Rewind Reviews: Star Wars, Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back
Today we continue to rebel against The Man in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
This is the film responsible for most of the series’ iconic moments. It cemented Star Wars‘ position as one of the best film series of all time. In my opinion, it is by far the best of the original trilogy, especially the unforgettable ending.
The rebels have relocated to the icy world of Hoth. While on patrol, Luke gets kidnapped by a a Woompa (read: Yeti). He uses the Force to escape, but gets caught in a blizzard on his way back to the rebel base. He sees a vision of the late Obi-Wan telling him to fly to Dagobah to train under Yoda. Han, who was about to abandon the rebels once again, rescues Luke from the cold and brings him back to the base. The Republic discovers the rebels’ location, and sends giant mammoth-like robots known as AT-AT Walkers to attack. Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C3PO escape in the Millennium Falcon but are forced to hide in a dangerous asteroid field when they are pursued. Luke and R2D2 head to the swamp planet of Dagobah, where they crash land and get the ship caught in a marsh.
Luke meets a spastic green imp who tries to devour his lunch and chase him away from the swamp. Luke soon learns that he is Yoda, the last Jedi master living. Luke quickly strengthens his relationship with the Force and becomes a powerful Jedi. However, he is still unable to lift his ship from the marsh, and balks when he encounters a vision of Vader with his own face hidden beneath the mask.
Han and Leia put aside their bickering and begin an epic romance inside a giant worm’s mouth. Oh yeah, by the way, they’re in a giant worm’s mouth. They barely escape the giant worm’s mouth and fly off to Bespin, the awesome City in the Clouds. However, they are followed by Vader’s new pal, bounty hunter Bobba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch), the son of Jango who hopes to capture Han and return him to mafia master slug Jabba the Hutt. Han is reunited with old friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) who welcomes him and his crew to the city.
Luke senses Han and Leia are in trouble and flees Dagobah with R2D2 before his training is finished, despite Yoda and spirit Obi’s objections. Luke promises he will return when Han and Leia are safe. On Bespin, Lando turns Han and company over to Vader and Bobba, revealing that they arrived just before the Falcon did. Vader plans to use them as bait to lure Luke to Bespin. Vader thinks it would be cool to freeze Luke in suspended animation, but is worried his neat new machine won’t work, so he tests it with Han. As Han is bravely lowered in, Leia exclaims, “I love you!” But this was old news to Han, and he is soon frozen in a block of carbonite. Bobba departs Bespin, bringing Han’s frozen body to Jabba.
Lando successfully double crosses Vader and releases Leia, Chewbacca, and a shattered C3PO from the stormtroopers’ control. Luke and R2D2 arrive on Bespin while everyone fights for their freedom and Luke and engages Vader in a Lightsaber duel. Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, and the droids escape on the Falcon. After shattering a window, Luke and Vader are sucked into Bespin’s central air shaft. Vader chops off Luke’s Lightsaber hand and corners him over a seemingly endless fall. In one of cinema’s most famous moments, Vader hisses, “Luke… I am your father.” Vader also tries to sway Luke to the Dark side. Luke shrieks like a teenage girl whose parents didn’t let her go to Prom and jumps. Vader watches quietly.
Luke crashes through the tunnel, and ends up dangling above the clouds. He sends a desperate mental text message to Leia, who receives it and turns the Falcon around. Luke drops down into the ship, and R2D2 manages to repair the broken hyperdrive just in time to allow the ship to zoom away at the speed of light. Medical droids build Luke a new, highly realistic hand. Luke, Leia, and the droids gaze out the window at space, mentally preparing to rescue Han from Jabba.
Once again, not much is wrong with this movie, so it’s hard to think of something to kvetch about. After much consideration, I remembered something that seems off.
This is Anakin’s hand when it was severed back in Episode II. It is noticeably robotic. Now this is Luke’s hand.
It is noticeably not robotic. I mean I get that Episode V takes place years after Episode II. But in a galaxy where technology seems to have aged backwards over time, how did body reparation advance so seamlessly? Consistency issues! Actually it’s more like reverse consistency issues IDK. #nitpicking
Why this is a worthy addition to Star Wars:
Most notably, the ending. I know I said that my favorite scene was the factory scene back in Episode II, but know that I’m thinking about it, “I am your father” is probably better. Star Wars had already established itself as a visual masterpiece, but this scene solidified the story as one of cinema’s best as well.
The entire movie is amazing, though, particularly this exchange:
-Han is being lowered into Vader’s carbonite toy-
Leia: I love you! ❤
Han: I know.
Is Episode V your favorite? It probably is! What would you do if Darth Vader said he was your father? Would you stuff your freezing friend into a dead tauntaun to keep him warm? And how many relationships have you started (or ended) in a giant worm’s mouth?