March 30, 2015

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Irvin Kershner, 1980
Continuing on to revisiting the second film of the Star Wars franchise. 2 down, 4 to go. Getting a little nervous finishing the originals and venturing on the originals. It should be said I have never seen the prequel films YET. So after all is said and done, it will be a journey of revisiting my past and taking a chance on a controversial trio of films that I never have given a chance to previously. There is a lot of hype surrounding The Empire Strikes Back, as it is widely considered the best film of the Star Wars franchise. This is understandable. A New Hope is basically a set-up piece for the Empire Strikes. By now you are already invested in the characters. And there is an eagerness after Hope concludes to see the continuation of the story because it leaves you hanging. But probably because there’s a sense of extensive detail to the Star Wars universe. You visit it and get wrapped up, don’t want to leave after the final credits roll, and want to go back there again. There is a level of engagement to these films that other franchises would love to have. Some have succeeded, but many have fallen short.

This is one of those beloved films that is truly difficult to criticize. Even reflecting on it now, what the hell is wrong with this film? Is it possible that this is a flawless movie? It’s undoubtedly one of the best sequels of all time. It takes the first film and builds upon it with its bigger budget, exactly what you want a sequel to do. With the Star Wars films in general, its the always entertaining classic battle of good vs. evil. But this film boldly breaks some of the conventional movie rules as well, in terms of challenging the good guy always wins concept. It’s refreshing to see an sci-fi/action film with some gray area. While A New Hope focused a bit more on Luke’s backstory and building his character (and really the good guys in general), Darth Vader has more of a presence in the second film and is more of a showcase of his unforgiving brutality. But between the set design, story, special effects, Empire is a timeless masterpiece. It only reinforces the fact that it’s a great idea to revisit this franchise, including this film specifically, years after seeing it for the first time. There’s new things to see, new things to appreciate. The classic light-saber battle may be in the depths of your brain, but let it come to the surface again. Come back to this one as an adult if you already haven’t, it’s worth it.

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