Thursday, July 25, 2013

663. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Running Time: 124 minutes
Directed By: Irvin Kershner
Written By: George Lucas, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
Main Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse
Click here to view the trailer

NOTE: So this will be the first post written from my brand new Gateway laptop, purchased earlier today. The new system is running Windows 8 and is going to take a lot of getting used to, especially since I've never really used a laptop, outside of the few times I've borrowed my wife's and the fact that I have absolutely no experience with Windows 8. Anyway, I figured I might as well mark the occasion with a notation...let's get on with the show.


A couple of days ago I returned to watching my way through the pages of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book, with the viewing of "Star Wars". I noted that it was going to be the final chance I gave the original trilogy and that if I didn't like them this time around, I was going to officially deem myself "NOT a Warsie". Well, "Star Wars" wasn't bad, but Episode V didn't do it any favors.

So we're basically picking right up where we left off: The Rebellion has just blown the Imperial DEATH STAR to smithereens and is now holding up on the ice planet of Hoth. The whole gang is there: Luke Skywalker (Hamill), a rookie Jedi who hopes to learn the ways of "the force"; Han Solo (Ford), the cocky pilot of the Millennium Falcon; his co-pilot Chewbacca; Princess Leia (Fisher), one of the leaders of the Rebellion and of course, the droids - C3PO and R2D2. Things begin to go awry when the leader of the Empire, Darth Vader (Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones) sends out tracking devices and pinpoints the location of the Rebellion base camp. When they're attacked, the Rebellion get out of it with few casualties, but are then forced to flee Hoth. Han, Leia, Chewy and C3PO board the Millennium Falcon, while Luke and R2D2 board a fighter craft and set their coordinates for the Dagobah system, where they've been instructed to go by Obi-Wan Kenobi (thought dead, but speaking to Luke from beyond the grave...or something) to meet Yoda and be trained in the ways of the Jedi. Once at the Dagobah system and in the graces of Master Yoda, Luke begins his training, despite hesitancy from Yoda, who insists he isn't ready. Meanwhile, Han, Leia, Chewy and C3PO navigate their way through an asteroid field, looking to lose their Imperial tail. When they finally make it out alive, Han remembers an old friend, Lando Calrissian (Williams), who lives in Cloud City and may be able to help the gang out. Turns out Vader beats them there and is waiting for them, ready to wreak havoc. Luke gets glimpses of his friends in peril and despite being unfinished with his training, insists on leaving to go help them.

I realize that "The Empire Strikes Back" is considered by many to be the finest of the Star Wars trilogy, but I have to say that I enjoyed the original substantially more. In the original, I felt that everything was kept pretty tame & straightforward and I liked that. You had Luke who just wanted to get some adventure in his life, you had Han who was just trying to make a few bucks, you had Obi-Wan who just wanted to take out Vader and you had Vader who just wanted to destroy the world. This time, we're thrown a lot more information and things get a little messy and, at times, a little silly. I mean, what's the deal with the abominable snowman attacking Luke at the beginning of the picture and couldn't that whole piece with Luke and Han nearly freezing to death have been cut out to save a little bit of time and get right into the action. The action that I speak of being the battle between the Rebellion and the robot camels, navigated by the Imperial Army. That was a pretty kick-ass scene, that I enjoyed thoroughly. Then Luke goes to see Yoda, one of the most important characters in the series and he's this laughable little muppet. That's one of the things that really gets me about this series, the fact that it looks as though Jim Henson was a hired hand and provided a lot of the costumes, because, at times, they just look so silly and childish.

From there we basically have two movies going on, as we jump back and forth between Han & company and Luke & Yoda. In the end, it all just comes off as feeling way too long, too tedious and honestly, at times, I couldn't wait for it to just be over. I wouldn't go so far as to call it bad, but I'd go so far as to say that the excitement that I had to watch this after watching Episode IV, is not nearly equivalent to the excitement that I have to now watch "Episode VI". I'll honestly be glad when it's all over, so that I can get out of the galaxies and get back down to Earth.

One of the things that I continually find myself doing, as I watch "Star Wars" is to compare it to "Lord of the Rings", because I'm a Kevin Smith fan (a fan of the man, not necessarily the artist) and he has compared them before, both in "Clerks 2" and in his "Evening with..." series. I can say that the thing I LOVE about "Lord of the Rings" is the fact that it always feels so bleak, as if the end of this fictional world is always just one battle away. It always feels so real and so emotional. The characters, which are products of someone's wild imagination, never feel fake or phony. Even though there are hobbits, elves, dwarves and talking trees, I can always look past that and see the film as a very emotional, very realistic war of good and evil. With "Star Wars", that fictional world never seems threatened and to me, there's never a question that the good guys will prevail. Also, there's just no emotion and the characters are also plucked from someone's wild imagination and it's obvious, as they're all very phony, childish and almost cartoonish. Anyway, I'm rambling...

RATING: 5.5/10  Right around average, at best for the fifth installment of the "grand trilogy". Of course "Return of the Jedi" is next and I should have that review ready by weekends end.


July 25, 2013  11:22pm


  1. Wow, you really are risking the wrath of the warsies..
    So I will stand pretty much shoulder to shoulder with you on this.. but beware, an outraged star wars fan boy will be a lot more of a critic than the disappointing Casablanca or Citizen Kane defender. Yes even more than the 'Cat People' fans.
    These (star wars) are OK films.. great at what they do (selling merchandise) and deserve their place as a great film from 10 year old boys. It is the market they are aimed and, and good for them... Now can I please pick up a film magazine without every issue being a 'special anniversary' edition celebrating it.
    Sorry, I do this from time to time.. have a little rant. I will shut up now.

    Yes, even I will say the battle on the snow field was great fun.. but which armaments firm persuaded the Imperial defense procurement committee to buy something so huge, slow, cumbersome, and obviously useless as those attack walkers? Methinks someones brother-in-law has links, and questions need to be asked.
    And please, lets not start to think about all the civilian construction workers, catering staff, cleaners on the Death Star
    .. Now I'm sounding like a sad movie geek.. so I will certainly shut up, go away and watch something miserable in black and white in Swedish.

    1. Well thank you Ray, for standing shoulder to shoulder with me here. I don't think I'm in the public eye enough to get any sort of measurable wrath from the fanboys, but I'll beware nonetheless.


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