This week, Sam and Zach review the penultimate film of the Star Wars Saga: The Empire Strikes Back.
The Empire Strikes Back is a rare case in the film world: a sequel that is better than its prequel. One reason for this is how Empire’s plot is is more than the simple victories of the good guys that fans saw in A New Hope, it is a diverse collection of loss, betrayal, and close calls. These elements keep viewers on the edge of their seats wondering whether or not their favorite heroes will survive or not. Danger is present at every turn for the Rebels; from the invasion of Echo Base on Hoth to the jaws of a space slug. Perhaps one of the most jaw-dropping scenes of the movie is in Cloud City, when Lando Calrissian invites his “friends” to dinner and, when the dining room door flies open, the heroes are greeted by Darth Vader. As Vader demonstrates his omnipotence with the Force by deflecting the laser beams from Han’s gun with his hand, fans are left thinking, “How are they going to get out of this one?” The thrilling nature of Empire made the story so compelling.
Fans also meet three new major characters: Boba Fett, Lando Calrissian, and Yoda in Empire, all of whom are dynamic and interesting. Boba Fett adds a new dimension to evil because, although he is not Imperial, he is definitely bad. Fett represents a whole new level of Star Wars society: the seedy underground that fans only glimpsed at in Hope and he also provides a critical point of history for Han. Empire does not just follow Luke as he trains in the ways of the Force, but fans find Han to be a focal point of the story as he struggles against the demons of his past, such as Lando Calrissian. Portrayed by the naturally cool Billy Dee Williams, Lando was the gray area between good and bad. Clearly a corrupt, backstabbing politician, Lando is an enigma who betrays his friends and then decides to help them escape. It is this order of plot that shows fans that he has a good heart and regrets the bad decisions that he has made.
The final new character introduced in Empire is Yoda, the small green hermit who lives in a mud hut. Yoda is characterization at its finest. When fans first meet him, he is a senile little Muppet who makes everyone chuckle, but once he reveals his true identity, Yoda becomes a Zen Jedi Master with a bottomless Sarlacc-pit of Confucian wisdom. Almost instantly, Yoda inspires sense of awe when he demonstrates the sheer power of the Force by lifting an X-Wing from the murky depths of the Dagobah swamp.
Another key factor that makes The Empire Strikes Back such a powerful film is the variety of settings. The many flavors of planet that the movies span give it a continuously fresh feel. A New Hope featured the desert-world of Tatooine and the gray industrial setting of the Death Star. In The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas makes sure to create completely different planets, giving the feel of old friends in new worlds. From the frozen surface of Hoth to the orange, cotton-candy clouds of Bespin, the movie constantly feels original as the background color changes. Overall, The Empire Strikes Back is a timeless classic that will be loved by generations of fans, young and old.
High Points: Story Depth, Cool Characters, Great Setting
Low Points: We can’t think of any.
Rating: 5 out of 5 Tauntauns
About the Authors:
Sam Swoap was raised by two dozen lumberjacks in the wilds of British Columbia. He was recruited by MI6 at the age of thirteen and goes by the codename Striking Eagle. He drives a Smart Car.
Zach Armet has lived off the grid in the Alaskan backcountry his entire life. He has recently arrived to civilization to prevent an Illuminati plot of global domination. His favorite color is mauve.