The Curmudgeon Stays in Attack Formation

Nitpicking A New Hope from 1:45:20 to 1:57:40
The climactic space battle begins with a replacement shot of the X-Wings approaching, which always looked wrong to my eye. Like they dropped a video game element in the middle of the film. I mean, Star Wars has some groundbreaking model photography; was there really anything wrong with the original elements?
Ugh. But then the attack begins over Yavin (just don't expect to ever see the planet in the sky anywhere, not even as an addition), and oh how I played those strafing runs in the arcade back in the day. Remember that game that made use of old-fashioned wireframe graphics? Probably played that game before I ever saw A New Hope. The sequence does beg more questions from that silly Death Star architect.
Why does the surface of the battle station have all those little buildings on it? Even the trenches have uneven walls, as if they're made up of ill-fitting prefab modules. Wouldn't the staff be safer deeper inside the thing? It's like there's a whole city on there. Are those windowless barracks? Does everyone have to stay up top because the power core is radioactive or something? And if so, let me remind you of the guys whose job it is to work in the tubes the planet-destroying beam passes through. Do those guys get hazard pay? And hey, I just thought of something: Why wait for Yavin's moon to be clear of Yavin itself before firing? Just shoot Yavin. I doubt its moons will survive the explosion. (This is just like in The Force Awakens when [SPOILER] could just [SPOILER] the [SPOILER] instead of [SPOILER].) But okay, you want a clear shot, and according to the voice (which was changed for the home VHS, so any mistakes could have been corrected that long ago), the Rebel base will be in range in 7 minutes. Or if you go by the big screen TV, 18 seconds. Meanwhile, Luke gets a call from Obi-Wan:
Yes, he thinks it's coming from his helmet. "Trust your feelings, Luke!" Even though it's the opposite of Prequel Jedi dogma! Before he can feel anything up, there's an ACTUAL call on the radio about enemy fighters. PIEW PIEW PIEW! That's pretty much all I have to say about the reasonably exciting dogfights, but here's a shot of R2 with his blue elements turned black because of a bluescreen mishap:
First try at the 2-meter pipe fails. The Rebel Alliance is running out of fighters thanks to Darth Vader's marksmanship. It's all going to hell. Can Luke make a very fast run at the target and still pull up in time? Yes, because it's just like riding his landspeeder down a canyon on Tatooine. Remember: Every experience Luke will ever need he had on Tatooine somehow! If only the Rebels trained at shooting Womp rats on Tatooine, right? Or maybe a bit of strategy, like waiting for the Tie-fighters to go down the trench after your guys before sending your own behind them? Oh damn, and I said I didn't have anything to say about the dogfights. Time for Luke to shoot the 6-foot hole, and he hears Old Ben tell him to "use the Force" instead of that crappy targeting computer (which isn't much more advanced that the Atari arcade machine I was talking about earlier). Yeah, Luke. Use the Force. Oh crap, Vader's just killed R2!
The screams! The screams! Back at base, Threepio looks at Leia, looking for sympathy. None given.
Hey, she has other fish to fry. Or rather, the Death Star does because Yavin 4 has just come into range. In the trench, so has Luke. Vader fires right at him, but nothing happens, because one of his two escorts has been shot out of the sky by the Millennium Falcon.
That's no reason for Vader to misfire, mind you. And then, the distracted Vader crashed into his other escort and THAT'S what puts him out of commission. Not Han and the Falcon per se, not anything the heroes do, really. He's just not looking where he's going and hits one of his own guys and goes flying out of control well away from anything that might destroy his ship. And you don't think that's like The Force Awakens when [SPOILER] escapes because [SPOILER]? Same deal. So FINALLY, at the end of a trench that's even longer than the airport runway in Fast & Furious 6, Luke fires his torpedoes into the target.
And their trajectory actually BENDS 90 degrees to go in. Did Luke "Force" them? Or are they like "guided missiles", in which case it doesn't matter if you use a targeting computer? I'd go with the Force explanation, but then the angles are completely wrong for sending X-Wings flying along the trench at all! Shouldn't you be coming at the hole dead on from above? Oh I give up, just blow up the damn thing.
Thank you. RIP Dead Star. We will never see your like again.

Tomorrow, the bit where the Eagles come, and Frodo wakes up in an Elvish bed, and Sam has a family, and Bilbo leaves for America (i.e. epilogues).


Green Luthor said...

The prevailing theory (probably made official in the EU at some point, but I don't feel like checking) on why the Death Star doesn't just shoot Yavin: given the size of Yavin compared to Yavin 4, and assuming Yavin 4 is somewhat Earth-sized, Yavin would appear to be a gas giant. So it's possible that either the Death Star can't destroy gas giants in general, or there's a limit on the mass of a planet it can destroy, or something like that. Maybe not the best explanation (and really could have stood explaining in the movie itself), but it's better than most of the theories made to fill plot holes in Star Wars.

As for why the Rebels had to make the trench run instead of attacking the port head-on, or why more fighters didn't go down the trench after the TIEs or provide cover from above the trench: I got nothin'. If the Falcon can swoop in from above and take out a TIE, there's no reason an X-Wing couldn't. (But then, there also wasn't much reason for the TIEs to go into the trench, either.)

Minor correction, though: Vader doesn't crash into his wingman, the wingman crashes into Vader.

Siskoid said...

Well, that's a question for the insurance company.

But I'll buy your gas giant explanation.


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