The greatest sequel ever made! The best Star Wars movie ever! Superlative Star Wars superlative! What movie was up for watching this week? You guessed it! The Empire Strikes Back.
A few thoughts:
-This movie really does improve on the first one in many ways. The characters have more depth. The Empire has more compelling story elements. Plus, the end takes viewers to unexpected places and leaves characters with difficult choices.
-The stop motion animation used for the Imperial AT-AT walkers is still impressive 39 years later. Those walkers look and feel scary on screen.
-There is so much visual contrast between dark and light in Empire. Hoth and the surface of Cloud City are bright and vibrant, while Dagobah, the asteroid field and the bowels of Cloud City are dark and foreboding. This had to have been an intentional choice, especially the way that a light scene is followed by a dark scene and vice versa.
-The Yoda puppet is a work of pure genius, and Frank Oz deserves all the praise for his puppetry skills.
-The addition of background Cloud City out the windows in the Special Edition is a worthy and subtle inclusion. I like the expanded feel it gives to the location.
-There are so many little elements in this movie that you will miss if you blink, but they deepen the mythology and the characters. One of my favorites is Vader's helmetless head in his meditation chamber.
A few memories:
-When I was a kid, Empire was definitely my least favorite Star Wars movie. The good guys did not win, and there were no space battles! As I have aged, however, I have grown to appreciate this movie more than ever. It is a master class in how to make a sequel.
-I have loved the Han Solo in carbonite prop my whole life. I remember waiting for it to be released with the Power of the Force line in the mid-90s and feeling so happy to add it to my collection.
-The Hoth battle has become a favorite of mine partly thanks to the video games of my teenage years: Shadows of the Empire and Rogue Squadron, both for N64. Both games let you take the seat of a snowspeeder and harpoon those AT-ATs to your heart's content.
Of all the Star Wars movies I have been rewatching, Empire Strikes Back has aged the best. The characters face dilemmas and complex situations that mirror those we face in real life, and therefore it is easier to relate to than a simple "good guys always win" plot. As I near the finish of the original trilogy, I think I have developed an even greater appreciation for this movie.
I love my family and this is the place to find all of the adventures we experience.