Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star-Wars-Episode-V-The-Empire-Strikes-Back
There are many film series that fall into the sequel trap. After having a great start, they start to relax and the sequel falls into the ground. (Spider Man 2. It wasn’t awful, but it was easily the weakest of the trilogy. Still a decent film though) The first Star Wars film was better than I had anticipated, but could the sequel hold its own? The climax fight is definitely better than the first film, but this one falls into more traps than the first one and is definitely not in the same league.

The plot of this film picks off from the first one, but a lot of time has gone by. The rebels are currently based on an icy planet and Han Solo has decided that he needs to leave since the bounty hunters are after him once again. This time they aren’t ordinary bounty hunters since the legendary Boba Fett is among them! He doesn’t have time to leave as the rebels quickly evacuate the planet and he heads off with Princess Leia as they attempt to escape from The Empire. This subplot gets a lot of screen time and some can even make the case that it is the main plot as they travel across the unknown.

The other plot involved Luke Skywalker as he heads off to star system because Obi Wan Kenobi’s ghost told him that he should. He meets the fan favorite character, Yoda, and he starts to train. Those are the two main plots in the film and they both come together by the end. Were the plots engaging? Welll….that’s where things get tricky.

The first film was definitely a lot better in the plot area. Luke training for The Force wasn’t that great since it was mostly Yoda trolling him the whole time. It’s great that Luke can get stronger, but it wasn’t the best plot. Han’s plot was a lot more interesting, but he flirted a lot more than in the second film and it could definitely get tiring.

Yoda is a pretty big Star Wars fan and just about everyone likes him, but I’m definitely not a fan. He’s supposed to be the wise guy who’s been through thick and thin, but isn’t that what Obi Wan is for? Yoda also gives out some awful advice during crunch time and advises Luke to stay and train while his friends get terminated. Luke’s a little too cool for that and he quickly heads off, even though Obi Wan doesn’t help matters either. Yoda would likely be a cooler character if we could see him fight or do something really cool, but right now he seems like he’s all talk. Before the twist, he was also acting pretty strange.

Luke is a mixed bag in this film. On one hand, he is definitely more experienced in this film and he makes the Hero move towards the end. That being said, he had a pretty awful intro where he was actually defeated by an ice beast in one hit. He managed to get out of the cave, but then he couldn’t withstand the icy wilderness and was taken down for the count once again. It was pretty hard for Luke to rise up the personality ranks after such a performance. He was also caught up in Princess Leia’s charms and didn’t really take it all very well. In the end, I still don’t really care for the character in the film series, but I like him overall. He was decently good during the final battle although I think he could have put up more of a fight.

Han Solo is hardly the greatest character in the roster and he definitely needs to show more alertness while on the job. As long as Chewbacca is with him, I don’t think that they’ll be doing so well with their spaceship. Chewbacca definitely tries, but he’s still not very likable. Dying didn’t do Obi Wan any wonders either. If Han spent more time on beating up enemies and less time flirting, then maybe he could be more of an admirable character.

Princess Leia hasn’t gotten any better during this film either as she is still leading everyone on. She’s pretty much chosen Luke over Han, but why should she choose at all? They’re at war with The Empire so she should have more important things to think about. I’m not even going to mention the two droids as they didn’t really help matters and basically held Luke and Han back the whole time.

It’s time to get into some of the mistakes that cost this film some points. The first one is definitely the animal violence. The first film steered away from this for the most part, but this one just couldn’t escape. We have the opening scene where Luke’s camel (type of creature) is slaughtered by the ice monster and then Luke takes off the poor beast’s arm. Later on, Han cuts one of the creatures open after it dies from the cold. Those scenes were definitely in bad taste and I couldn’t forget them as the movie went on. From that point, the film was definitely not going to pass the first one.

That was the big hole that the film fell into, but I had some minor complaints with other parts as well. This film definitely had a lot more romance than the previous one and it made all of the characters act pretty loopy at times. Finally, the film had some pacing problems. I wouldn’t call the film boring per say, but the best scenes were easily the ones with the villains. Lando’s plot with Hal was decent enough and it was much better than Luke’s, but it still had some dull moments. This is one of those cases where I think that it may have helped to cut out a solid 30+ minutes.

At least Darth Vader was still a pretty solid villain. The plot twist about his master could have completely destroyed everything, but this is where you’ve got to look at this objectively. Darth Vader is just using this guy and he’ll betray him soon enough….is what we’ve got to think. This is the only way that Darth Vader can stay as an imposing villain and it’s the only explanation that I want to believe at this point. “I’m YOUR FATHER!!!” is probably something that you’ve heard a lot at this point right? Well, the twist never gets old and we’ll never forget that line.

The film is less action packed than the first one with only a few scenes that contained any fighting. For the most part, I would label this film as an adventure as opposed to an action. The final fight makes it all worth it since Darth Vader battling Luke Skywalker was the best Star Wars fight to this point. It may have been a little one sided, but Luke gave it his all and that’s what counts!

I do have one last complaint although it’s relatively minor. The music score in the first Star Wars film was very good and I can see why it has been renowned for this. Unfortunately, the music in this film isn’t nearly as good and I can’t really think of any solid tunes. I think this leads up to the point that the second film just didn’t feel as theatrical. Everything, from the special effects to the music made it feel more like a tv film than a theater film. The Lightsaber action is great as always, but it would have been cool to see some more movement in the actual fight.

Overall, this is still a solid film, but definitely not on the same level as the first film. Yoda and the animal violence help to bring the overall score down among other factors. Luke is still not the protagonist that I remember from the good ole days (Although he showed a glimmer of this as he ditched Obi Wan and Yoda to go save his friends) and Darth Vader seems pretty depowered. I’m confident that they will repair some of these mistakes in time for the sequel since every trilogy needs to end on a really solid note. This is still a solid film to watch and may be a nice jumping on point for new fans, but I’d recommend IV a little more since it’s a better movie. Watch out for Luke’s big jump towards the end as you watch the film!

Overall 5/10

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