The DotR team strikes back! It’s a big day; we’re ranking what is arguably the best Star Wars film...ever: The Empire Strikes Back. Why do so many love this film? If you don’t, have no fear, Brody doesn't seem to like it as much either. Or does he? In today’s episode, we all gang up on Brody and his heretical claims against Irvin Kirshner’s work of art. It’s the first time we see force-levitation, force ghosts, the Emperor, Lando, Yoda, Tantauns, and much more. Love it or hate it, it’s a beautiful bridge between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.
“It feels so much more cinematic.” - Amanda
Charley said it best, “All characters develop well.” We love the characters of this film. I particularly appreciate that Luke has a deep and spiritual journey with Yoda and the Force. His slower scenes on Dagobah are well-balanced with the quick action sequences involving Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO. Amanda & Brody point out the romantic within Han, which successfully develops his character as he persistently flirts with Leia who’s struggling to withhold her true feelings for him. Charley affirms that Lando is an awesome addition to the team; the Baron Administrator of Cloud City rivals Han’s charm almost as if he’s a different version that we needed. Chewie even gets more screen time and is much more vocal! However, we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t ruffle some feathers with our hot takes below.
“I mean, he’s got a cape!” - Amanda
If the Emperor was later re-edited in the post-releases, Yoda also should’ve been CGI-edited
If you want a better Star Wars film, Chewie needs more lines
It’s a B-student movie; it doesn’t age well
Irvin Kirshner is a better director than George Lucas
“It’s a middle-of-the-road movie.” - Brody
With fighting words like that, and our numbers below…this seems a little better than a middle-of-the-road movie, right?
Overall Score = 91
“I don’t know if you have a soul.” - Charley
Our harshest critic is Brody; claiming Empire didn’t age well. He also thinks it doesn’t grow the immersive universe as much as other Star Wars media. We all agree it’s more of a bridge between two movies, but he claims that’s all it is. I disagree! You can have a very beautiful and enjoyable bridge that is a story in and of itself.
“It’s a sequel that’s more enjoyable than the original.” - Christian
With scenes like Han responding, “I know” to Leia’s confessed love, Vader revealing himself as Luke’s father, and Yoda force-lifting the X-Wing, we all agree it's well-earned nostalgia. Much of the nostalgia is due to the practical effects of Yoda, Tauntauns, AT-AT walkers, Exogorth (the asteroid worm), Vader’s suit improvements and more. Amanda points out the success of the panning shots (Han and Chewie working on the Falcon) and the puppeteering (Yoda) this film offers. Additionally, we almost missed that this movie was the first to introduce the iconic Imperial March! Charley also mentions that Cloud City is a living example of a system slipping right through the Empire’s fingers.
“It’s so Star Wars to just have a cool face scar.” - Amanda
There’s not much to gripe about with The Empire Strikes Back. We get better effects and a better story, which pushes new lore and characters all while developing its existing crew! It bridges the beginning and the end with an ending of its own; one that might not entertain Brody as much as he’d like. However, when you can use a real life scar from Mark Hamill’s accident and turn it into a facial scar from a Wampa, you’re doing something right.