Man, The Empire Strikes Back is a weird movie. I mean that only as a compliment, but it diverts heavily from where the series began in A New Hope, and I forgot by just how much. Widely regarded as the best of the Star Wars saga and everyone’s favorite, Empire is also the most emotional and intellectual of the films. These are huge, populist blockbusters but with Episode V, George Lucas, writer Laurence Kasdan (who returned for Force Awakens) and director Irvan Kershner all decided to go a different route. In doing so, they made not only one of the best sequels of all time, but one of the best movies of all time.
Empire is the perfect example of what sequels should do. Take the characters somewhere new, up the stakes, and develop them even further and their relationships with one another. However, the way it goes about it is wildly unpredictable, as the core group of characters are split up practically the whole movie. The original group of characters are on the run or in hiding for most of the movie, and it allows them to have more time to flesh out their relationships (with Han and Leia) and Luke’s relationship with the force (and new master, Yoda.) On watching Empire again, I think Yoda and Luke’s trials are what really makes this movie great. The whole sequence with the cave highlighting Luke’s inner struggle and fear of falling to the dark side is a highlight. Only in the end, with the famous reveal, does that scene take on a whole new meaning.
What I really love about this movie, probably more than anything else, is how much it expands and grows the Star Wars universe. We get to see strange, new locals (like Degobah and Cloud City, for Example) as well as great characters like Lando and Yoda. The force, (only touched upon in A New Hope) is detailed even further, primarily by Yoda. No midichlorian nonsense or anything about them being living bacteria, but framing it as an ambiguous, vast entity that ties everything together. I also wondered during Luke’s trials if we will ever see any ‘force ghosts’ of old characters return in new movies. I mean, if Obi-Wan can in Empire, couldn’t he or other force users return in this new trilogy? Maybe I’m just dreaming, but it’s possible!
That’s about all I’ve got on Empire for now. It’s been a long day at work, and frankly I just want to kick back and Watch Return of the Jedi now. As I type this, the first premieres for the public are screening, and many of my friends are there, which means I’m going dark on social media until I see it tomorrow night. I’ll write some stuff on ‘Jedi’ tomorrow night, and likely Force Awakens on Saturday. Until then, thanks for reading, and may the force be with you!