Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Luke Goes Hand Solo
Laugh it up fuzz ball - Han Solo
As a child "The Empire Strikes Back" was my least favourite of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, although trust me I still loved it. Now I never contemplated why that was until I watched it again many years later and that is because the focus had changed from being an adventurous introduction to one which was about building on the characters and in doing so loosing some of that fun, action and adventure. Basically Episode V is tighter and as a child I wanted the action and adventure but now as an adult I appreciate that tightness and importance of "The Empire Strikes Back" although as a kid at heart I still prefer the fun of "Star Wars: Episode IV".
So what does that mean when it comes to what happens in "The Empire Strikes Back", well to start with we have the Rebellion on the frozen planet of Hoth with Darth Vader desperate to track down Luke Skywalker and bring him to the dark side. Whilst there is action through out the movie the most adventurous and thrilling comes at the start as after a memorable scene where Han saves Luke using a Ton-Ton as a smelly sleeping bag we have Darth Vader and his Imperial troops attacking Hoth and we have the rebellion trying to evacuate whilst engaged in battle with Imperial Walkers. But after this the movie splits basically in two as Luke along with R2-D2 head to Dagobah in search of Yoda in order to train as a Jedi whilst Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO end up being chased by Imperial destroyers ending up at Cloud City where Lando Calrissian resides.
Now I mentioned that "The Empire Strikes Back" basically builds on the characters we met first time around and as such we have the love hate relationship between Han and Leia. But more significantly we learn more about Luke as he meets Yoda who tries to train the impatient one and we learn what Luke's connection is to Darth Vader and as we are talking about a well known movie it doesn't hurt to say that Luke discovers that Darth Vader is his father. But there is more as we are also introduced to a deeper connection between Luke and Leia when Luke finds himself in trouble. None of which is in any way complicated but because we have more scenes about characters interacting and learning things that it feels a little less exciting than "Star Wars: Episode IV".
But whilst for me there isn't as much action and adventure in "The Empire Strikes Back" what there is is as spectacular as ever with great scenes be it Luke's training under Yoda or of course Luke doing battle with Darth Vader. In many ways the tightness of the special effects in "The Empire Strikes Back" is a huge improvement on the original, and I am talking about when it originally came out as George Lucas also went back many years later and cleaned it up whilst tinkering with some scenes and effects. In fact from the humour to the special effects as well as the acting "The Empire Strikes Back" is slightly better than "Star Wars: Episode IV".
On the subject of the acting well Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher all returned as did Alec Guinness who depending on who you believe wanted out during the first movie or Lucas decided to kill his character off. Are main trio all build on their characters establishing hidden traits not seen in the first movie and on top of that we have other characters such as Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. But of course "The Empire Strikes Back" introduced us to the little green and disjointed speaking Yoda whose wit and wisdom stole many a scene thanks to the voice and puppetry of Frank Oz.
What this all boils down to is that for some "The Empire Strikes Back" is technically the best of the original trilogy with sharper special effects and a focus on the story and characters rather than fun and adventure. But as a child who loved the action and adventure as well as the fun "Star Wars: Episode IV" will always be my favourite in the original trilogy.
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