Ah yes, here we are, in a galaxy far, far away. We certainly aren’t too far away from The Force Awakens though, and as we get closer to the big day, let’s take a look at what many people dub the greatest of all Star Wars movies, The Empire Strikes Back. And trust me, it’s a good one.
I, unfortunately, never saw the original three during their initial release in theaters. But in being a ’90s child, I was very lucky to see them during their re-release in theaters. I definitely remember Empire being the movie I was the most excited to see, because it seemed the most intense and action packed of the three. But of course, as most kids do during nighttime screenings, I fell asleep midway through. But that has in no way tarnished my opinion on the film, which has remained one of my favorites for a long time.
So what exactly is so good about Empire? Well, unlike the films in the prior two reviews I’ve written, this movie is action packed to the core, and actually has some of the best character development on film. Luke, for one, becomes a man in this movie. Many will argue that A New Hope is where he changes, but here I feel is where he really becomes the Luke we know and love. That whining kid on Tattooine is long gone, and here we have someone who will become a true Jedi–maybe not to the extent he does in Return of the Jedi, but definitely leaps ahead of A New Hope. And seeing his transformation from the Luke of the past to the Luke of the future is awe inspiring, and addictive to watch.
Then, of course, this is where we meet Yoda. Yeah, you thought Obi-Wan was cool? Well in my opinion, Yoda is just a tad bit cooler. First off, he is a little green alien creature that seems easy to beat, but has so much power, he is a force (pun intended) to be reckoned with. Also, when it comes to iconic dialog from Star Wars, Yoda has some of the best lines in the franchise, including my favorite below…
Empire also has something Clones and Sith lacks: Actual Romance. Though it might have not really believably happened with her Mom and Dad, at least Leia was actually part of something with a spark. Yes, I think we all know the love between this Princess and Space Rogue is one that will never lose its shine. Their flirty and back and forth banter is comedic gold, and the famous “I know” scene will always live inside my little nerdy dream head as one of the most romantic exchanges on celluloid.
Then we get to two of my favorite characters from the franchise: Meet Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian, the two smoothest dudes in the galaxy–but for different reasons.
With Boba, we have one of arguably the most popular characters in Star Wars history. Why? Because he barely says anything and is so mysterious, we as an audience are automatically attracted to him. Unfortunately, some of the mystery has been ruined because of what we know about him in the prequels. I don’t know why, but seeing Boba as a child doesn’t make me enjoy his character more–and in all honesty, I wish that part of his story had been left in the shadows.
But when it comes to Lando, he is smooth with everyone–ladies and bros love Lando. Why? Well aside from being portrayed by the guy that sold us wine coolers in the ’80s (Billy D. Williams), Lando just has this lovely aura of charm about him. He comes off a bit like a Disney prince–maybe not the typical one with a white horse and a giant shiny castle–but he makes up for that by living in the clouds and donning a cape that is fancy to the core. Of course, he has a bit of a past that makes him also not a typical handsome prince (a.k.a. he used to be a smuggler), but with his new entrepreneur lifestyle, he’s cleaned his act up big time.
As for the cast portraying these iconic characters, they are still as great as ever, and in fact, on the top of their game compared to A New Hope. I think this comes from the fact that, unlike the first movie, these actors are now more comfortable in their roles–and get (mostly) more comfortable costumes to boot. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fischer and Harrison Ford prove here why they were the best choices for the three leads. Can you really imagine anyone else playing these roles? I can’t, and Empire is the reason why. Particularly when it comes to Mark, you can definitely tell how both he and Luke have grown together in their actor/character relationship.
And, I’m sure you want me to talk about the scene. You know, the one where your childhood merged with your on coming adulthood, and everything seemed clearer. The one where you began to realize what the meaning of life was, and why certain things felt a certain way, but you weren’t sure why.
When I saw Empire for the first time, from beginning to end, and I found out the big shocking spoiler moment, I remember (even at 7 years old) having my mouth drop to the ground. I always had a feeling the Vader had a much deeper connection to Luke than most people realized–but I never, ever thought that would result in finding out they were actually related. But when the moment happened, it was epic, and still remains one of those cinematic moments you really never forget.
So, with that, I think we can conclude that Empire indeed lives up to the hype. It dropped bombshells plot wise that we were not expecting, and took the franchise to new, more grounded and mature places than it had been before. We learned more about our beloved characters and were driven crazy to find out what would happen to them in the final (well for the time) chapter of the Star Wars saga. And that is how you make a blockbuster film, ladies and gentlemen. Take note, Michael Bay, and every other current filmmaker who doesn’t seem to get it–this is how it’s done.
So are you a fan of Empire Strikes Back? What are your favorite moments? Is this actually your least favorite of the Star Wars movies? Do you think it’s fair to compare them to the prequels? Were you shocked when you learned who Luke’s father was? Tell us your memories!
And next up, we are down to our last Star Wars Week retrospective review, as Meghan gives us her thoughts on Return of the Jedi!