STAR WARS EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI (2017) is just around the corner. But why wait to review Star Wars movies? Until its inevitable release, I’m going to review all the core films in celebration! There may not be a lot of them, but there’s a lot to say about them. Everybody’s got their own opinion of the order in which the movies should be viewed: by release (IV through VI, then I through III) or in chronological order (I through VI). But others, like myself, think there’s a better way to view them. I’m going to review the core films in the following order, subsequently how I also believe they should be viewed:
- ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016)
- EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977)
- EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)
- EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002)
- EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
- EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005)
- EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)
In addition, I’ll try and do a fresh review of my FORCE AWAKENS (2015) review. This is going to be so much fun, yo! This is my “LAST JEDI Celebration Until Release” special!
After the mega hit and popularity of A NEW HOPE (1977), which was a huge game changer in the world of films and science fiction, it’s only natural that the film would get a continuation. I can’t imagine too many people were complaining.
Fun fact, in my A NEW HOPE review, I mentioned how I never saw that movie until the 1997 Special Editions came out. In fact, my first introduction to Star Wars was this film. Specifically, I think my dad taped it on VHS while it was on TV or some such. Heh, if you ask me, not a bad place to start. Awe, hell, you as long as you don’t start off with the prequel trilogy, I think you’d be in pretty good shape. Sadly, I can’t remember too much about my first experience with the film. I mean, obviously I loved it. Look at me now at the age of twenty-eight? I’m still gushing over Star Wars. But I can’t recall how I reacted to it. Eh, who cares? All I know is that I loved it and it was what sparked my love for Star Wars in the end.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mark Hamill (BRIGSBY BEAR , BATTLE FOR TERRA , VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED , and the upcoming CON MAN ), Harrison Ford (BLADE RUNNER 2049 , FIREWALL , AIR FORCE ONE , and the upcoming untitled Indiana Jones film ), Carrie Fisher (FANBOYS , WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… , TV show FAMILY GUY [1998 – ongoing], and the upcoming WONDERWELL ), Billy Dee Williams (LEGO BATMAN , FANBOYS, and BATMAN ), and playing Darth Vader is David Prowse (A CLOCKWORK ORANGE ) and voicing Vader, James Earl Jones (THE LION KING , FIELD OF DREAMS , EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC , DR. STRANGELOVE , 4 episodes TV show STAR WARS: REBELS [2014 – ongoing], and the upcoming THE LION KING ). In support, we have Frank Oz (INSIDE OUT , ZATHURA , MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND , LABYRINTH , and THE MUPPET MOVIE ), Anthony Daniels (THE LORD OF THE RINGS  and the upcoming RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 ), Kenny Baker (THE KING AND I , AMADEUS , and FLASH GORDON ), Peter Mayhew (EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, and 1 episode of THE MUPPET SHOW [1976 – 1981]), and Alec Guinness (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA , THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI , and 7 episodes of TV show TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Irvin Kershner, known for ROBOCOP 2 (1990) and 007 NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (1983). Co-writing the screenplay is Leigh Brackett (THE LONG GOODBYE  and EL DORADO ) and Lawrence Kasdan (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS , DREAMCATCHER , WYATT EARP , RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK , and the upcoming SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY ). Composing the score is John Williams, known for THE BFG (2016), MUNICH (2005), THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987), CLOSE ENCOUNTERS (1977), and upcoming films THE POST (2018) and the untitled Indiana Jones movie. Finally, the cinematographer is Peter Suschitzky, known for AFTER EARTH (2013), EASTERN PROMISES (2007), MARS ATTACKS! (1996), and THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975).
This is my honest opinion of: STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Three years after the destruction of the Death Star at the hands of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Rebels, but the Empire is still strong and coming at the Rebels harder than ever, specifically Darth Vader (David Prowse; voiced by James Earl Jones) obsessively hunting Luke, who has ventured off on his own to locate the great Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz) to learn the ways of the Force and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are on the run, seeking shelter wherever they can find it.
Oh man… I have no idea what I’m going to say about this. It’s amazing. It take the previous film and pushes it in almost a radically different direction, making for a much darker, much deeper, and more engaging story than its predecessor.
I think I’m actually going to do something a little controversial that’ll get a few of you upset: mention the problem that I have with the film.
So here it is. Luke’s on Dagobah training with Yoda, lifting stones and such, when his X-Wing starts sinking into the swamp. He tries to lift it out with the Force, but doesn’t succeed. After his lecture from the two-foot space goblin, Luke stands up and says to him, “You want the impossible,” and storms away in frustration.
I don’t understand his mentality here. Is Luke honestly saying that “feeling the Force around him” is impossible? Dude, before the stormtroopers put Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen through the magical and fun world of getting burnt alive, he barely knew what the Force was. Yet, in the time between Obi-Wan’s description of the Force in his hut and that X-Wing taking a dive off the deep end, Luke’s been exposed to what he ought to have considered “impossible.” He witnessed Ben perform a Jedi mind trick on the stormtroopers in Mos Eisley. Instead of getting torn in half by Vader’s lightsaber, he witnessed the old man evaporate into nothing, becoming one with the Force. Hell, even in the Wampa’s cave on Hoth, he managed to Force-pull that lightsaber hilt from the ice after he couldn’t physically reach it. All impossible things! Comparing all that to lifting an X-Wing fighter out of some gross water, this shouldn’t seem so “impossible.”
Wouldn’t it have been better for Luke’s character if he took Yoda’s lecture to heart, sat at the swamp’s edge and reflected on what he’s experienced? You can still have it that Luke couldn’t do it because he’s still so inexperienced and Yoda decides to help him out anyway. You show that Luke isn’t being a Debbie-downer, and you still showcase how Yoda’s this all-powerful midget guy that’s a million flavors of awesome.
This is quite literally my only problem with the movie.
But pish posh about the negatives, time to NERDGASM!!!
Let’s talk about our time on Hoth. Again, those miniature AT-AT walkers look fantastic. Hugh, lumbering tanks whose armor is too strong for blasters, damn, those things are terrifyingly awesome. And a battle with ships, but not in space. That must have been a fun concept to pitch. “Wait, so you’re going to have space ships… but not in space? What kind of nonsense is this?” And now we have the battle on Hoth, probably one of the coolest scenes in all of Star Wars. And I love the tradition of putting the audience in the cockpit, really giving you that feeling of flying between the walker’s legs. It’s awesome as hell. And Luke harpooning himself up the belly of that other walker, throwing in that grenade, causing it to explode… oh yeah, I cheered. You better believe it. I may question how Luke fell fifty feet and perfectly landed in the snow without so much as a twisted ankle, but who cares?! Exploding AT-AT! And all those soldiers on the ground running away from the AT-AT’s, iconic.
Oh, and who doesn’t love the banter between Han and Leia?
I’d just as soon kiss a wookie!
I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss!
I know this is a cliché, the two characters hate each other, but everyone knows they’re going to get together in the end, but… wait a second, does this really fall under that category? I mean, it’s clear that there’s an attraction between the two. But they do something that I don’t think I’ve seen replicated. Han knows he’s attracted, so he constantly bates and annoys Leia to admit hers, which I imagine he gets legit fun from because Leia is ready to sling insults like crazy. “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, nerf-herder!” Please tell me that I’m not the only one who cracks up at that. But I don’t think enough attention is brought to Han’s reaction. “Who’s scruffy-lookin’?” It’s like the dude knows he’s not the smartest, nor is he going to argue the amazing nerf-herder line, but calling him anything less than attractive, that’s going too far! I love it.
And is it just me, or is it even more intimidating to see a super Star Destroyer next to a bunch of other Star Destroyers, rather than a giant ball of death? I don’t know, giant pizza slices of death are scarier. Pizza is love and life, and when pizza takes that away from you… sadness all around… got off track there. Sorry. There’s something about the Imperial Fleet not needing the Death Star and doing fine on their own that’s such a testament to the threat they really pose. And finally getting our first glimpse at this “Emperor” that was mentioning in passing in A NEW HOPE, and that Vader answers directly to him sends shivers down your spine. He’s only in one scene, and one scene that’s not more than five minutes, but that one scene that’s less than five minutes sticks with you hardcore. I mean, seriously?! Vader answers to someone?! And of course it’s this ominous-looking grim reaper-looking dude! Just… damn! The Empire be scary!
And that’s what makes EMPIRE one of the best sequels out there. It doesn’t vomit up the same thing we saw in the first installment. Lord knows it would have been easy to do that and just rake in the money. A NEW HOPE was a gigantic hit and audiences would have obviously thrown money at the box office to see it, regardless of its quality as a product. But nope, the filmmakers knew that in order to keep it a relevant story for a long time, they needed to take the story to the next step. Han and Leia didn’t have a romantic relationship in the first one, but you can see how some kind of attraction could blossom between them. Luke wasn’t trained in the Force, so let’s have him learn a few things, cut down on the whining, and even dive a little deeper into how the Force works, or make you feel like it’s even more mystical than it already is. That was sure a bonus.
With added new characters and lines that have become cinematic icons, taking a fun, adventure-filled predecessor and successfully going darker and deeper, maintaining the tradition of its practical and visual effects being light-years ahead of our computer generated-happy films of today, and evolving the story and characters that we already know and love, EMPIRE did a whole lot more than just be a great sequel. It did more than just be a great stand-alone film. It proved that Star Wars was here to stay and it wasn’t done yet. The Star Wars saga continued with one of the greatest continuations known to film.
My honest rating for STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: /5