In Preparation For: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
It's hard to believe that Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is just right around the corner! We have been waiting patiently (mostly) for so long, and it's finally here! So with this release, of course, comes my reviews for the original Star Wars trilogy. Let's forget about the other three. I hadn't seen these movies in a while, so I ordered my Blu-Ray copy and got all set to re-experience the magic of Star Wars. So here it is: my review for the original trilogy!
This is my review for Star Wars Episode VI: The Empire Strikes Back. You can read my review for A New Hope here. Keep in mind, there will be spoilers for the film.
The Empire Strikes Back finds our heroes right where we left them off, with the Rebel group relocated on Hoth, an ice world. While the Resistance is hiding out and planning their next move, the Imperials have discovered their location and lead an attack against them. From here our heroes go separate ways. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) trains with elder Jedi Master Yoda while the rest escape the grasps of the Empire with the help of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), whose loyalty is in question.
Overall, this film is a vast improvement over A New Hope. While I still enjoy that film thoroughly, it has a lot of problems with its acting, effects and other aspects of production. Within the first ten minutes into Empire, you can see that those problems are all fixed. The acting is on point. The special effects (for 1980) are excellent. This can be attributed to the direction by Irvin Kershner. Though George Lucas is a fantastic storyteller, he is not the best director, and it shows in A New Hope, which he directed. With Kershner helming Empire and Lucas in charge of the story, the movie excels ahead of its predecessor to becoming a near perfect film.
With Empire, you are entirely immersed in this world. While I was taken out of A New Hope several times by its questionable acting and less than perfect effects, I was entirely engaged with Empire. The film perfectly builds tension throughout the story, leading to epic and large scale battles. The battle of Hoth remains a highlight of the series, and is incredible to watch. It really puts the "war" in Star Wars. But even after a killer opening, the film maintains a steady pace that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sure, there are select scenes where that fast pace and heavy momentum is lost, but it picks right up again leading to a momentous conclusion.
In this movie, we really see development in the character of Luke. In A New Hope, I was annoyed by the character with his whining and his immaturity, but this movie sees his growth towards his destiny: becoming a Jedi Knight. Luke travels to Dagobah to learn from Yoda. At first, I was thrown off by how... eccentric Yoda was. But then I remembered: according to the mythology, after the events of the prequels, Yoda put himself into exile on Dagobah, and thus has had no contact (that we're aware of) with anyone until Luke appears. So it would make sense that they played him up as the "crazy old man", until he begins to trains Luke. That is when we hear the wise words of Yoda, and see why he really has been training young Padawans for over 800 years.
There's not many weak points in this film for me. Like I said before, there were some scenes where the momentum was lost for a minute, but then it regained itself. Some special effect shots could have been improved, and select lines could have been spoken better. Maybe Yoda could have been a little bit less overbearing when we first meet him, but that's pretty much it. And once again the music by John Williams is absolutely spectacular. The inclusion of Darth Vader's theme is brilliant, and it one of the best villain themes of all time. Though it was played a little bit too much. We didn't need to hear it every single time they cut to Vader. But that's just nitpicking.
Overall, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a damn good movie! It's a high stakes, action packed thriller than improves upon the weaknesses of its predecessor. But it also keeps the parts that worked in A New Hope, and instills that same magic and wonder. The battle of Hoth is spectacular, and Cloud City is a fantastic conclusion to the film, with one of the best plot twists of all time. The acting in this film is far better, and the special effects work better on screen. I give a lot of credit to the switch in direction to Kershner, with Lucas stepping out of the director's chair. The humor also works great in this movie. A few points in the film lost the momentum, but it was quickly and easily regained. In the end, The Empire Strikes Back encapsulates all that I love about Star Wars is not also my favorite movie of the franchise, but one of my top favorite films of all time.
What do you think? Do you agree with my points on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back? How has this film impacted you? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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