The Curmudgeon Takes a Wrong Turn

Nitpicking A New Hope from 1:26:43 to 1:33:25
Going to see The Force Awakens tonight - I guess after that, you can start going spoiler-crazy on social media, I know you've been waiting for my signal - but let's get back to the movie that started it all, or at least the echo of that movie, tweaked until it died in convulsions on the bathroom floor. Where were we? Ah yes, two comedy Stormtroopers bewitched by Obi-Wan's cantrips.
Dialog when they hear a "noise": "What was that?" "Oh, it's nothing. Podcasting. Don't worry about it." I swear to you, that's what I hear. Some other trooper is down the corridor listening to Dead Bothan Spies again. Don't worry about it. That one Trooper did manage to get out of the Death Star in time though. Because spoilers CAN be useful. Cut back to Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie nearing the docking bay, and another one of those Special Edition changes no one really likes. It tweaks one of Han Solo's funnest scenes from Ep.IV, where he scares away a whole patrol by screaming his head off and chasing them around a corner (though really, it might be the Wookie that's just behind him), only for them to turn the tables on him. Now, it was a little silly, seeing as normal Trooper behavior when they come across someone is to start shooting and hope they don't suffer as much attrition as their opponents. After all, they're armored (yeah, I know, that armor is impervious to absolutely nothing). As it originally played, it's not that Han turns the corner and there's a whole new group of Stormtroopers, but simply that the ones he was chasing got their bearings and just turned around. And so, impetus for George to make the scene more logical:
So okay, yes, now it makes sense. He was ready to take on a half-dozen cowardly Troopers - drawing the first positive attention he's gotten from the Princess - but a whole docking bay full of Troopers, not so much. If only the new shot didn't suck. A lot of those Troopers are just stand stock-still and aren't animated. What are all those officers doing on the balcony? It's just a launching bay for tie-fighters, for Pete's sake. Did Han stumble into some kind of graduation ceremony? Are they christening disposable fighter craft? Is there a complete collection of EU short stories based on this one shot? Elsewhere, Luke and Leia are ALSO being chased by Stormtroopers, which makes emotional sense in the editing, but is nonetheless a continuity anomaly since Han had drawn them all away. Of course, you can't run through the Death Star for long before either hitting a Stormtrooper patrol or a great big freaking chasm!
The architects should be shot (except they're need to build a back-up Death Star over Endor). At least Leia closes the door behind them, but for all her shouting about the Troopers "coming through", there's no sound or visual that proves this. And then Troopers on other ledges start shooting at them even though there's no amount of high ground advantage that can help them hit their targets. (Come to think of it, the guys on the other side of the door are probably cutting their arms off with their cutting tool by accident which is why it's taking so long.) Thankfully, Luke has a rope with a hook in his utility belt.
There were cliffs on Tatooine, sure, but this still comes out of nowhere. The only reason for that and retractable bridges on a space station is for the film to acknowledge its matinée serial roots. It's pure swashbuckling, stop your griping. Meanwhile, Han and Chewie still haven't been shot, but the Troopers think they've got them trapped and shout "close the blast doors!". Han and Chewie jump through the closing blast doors and now the Troopers are shouting "open the blast doors!" And the Rebels haven't defeated the Empire yet because...?
Okay, finally the duel between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, the former once again a righty, but he mostly wields his lightsaber two-handed anyway. Not the greatest sword fight in the world, but it's serviceable, and maybe Vader is toying with the old man and not giving it his all. Evil is cocky, after all. I think that's all the Empire is, really.
"If you strike me down, Darth" (why so formal?) "I I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." Pure hype. He'll become Martin Stein to Luke's Firestorm, but that's about it. A better line would be "I will come back to haunt you!" And then we'd have lots of scenes where Vader can't sleep because of Obi-Wan's ghost. Or maybe he can Scrooge him (now THERE'S a Christmas special). At the very least, the duel gives the heroes (now with Luke and Leia, because all corridors lead to this docking bay, apparently) the chance to run to the Falcon when its guards all go "look! a cool sword fight! let's go watch!" Ben sees Luke and smiles, because suicide is fun! And he lets Vader cut him down.
Hey, where are the Troopers standing between the camera's vantage point and the duelists? The Force is so strong with Obi-Wan that killing him just makes him disappear into the ether. This doesn't happen to the Sith, as we'll discover, but Jedi Knights don't need funeral rites. One minute they're there, the next they're just Jawa cloaks. Luke starts screaming, so all the distracted Troopers turn around and start firing (dumb) while Vader is in the back walking around (the continuity gets a little crazy, he's walking away, then he's supposed to be stomping the cloak on the right, then he's walking away, then he's walking forward, what the hell). Following Ben's voice-over, reading primer advice "Run, Luke, run!", the gang escapes.
On their ship that looks nothing like a falcon. And here we take a break with mere hopes of getting this done before Christmas...

5 comments:

Green Luthor said...

The one trooper Obi-Wan distracts actually says "outgassing", though "podcasting" would probably be funnier. (But since I'm fairly sure that word hadn't been coined in 1977...)

In the original version, the stormtroopers Han is chasing actually appear to hit a dead end in the corridor, which is why they're turned around. *Why* there's a dead end in the corridor is anyone's guess, though. (Then again, if the architect is putting random chasms into the hallways... hmmm, maybe the architect got his Death Star plans mixed up with the maps he made for his the gaming group he GMs on weekends, and no one at the construction company realized the whole place *wasn't* supposed to be a massive OSHA violation...?)

Why does Luke have that grappling hook in his belt? Actually, he (and Han) are still wearing the belts from their stolen stormtrooper armor, so it's not that he just happened to have it on him. Why do the stormtroopers have grappling hooks in their belts? Eh, not even gonna venture a guess on that one. (I'm, like, 99% sure there was probably an EU explanation for it. I'm even more certain that it would've been ridiculous, so I'm not gonna go look.)

Officially, I believe that, by dying and becoming a Force ghost, that's how Obi-Wan became "more powerful" etc. Though it really doesn't prove much of an advantage than him still being alive, and he probably could have trained Luke or guided him to Yoda a lot sooner, but... whatever. (And, of course, the prequels messed up the whole Force ghost thing anyway; Qui-Gon dies but his body doesn't fade away, but it's mentioned (not shown) that he'll appear to Obi-Wan at the end of RotS. So... Qui-Gon learned how to Force ghost himself after he died, I guess? And then he taught Obi-Wan (and maybe Yoda)? And... somehow Anakin learned it as well, although it also could only have been after he died? Something ain't right there...) (Yeah, the prequels messed up the continuity here beyond belief. Go figure.)

Siskoid said...

So is "outgassing" Star Wars' first official fart joke? Obi-Wan casting a fart smell--I mean, spell.

The Stormtroopers need grappling hooks to get around the station. Obviously.

Even as a talking ghost head, he should have guided Luke to Yoda faster. But it's easier to ignore that voice in your head than a real person, I guess. Did Obi-Wan not know another shot of LOSS AND DESPAIR is the kind of thing that drives Jedis to the Dark Side? Giving Luke reason to get revenge on Vader doesn't seem like a sound strategy.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

It's especially bad when you factor in the EU, which, based on these movies, has pretty much every Jedi becoming a force ghost until about 2002 or so- when Geonosis confirmed that Qui-gon wasn't just the odd man out. Suddenly, George's out-of-nowhere prequel addition left litteraly dozens of aberrations tobe explained away, which had been crafted as logical extensions of everything presented in the OT.

blue said...

I've always thought "Darth" was Vader's first name. Obi-Wan proves it in this movie (which I defiantly call Star Wars. There are only three Star Wars movies in my reality: Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. And I've stubbornly not ventured into the EU. I do think I had a fever dream once where I watched the prequels. Don't strip me of my geek card!)

Siskoid said...

The prequels which do not exist on your Earth suggest it's a title, but you don't live in the Darkest Timeline.

 

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