The guy who shot him made those wild claims about being a time traveler come from the future to right a terrible wrong, but he was clearly just crazy. If you had a time machine and a gun, you'd obviously just go kill Hitler.
So we watched it. It's probably the movie I have watched the most times of any. I say that and it's true: I saw it five times in the theater when it was on its first run, and that's enough to make it #1 even without the adult rewatchings. But it's odd that I don't feel any particularly deep love for it in the fannish sense. It's an artifact of my childhood, a fun experience I'm fond of. I hadn't seen it in a long time, because I refused for a long time to give Lucas any money for a screwed-up version of the film. But I finally gave in & we watched the bluray edition last night.
The backstory behind Star Wars as hinted at in the first movie is about a million times better than what Lucas gave us in that utterly horrible screenplay for the fourth movie. It's almost heartbreaking. Maybe it's just how Alec Guinness delivers the lines. You feel the lingering sorrow of the story of a great betrayal, his pupil Vader turning on him and killing his long-time friend and comrade in arms Anakin Skywalker. And then we get… what we got all those years later instead of that.
Imagine the alternative history version of that screenplay, with Anakin Skywalker played by Liam Neeson. Imagine the great slashy friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin, ended horribly in the 3rd movie at the climax of the Clone War by Vader's long-brewing bitterness and his fall to the dark side. Yeah. So not what we got.
Lucas has no taste. Every single one of his edits for the later edition stood out like a swollen throbbing thumb. Every one. The rendered bits looked wrong and rendered. Even the rendered ships looked out of place; just using the original shots of models would have looked better in context. Jamming in that deleted scene with Jabba the Hut was just bad filmmaking: he'd already covered the same plot ground in the scene with Greedo, which did a better job at building Han's character. Well, in the original version it did. Even Mr Pedia, who doesn't particularly care one way or the other about Star Wars, commented every single time something new was on the screen.
The other thing I noticed is that all of Lucas's flaws as a filmmaker are there, lurking. They're just under control in this film. They're even better controlled in Empire, where he's got help from a pair of good screenwriters and a good director. Later, of course, there was nobody to control him and his idiot impulses Ewoked and Jarjared themselves all over the place.
Upsides: Well, the young Harrison Ford. Of course. The young Mark Hamill is entertaining as well. Carrie Fisher as an in-charge woman. The banter between Han & Leia. The story itself, which is solid space opera fare. Vader, who chokes a man to death as his introductory act. Peter Cushing as the face of the evil empire. Danger and derring-do. A lightsaber battle between Vader and Kenobi that uses no stunt doubles or wire-work, just two men stage-fencing. World War II fighter plane tropes. The desert scenes on Tatooine. The cantina scene start to finish. The sound effects work. The sound track, which after so many hearings is part of the fabric of my brain.
I enjoyed it. I'd have enjoyed the original version even more, because the original version was a better film.
So, you know, I'd be okay with a reboot of this franchise. Just so long as a good writer is involved and is armed with a crowbar.