Star Wars Revisited part 14: The Empire Strikes Back

A long time ago… I discovered Star Wars. It would define my life. It’s time to rediscover it.

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Part XIV

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

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3 years following the destruction of the Death Star, the heroes of the Rebel Alliance are hiding on the 6th planet of the Hoth system when the Empire…strikes back! The assault on the hidden base ends with the gang dispersed. Luke travels to Dagobah to learn from the ancient Jedi Master Yoda. Han and Leia evade the Imperials and find their way to Cloud City on the planet Bespin. There, they are captured by Darth Vader who uses them as bait to lure Luke Skywalker to his destiny…

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Mark Hamill Returns as Luke Skywalker. Luke faces some real tribulations in this episode. His desire to become a Jedi is put against his devotion to his friends, all the while the spectre of Vader looms over him. His best work in the series to date.

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Harrison Ford achieves his high point as Han Solo, so far, in this film as well. struggling against his mercenary nature, Solo discovers the love of Princess Leia as he faces betrayal and Carbon freezing. “I Know” One of the greatest lines in film history.

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Leia sheds the Damsel in distress act and shows herself as a true leader and warrior against the darkness of the Empire. She blasts her way out of danger and gives in to her desire for more from life in the form of her romance with Solo. Fisher’s best work in the series, to date.

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Ah, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian- Governor of Cloud City, betrayer of Han Solo. In the end, Lando makes good and saves Leia and Chewbacca, but the real MVP is Lobot. John Hollis. The guy is awesome.

David Prowse did much of the body work on Vader, but Bob Anderson did the epic fight scene. Rounding it all out was James Earl Jones delivering the most iconic line of the series ” No…I am your father.” Ostensibly Vader at his best.

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Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker return as R2 and 3PO. While R2 has some good stuff, 3PO’s bumbling and asides really define the character. His interactions with Solo are hilarious. Aside from the Ewok God scene in 6, best use of Goldenrod.

Oh my, Frank Oz as Yoda. Stole the movie. Yoda was REAL. Amazing work from design to execution.

Of particular note are the trio of Michael Sheard (Ozzel), Ken Colley (Piett), and Julian Glover (Veers). I’ve met all 3 of these men and they played the perfect Imperial commanders. Glover can by seen today on Game of Thrones, Colley is active in the UK, and Sheard passed in 2005.

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The true star of the film is Willrow Hood, the guy evacuating Cloud City with his ice cream maker. You the real MVP Hood.

The best Star Wars film. As great as the new films could be, they won’t top this. Using the newfound talents developed on the original, the cast and crew used their increased budget to realize something amazing- a sequel that exceeds the original.

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Lucas’ imagination was on point here, completely unleashed. Guiding the ship was Irvin Kerschner, Director (left) and Gary Kurtz, Producer (center-left). Together with Larry Kasdan, writer (Right) they crafted one of the greatest films ever made.

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The Maestro John Williams wrote his BEST Star Wars music here. As wonderfully iconic as his original themes were, the Love theme, Yoda’s theme, The Asteroid Chase music, and the IMPERIAL MARCH were better. I have no issue calling this his best film score, to date.

Man, it does not get much better than this. Pure Magic.

Next: The end of the Saga (until next week)

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