Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie's plot.
Recommend this product?
I had always planned on writing about The Empire Strikes Back for my 250th review. I just had the luck (good or bad - I may not get as many hits simply because people are sick of reading Star Wars reviews) to have this fall so soon after seeing Attack of the Clones.
My impression I came away with after seeing these two films is something I wrote in a comment to someone else: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should do it.
What am I talking about?
In the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas was held back a bit on showing some things because of the technology of the times. The video I was watched was of the Special Edition where he went back and "fixed" things that he felt were problems with the original release.
One of the first additions we see is a better glimpse of the Wampa - the creature which attacks Luke Skywalker while out on patrol and drags him back to the cave. In the original release, we were only given a few glances at it while now it is clearly shown. To me, the creature looks like The Abominable Snowman from the Rudolph the Red-Nose-Reindeer Christmas special. This was something that I felt was much better left to the imagination.
This is one of the problems which carries through to the current movies, I believe. There is no room anymore for using our imagination to fill in the blanks - everything needs to be "shown". While I have no problems with many of the enhancements which Lucas talks about in the introduction to the Special Edition, this is something I felt could've been left out, but was a sign of things to come.
Other enhancements are removing the matte lines from around the cockpit windows during the battle scenes. This was something not crucial, but the lines were a peeve of mine in the release of the original Battlestar Galactica DVD since it was very obvious and could have been taken out. There also were enhancements made to Cloud City which make it seem more like a real, operating mining city. These also are good and don't really detract from the imagination.
The opening sequence with the Wampa was added after actor Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) was nearly killed in an accident with his corvette which caused facial damage. Apparently, George Lucas though the difference in his facial features between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back were significant enough to need explanation. How the movie would have begun otherwise, I do not know. Another hidden gem in this film is John Ratzenberger (Cliff Claven of Cheers fame) appearing briefly as one of the Rebel commanders.
The relationship between the characters is really what makes this film work so well, and credit must be given to the actors for that. Harrison Ford's Han Solo is believable both in his almost brotherly protection of Luke as well as his increasing interest in Leia romantically. Luke's brooding and impatience are played perfectly to really show how far he still has to go. I see a lot of the same characteristics between Luke here and Anakin in Attack of the Clones, I just feel that Mark Hamill was better able to pull it off. Leia is also strong and vulnerable at the same time. Again, I see similarities between Leia here and Amidala in the most recent film.
Yoda is first introduced in this film, and is somehow believable as a old Jedi Master, despite his side and stature. The puppetry used here is wonderful and the expressions on his face are perfect, making him as believable as the rest of the cast.
Thankfully, this movie was released way before the advent of the Internet the way we know it today. Why do I say that? There was no greater impact than when we heard Darth Vader utter the words: I am your father... for the first time. I can remember hearing hints about it from friends before I saw the movie, but I was sure it wasn't true. It was a joke; they were lying to me. After I actually heard it, I spent at least one lunch hour a week debating whether it was true or a trick by Vader. Only now I can look back and realize what a cop-out and disappointment it would have been on Lucas' part to not have Vader really be Luke's father.
The effects are good, but not overpowering. I like the use of miniatures and stop-action animation much better than CGI effects. The battle scene on Hoth is well done, and though it occupies a great deal of time, it doesn't seem to drag on. The lightsaber duel between Vader and Luke is also effected and choreographed well.
There is not a thing wrong with this film. While most fans consider this to be the best of the Star Wars movies, I liked Return of the Jedi just a bit better.
But that's for my 300th review....
My other Star Wars reviews:
Return of the Jedi
Attack of the Clones
Other Harrison Ford reviews:
Air Force One ~ American Graffiti ~ The Devil's Own ~ Force 10 from Navarone ~ Hanover Street ~ Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom ~ Patriot Games ~ Raiders of the Lost Ark
© 2002 Patti Aliventi
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Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children up Ages 8