The Empire Strikes Back
In celebration of my 20,000 post (despite how late this post is... ignore the date; pretend with me that I posted this a few months ago), I’ve decided to continue my reviews of the Star Wars movie saga.
It may have been a long time coming, and I hope you all think it was worth the wait! Let’s get to it.
Again, no plot synopsis because, like always, I assume everyone has seen all six Star Wars movies.
Unlike A New Hope, this movie was not predominantly created by George Lucas (thank God). He neither wrote nor directed it. It was directed by Irvin Kershner and written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (who finished it after Brackett’s untimely death). Guess what? It shows. Know why? Here’s why:
This movie has some great dialogue and really shows a degree of freedom granted to the actors. Do you think Lucas would have let Harrison Ford say “I know” rather than the scripted “I love you, too” that he was supposed to say? Because I certainly don’t, and I think we can all agree that the choice to improvise was very, very good and leagues better than the script. Because it’s not just about the writer or just about the director: the actors have to add their own flavor, too.
Speaking of the actors: they have grown significantly since the first film. They are good actors trying to be taken seriously, for the most part. I actually cared about the character development. The story was interesting, consisting of multiple story arcs: Han and Leia, Luke and Yoda, Darth Vader on his own, and later the inclusion of other characters who have undoubtedly added to the saga. This movie shows the perspective of the villain, Vader, a lot more than A New Hope did. Not only that, but this movie has one of the most – if not the most – unexpected twist in all of cinema, which is still feebly copied to this day. Well acted, well timed, good dialogue, and it leaves an impact on the viewers as well as the characters in the story. “I am your father” is still one of the most memorable quotes in movie history. Amazingly executed.
It also features our muppet friend, Yoda. I joke, but I did like Yoda’s marionette-esque looks. He also goes into greater detail to the mysterious Force, which was frankly brushed over in A New Hope. The entire training scene delves into the mystery of the Force and the unknown, shadowy past that his father, Obi-Wan, and Yoda all shared.
Even better in some ways than the original. Lightsabers don’t look weird, and blasters look significantly better. Not only that, but the environments are spectacular. As I write this, I realize how... big this movie is. Genuinely big. No CGI, but actual on-location areas like Hoth look more stunning than... eh, sorry. No referencing prequels yet.
Not only that, but we get gigantic groups of Star Destroyers, including the Super Star Destroyer Executor. Yes, this right here is an example of using miniatures in movies, and to great effect. Dagobah was unique and interesting. Cloud City was also very nice to look at, from the very cloudy skies of Bespin, to the sterile yet artistic corridors, to the carbonite freezing chambers... just great. And unlike any other Star Wars movie, this does not have Tatooine, which I applaud. For a planet that’s supposed to be poor, crime filled, and the worst place on the outer rim, everything seems to happen there. It’s an over explosed planet in the movies and the EU, and not seeing it was a good thing.
The choreography has also improved.
... well, saying “improved” implies that there was any real choreography there in the first place. Seriously, am I the only one whose nostalgia goggles weren’t cloudy enough to obscure the abysmal fight scene that was Obi-Wan vs Vader? Yeah, it sucked and I thought it sucked back when I first saw it. Just saying.
But yeah, Luke and Vader’s fight scene is good. It’s varied, they move around a lot, there’s attention to detail... they even use the Force! Come on, that’s awesome. Now that I loved.
The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best movies in the saga. It doesn’t just contribute to cinema history (such as being one of the movies that led to the PG-13 rating), but is a good, enjoyable movie on its own. I will watch this movie when it’s on: honestly, I just... don’t do that with A New Hope. I know, terrible of me. I just don’t.
Definitely recommend this movie, and I must stress this: buy the original. Don’t get the digital new releases; those are terrible.