3 - The Empire Strikes Back - 5 stars
I can tell you that if every year between 1985 and 1998 I had been asked to name my favourite film, the answer would have immediately been The Empire Strikes Back.
After 1998 I actually started to do film studies at university and have been working at The Belmont for the last seven years, and have developed a much greater knowledge and appreciation of film and therefore my tastes have reached further than just a galaxy far, far away.
But when I was growing up Star Wars was my number one obsession. I had (nearly) all the toys, I would watch the films every weekend, I could visualise every shot, every sound effect, every edit (even to the point I could watch the movie in my head including when the advert breaks would come in on ITV).
Empire was always my favourite. Screw anyone who thinks that Jedi was better.
Empire starts off with the best battle in the trilogy: The Battle of Hoth. It epitomises the struggle between the rebels and the Imperials, as you have tiny speeders going up against the awesome AT-ATs, Dak stupidly using the war cliche "I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself" = dead man, plus the rebels lose!
It also introduces some great new characters into the story with the cool bad-ass Boba Fett, and Yoda.
My perception of Yoda has changed since viewing the prequel trilogy. Before I thought that Yoda was putting on an act, messing around with Luke when he firsts meets him in the swamp but now I think that Yoda has simply gone a bit bonkers due to spending 20+ years on his own on Dagobah!
The change of director to Irvin Kershner reaps dividends. Lucas always admitted he wasn't a people person and Kershner manages to draw better performances out of the cast, especially Fisher and Ford.
This was the movie that really sealed Harrison Ford's star quality as the romance between Leia and Han Solo was developed, with much of its success due to Leigh Brackett's work on the screenplay. She also wrote the screenplay for The Big Sleep and the banter between the Princess and the "scoundrel" has a whip and a snap of that dialogue that worked so well for Bogart and Bacall.
Their romance results in one of my all-time favourite film moments as Solo is about to be put into carbonite. "I love you"... "I know". Ford's ad-libbed response because he was unhappy with the line as written is just as good as the last-minute change in Raiders. Although Family Guy's response is almost as good.
When I watched this in the cinema in 1997 when the special editions were released, and during that scene and a kid in the row in front of me started to cry and I leaned forward and said "I know how you feel kid, don't worry, I've a feeling he'll be OK".
I was born in 1980 so I have no idea of the frustration that people must have gone through, having to wait for three years to find out how the story concluded and whether or not Darth Vader was telling the truth about his bombshell of a revelation "No. I AM your father!".
It was one of the original twist endings and a truly iconic cinematic moment.
"Empire" had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All "Jedi" had was a bunch of Muppets." - Dante Hick, Clerks.
That quote perfectly sums up why I love this film so much. It shouldn't be the best one, because it is the middle act in a story and has no real beginning or end, but the fates aligned to produce the greatest science fiction/fantasy film ever made.
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