Star Wars (Special Edition) (1997) – Review

4 Stars

When George Lucas announced that he would release his Star Wars films theatrically for younger generations to see on the big-screen fans were elated. The rub: These weren’t the exact films that many slavishly worshipped from their childhood, but rather ‘special editions’ that were touched up to mask the film’s visual shortcomings. This set off a wave of curiosity, disbelief and animosity from the hardcore fan base. However, the re-releases were extremely successful financially. The added flourishes overseen by Lucas and the ILM wizards help the film hold up today, forty years after its initial release and twenty years after these ‘editions’, and the small elements that were added or altered almost go un-noticed.

Luke (Mark Hamill) is a farm-boy on a planet in the far-reaches of the Galaxy. He yearns to join the Rebel alliance battling against the Galactic Empire. When he convinces his Uncle to buy two droids, C-3PO and R2D2, the boy’s life changes forever. Before long he’s met with Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) a Jedi master and the former mentor to Luke’s father. This sets off a chain of events that takes Luke from the desolate plant of his youth right into the crosshairs of the Empire.

The cocky space pilot Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his furry companion Chewbacca escort Luke and Obi-Wan across the cosmos in their ship. The pursuit of fortune propels Solo to accompany the two on a rescue mission of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who’s trapped inside a holding cell onboard an Imperial Star-cruiser. Lording over the captive princess and the Galaxy in general is Darth Vader, one of the screen’s all time bad-guys, former pupil of Obi-Wan and out of revenge against his one-time friend.

Of the ‘special edition’ trilogy, the most changes,time, money, and care went into Star Wars. Perhaps that’s because it was the oldest and had the smallest budget of the original three. Or maybe it was because this entry was directed by George Lucas himself and the man wanted to fix the things that bothered him about his own film. Whatever the case the re-releases got Star Wars back in the collective conversation of filmgoers and raised awareness and anticipation for the promised forthcoming new episodes. And we all know how that turned out.

Director: George Lucas
Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

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