Shawn Deninger’s review published on Letterboxd:
Hello there, welcome back to my Star Wars Saga Complete Rewatch! Every day I’m rewatching The Star Wars Saga in chronological order, and giving them my honest thoughts as a huge fan of the franchise! Now, for today’s rewatch, we have...
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back! This to me is one of the best films out of all the saga. When this film was came out, there was worry that this film wouldn’t live up to the hype, or be underwhelming. After all, it was the sequel to the most popular movie in the world. However, from the moment it came out, this film was largely thought of to the superior to the first film. This film takes everything that was great in the last film and somehow makes them even better. Everything improves in this film, which is insane because everything was already perfect in the first film. The characters, the effects, this film nails all of it, it’s incredible.
Let’s start with the script. This film, from the moment it starts, has you engaged. Unlike the first film, this film was written by Lawrence Kasdan, and he has penned some of the best and most influential films ever made. This film, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, so many films with incredible characters that you love and are invested in. That’s what I think this film does better than anything. It deepens the already 3 dimensional characters of Star Wars, and gives them whole new life. Everyone is at their best here, and so are the relationships between the characters. The plot of this film is beyond compare. It’s called “The Empire Strikes Back” for a reason. For the whole film, the Rebellion is on its back heel, and I think this was perfect for the film, not just because it’s the middle film of the trilogy, but because it gives you a scope of how powerful the Empire truly is. You can feel the ominous threat of Darth Vader and the Empire from the moment the film starts. This film is also much darker than the first because of this, and I think that that was an amazing choice. It handles this tone shift so well that the term “The Empire Strikes Back of” term for series is used whenever a film series goes darker, because this film was so revolutionary and so game changing because of it. We see the rebellion as what they are here, the underdogs. Seeing our heroes fail and learn from that is such a powerful message that this film absolutely drives home.
From a filmmaking standpoint, this film is absolutely incredible. The effects and camerawork in this film are jaw dropping even to this day. The amount of practical effects that were in this film blows my mind. The Hoth sequence, Dagobah, the fight between Vader and Luke, the Asteroid Field sequence, all of these incredible pieces of the film are brought to life by not just the incredible writing, but the fact that these elements of the film were done with real sets, real props, real life things that you can touch and FEEL, And that creates such a powerful investment in what’s going on in the film, because you can see that it’s really happening, rather than just it being all computer generated. Take Yoda for example. In the prequels, they just CGI’d Yoda. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I still enjoy him in the films, but you can tell that it’s CGI. Then look at this film. He’s a real life puppet, that’s interacting with Mark Hamill, and is actually there. With him being there, being a real thing, it creates a whole new level of investment with the story that is just so hard to replicate.
Overall, this film is a masterpiece. They were able to take A New Hope, one of the most successful, influential films ever made, and were able to make another film that wasn’t just riding off the coattails of the first film, not just a cashgrab, but a film that in many ways is BETTER than the first one, with the most influential and iconic ending ever in the history of film. It’s a masterpiece.