Just to warm up for the upcoming release (September 16, 2011) of Star Wars: The Complete Saga as well as for the separate releases of the both Star Wars trilogies on Blu-ray discs I've decided to write a few lines about each of the 6 Star Wars movies. I prefer to order them chronologically in terms of original theatrical release dates as I feel this approach is better. You can find also some thoughts on the endless alterations George Lucas is applying to his creations here.
Star Wars (1977) a.k.a. Episode IV - A New Hope
The first film of the original Star Wars trilogy is still considered to be the best by a huge part of fans and critics. It introduces the whole Star Wars universe to the public with interesting places, creatures, space ships, weapons, etc. It presents the Jedi and the Force with both of its sides. The movie has an interesting and likeable story. The characters are fun and entertaining. We are introduced to one of the strangest cinema couples in the face of C-3PO and R2-D2. The music is among the greatest to be heard in a motion picture. The special effects are fascinating. And the good wins the battle against the evil Empire. What more to be desired from a Hollywood movie?
Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
If the first film of the original trilogy is an achievement to be remembered, the second one is not a step back at all. The only major "flaw" it has is to have a predecessor. It's a sequel that is not often seen and it's the author's personal favorite in the Star Wars series. Unlikely for a sequel, The Empire Strikes Back changes considerably the form of the initial installment: it's darker, deeper and more mature. There is not a regular "happy" ending. The film sports one of the greatest twists in the movie history. And we see the initial appearance of the universal favorite Yoda. Independently of the overall darker atmosphere, Han Solo is still fresh and funny, while the evil Darth Vader seems unshakeable and stronger than ever. The music is still a great match for both, the whole Episode 5 and the individual scenes. And in addition, we learn considerably more about the Star Wars universe compared to the first movie. All of the above makes The Empire Strikes Back an essential part of the saga and arguably its best installment.
Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Episode 6 could be considered the first step back in the Star Wars series and the weakest in the original trilogy. Still, it offers genuine entertainment, big portions of fun and judged only by itself it is a very good picture. While it is closer to Episode 4 in overall atmosphere and even in terms of plot, it provides some interesting scenes and an army of new creatures. Considerable amount of time is dedicated to non-humans: Ewoks, Jabba the Hutt, Rancor and Sarlacc to list a few. The action sequences are also at their peak here (speaking of the original trilogy) with a significant screen presence. The story offers a couple of small twists although nothing so striking compared to The Empire Strikes Back. So in general, Return of the Jedi is a likable effort if not as strong as the first 2 movies. But then again, it's a part of the original Star Wars trilogy.
To read short reviews of the prequel movies follow the link: Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy Reviews.