Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

Revisiting Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Continuing with my Star Wars rewatch, and I will just say that I did like this one better than Attack of the Clones.  Hot take, I know.
Highlights:
  • This movie looks gorgeous.  The canvases of Hoth, Dagobah, the Asteroid field, etc.  all weaves into this incredible looking fabric of film.
  • This is Yoda at his best.  It blends funny, quirky Yoda with wise, pensive Yoda in a balance the new films just couldn’t capture.  He adds a lot to this movie.
  • This is probably John Williams’ best and most diverse score.
  • The showdown between Luke and Darth Vader is iconic and amazing.  Vader fights with such power and Luke does his best to keep up.  I love the way Vader taunts him the entire time, and the moment when they both first light up their lightsabers really gets the heart racing.
  • All the main characters are great here.  Luke feels like a real person, Han and Leia have some great interactions, and Chewie and the droids have tons of fun moments as well.  Even small details, like Artoo spitting out swamp water or Chewie putting Threepio’s head on backwards, really endears us to them.
  • Those AT-ATs are badass.
  • The snowspeeders are also great.  The way they fly across that icescape looks amazing.
  • I love the asteroid field stuff.  The space slug, though it doesn’t make a ton of sense, is a fun little splash of adventure and world-building.  Another great world-building piece are the bounty hunters.  Boba Fett steals the show here, obviously, but I always got excited about that recruitment scene which shows a bunch of them.
  • We really get a sense of the force in this movie, mostly through the Dagobah scenes, but also with ideas like Luke reaching out to Leia, Ben showing up as a ghost, etc.  The Darth Vader scene in the cave is a really shocking piece of introspection which is unexpected in a movie like this.  Yoda pulling out the X-Wing is also a powerful moment.
Downfalls:
  • I’m really trying to look at both sides, so these are going to be nitpicky.  I can say that one thing that never sat right with me is the time discrepancy.  So Luke was training in Dagobah during the same time period that the Falcon was being chased?  I know there are ways to make sense and that they could have been stuck in that asteroid field for days, not to mention traveling to Bespin without hyperdrive, but its still odd.
  • Han saying “Then I’ll see you in hell!” seems very un-Star-Wars-like and also rather harsh and uncalled for.
  • Um… I don’t know what else. I love this movie.  I suppose there is something to be said about the way the ending feels unfinished in a way. But not really.
Special Edition Alert!
  • Empire seems to be the least defiled by changes than the rest of the films, but there are still some things that bug me.  I will say that there is quite a bit that blend in fairly well.  For example, I can’t remember what parts of the Wampa scene are added and what were there originally.
  • Changing the Emperor scene to Ian McDiarmand and changing Boba Fett’s voice to the guy from the prequels are both awful decisions.  Not only does it remind us of the lesser films of the series, but its also quite disrespectful to the original actors.
  • I would like to mention the bad decision to change Vader’s final line in the film, but I will just direct you to Eyebrow Cinema who already did a brilliant job with it. link
Current Re-ranking List:
1. The Empire Strikes Back
2. Attack of the Clones

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