Lion of the Blogosphere

Review: The Empire Strikes Back

Leia kisses Luke. Perhaps to spite Han, but nevertheless it’s a pretty hot kiss. I think “Yuck! Incest!” But that kiss happened before Lucas decided that Leia was going to be Luke’s sister.

There are those who think this is the best of the Star Wars movies, and also the most adult. I, for one, like the first movie better because it has a very tight and coherent plot, whereas the plot in Empire Strikes Back is more of a disconnected sequence of action scenes with an unresolved ending (the Rebels suffered a significant loss when their base on the ice planet was destroyed, Han has been captured, and Luke has not finished his Jedi training).

The banter between Solo and Leia is great. I even laughed out loud when they are finally kissing each other and then C3PO interrupts them. Every scene in this movie with Harrison Ford is just incredibly fun to watch, but then they cut away to the more boring story-line featuring the acting non-talent of Mark Hamill and the pseudo-Eastern philosophy of the muppet Yoda.

And I am still annoyed by the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke’s father, because it was pretty clear from watching the first movie that there was no such intent. Ben calls Darth Vader “Darth” when they meet in the Death Star; he says it with the fondness he had for an old pupil he knew as “Darth” and not as a title for an evil Jedi.

Compared to the first movie, there are more action scenes, more spaceships on the screen at the same time, and better special effects. Lucas had a bigger budget and more special effects experience, and it shows. When this movie was filmed, the concept of the big-budget fast and furious action movie didn’t exist. Empire is the template for all of those movies that followed.

The Force is a lot stronger in this movie. In the first movie it’s only good for lightsaber dueling, sneaking some droids into a spaceport, and Vader used it once to choke one of his subordinates, but that’s about it. In this movie, Vader uses the Force to kill a succession of admirals who fail him and he demonstrates how the Force makes him invincible to blasters (which I guess makes sense because it explains why Jedi fight with lightsabers). The Force is also good for telekinesis. Yoda is even able to levitate Luke’s crashed X-wing fighter. And Luke is able to use the Force to telepathically get a message to Princess Leia to come pick him up because he’s hanging from the bottom of the cloud city.

Compared to the hot girl who kicks ass in the J.J. Abrams reboot, Luke doesn’t kick anyone’s ass in this movie. He starts the movie being knocked out by an abominable snowman and needing Han to rescue him. And at the end of the movie, despite having some training by Yoda, he is thoroughly schlonged by Vader. The fight only takes as long as it does because Vader is toying with him because he hopes to convert Luke to the Dark Side. Together, he says they can “bring order to the Galaxy,” which doesn’t really sound that evil.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Movies

34 Responses

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  1. Leia as a slave to Jabba the Hut, in Return of the Jedi, was every young male’s jerk off moment.

    JS

    December 23, 2015 at 4:43 pm

  2. “And at the end of the movie, despite having some training by Yoda, he is thoroughly schlonged by Vader.”

    I see what you did there.

    DdR

    December 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

  3. It’s certainly appropriate for Vader to have schlonged Luke in this movie, since it makes it all the more exciting when Luke schlongs him back and then sets up Vader to schlong the Emporer by throwing him into a hole.

    One thing that always bothered me about these star wars movies — with all their superior technology that they had in the Death Star you’d think they would have less dangerous pits and holes that people could kill themselves by falling through.

    Jeff

    December 23, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    • Why isn’t there a Galactic OSHA? So many bottomless pits with so few railings to stop people from falling in…

      Tarl

      December 25, 2015 at 8:46 am

  4. “schlonged” ha ha!

    Two in the Bush

    December 23, 2015 at 5:04 pm

  5. Other than the Emperor, who just seemed to be a psychopath, the Empire really wasn’t that bad. In the EU stuff like the Thrawn Trilogy they made that even more explicit with the relatively noble Grand Admiral Thrawn taking over after the Emperor’s death. But that kind of nuance really isn’t JJ Abrams wheelhouse so I understand why they didn’t go in that direction. My review is essentially the same as your own. Entertaining enough movie, but basically just a rehash of the plot of the first movie except the roles of the Rebels and Empire and kind of reversed so it doesn’t really make as much sense and Harrison Ford is the best part of both but even here the first wins out because it got Ford in his prime.

    PerezHBD

    December 23, 2015 at 5:08 pm

  6. The Luke/Yoda training was the best shit in the whole damn triology!

    I always found the Han/Leia stuff boring.

    fakeemail

    December 23, 2015 at 5:18 pm

  7. Cruz is now the favorite on Predictit. Trump is still in 3rd but up to 27.

    Rubio looks increasingly weak. Supposedly even team Cruz no longer thinks Rubio is Cruz’s rival but rather they are anticipating a showdown with Trump.

    Otis the Sweaty

    December 23, 2015 at 5:45 pm

  8. Well first, dark, inconclusive endings, as we saw in the Empire Strikes Back, don’t sit well with U.S. audiences in our present time.

    Second: If J.J. Abrams went with the logical route, and allowed Kylo Ren to “schlong” (ha ha, love it) Rey, the girl power loving audiences would’ve frothed at the mouth, accusing Abrams of promoting violence against women.
    That being said, it occurred to me that even though she has many parallels to Luke, I’m pretty certain that Rey will never lose a limb in any of the upcoming movies.

    markus

    December 23, 2015 at 5:56 pm

  9. “schwartzed”

    Squacky

    December 23, 2015 at 5:58 pm

  10. OT: Lion, my occasional praise for your blog is intentionally hyperbolic, but rooted in sincerity. I read you almost every day and find you entertaining and occasionally very funny. I’ve been reading since 2011 or 2012. Thank you for another year of quality posts.

    Robert

    December 23, 2015 at 7:29 pm

  11. There are those who think this is the best of the Star Wars movies, and also the most adult.

    Not just the best of Star Wars but one of the greatest movies of all time.

    I, for one, like the first movie better because it has a very tight and coherent plot, whereas the plot in Empire Strikes Back is more of a disconnected sequence of action scenes with an unresolved ending

    The cliffhanger is perfect. It sets up the also excellent start of Return of the Jedi.

    The Undiscovered Jew

    December 23, 2015 at 7:39 pm

  12. FWIW, the officer heading the Empire’s attack on Hoth also got wasted by the wrong grail. YMMV.

    Mobutu

    December 23, 2015 at 9:05 pm

  13. Finally found it. And here you go:

    Mobutu

    December 23, 2015 at 9:13 pm

  14. I just saw James Earl Jones in “Dr. Strangelove” (he was one of the crewmen in the plane with Slim Pickins). I was surprised to note that his voice wasn’t particularly deep back then.

    CamelCaseRob

    December 23, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    • He was just an extra. His ultra-deep Bad Guy Voice would have been distracting.

      Tarl

      December 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

  15. You are wrong about the father-son plot with Vader. It is pretty clearly a possibility based on the first movie.

    Ron

    December 23, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    • He’s right about the “Darth” thing, though. Obi-wan Kenobi calls him “Darth” as though that were his name, not a title.

      Hermes

      December 24, 2015 at 12:15 am

  16. is laughing in public prole?

    GM

    December 24, 2015 at 12:25 am

  17. This is definitely my favourite Star Wars movie. I thought the Imperial Walker’s were a particularly impressive and menacing design and Luke’s narrow escape from being crushed was well done. The chemistry between Han & Leia (in contrast say to Finn & Rey) really sparkles on screen. I enjoyed the scenes between Luke and Yoda. Luke is whiny and cocky, but gets put in his place as he struggles under Yoda’s guidance. The scene where Luke says “I can’t believe it” and Yoda responds “that is why you fail” is classic. Ford’s improvised line to Leia “I know” (when it was scripted for him to say I love you too) was a masterstroke. Luke’s brave, but ultimately futile attempt to defeat Vader is my favourite lightsaber scene.

    Lion, you might enjoy the Cinema Sins reviews of these movies. Their review of The Running Man is also excellent.

    Julian

    December 24, 2015 at 12:37 am

    • The battle with the “walkers” (tanks, not zombies) at the beginning made no tactical sense, it was just about putting in some cool special effects and action scenes.

      “Ford’s improvised line to Leia “I know”” yes, everything Han Solo did in that movie was great.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 24, 2015 at 9:21 am

      • Yes, the Empire could have sent some large shuttle crafts to blow out the shield at the rebel base, instead of subjecting its officers to torture by manning those crawling, hunky, AT-ATs over treacherous terrain.

        JS

        December 24, 2015 at 12:19 pm

      • Didn’t they have any nuclear bombs? Surely Darth Vader didn’t have any moral problems with using WMDs?

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 24, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      • It appears that WMDs were not available SW. But the Death Star was the ultimate doomsday weapon.

        JS

        December 24, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      • Here is a cartoon depiction of what was supposed to take place before the Imperial Walkers made their way along the snow path to the rebel hideout in Hoth.

        Large shuttle crafts unloading the AT-ATs, which makes no sense, since these large flying ships could have flew into the rebel base swiftly and take out the shield. The Empire could have shortened the offensive distance, by sending the ships in proximity where the rebels were controlling the shield.

        JS

        December 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm

      • The base was allegedly “shielded” but why was it only shielded from flying spaceships and not from quadrupedal tanks? And I can’t believe that the shielding could have withstood a nuclear bomb. Didn’t Darth Vader have any nuclear-armed missiles?

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 24, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      • The base was allegedly “shielded” but why was it only shielded from flying spaceships and not from quadrupedal tanks?

        I always assumed the shield worked against energy weapons but not against spaceships flying through it en-route to the surface.

        The Undiscovered Jew

        December 24, 2015 at 5:42 pm

  18. Wasn’t Lucas thinking of the “father”/”Vader” connection from the beginning? They are the same word in Dutch, though Lucas’ pronunciation is wrong and in Dutch it sounds just like English “father” only with a D in the middle.

    Kyo

    December 24, 2015 at 7:39 am

  19. Lion, some data for you on US White homicide rates as about the same as West Euro ones. http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda/386280/principle-infrangibility-and-white-white-murder-rate-reihan-salam

    Robert

    December 24, 2015 at 9:08 am

  20. I’m glad that LOB posted this review of an old movie. He made two points that I agree with but I seldom see made.

    The first is essentially that “Empire Strikes Back” is overrated. Its a good movie, but the near-consensus that its the best in the “Star Wars” series and better than the original “Star Wars” is incorrect. The original movie, which is a classic, has advantages in having a tighter, more coherent plot and in being a complete story in itself.

    (actually the only two of the six Lucas “Star Wars” movies that stand by themselves are the original, and “The Phantom Menace”, which is both under-rated and not very good, just as “Empire Strikes Back” is both quite good and over-rated)

    The second is that making Darth Vader Luke’s father was a seriously bad story-telling decision. It turned the saga from a series about a war into a soap opera. It also completely contradicted the backstory of the original “Star Wars”, as had been explained by Obi Wan Kenobi, and so created the continuity mess that just increased with each installment.

    Lucas hadn’t anticipated a sequel and didn’t know what he wanted to do with it, hence the meandering plot, so the “I am your father” thing was a cheap hook to keep audiences interested. He could have done better. “Return of the Jedi” gets part of the blame for confirming that this wasn’t just a ruse to get Luke over to the dark side.

    Lucas has confirmed that he was really making things up as he went along. I think the original “Star Wars” was good enough that it took on more weight, and its fantasy universe more life, than Lucas really intended. It was too flimsy a fantasy universe to really support an entire series. So you have a situation where each subsequent movie was worse than its predecessor.

    Yes, the best movie was Episode #4, followed by #5, #6, #1, #2, and then #3.

    Disney then purchased the rights to the series and did a reboot of the original, disguised as a sequel, the purchase of the rights apparently being done to prevent someone from coming out with a competing proper sequel that could cut into their profits.

    Ed

    December 24, 2015 at 11:52 am

  21. One thing to keep in mind is that Star Wars is not a scifi show. Star Wars is a fantasy show like Lord of the Rings only skinned in science fiction garb. The ships and equipment are designed with the same thought as fantasy creatures, so they have no scientific or biological basis.

    What makes the originals so good are the very memorable characters, something the latter movies lack. The writing and the stories are very good.

    It’s also important to remember that Lucas and Spielberg grew up watching the movies and television shows of the 40’s and 50’s. The quality of writing and acting among this cohort of product is usually of much higher quality than what came later. Movies were taking their content and talent from Broadway and literature. This seeps into Lucas’ early work.

    Later on, Hollywood directors and writers only study other people’s movies.

    Empire was also written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. You may want to check out Attack of the Clones. This, along with Empire, is probably the best of the Star Wars movies.

    map

    December 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    • ” Attack of the Clones” is widely considered the worst of the prequels
      and in all of the star wars movies . The love story between anakin and padme was the most purely executed love story of all times and the dialogs were unbearably bad . The wars between CGI robots were boring, just like the politics.
      Lucas decision to do everything in the prequels by himself ( write , direct and produce) , exposed him as an hack .

      eyaldavid

      December 24, 2015 at 7:20 pm

  22. “…And at the end of the movie, despite having some training by Yoda, he is thoroughly schlonged by Vader. The fight only takes as long as it does because Vader is toying with him because he hopes to convert Luke to the Dark Side. Together, he says they can “bring order to the Galaxy,” which doesn’t really sound that evil”

    Vader was just trying to make the Galaxy great again, and there was a time, a long time ago, when the editorial staff of The Weekly Standard recognized that.

    .http://www.weeklystandard.com/article/2540#

    Now, the Weekly Standard would rather Hillary do the schlonging rather than getting schlonged herself.

    Mike Street Station

    December 26, 2015 at 11:51 am


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