Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Hello everyone! Leading up to Star Wars Episode IX, I am rewatching and reviewing as many Star Wars movies as I can before December 19th. Once I’ve finished I’ll give my ranking of all 10 live action Star Wars movies. Today I’ll be looking at Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The Good

Darth Vader

Every criticism that I had about Darth Vader in A New Hope is corrected in The Empire Strikes Back. He feels powerful, smart, and like he really does control most of the Universe. Every time he’s on screen he’s incredibly menacing. Nearly everyone who interacts with him crumbles under his intimidation. In one specific scene with Lando Calrissian, they had reached some sort of deal, and Lando says “that wasn’t part of the deal”, and Vader simply says “I am altering the deal”. That scene and the entire sequence at cloud city, shows that Vader isn’t afraid of anything, he can literally do anything he wants and no one will even think about stopping him.

Score & Sound Effects

Once again the score from John Williams is perfect and the sound effects sound like something from another world. John Williams is a master of portraying tone and emotion through his score, and it’s on full display here.

Action

The Action here is great, but it doesn’t feel artificially extended or thrown in. It’s also diverse and doesn’t feel like anything we’ve seen before. The battle on Hoth, the space chase, cloud city, and the duel with Vader feel like essential party of the story, while also being entertaining action scenes. One of my biggest criticisms of A New Hope was that the duel between Obi Wan and Vader felt slow and uneventful. I think that they went in the right direction with the duel in The Empire Strikes Back. Their duel also does a fantastic job of emphasizing characteristics in our characters. In Luke, we see that he thinks he can do anything, he’s impulsive, and he’s inexperienced. In Vader we see that he’s strategic, wise, and really knows the Force. These characteristics are on full display in their fighting styles and it helps seal together the movie.

The Mixed

Some Story Stuff

Theres a few story things that I wanted to address, some good some bad, hence Mixed. Episode V does a lot for Han Solo’s character. More specifically it lets us know that there’s more to his story without quite letting us know what it is, but it’s done so in a way that makes sense and feels like a natural progression of his character. In the beginning of the movie he’s about to leave the Rebel Alliance to go pay off his bounty to Jabba the Hut, which we had previously heard about in A New Hope, so it makes sense that it’s still on his mind. That little piece of information also helps drive the plot of this movie, while also setting up Return of the Jedi. In the middle of the movie, when our heroes are seemingly trapped by a Star Destroyer, Han says “if they follow standard imperial procedure they’ll drop their trash before going to light-speed and we can just float away”. Not only is this incredibly clever on his part, but it also adds some intrigue to the character. How is Han familiar with Imperial procedure and also no friend of the empire? Another time this is done is with his interactions with Lando, it’s clear there’s more to their story, and you can feel their history in the movie. Last thing is the Wampa attack. Luke gets attacked by a Wampa early in the movie and I’ve never really been a fan. It always felt like it was a last minute addition to the movie, and they made it look like the Wampa snuck up on him, but I was never under the impression that Wampas were particularly stealthy creatures.

The Bad

I really couldn’t come up with anything bad for this one, all movies have their flaws, but I’m able to overlook all of them in The Empire Strikes Back.

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