By Daniel Spencer (Castleford)
The Empire Strikes Back or TESB as I’ll refer to it in this review is my second favorite film off all time, just behind back to the future and I’m not gonna go into detail about who the cinematographer is or who played Captain Needa (Michael Culver if you were wondering), I’m just gonna tell you about the film and why for me this is one of the best SCI-FI film of all time.
Hoth – Okay, so I will tell you this film is directed by Irvin Kershner and wasn’t written by George Lucas, right of the bat anyone who has seen the prequels will know this is a good sign even though he did an amazing job with episode IV. So you sit down at home watching the film and the classic music and star wars logo and text scroll down your screen and you get the first shot of a star destroyer deploying recon droids to different planets and one of those planets being Hoth. We then cut to Luke riding a ton ton in the middle of what looks to a snow storm when he sees this recon droid crash in the snow and thinks it’s a meteorite and goes to check it out. He calls in the find to Han Solo and then his ton ton gets scared and he’s is attacked by a Hoth Wampa.
Then we see Han tell the Princess he’s leaving earlier than he said and I think I’ll just cut to basics as reviewing every sentence might take all day and I’ll run out of words. So Han and Leila have a dispute and Han being the scoundrel that he is tries to prove that she has feeling for him, this is a great little snippet of dialogue. Then we cut back to Luke hanging upside down in an ice cave and cut back and forth to shots of the Wampa eating Luke’s ton ton, not sure if Wampa’s are covered in the insurance. But then we see a first glimpse of the force, Luke using it and how powerful it is when he tries to acquire his lightsaber, this scene straight up won me over and from there on out I wanted to be a Jedi. So after getting the lightsaber and escaping the cave he gets lost and see’s Obi Ben as a ghost form telling him to go to the Dagobah system and find Yoda, he is then rescued by Han (and I thought they smelled bad….on the outside).
While this is happening the recon drone finds the rebel base on Hoth and Darth Vadar scrambles a blockade to stop anything leaving Hoth. Luke is then being treated for his injuries when he is greeted by Han and Leila when Leila kisses him to make the half-witted, scruffy looking, nerf herder jealous. Then the battle of Hoth happens where Luke destroys some At At walkers with tow cables, Dac gets too cocky and Han and the gang escape Lord Vadar. After that Luke decides to go to the Degobah system where he crashes his plane into the swamp and R2 nearly gets eaten by a swamp creature. Han and the gang encounter a fleet of star destroyers and try and lose them in an asteroid field.
Dagobah – To me this is the best part of the film as we meet Yoda. So when Luke sets up camp his dinner is interrupted by a small green weird creature who finds out Luke is looking for a Jedi master; “Yoda! You seek Yoda”. We then find out through Ben that this little green guy is Yoda and it really does make you think that the force is something special and magical when this tiny green guy is a Jedi master. Luke then trains with Yoda and he explains the force, the dark side and Luke faces the thought of Vadar in a cave that is strong with the dark side. This has to be the best montage of training ever (eat your heart out Rocky). But the best scene is when Luke tries lifting his X-wing out of the water with the force. It just has some iconic lines that etch into your brain:
Luke: Alright, I’ll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.
Yoda: Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship.
This is just a magical scene were so much is said and we feel as an audience that we learn with Luke and just why Yoda is a Jedi master when he lifts the X-wing out of the water and I had the same reaction as Luke “I don’t believe it” and Yoda says one of his best lines ever; “That is why you fail”. This is when you learn force isn’t something you earn it’s something you worship and believe in; you don’t wake up and have the force. It’s not about what metachlorian count you have, its understanding what it is and only till you let go and believe that you can truly wield the force just like when Luke turned off his targeting system or let go when trying to get the lightsaber in the cave.
Asteroid field – While Luke is learning to ‘just do it’ (Yoda using like before it was cool, hipster?) Han and the gang have been tracked by star destroyers including Vader’s ship and Tie-fighters. So as there light speed isn’t working they decided to try and lose them in an asteroid field, that scene really shows the characters. Han doing what it took to get the job done, Leila worried and questioning his motives, C-3P0 moaning and telling the odds (which you should never do near Han) and Chewie being Chewie. So after they enter the asteroid field and out manoeuvring some tie-fighters, they find a nice spot to hide which happens to be a hole inside a giant asteroid. While they wait they do some repairs on the ship and Han and Leila have their first kiss. Vadar hires a bounty hunter to the job that the empire are doing so poorly. But no disintegration.
Han and the gang soon find out that they are in the stomach of some sort of asteroid worm and fly out, barely making it, right back into the path of the empire. Han then decides that ‘He’s gonna attack them’ and latches onto a star destroyer so they can’t pick up his ship on the radar. He then has a trick of fling off when they deploy their space trash while going to meet his old buddy Lando at cloud city, but the bounty hunter Jango Fett knows what he is doing and proceeds to follow him. Luke then gets a premonition while training with Yoda of his friends being hurt and decides he must go rescue them while Yoda and Ben try and persuade him not to as his training isn’t complete and only a Jedi master can defeat Darth but being a rebel that he is (pun intended) he goes anyway.
Cloud city – After Han and the gang arrive they are invited to dinner by Lando only to be betrayed by him and Vadar waiting at dinner to capture them. He then proceeds to torture Han to get information and also to provoke Luke as he will sense it then they try out the carbon freezer on him to see if it will work so he can use it on Luke later. This is a heart breaking scene as you seen Leila finally confess that she loves him and Han being Han says “I know” which is classic Han. After being frozen in carbonite, Jango takes him to his ship for Jabba the Hut and Leila and the gang are escorted away to board the ship before Lando’s men rescues them and they go to get Han back but unfortunately they fail and Leila has to watch Han fly away and it could be the last time she ever sees him, the emotion on her face says it all.
Battle – So when Luke finally arrives on the ship he has a duel with Vadar which is incredible, it’s not choreographed 10 minute sequences where they do 500 spins with one hand but realistic and gritty and shows just how untrained and weak Luke is. There is a scene where Vadar just uses the force to hurl objects at Luke almost like he’s tying with him. Then big twist after another minute or 2 of fighting Vadar chops of Luke’s hand and he crawls to a small antenna and Vadar tells him to join the Dark side and by this point Luke is helpless and has either the option to die or join Vadar. Then the twist:
Vadar: Obi one never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough, he told me you killed him.
Vadar: No, I am your father.
This really just makes your jaw drop, you know it’s plausible but no one ever saw it coming. Then Luke decides he would rather do than join his father and lets go to what he thinks fall to his death. But he survives and is deposited onto an antenna where he hangs upside down. He reaches out to Ben but gets no response and finally calls upon Leila who hears him and turns the ship around where the pick him up and fly away
Ending – You see Luke being given a robotic hand while Chewie and Lando go find Han. Then Luke goes up to Leila, puts his arm around her while they look at a galaxy and we see a rebel fleet fly through space while the music plays then it ends….What? Really? Do they find Han? What’s the deal with Vadar being Luke’s father? It has to be one of the most cliff-hanger endings ever but it’s great because you just wanna shove in Episode VI and see where the story goes
Conclusion – TESB is one of the best SCI-FI films of all time, well-acted, directed and written. It balances 2 stories brilliantly; it’s a blockbuster with a love background and for me the best sequel ever. If you haven’t seen it already then you’re a nerf herder. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.