Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.
I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.
Empire, newly restored by George Lucas and his cronies, makes the remastered videotape look like a comic book. While not much new has been added (what has is pretty obvious, mainly an impressive sound clean-up and digital animations of the Millennium Falcon’s descent into Cloud City), the story has held up monumentally against the Independence Days and Twisters of the world.
I’ve always found Empire to be the Hamlet of science fiction (and better than the original Star Wars), basically because nothing good happens to the hero in the entire story. Luke Skywalker almost dies in the tundra of Hoth (watch for the still-cheesy claymation(?) Tauntauns), sees the rebels sent on the run through the galaxy, meets Yoda and fails to complete his Jedi training on Dagobah, sees his pal Han Solo encased in carbonite, and loses his hand in a fight with Darth Vader, whom he has learned is his father. All that, and C-3PO gets blasted, too!
It’s enough to make you cry, or enough at least to make you really really want to see Return of the Jedi when it hit theaters again in March of that year. I know I’m hooked!
Empire was always my favorite of the trilogy, and seeing it on the big screen is not to be missed.
Aka Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
Review by Christopher Null © 1999 filmcritic.com