Aaaand we’re back!
Not just in the land of moviereviewage (for tis a plentiful and prosperous land), either. We’re back to the saga that’s been the bastion of science fiction for the past three decades, and the reason why autograph conventions exist. It’s Star Wars! And this one, word of mouth tells me, is the best of the original three. In fact, it’s also touted as the best of the entire six. Because, you know, no Jar Jar Binks. God. I can’t believe I made a Jar Jar Binks reference in 2012. I’m firing these cultural phenomenon out of the barrel quicker than greased dysentry.
But, let’s set aside our revolting similes and dive right into Empire. ‘Episode V’, as it’s subtitled, sees the returning cast (of whom I was about to name, but really don’t need to – seriously, you can name the six main protagonists off of the bat without seeing any of these movies) leading Darth Vader’s evil Empire on a merry goose chase across the galaxy, as said majesty of almighty doom is obsessively keen to track down young Luke Skywalker following the destruction of his Death Star hub in the last flick. There’s alterior motives for Darthy heading after Luke though – and I wonder what they might be – and while the protagonists (and indeed some of the baddies) are thickly unclear on what the husky-voiced menace is truly plotting, much of Empire is a shaggy-dog story as Han Solo et al play an epic game of space chess with renegade fleets in a bid to secure the rebel alliance’s liberation.
The story follows two strands shortly after the off, with Luke following a message from beyond the grave to go into further Jedi training guided by a diminuitive green sage with the voice of Frank Oz, and Solo’s rag-tag crew playing cat-and-mouse with hapless Empire redshirts, eventually ending up at the home city of one of Han’s old compadres – however, the game, of course, doesn’t end there. As I’ve rattled out previously, it’s rare anyone reading this won’t know Star Wars already – but, rules are rules, and if there is anyone yet to see Empire, fear not. The plot exposition stops here, folks. What follows is one of the most iconic film twists of all time, and a classic cliffhanger.
In fact, that’s what strikes me most about Empire. A New Hope was a stand-alone film, and it’s obviously framed as such – there’s a clear start, middle, and conclusion – no hanging threads, although the potential universe enveloping the story could allow for a bumload of additional adventures. Naturally, this is why Empire strides into its story and picks up momentum so well. Sure, the obligatory gratuituous panning text at the very beginning seals the gap between this movie and its prequel, but the first movie did such a good job of painting the colourful universe these characters inhabit that we barely need to concentrate to get into this one. And, despite how short my plot description actually is, this one is crammed full of stuff. I’m pretty sure I could sit through Empire five times at least before I’d be comfortable with having taken it all in. It’s a basic story of good versus evil, with an unbelievably rich context. I believe I said similar things in my review of A New Hope. But, it needs repeating. Doesn’t it? Tough.
So, yeah. Very little I can pick apart here. Again. The designs and effects for the late 70s/early 80s when this was produced and released are beyond fantastic. There’s not a single string out of place. Sure, the whole thing is cheesy as sin nowadays, but the whole thing is just so unavoidably epic. Forget your notions of Harry Potter being ‘epic’. Because I know you have such notions. Don’t you? Well, anyway. As I watch more of the Star Wars saga, I appreciate more and more why it’s so insanely revered and obsessed over. Again, I’m not likely to hot-foot it to a cosplay event in a Boba Fett costume (though I am to be guilty of attending this in June), but… you know what, it’s been said. Empirebuilds on the first movie as it no longer has a backstory to build up, and despite heavy reliance on long, drawn-out action sequences, it’s one of the most visually and aesthetically interesting films I’ve ever watched.
So, yeah. That’s another one down. I can’t tell if this is a shorter review than my last SW recap, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is. I think my Jedi review is probably just going to be OMG SPACE I LIKED IT, PRETTY VISUALS, EWOKS ANNOYING. I’ll be checking into the final chapter of the big three later in the year.
PROS:Great visually, superb story world, well paced. Well acted, even. Frank Oz.
CONS: Ehhh… I’m gonna say I think some of the action is gratuitous. I mean, it’s a sci-fi action thriller, so I’m missing the point here, but… well, if not, C3PO. He did my head in. Again. If that’s the point of his character, well played. I have half a mind to wager it probably is.
9/10. An improvement on the original stand-alone, which leads in nicely to further never-ending prancing across the black void. A great film to come back on. Bring on some truly awful stuff, I’m ready for it!!