Han Solo: [cutting open his dead Tauntaun and shoving Luke inside] This may smell bad, kid, but it’ll keep you warm until I get the shelter up… Ugh. And I thought they smelled bad on the *outside*.
A bridge. That’s what this was. A bridge from Star Wars: A New Hope to Return of the Jedi. Why do I say this? Because the ending is more anti-climactic than the ending to Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher. (I’m going against my steadfast anti-spoiling stance here and giving you the ending of Dreamcatcher. Watch at your own peril.) The movie would’ve been better served ending a little bit earlier. Maybe right after the big Vader vs Luke battle.
Then I started thinking…did this HAVE to be a trilogy at all? Couldn’t Lucas have chopped this into two 3-hour movies instead of three 2-hour movies? Maybe have the first movie end right around when Han and company get captured by the Empire and our poor captain Solo gets frozen…in Adidas form. End first movie. Open the second movie with a grand fight scene as Luke saves the Princess and then goes in chase to get Han (enter the plot of Return of the Jedi…by Kevin Smith). But then I thought…money. And they’ve got three built in climaxes there.
I would’ve still ended it right after the final duel of whose Lightsabre is bigger and Luke finally escaped the Cloud City minus one hand. That would’ve been stronger.
But I’m nitpicking.
Empire Strikes Back, at it’s core, is a MUCH better movie than A New Hope. Whereas the first movie seemed to be bogged down in prologue (much like the first Lord of the Rings movie), Empire began with one of the greatest battles in cinematic history on the icy plains of Hoth. The plot moves from one fun action sequence to another nearly seemlessly. And Harrison Ford was in full Indiana Jones mode here. Sure, sure, he’s Han Solo here but you get glimpses of Indy in more than one scene. And Darth Vader is full on dark mode and we meet the mysterious Emporer for the first time.
I recall during the virgin viewing of Empire Strikes Back when the Emperor made an appearance I began to worry. Vader and Luke seem to be equals at this point? Who was still around that was greater than Luke to conquer the Emporer? Obi-wan was dead. Yoda was ancient…but so was the Emperor. I had matched up a Yoda vs Emperor battle at some point. I had the same feeling as I did right before the last Harry Potter book. Dumbledore was killed. So Harry’s supposed to take on Voldemort himself? He’s not strong enough! But he’s their only hope!
One thing I nearly had forgotten is how much of a Muppet Yoda comes across as when we first meet him. Definitely not the wise, kick-ass, old Jedi Yoda we all remember him as. In the first few scenes before he reveals he’s a Jedi Master, Yoda goes around doing things I’ve seen other Muppets do like hitting R2D2 with his walking stick. He comes across as terribly out of place in this very dark movie. But at the moment he reveals himself to be a Jedi, comedy he sheds for wisdom and teaching…mmmmm… (imagine that in Yoda’s voice).
Makes one wonder if Jar-Jar Binks turned out to be a secret Jedi Master, would we like him more? Misa no tinks so. (And sorry, I’ll put Jar-Jar back into the jar-jar never to be scene again.)
The unfortunate thing about doing this Ultimate Rankatron is that the third movie didn’t make the final list. So I’ll sadly leave the trilogy unfinished with intentions to bring it all on home.
Empire Strikes Back as a movie on it’s own suffers because the story bleeds on both sides being the middle movie in the trilogy. But thanks to it being sandwiched there, it holds together as the strongest installment of the three. Would I recommend it on its own? Yes. Would it be better with the other two movies? I answer, “Does Chewy own a lint brush?” (Undoubtedly) Take that for what you will. Like an Oreo cookie, most people dig the white icing centre and can’t wait to get to it but eat the cookie as a whole and you’re in for a tasty experience. Nothing wrong eating it either way. It’s still one good cookie.
9.1 Wampa beasts out of 10