Friday, October 24, 2008

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Is it a coincidence that what is generally regarded as the best Star Wars film was not directed by George Lucas, and that he doesn't even have a screenplay credit? It does make you think a bit. I'm not a huge fan of cliffhangers myself, but Empire is a good film that improves on the first one in a lot of ways. Without an obvious goal to shoot for, the movie is more about developing the characters than moving them all towards a big climax, and it really succeeds at doing that. Han and Leia's love story is not only 100 times better executed than Anakin and Amidala's, it's one of the best I've seen on film, period. Their bickering is comedy gold, and things like "I know" cement Han as the series' greatest personality. Harrison Ford's the quintessential hero, the perfect balance of blazing his own path and always managing to do what's right, and the sense of humor just adds to his likability. Carrie Fisher brings a respectability to the role that you might not expect from a princess, and holds her own against him quite well. They really have a great chemistry.

Luke's journey gets more interesting too as he begins training as a Jedi. In the first movie he was an idealistic, somewhat naive kid going on an adventure in space. The whole movie is somewhat a coming of age tale, with a nice, happy ending. Empire really shows the darker side of the war, and Luke facing his demons with Yoda, abandoning his training, facing off with Vader and finally learning the horrible truth is the best example of this. Yoda seems like a silly joke of a character at first like Jar Jar or something, but before long he's telling Luke how afraid he's going to be. It's all good stuff. It's not as action-packed as the sequel, but as a piece of film making it really is superior.

No comments: