It’s a tricky art, building on a classic. Star Wars, the original, was unique. So, when Disney asked J.J. Abrams to make another one, he felt every fan in the world breathing down his neck. Under such duress, what could he do but this?
If you’ve seen it, or want to talk as if you have, all you have to do is watch Star Wars IV: A New Hope again, and fuzz out the details.
Picture this. A giant triangle in space – a ship called a Star Destroyer – is investigating a humble little group of innocent-looking people, people the dictatorship expects are rebels. The dictatorship invades the camp, its stormtroopers open fire, and they were right – these people were rebels. In fact, one of them had a secret hologram with some data that had to get to the rebel base, and would determine the fate of the movie. The rebel stores it in a dome-headed idiosyncratic droid and tells it to escape into the desert. That’s when a sinister black-caped helmeted man appears, an evil space psychic called a Sith. The man speaks in a mask-modified baritone voice filter as he tries to get secrets from one of the rebels, but the man resists, so he kills him. That’s when the defiant rebel who had the hologram is captured, smack-talks the black-caped man to the face, and is taken back to the dictators to be tortured in a diagonal chair for interrogation. The dictatorship is now searching for this important droid.
Now, cut away to that desert planet, and we’ll find the soon-to-be main character, a beige-ragged youngster scraping a living from scrap technology. They were orphaned by their parents as a child, and they look to the stars like a kid in a musical, hoping to find their salvation there one day. It’s through sheer luck (or fate) that they find the dome-headed droid, and start coaxing answers from it. They discover it’s a rebel’s droid looking for its master and delivering an important message. This excites them, because even though they know next-to-nothing about the rebellion, it sounds good. The youngster feels obligated to help the droid complete its quest.
In the market that day, the kid meets leather-jacketed ruffian, who says he can get them off-world to a rebel-friendly planet. He wouldn’t mind getting off this planet himself, with the powerful people he’s upset around here. Locals are already picking fights with them. When someone spots the droid and alerts the dictatorship, stormtroopers attack. The kid and the ruffian are forced to leave in a hurry in some trashy-looking ship called the Millennium Falcon.
The next few scenes happen at slightly different times in each movie, if you want to split hairs over it.
- One of the escapees has little idea what they’re doing when they’re manning the Millennium Falcon’s guns, but they manage to shoot down a few Tie Fighter ships the dictatorship sent after them.
- There’s a meeting in a space cantina full of eccentric aliens. The middle of the movie has a soft-voiced old mystic with a lightsaber who teaches the main characters about The Force, telling them that closing your eyes will help you think clearer, even while fighting for your life.
- Fortunately, the small band of runaways makes it to the rebel base.
The dictatorship lives on a giant ball-ship that can destroy an entire planet but which no one noticed they were building. They test it and destroy the old government to make room for the dictatorship (though New Hope does these separately with some dialogue about the dissolution of the Senate). The escaped rebels sneak onboard the giant ship to disable its super-weapon, sneaking around the giant mechanical columns and hallways where they are radically outnumbered.
The black-caped villain senses an important older main character’s presence on the ship and finds them there. The elder man practically raised him and said he saw good in him. The dialogue is one of the richest in the movie, but ends with the elder accepting their death at the hands of the younger. Screams, shootouts and escape ensues. The rebels fly X-wing starships over the ball-ship to attack its weaknesses, but draw fire from TIE fighters and anti-aircraft turret guns. The heroes and main character villains narrowly escape when the giant ball-ship explodes. There’s a little mourning, but mostly the rebels stand in a crowd of solidarity and triumph.