I, someone who’s never been that into Star Wars, have been watching or rewatching all the major movies to give them another chance and try to understand them more. So far, I reviewed Star Wars IV: A New Hope (pretty good,) Rogue One (average,) and Solo (slightly above average.) Now it’s time to rejoin the story of the original trilogy.
Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.
The Empire Strikes Back
In a way, this movie should be better than A New Hope, because it’s not as flippant and breezy as the first, plus Lucas would have a chance to see what didn’t work in the first and could tweak the material to make it better. Part V is certainly more serious and has what feels like a greater level of threat, without being too serious or full of itself. The humor is sprinkled throughout the film to keep it from getting too dark. There’s also moments with greater visual or emotional impact than Rogue One or Solo, making it clearly better than either of those films.
However, the movie starts to drag predictably around the 40 to 50% mark. The scenes sometimes seem to miss cohesiveness in places, making it more obvious that some scenes were added for reasons that had nothing to do with the plot, but more to do with formula and design by committee. And although Han and Leia’s romance was set up in A New Hope and I was expecting it to continue, I thought the dialogue would be better or at least marginally convincing to support it. It feels forced, cliché.
And let’s not forget Yoda. I don’t much like him. It’s true I have a prejudice against obvious muppets in semi-serious movies, but I gave the muppetish aliens in Part IV a pass, so I should give Yoda’s appearance a pass as well, for the same reasons. But Yoda;s character, as written, is just unconvincing as a wise master, and his philosophy doesn’t even pretend to be deep. I don’t feel like Luke learned anything of importance from Yoda that he couldn’t have learned from talking to a couple older ordinary people.
So, although Empire is clearly B-tier, I feel it’s not quite as good as A New Hope. It does leave us with a good cliffhanger, though.
Next Up: Another brief detour, just for fun.
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