A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 70 – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – May 9th, 2010

I am of mixed feelings about this movie. On one hand, it’s a truly fantastic movie. On the other, it will always be tinged with the broken hyperdrive running gag. “Okay, then they’ll go into hyperspace. It looks so cool!” And then? Nothing. Sad trumpet sound. Wah-waaaaah. Over and over. Thank goodness it’s fixed by the end of the movie, but it was a long wait.

It’s strange. I really do enjoy this movie, but I won’t usually watch it unless I can put the next movie in afterward. It’s tough to watch on its own. Likely that’s the curse of being mid-trilogy. At least this movie is still good, as opposed to that one that never got made. You know, it would have been Episode II?

But let’s talk about what makes this a good movie. Before I get to the plot and the drama and the overall story arc, I’m going to talk about Han and Leia and their interactions. Since Luke is off on Dagobah, Han needs a new straight-laced foil, and Leia steps right in, providing a love interest as well as the knight to his rogue. It’s a great dynamic and makes for snappy dialogue and some good tension. I love that Leia is written in such a way that she’s competent and sharp-tongued and adamant about her beliefs and she’s also thoroughly sympathetic. Sure, Han comments on her attitude, but he obviously likes it. He likes her, sharp tongue and all. I love that. She’s a fantastic character, especially in this movie, and I love her.

What else makes this a good movie? Well, for one, it’s able to start off on Hoth, with the rebels hiding out in their snow caves, take us through a battle and evacuation there – not to mention Luke’s encounter with the native wildlife and the tauntaun sleeping bag Han makes for him – then send Luke off to Dagobah to meet Yoda and do his whole Jedi thing while Leia and Han and Chewbacca and C3PO land on an asteroid, almost get eaten by a giant salamander, go to Bespin and meet Lando, then get caught by the Empire. And then we get everyone back together again for the big climax, with the obligatory lightsaber duel and space fight. The movie takes all of that, and that’s a lot to go through really, and manages to feel cohesive. Luke spends half the movie doing handstands and levitating shit and it doesn’t make the pacing feel weird. It all works. It’s also not a movie with the same sort of climax as the first and third ones have. There’s no grand battle between huge forces. There’s no whole world at stake here. Planets aren’t being blown to smithereens. The tension is all on a different scale. And that works too. That’s fantastic.

And then there’s the big secret reveal, which not even the actor in Vader’s suit knew about until after the fact. I love that. I love that there was tension there, and mystery, and this huge revelation that totally changed the way you looked at the events of the previous movie, and how you see Darth Vader’s actions, and Luke’s reactions to him in turn. It was a wonderful twist and the timing of it, right after Han’s been frozen and everything else is all in chaos, is perfect. Unfortunately, it does mean that the movie ends on a rather uncertain note. Sure, technically the good guys got away (mostly) and the Empire didn’t have its unconditional victory. But Han’s in the hands of Boba Fett. Luke’s just had his whole world turned upside-down. The Empire is still dangerous. The Rebellion is still at risk. Very little got settled in this movie, really. Which is why, I’m sure, I like to watch the next one right after. Good thing it’s not long until tomorrow.

May 9, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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