Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) - Movie Review

Supposed to be the best of the Star Wars, “Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back” is a hesitant approach towards dealing the concept of right and wrong. This entitlement of “Force” being the synonym of the God power is used as the tool to invite the young hero kid Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) into the claws of Darth Vader (David Prowse). In between that stands the Yoda (voice of Frank Oz) giving some of the best sequences in this otherwise scared film in taking a fierce step in the drama of galactic existence.

There is a good judgment call by George Lucas in sketching the story which is to understand the characters than the mere dependency on the uber-hi-tech visuals. When the spectacular photography skis us into the cold planet of Hoth, Luke is sprouting out into the realms of manhood. He has taken responsibility of being the leading soldier in the rebel group and in one of his regular patrol to monitor the surroundings, he is wounded and captured by bear like animal. Seeing the death on the jaws of this beast, Luke witnesses Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in spirit advising him to reach out for Yoda to become the Jedi Knight. Being Jedi Knight is being ridiculously powerful without using it. That is the nature of Zen. Maintaining that control over the limitless power is the art of a wise master. It is a formula but has ample opportunity to enforce the maturity of the film. Thus they do it through Yoda with Luke. Those scenes work and see the direction the film wants us to take through. The rest though is nothing new from the first part except with some more outstanding graphic work.

In this part we see 3PO clearly addressing Han (Harrison Ford) and Luke as human beings. What that explains is uncertain. There is a tension which is projected as a clinical approach between Han and Leia (Carrie Fisher). Han maintains his charm for arrogance and love for smart lines in this with Ford doing his sleep walk over the role. I was informed that this is where we learn about the dark side of Darth Vader. Other than choking remotely, in person and through mind of his Admirals and Captains, there is nothing in depth of Vader to be attracted to the dark side of the force. He is desperate to get Luke alive. He wants him on his side as he knows the capability of the kid. That hunt is what the film is all about. The players in bait and rescue and again bait are Han, Leia, 3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2. Another addition to the list of betrayals and friendship is Lando (Billy Dee Williams).

Luke the charismatic kid follows Ben’s spirit like a puppy dog. He takes his course towards an unknown planet to hunt for Yoda. Yoda a small suspecting looking creature begins to nag Luke and then reveals the true self once Luke has ridiculed enough. Begins the lesson of control and “free your mind” style advices for Luke to get seasoned with the force. Yoda looks like the inspiration for Morpheus in “The Matrix”. Yoda also commands the respect being a puppet over the screen effortlessly. We do not see much of him though. Seems like getting trained as Jedi Knight is a one week crash course which our friend Luke cuts short to rescue his friends. Ben and Yoda literally begs Luke which is of no use. Yoda and Ben both capable of seeing the future do not see this because they could have saved lot of energy. But wait Luke also by that time gets a glimpse of selective future. May be that is the reason he was being that stubborn kid and wastes their time. Anyways, when the power goes to peek in the eventuality, it gets confusing and unnecessary.

There will be nail biting flight scenes and one or two clever choreography in slaying down giant Imperial Walkers. And along with it you would know which fighter pilot would get hit when he gets more than one line of dialogue. If some one is going to play the card of “for those times”, please save it for something really classic. Movies like “Serpico” or “Three Days of Condor” of “those times” did not take that excuse. Nor did the old and gold sci fi “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

Anyways, directed by Irvin Kershner, this Star Wars sure takes a bold step in to seeing these characters. They understand the bar they set in the previous film and the need for thick personalities. Yoda is the trump card but they do not utilize him to the fullest extent. Instead we are thrown in to the cockpit of Falcon every other minute and wondering when will it really get fixed for taking off to its super high speed. And oh, 3PO and R2-D2 still have a very good chemistry as they had in the “A New Hope”. Han and Leia too develop a good rapport and makes believe of their love when Han enters as Darth Vader’s test subject for Carbon freezing. While there is no wonder it is thoroughly a cult status in following up a B movie entertainment of the first, it could have been a far better film and more importantly the mature film it attempts to be if the creators would have boldly handled it with iron fist..

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