In a storage facility far, far away, lie Herald clippings from a long time ago. Chris Reed raided the archives to see how we called the first four films in the Skywalker saga. Then did some Googling for the rest.

STAR WARS/A NEW HOPE (1977)

A poster for George Lucas' 1977 fantasy film 'Star Wars' starring Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Photo / Movie Poster Image Art /Getty Images
A poster for George Lucas' 1977 fantasy film 'Star Wars' starring Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. Photo / Movie Poster Image Art /Getty Images

It's hard to argue against media dumbing-down when you uncover a film review that signs off with a quote, in Latin, from Roman poet Horace.

D W Lochore ended his verdict on Star Wars thus: "Dulce est desipere in loco: How agreeable it is to play the fool at times.'"

He was referring to an Aussie critic's suggestion that Alec Guinness deserved a bonus for keeping his face straight while playing Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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Our man, though, was rather more taken.

"The industry has sorely needed a show like this, for its appeal stems from the worlds of wizardry and wide-eyed wonder, largely ignored by the modern cinema."

Lochore described Darth Vader as a "specially bad egg" and compared "tubby, whimsical" R2-D2, "fussy, angular" C-3P0 and "anthropoid simian" Chewbacca to the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.

Easy with that bowcaster Chewie.


WHAT WE SAID THEN: Star ratings must have been too frivolous for Classics-quoting times.

WHAT WE SAY NOW: The original and still the equal best. *****

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in training with Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Photo / Supplied
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in training with Yoda in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Photo / Supplied

After praising the battle scenes on Hoth as a "brilliant display of technology and photography", M J Osborne continued " … only as the anaesthetic of the special effects wore off during the second half does the paucity of the narrative begin to tell."

The scenes on Dagobah where Yoda tutored Luke "wrecked the momentum"; Princess Leia, Han Solo, R2-D2, C-3PO and Lando Calrissian were "cardboard figures".

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"Both Star Wars and Empire are shallow displays of pyrotechnics with little in the way of narrative justification, but Lucas continues to give the people what they want and he has considerably enriched himself in the process."

Thank goodness he didn't see Attack of the Clones.

WWST: Still no Herald star system.

WWSN: Hoth, Yoda's debut, Boba Fett, Lando, daddy issues and perhaps cinema's greatest cliffhanger ending after Han's been put on ice: *****

RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

Carrie Fisher in Star Wars - Return of the Jedi. Photo / Supplied
Carrie Fisher in Star Wars - Return of the Jedi. Photo / Supplied

Welcome back old friend. Not Han, but D W Lochore, who corrected the record by praising Empire's "dark and brooding elegance".

He liked this too: "Return of the Jedi is almost awesome as it parades its tricks, technique and new inventions - all in the confident expectation that large audiences who find video games irresistible will lap up the show.

"There may be a grind to a halt before episode nine is reached, but not at stage three."

Spooky. That was ages before we knew about Jar Jar Binks.

WWST: I'm beginning to think comparing star ratings was a trap.

WWSN: Despite the breathtaking opening act rescue of Han: ****.

THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)

A scene from the movie Star Wars : Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. Photo / Supplied
A scene from the movie Star Wars : Episode 1 The Phantom Menace. Photo / Supplied

The first Star Wars film for 16 years. The Herald was so excited it ran a pre-review by Graham Reid, who saw it in Miami.

He concluded: "So it's big, usefully loud, superbly crafted - and ultimately soulless, characterless and disappointing."

In the review proper, Russell Baillie said the film was "clumsily plotted and edited" with "lengthy flat patches".

He listed five things he liked and five he didn't. The former included the idea of Darth Vader as a boy, the pod race and Queen Amidala's hairstyle. The latter featured the reality of little Anakin Skywalker, the "lifeless" Liam Neeson and Ewan MacGregor and, of course, Mr Binks. Me not surprised.

WWST: Finally, stars! ***
WWSN: I should have made this marks out of 10 because it would have been five. But: ***

ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)

A scene from Attack of The Clones. Photo / Supplied
A scene from Attack of The Clones. Photo / Supplied

The first of our Star Wars reviews to be archived electronically. Which means electronic archiving is not as good as paper clippings because there's no name on it. Which may be just as well.

While criticising the "corny" pace-slowing scenes with Anakin wooing Amidala, our mystery scribe continued: "In terms of eye-popping visual effects, there's little to be said other than WOW!

"As all my male friends and relatives have pointed out - it's not about the plot and characterisation - it's about an awesome adrenaline rush of computer wizardry and entertaining battle sequences. It may not be as good as the original three Star Wars films, but it is an improvement on the last one."

Does this person still work here?

WWST: ****
WWSN: The Force is weak in this one: **

REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)

Hayden Christensen stars as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Photo / Supplied
Hayden Christensen stars as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. Photo / Supplied

Baillie liked the standout performance of Ian McDiarmid as the duplicitous Chancellor Palpatine and Ewan McGregor's channelling of the original Obi-Wan, Alec Guinness.

The opening space battle was "impressive" and the final phase of Anakin's journey to "Darth-dom" was "riveting".

But Baillie found the third episode lacked "a spirit, a vibe, a ... oh, I dunno, a force or something".

Nevertheless: "The door finally closes on one of the most influential institutions in pop culture," he wrote.

Or so he thought!

WWST: ****
WWSN: The franchise strikes back. A bit: ***

THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with Stormtroopers in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo / Supplied
Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) with Stormtroopers in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo / Supplied

Baillie liked the "feverishly anticipated reboot", particularly after the "digitally-dependent and convoluted prequels which took three films to create Darth Vader".

Daisy Ridley's Rey and John Boyega's Finn were "solid new leads" with "better dialogue and personality than their predecessors got in their first outings".

But much of the story felt "lifted" from the original Star Wars with "heavy echoes of its sequels".

"Still," he concluded, "as a set-up to further chapters, it's got a great ending. It's the most distinctive, most restrained touch of what's a very good movie."


WWST: ****
WWSN: Boom! ****

THE LAST JEDI (2017)

It's all very well digging up old work by Herald alumni, but I sit 2 metres from Karl Puschmann, who wrote our review of the penultimate Skywalker epic.

Puschmann called it a "rollicking good, high-stakes yarn that plays with expectations, throws surprises at you and keeps you guessing until its more than satisfying conclusion".

"Director Rian Johnson had made such a "freaking good film that the return of hotshot director JJ Abrams to helm the next one … feels like a bad move and a step backwards."

We'll find out today won't we.


WWST: *****
WWSN: Sorry Karl: ****