I actually saw ESB in the theatre before I saw this movie, but still was only maybe 6 years old when I first saw Star Wars - A New Hope (as it was styled after ESB's release) on VHS. So I saw it with the eyes of a child but, unlike some other movies, when I watch it as an adult I enjoy it every bit as much as I did when I was a child. It might be that I become a child again for a few hours every time I watch this film, but if so that only demonstrates how magical it is. This truly is a legendary movie in its own right, as well as one which revolutionized Hollywood - whether for good or ill depends greatly on one's point of view.
1. The pace: the pacing of this movie is absolutely perfect. Right from the opening scene with its iconic opening crawl and fantastic space battle, and every subsequent scene, the pacing between action, exposition, fast and slow, is incredibly well done. The movie never drags, even the slower parts are a joy to watch, and there isn't one out of place scene anywhere.
2. Darth Vader - THE iconic cinematic villain of all time. No introduction is needed!
3. The special effects - revolutionary for the time, and still hold up well even today. Of course the Special Edition made some controversial changes (see below), but with one glaring exception these were for the better. Even so, the fact that a forty-year old movie holds up so well that children today can watch and love it, and it in no way feels dated, is testament to how timeless and yes magical it is.
3. The characters; every major character is an archetype, from dark lord Darth Vader, to plucky Princess Leia, to hero on a journey Luke Skywalker, to wise old teacher Obi Wan, to the rogue with a heart of gold Han Solo (who will always be THE coolest character in any movie, ever), to calculating villain Grand Moff Tarkin. All are drawn from George Lucas' deep study of Joseph Campbell's groundbreaking work on mythology, and the payoffs come again and again. Even the comic relief characters like R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca are beloved and deservedly so.
4. The actors. Obviously the standout here is rising star Harrison Ford, but virtually all of the acting is spot on, from callow Luke's journey to heroism, to Tarkin's chilly presence, to Vader's domination of his every scene through his iconic voice alone, and on and on. However, what really deserves special mention is the amazing chemistry between Luke, Leia and Han Solo, obviously reflecting genuine off-screen chemistry between the respective actors. The scenes between them on the Death Star are just the right balance of light humour, action, suspense and pathos. This truly was magical and something that went beyond just the director's skill, as rarely is the audience treated to such incredible on-screen chemistry between the actors as we see here. Everything is spot on and a delight to behold.
5. The Battle of Yavin. Hands down the most exciting cinematic battle of all time. Every second of it perfection, and the climax is, well, a climax...it leaves the viewer in a euphoric state of rapture.
1. Nothing is indifferent about this cinematic gem!
1. Nothing is bad about the original and I will have no truck nor trade with anyone who thinks otherwise. I have only one reservation and that is in respect of the Special Edition - sorry kids, but Han Solo shot first! Shame on George Lucas for tarnishing the reputation of the coolest guy in a galaxy far, far away.
Overall, I can't recommend this classic enough. If you haven't seen it and you're more than five years or six years old then you're weird, and if you don't like it then you have no soul.