Friday, 11 May 2012

The Empire Strikes Back Commentary

I told a guy at work that I had only seen this movie twice.  He said he was very disappointed in me and said I should watch it because it's the best in the series.  So, because of my insane need to be liked by everyone, I did and he is right.  It is the best in the series. But I still have a hard time understanding why there is such a following surrounding the original three Star Wars movies.  The acting is bad, the story is really nothing that special and every time you turn around, people are actually making fun of them.  Everyone continues to get angry with George Lucas for modifying them and he still makes money on the re-releases because the world cannot get enough of the series.  You can get as philosophical as you want about the importance of these movies.  They're still just sci-fi retellings of the ancient good vs evil story.  That's not to say that they aren't enjoyable.  I, for one, enjoy all six of them (even Phantom menace).  The things that make them subpar are also the things that make me take them not too seriously and I don't get bogged down in any message.

But, this is a commentary on one of them so here we go.  Empire is one of those rare sequels that is better than the first.  They take what made the first one good and built on it.  This is no small feat because, as the the second in a trilogy, it could have easily been simply a boring bridge piece like The Two Towers.  Instead, they took the bridging story of escaping from the Empire and made it into a two hour chase that has a lot of tension and suspense.  The plot line of Luke learning to be a Jedi was likely supposed to be the focus but it actually gets pushed into the background.  And that's a good thing because it really grinds the action to a halt.

Character wise, they made the right adjustments.  Luke is less whiny, Han is still cool and Leia is less prissy.  But where they really shine is with Darth Vader.  In A New Hope, Vader was introduced as being a bad guy but in Empire, he is brought out as a purely evil villain that is completely obsessed with his goals.  Take that and combine the completely badass costume, voice of James Earl Jones and the fantastic music from John Williams, and you get the most likeable yet most evil villain the movies have ever seen.  Overall, the character development woven into the overall story is very well done and the timing of revealing Vader's relationship to Luke was perfect (hint: it rhymes with "bother").

Even though I don't understand the high status these movies have in our culture, I still say that Empire is a must See movie.  For its time, the effects are great and the story moves along with a good pace (except on Dagoba).  And I can't believe I'm even mentioning this but, you do have to see them all to get the full picture and effect.  But if you just want a stand alone Star Wars movie, it's still the best.

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