Monday, November 2, 2009

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

TOP 100 FILMS: #63

After the events of the first film, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) must split up so that Luke can continue his Jedi training, this time from the last remaining Jedi Master, Yoda (Frank Oz).

As a kid The Empire Strikes Back wasn't a personal favorite of mine in the Star Wars realm, that illustrious title stuck with Return of the Jedi. Alas as time passed my love geared toward the beauty and writing of Empire and less to the quirkiness and over the top finale of Jedi. Empire Strikes Back is a testament to everything that the Star Wars series held. Dark, and yet light hearted, action packed, yet with heavy handed morality, there's nothing clear cut, all shades of gray, and as such it's possibly the most captivating of all the Star Wars films. As director Kershner really tackles all the issues presented by Lucas and co., not shying away from the darker side of the force (I just had to say that), and really pushing the film forward.

There's a great sense of character in this second installment as well. The actors feel more comfortable with the dialogue and the different complexities of their characters. They don't shy away from certain words, and are willing to really put some thought into how their characters would act in certain situations. The new characters introduced in Yoda and Lando (Billy Dee Williams, who I still wish would have sneaked in a Malt Liquor plug) are fun, exciting, and great additions to the cast. They manage to be smart, wise, and yet contain a certain charm about them that defines much of the Star Wars cast.

Of course all their acting aside, we all know The Empire Strikes Back contains one of the top 5 twists to end all twists. As a kid who didn't whip out the wow mouth facial expression when that baby daddy drama was dropped on the audience (that's probably the worst line I've written ever... fail). Empire Strikes Back is entirely build up to that one moment. A forward thrust into the action packed finale, and as such Empire Strikes Back as an interesting critical film. It doesn't stand out on its own because it is a medium film, but somehow it manages to elevate above the rest. Perhaps because it doesn't try too hard to be cute or easy. It's comfortable being a bit dark, a little harsh, and yet it's insanely fun, and really gets you geared up for one of the all time greats. Perhaps because the other two are so light hearted we hardly realize it, but Empire Strikes Back will always be the glue that held the original series together.

While one of the darker installments in the Star Wars saga, The Empire Strikes Back is a critical and cinematic achievement, great from beginning to end.

2 better thoughts:

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

Return of the Jedi is my favorite. I love those little teddy bear guys. :)

MovieNut14 said...

This definitely marks one of the very few times where the sequel is just as or greater than the original movie.

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