Star Wars: Episode Iva New Hope

George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977) with a few minor restorations of bits deleted from the original and an upgrading of certain effects (more beasties in the background, better sound). Almost a decade after its original release, Dave Kehr wrote, George Lucas’s science fiction adventure is an exhilarating update of Flash Gordon, very much in the same half-jokey, half-earnest mood, but backed by special effects that, for once, really work and are intelligently integrated with the story. It’s easy to see what he means, but I still prefer the homey and homemade Flash Gordon serials, which for all their 30s racism lack the antiseptic genocidal fervor and new age pretensions of Lucas’s giddy celebration of warfare. (It’s also, as Kehr suggested, very knowing about its supposed dumbness, and a triumph of market research.) But if you want to see the movie that made mild diversion for ten-year-old boys the model of commercial filmmaking, ruling out nuanced characterization and emotions that last longer than 20 seconds, this is where to look. With Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and the voice of James Earl Jones. PG, 121 min. (JR)

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