Thursday 29 April 2010

Icon #51 The Empire Strikes Back

The most iconic movie sequel.
I nearly didn't write about The Empire Strikes back at all. Initially I called it as having to be the second in a sequence and seeing as Empire is actually number five I said it couldn't be included. I did that partly because Empire is the obvious GC choice and maybe it would have been nice to go off the beaten track. Twitter and facebook weren't having any of that though so it went back into the mix. Icon post does nothing if not cause a stir, Thursdays are still, by far, my favourite day on twitter and facebook.

Tough call though, for me, mainly between three film. Terminator 2, Aliens and Empire. But hey guess what, we're back to the 80s again...

Empire is really a bridge between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. The reason that everyone always cites for loving it is how dark it is and that revelation that Vader is Luke's father (presumably I've not spoilt that for anyone). Arguably not a huge amount happens. Han, Leia and co travel to Bespin and get caught by Vader, Luke diverts to Dagoba, meets Yoda and then heads to Bespin to save the rest and sort of fails.

The love of the characters comes from the first film but for me this has by far the better dialogue. The 'I love you,' 'I know,' alone raises it above the average. And that was a Harrison Ford ad lib, fact fans. Lucas let go of the directorial reigns and let Irvin Kershner take over and the film flows beautifully. There's little or no pandering to the kids here either, it feels like a straight drama in space for (sort of) grown ups. It became episode four of course but back in 1980 that just confused us, it was Episode 2. I can remember being in the cinema with my Dad looking at those Roman numerals that appear right at the start, on the famous scrolling text bit and asking him why it said five. He looked as puzzled as I was. Anyway it was number 2 and immediately you're thrust back into Star Warsville. Wampas, spy droids, Snowspeaders and the Falcon failing to start. The bit where Han guts the Ton-Ton, it's innards spilling out, is sign of where this film is going. It's the AT-AT's that kill me though. Even now that noise as they take a step is chilling. Of course the effects look a little ropey these days but thank God Lucas hasn't gone back and CGI'd the sequence, it would have lost so much if he had.

I could, of course, recount the story here from start to finish. But you all know the it inside out, although don't get me wrong, it is tempting.

Empire is the Star Wars glue. It holds so much of the mythology within it. Vader revealed as Anakin. Luke losing a hand. Han and Leia gettin' it on. Yoda!!! BOBA FETT!!!! I know Lucas ballsed up with the new trilogy. They're three of the most hugely disappointing films of all time but the originals, in particular Empire, are still hugely watchable.

There's nothing quite like sitting down on a Saturday afternoon and watching it. I love the characters as much today as I did thirty years ago and I love the danger they are put in in this movie. From Han getting frozen in carbonite to Luke letting himself fall in Bespin, Vader turning away in disappointment as he does. It just does what a bridging movie should do, leave you wanting more, needing more. How the fuck did I wait three years for episode 3/6?

It's a pretty obvious tactic. I get that. Leave one of your main characters in peril and of course we're all coming back for more, but it's done well in Empire. Just enough gets wrapped up and I adore that closing shot, the camera panning out from the giant hospital ship with Luke and Leia watching, as Lando and Chewy go off in search of Han in the Falcon.

Maybe Empire is of it's time. Maybe the fanboy in me has let me down by picking it. But I genuinely prefer it to the first film, not something I can say with Aliens. T2 is different. That really is a giant of a sequel and it ran it close today and although it would have satisfied the part of me that wanted to write about JMcG's pick on the eve of the stag (sorry dude), ultimately it had to be Empire because, it's a hugely personal icon for me.
'I won't fail you, I'm not afraid.' - Luke
'You will be. You... will... be.' -Yoda
Tonight's post is dedicated to @maverick99sback, @mo_jesus, D_Forbes, @Rickharwood, @KJCollard, @3Starsleft, @Jackster69, @ianmcshane, @davielegend, @Girl_In_A_Box, @SoulIsTheGoal, @Jeemie1970 and from facebook Toby.

Ok so that's my bit done but here's an interesting piece from AT about Iron Man 2 which I'm watching tomorrow... I'll let you know my thoughts after I've seen it.


  1. previously you made a thing about not choosing a particular icon because it was your special lady friend's choice and you wanted to appear impartial. I see this week you instead decided to score some bedroom brownie points...

    for shame... for shame...


  2. I love you.
    I know.



  3. I even love your predictability Gray......

  4. Just found your blog - I will become a regular reader - great post on Empire strikes back.

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