The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back ★★★★

The ‘Countdown To Life Day’ Star Wars Spectacular: Empire Strikes Back.

There’s no point doing an intro or anything because I think it’s the common consensus that, at this point, this movie is at least the best of the Original Trilogy. And for good reason, because Empire is an improvement on its predecessor in every possible way.

From it’s effects, to the music, to it’s exploration of themes, this movie is an upgraded Star Wars. As much as I love A New Hope, it’s always gonna be a movie held back slightly by it’s absolute simplicity. Whereas that movie gave us some basic yet endearing characters, this movie takes those same characters and gives them new dimensions, building on the foundations previously set. Luke is no longer just a farm boy. Han, not just a scoundrel. Leia, no longer just a sassy princess. They’re given stuff to actually do, they’re put in peril, drama builds character. I’m particularly fond of Luke’s journey in this, as always, especially with the hindsight of seeing the sequel trilogy and how it eventually plays out. It’s in this movie, with his story, that the connections between the three trilogies become clear. 

Luke starts this movie as the accomplished pilot who travels to Dagobah for his Jedi training. Under the tutelage of Yoda, it’s his internal troubles that take centre stage. Luke as a character is prone to human flaws, he’s impatient, capable of anger and frustration. He’s also attached to his loved ones, something considered a Jedi flaw in the prequels. I know this came out in 1980 and the themes that were presented here were considered Jedi gospel at the time, but with the themes further explored in The Last Jedi, Yoda and Obi Wan’s almost emotionless teachings match their views from Lucas’s later efforts. Yoda spits some facts about size not mattering and teaches us about the world and it never fails to make my heart swell but it’s his latter dialogue that sticks out more on a rewatch. He basically says:

‘Hey, die your friends might. But do not let that get in the way of your Jedi training course, valuable my time is.’ 

It’s nice that our favourite 800 year old little green goblin thing still has things to learn like the power of friendship. Okay, I’ve gotta talk Vader in this movie too. This dude does not hold back in this movie. After his rather minimal showing in the previous movie, he rolls up for more screen time and shows us what Darth Vader should be *cough cough prequels*. He’s imposing, strategic and generally takes no prisoners. He’s consulting with bounty hunters, using Han Solo as a science experiment, changing the terms of deals without a hint of care and choking guys on FaceTime like it’s nothing. I truly admire his big Sith energy. And in case that wasn’t enough, he pulls a Jerry Springer and drops the most famous daddy reveal of all time. This is why he’s a big deal! 

Honestly, I could talk Empire alllll day. There’s way more stuff but I wanna keep these reviews at a consistent length so I’m just gonna list a bunch of shit I love.

-  Wampa’s and Tauntauns, I love the creature design in these movies. They supposedly sell pet Tauntauns at Galaxy’s Edge so imma have to get one at some point. 

- That final duel on Bespin is probably the best *lightsaber* fight in the franchise. There’s just so much narrative buildup and it’s even better if you’ve read some of the new comics.

- The fact that Threepio is just a huge punchbag in all of these movies. He’s so annoying but you just know he cares. Reminds me of myself a bit to be honest.

- Yoda eating Luke’s food, acting like a literal muppet and fighting Artoo. After what Lucas did with him in the prequels, seeing this Yoda really is the best.

- All the side characters. Obviously Boba Fett and the other bounty hunters but don’t forget Lobot. Lobot is the key to all this. 

- The AT-AT’s are just the pinnacle of pop culture iconography. I’ve always wanted one, not a literal one obviously, just a Lego one, I don’t know.

There’s just something so warm and comfortable about this movie, it’s those Saturday afternoon feels that I remember having as a kid. Star Wars season on ITV weekend afternoons, so fun. I truly treasure these movies. Next time, we’re venturing into the Sarlacc Pit and fighting space nazis alongside some jungle dwelling teddy bears. Yay. 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Weird incest vibes)

Okay fellas and non-fellas, what was your Spotify Wrapped like? 

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