Solo shoots back and kills him. In the original SW, Solo shot Greedo in cold blood, which gave the Solo character a dark cloud. You weren't really too sure if you could trust this guy, since he was always looking out for himself and he would probably sell you out if the price was right. This slightly sinister character of Solo would then undergo a transformation by sticking around to help Luke destroy the Death Star. With Greedo shooting first, the maturation arc of Solo is weakened slightly, and lessens the impact of his return to help Luke in the Battle of Yavin. Another weakened character would be Jabba the Hutt. Instead of this merciless intergalactic gangster feared in "Return of the Jedi", he becomes warm-and-fuzzy, and gets chummy with Solo. He is even a source of cheap laughs when Solo steps on his tail, making his eyes bulge out in pain.

Another aspect of seeing SW again after such a long while, given the foresight of what happens in the two sequels, the scenes between Luke and Leia have a heightened sexual tension now, since you know that they are brother and sister (great! he just gave 'Jedi' away!).

But despite the grumbling from some Star Wars fans, you have to see SW:TSE. Hell, take your kids (if you have some now). It's worth it.

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