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The Star Wars Saga Continues. . .
on March 11, 2004
"My ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is."
It was a dark time for the Rebellion.
The now-famous scroll of yellow letters over the movie screen set the tone for the second chapter in George Lucas's Star Wars saga. In The Empire Strikes Back, we see a darker side to the conflict that was first introduced in the swashbuckling Star Wars. The stakes are higher, the battles are more tense, and the characters grow. In the same vein as the matinee movie serials that Lucas was honoring with these movies, Empire begins with a bang and ends on a cliffhangar, but, from beginning to end, showcases the best that the Star Wars Trilogy has to offer.
The Rebellion has just been driven from their base, and are set upon on all sides by the numerically superior Imerial Fleet, leaving the heroes scattered. Luke, yearning to finish his Jedi training, sets out to find a reclusive master, and must come to terms with his first defeat. Han and Leia travel to a magnificent city in the clouds, only to meet with betrayel at the hands of an old friend. Darth Vader, more sinister and evil than ever, has concocted a plan to capture Luke and turn him to the Dark Side of the Force, using Han and Leia as bait.
Lucas handed the directing reins over to Irvin Kershner (Never Say Never Again), who infuses his own brand of vision into Lucas's story, creating a much darker, character-driven narrative, and, arguable, the best film in the series. My first experience with the saga, Empire holds a special place in my heart. Either way, The Empire Strikes Back is filled with exotic worlds, fierce space battles, and climactic lightsaber duels.
The Special Edition of Empire adds less than it's predecessor, mainly placing in bits and pieces of effects shots that were never finished, and giving more substance to the ice monster that attacks Luke early in the film. However, the meat of the film is untouched, thankfully, and simply looks the best it has in more than twenty years. When it comes to film, there are movies, then there's Star Wars, and Empire holds its own against the original with talent to spare.
If you own Star Wars, chances are you own The Empire Strikes Back. If not, give yourself a good kick in the butt, and get it. NOW.