Oh boy howdy, The Empire Strikes Back is a good movie. Just appallingly and spectacularly good.
I went in to this watch not sure what I wanted this essay to be, and found myself thinking about a million things, especially in connection with my having watched Clone Wars and Rebels recently. Mostly, thinking about The Force.
The Skywalker family’s strength in the Force, is undisputed, they’re in it deep, connected possibly pure force beings of some kind. Anakin turning his back on his role as the keeper of balance was a big problem, as laid out in the wonderful (though I have learned controversial) Mallus trilogy of episodes in Clone Wars. But what’s even more important here is the way that Luke repeats that mistake here, and Yoda and Obi-Wan know it.
Luke chooses to go after Han and Leia in Bespin rather than continue his training. Anakin chose Obi-Wan and Ahsoka over his destiny as the chosen one. And he chose Padme’s life over everything, the galaxy, even his own soul. Yoda and Obi-Wan want to spare Luke this, and spare the galaxy the fall of another Skywalker.
It’s an intriguing dynamic in the saga and one that’s illuminated by looking at things as a whole, even if that isn’t how they were originally meant to be. Filoni, and JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson, build a lot from the dynamics Lucas and Kershner set up in this movie and it’s quite impressive.
As for all the other stuff, I’ve mentioned that The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite love story ever, right? Han and Leia’s half of the movie is masterful. From the first look across the control room on Hoth to “I know,” everything is done subtly and gorgeously and naturally, and knowing as we do now that Carrie Fisher was the one writing it (for the most part) just makes the whole thing even stronger.
And then there’s Lando. If there’s one thing that my since the Disney acquisition full on embracing of Star Wars thing has taught me it’s that I really, really like Lando Calrissian. It’s almost non sensiscal, but I just really love seeing him on screen, in comic books. (Charles Soule!) Billy Dee Williams is awesome as Lando, and you guys, I’m just so happy that he’s going to be coming back. Aren’t you? BE HAPPY ABOUT IT! Also I think they should give Donald Glover his own Lando movie.
(That was a real, “Ma’am, this is an Arby’s,” moment.)
Next week we wrap up the Originals with Return Of The Jedi, which I secretly like better than Empire because it has more dance parties, and all movies should have dance parties.