*Originally published November 2015*
This film is proof that sequels can be as good as, if not better than, the original. Thankfully it has barely been tampered with by Lucas, clearly a sign that he knew this film was excellent just as it is and I have to agree with him. The plot is neatly paced and gives us time to know our main characters but it also knows when we need an action scene. The scope for this film is huge. Not only do you see how big the Battle Cruisers and AT-ATs are but you feel the weight of their enormity. It all feels very real, which of course is what happens when you use practical effects. As for Lord Vader, a perfect villain who is terrifyingly calm but also takes no slack. Even when he does get mad he never freaks out and always seems composed much like this film. Not too over the top but quite calm, it serves as a perfect segue into Episode 6 and is a brilliant set up for a fantastic ending.
4 years on and I still hardheartedly believe Empire to be not just one of the best sequels but one of the best films of all time. This review may be short but I think the enthusiasm talks bounds about this film. I will add two points though. Firstly, the soundtrack is phenomenal. I briefly touched upon it in my Attack of the Clones review but John Williams has done a stunning job with the score to every single Star Wars film. Each character has their own melody and many of them are instantly recognizable, not lest the Star Wars Theme itself. I could go on and on about the genius of his work but we’d be here all day.
Secondly I want to shine a light on the effects team. Each scale model is beautifully crafted and each lightsaber hilt is unique, yet their finest accomplishment may be Jabba the Hutt. You know he isn’t real but his husk exists and somehow that seems to be all we need. He may not move much, just his face, arms and tail but that still conveys all the putrid personality required. Infamously it would start to smell and rot due to the materials used in his building but he didn’t need to last. He was only designed to be in several scenes after all so blowing half the budget on him would just have been a waste.
Empire Strikes Back also marks The Emperors first appearance, though not by Ian McDiarmid. If you can grab a hold of the original footage it is quite worth a watch.
Until Next Time…