Tag Archives: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars 40th Anniversary Review: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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The Empire Strikes Back is my favourite of the entire Star Wars saga and I think it is no surprise that so many other people feel the same way. Having the best pacing of all the films, a complex and engaging story, great writing and character development, a thorough exploration of the nature of the Force, some of the best music, and a darker and maturer tone are all ingredients that make a near perfect film.

The chemistry between Han Solo and Princess Leia is perfectly written and handled resulting in a romance somewhat reminiscent of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in Gone With the Wind which I believe is far superior to the cringe-inducing and unconvincing romance between Anakin and Padme in the Prequels. More on that in a later review.

The droids are at the top of their form in this one and the separation from each other throughout the majority of the movie allows both of their characters to shine brighter. Threepio is still hilarious as always and his frustration and confusion in dealing with the volatile and irritable Han Solo provides some of the best comedy in the film.
In fact, the entire sequence involving Leia, Han, Chewie, and Threepio is one of the best demonstrations of how character development and character interaction is properly done.

Luke’s training on Dagobah is still to this day the best exploration of the Force seen in the films. Even the highly Jedi-centric Prequels never gave us as much depth and thought-provoking material on the philosophy behind the Force than the scenes with Luke and Yoda on Dagobah.

In A New Hope the bad guys had much less screen time, but here we get almost as much of them as we do the good guys. Darth Vader is amazingly bad ass in The Empire Strikes Back compared to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi in which he is treated more as if he was on someone’s leash rather than the commanding Dark Lord of the Sith who in this movie absolutely rules every scene he is in. His looming figure, shiny helmet, and epic theme music that plays every time he enters a room is enough to terrify any Imperial officer and with good reason. He doesn’t accept apologies for failure and if your clumsiness is proportionally equal to your stupidity then you better be ready to get Force choked.

The Empire Strikes Back has such great dialogue that it is readily the most quotable Star Wars film ever made. Darth Vader’s “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” is just fantastic and “Take the professor back and plug him into the hyperdrive” is still my favourite Han Solo quip of all time.
And when we talk about dialogue we cannot forget the wisdom of Yoda. “Do or do not. There is no try” is so classic that seeing Star Wars is unnecessary to recognising it. And adding to the mix “Always in motion is the future”, “Wars don’t make one great”, and “Luminous beings are we; not this crude matter” it soon becomes apparent that alien muppets make the best spiritual gurus.

John Williams’ score for The Empire Strikes back has turned up some of the saga’s best pieces such as The Imperial March, The Battle in the Snow, Yoda and the Force, and The Asteroid Field which are iconic and prove that Williams will always be the master unlikely to be paralleled or rivaled. Kevin Kiner and Michael Giacchino are good, but they can only be padawans to the Jedi Maestro that is John Williams.

While I said earlier that the pacing in this film was the best of the saga I would mention that some people have griped about how badly synced up the timeline is with Luke’s training and the Falcon crew’s time in Cloud City. It’s said that the training that Luke went through must have taken a period of weeks (maybe even months) while the Falcon’s journey seems to only take maybe a few days at the most. However, I really do not think this is a big deal and even if it was we should consider that Luke had successfully used the Force on Hoth to retrieve his lightsaber and we already know that three years ago he used the Force to destroy the Death Star. Three years of practising using the Force unaided by a master is nothing to scoff at and it would not be surprising me if Luke’s training on Dagobah was only about a week long before he left for Bespin. He is naturally talented and one should bear in mind that Yoda told Luke he was not ready to face Vader yet which means we know he didn’t even complete his training before leaving. I think the timeline is just fine.

All in all what have packaged in The Empire Strikes Back is a near perfect film that continues to impress me every time I rewatch it.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review of Return of the Jedi and may the Force be with you.

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How to Watch Star Wars

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

Star Wars is arguably the most influential pop culture phenomenon in the world. Everyone knows what it is and recognises the characters as household names that only living under a rock would allow you to be ignorant of. Love it or hate it, everyone must agree that Star Wars is a major influence on our culture with six films spawning TV shows, spin-off films, books, comics, toys, and various merchandise.
However, what many people do not agree on is how Star Wars should be viewed. People have various opinions on what order the films should be watched and there has been no consensus.
In this post, I am going to present five different ways the series can be approached and I will explain the merits for each, but shall provide no argument as to which ones are better. To each their own, I say. Let the reader decide which suits them best.

I. The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Anakin Skywalker

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This is the viewing order that George Lucas regards as the closest to his vision. Here we approach Star Wars as the story of Anakin Skywalker’s destiny to bring balance to the Force over a period of two generations of the Skywalker family. We see Anakin’s humble beginnings as a poor slave on Tatooine and his rise to a trainee of the Jedi. The seductive nature of the Dark Side grows too strong as he grows and he succumbs to the temptations of Darth Sidious leading to the rise of the evil Galactic Empire and his transformation into Darth Vader. A rebel alliance led by heroes such as Anakin’s own son, Luke Skywalker successfully defeats this Empire, returning democracy to the people and accomplishing Vader’s redemption where he completes his destiny by destroying the Emperor Sidious and bringing balance to the Force.
The upcoming sequel trilogy will undoubtably act as a continuation or epilogue to this saga.

The order:
1. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
2. Star Wars: Episode II: The Attack of the Clones
3. Star Wars: Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith
4. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
5. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
6. Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
7. Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
8. Star Wars: Episode VIII
9. Star Wars: Episode IX

II. The Legacy of the Skywalker Family

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This is the preferred viewing order of most people (including myself) you meet on internet forums and other residences of geek culture.
This method shows Star Wars as an epic adventure about a Rebel Alliance battling an evil despotic Empire. The youth, Luke Skywalker, discovers his destiny to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi Knight as his father was. In a heroic journey he learns that Lord Vader is none other than his father, Anakin Skywalker corrupted to the Dark Side. As he and his friends strive to defeat the Empire he leads his father to redemption and bringing back balance to the Force.
After this is over, we take a glance nearly 35 years in the past where we see the events prior to Anakin’s downfall and the birth of the twins Luke and Leia Skywalker.

The order:
1. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope
2. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
3. Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
4. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace
5. Star Wars: Episode II: The Attack of the Clones
6. Star Wars: Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith
7. Star Wars; Episode VII: The Force Awakens
8. Star Wars: Episode VIII
9. Star Wars: Episode IX

III.  The Star Wars Trilogy

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This method of approaching Star Wars is the pinnacle of hardcore purism. People who watch Star Wars this way angrily dismiss the Prequels as a slap in the face to the “only good trilogy”, sticking to the original edits without the special edition alterations that Lucas had insisted on incorporating in 1997 and continued to do so in 2006 and again in 2011.

The order:
1. Star Wars (1977 edit)
2. The Empire Strikes Back (1980 edit)
3. Return of the Jedi (1983 edit)

IV. A Hero’s Journey

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For those of you have seen The Godfather Trilogy, you know that in the second film we witness a series of flashbacks to the rise of Vito Corleone as the Don mixed in throughout the story. This order of viewing Star Wars I am gonna discuss is similar to how that narrative structure.
We begin with A New Hope and move on through The Empire Strikes Back as the second and third methods above did.
At the end of Empire we get the startling revelation that Darth Vader is none other than Luke’s father. However, in this method, before we unveil the climactic finale, we shall take a look back at Anakin Skywalker as a young man being trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi before his eventual turn to the Dark Side. In a shocking flashback sequence we see the truth that Darth Vader is indeed Luke’s father as well as Leia’s. We see the origins of the Empire, the Death Star, and the apparent annihilation of the Jedi Order.
After this dark revelation we witness the triumphant conclusion of this epic saga about love, betrayal, and loyalty.

The order:
1. A New Hope
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. The Attack of the Clones
4. The Revenge of the Sith
5. Return of the Jedi
6. The Force Awakens
7. VIII
8. IX

Note: The Phantom Menace is completely excised from this viewing order which means if you are a fan this is not for you.

V. The Star Wars Saga

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This method incorporates every element of the Star Wars canon as well as the expanded universe. The viewer lets it play out in chronological order seeing the amazing wealth of history in the Star Wars Galaxy.
Obviously I cannot produce an exhaustive list, but I shall make a list showing what I personally view as the essential stuff for hardcore Star Wars fans interested in the expanded universe.

The order:
1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords
3. Star Wars: The Old Republic
4. Star Wars: Cloak of Deception
5. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
6. Star Wars: The Approaching Storm
7. Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones
8. Star Wars; The Clone Wars (this includes the movie, and two TV series)
9. Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil
10. Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
11. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
12. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
13. Star Wars: A New Dawn
14. Star Wars: Rebels
15. Star Wars: A New Hope
16. Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye
17. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
18. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
19. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
20. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
21. Star Wars: VIII
22. Star Wars: IX
23. Star Wars: Legends: Heir to the Empire
24. Star Wars: Legends: Dark Force Rising
25. Star Wars: Legends: The Last Command
26+: Star Wars: Legends: The Rest of the E.U.

This is of course an imperfect list, but it’s the stuff I would make use of personally. The list is more flexible than the others, and can be altered at the ease of the reader.

And there you have it. Choose which of these five methods work best for you, and enjoy. May the Force (with or without Midi-Chlorians) be with you!