Popping my Star Wars cherry: My thoughts on The Empire Strikes Back

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Dec 20, 2015 11:45 AM IST

We are watching the original six Star Wars movies as a run-up to The Force Awakens which releases on Christmas Day in the country. Is the space-epic really as amazing as it is said to be? Here’s our piece on Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens released on December 18 everywhere in the world but China and India (you can thank Dilwale and Bajirao for that). While the rest of humanity is frothing at the mouth with excitement, we are here waiting for Christmas (it releases here on December 25). But hold on, we have something you can chew on meanwhile.

Vader has something important to say.(Lucasfilm)
Vader has something important to say.(Lucasfilm)

I have watched more movies than I can count on stars and I feel not a sliver of humility in making such a proclamation. However, I still have not watched some really big ones (incredibly ashamed as I make this confession) like the $4.6bn Star Wars space saga -- a colossus of entertainment that so many works after it have stood upon to reach for their own heights.

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Star Wars made me feel alienated. It hurts when you see online rants and understand none of them. Obsessives would fight over which lightsaber is the best as I would stand there waiting for the conversation to move to Harry Potter instead.

But no more! I will not endure another decade of cluelessness as others around me bask in the glory of the new Star Wars movie. I will try to be one of them. I will join the Force.

Read: Popping my Star Wars cherry: What I thought about A New Hope

In a span of six days I will watch the six movies in the order of their original release and share my thoughts on them. There are a lot of different opinions on how one should watch the series but I feel it is best to follow the original sequence as time intended. Here is what I thought about Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Characters/plot: Iconic or moronic?

This one is said to be the best of the entire series and it can clearly be seen why, as it is loaded with action and adventure from the word go and doesn’t ever stop for a breather. But does that mean it is just great? Mmmm, no.

A few days ago I read somewhere that the biggest problem with Empire Strikes Back is that “it is just too good”. And when you read something like that coming from a big publication, you sort of want to trust them. So there I was on my couch and the title scrawl began as I waited to bathe in the sheer awesomeness of the movie. However, the wait never did end.

Come in Rogue leader! (Lucasfilm)
Come in Rogue leader! (Lucasfilm)

First off, the whole episode with Luke getting captured by the wampa ice creature was excruciatingly long and unnecessary. If you think of it, it gave nothing to the plot, wasn’t a visual delight or high on action. Plus, the abominable snowman looked downright costume-y. However, one good thing in the early few minutes of the movie was the love-hate romance between Leia and Han. He was at his sassiest best with her as she just wouldn’t accept how head over heels in love she was with him. No one blames you Leia, he is one fine cookie we all want a piece of.

So Darth Vader is evil-er now and thank God for that. What makes him appear so much more sinister since the last movie is THAT. BLOOD.CHILLING.THEME. While I was like “meh” every time the camera shifted to him in A New Hope, this time, I sat up straight and got all nervous/excited thinking which other admiral is going to get asphyxiated next at the hands of the villain supreme. However, he did confuse me a bit. Was he really that evil or just pretended to be so? He did try to save Luke from certain death by asking the General to let him join the Dark Side and prove to be an asset but then he also went about killing/firing his staff like a space-age Donald Trump from his The Apprentice days.

Vader hums the Imperial March to himself in his sleep. (Lucasfilm)
Vader hums the Imperial March to himself in his sleep. (Lucasfilm)

Now, back to the things I didn’t like and first on that list is Yoda. You just cannot imagine the disappointment I felt when I was expecting something even better than Master Oogway (Kung Fu Panda) but got a Gremlin’s ancestor who talked way too much and way too fast. But it got a little better when Luke learned of his real identity and he stopped goofing around to reveal a calmer, more focussed “jedi-like” personality (still far from Master Oogway).

Do or do not. There is no try. (Lucasfilm)
Do or do not. There is no try. (Lucasfilm)

The one thing that I agreed with Yoda on was his lack of faith in Luke. His character is still just as boring as it was in A New Hope and the absence of Leia and Han highlighted that even further. We were told his training isn’t complete yet he was able to telepathically call Leia to his aid. How convenient.

Leia was as good as non-existent in the film. All she did was ride in the back and complain how ridiculous this plan is and how ridiculous that plan is. Even C3PO and R2D2 were separated, which I did not appreciate in the slightest.

And then there was that iconic ending. I wonder how could anyone have “not seen that coming”. Vader clearly tried to protect Luke from the General and it was clear from that moment on that something was cooking. And even if it was a shocker, so what? We were never given enough emotional fodder from Luke’s life to be interested in who his father is. Now that Darth Vader is his father what does that prove? Luke didn’t seem the slightest bit into joining the Dark Side (whether or not they have cookies), so what are we worried about?

Luke feels the power of the Dark Side. (Lucasfilm)
Luke feels the power of the Dark Side. (Lucasfilm)

Read: Dude sent to ICU for spoiling Star Wars, cops call it ‘justifiable

Or maybe I am just saying all this because I knew this would happen since taking my first steps inside the internet. You just cannot escape Star Wars spoilers. I have a fair idea about what is going to happen in the next too and I hope my experience doesn’t get spoiled again.

Were any ‘Forces’ awakened?

In essence, I did not enjoy The Empire Strikes Back. As excited as I was on watching A New Hope, with this one I was often watching the clock to see how much of it was left and that is in no way a marker of a good movie to me. Even Darth Vader’s evilness and Han Solo’s sassiness could not help me love this child that I was so consciously, desperately trying to love.

I love you. I know. (Lucasfilm)
I love you. I know. (Lucasfilm)

Having watched two out of six movies, I am beginning to feel that perhaps this isn’t my cup of tea. I am trying to keep an open mind, trust me I am, but I still am finding it hard to feel strong emotions about Star Wars. While I thoroughly enjoyed A New Hope, this one is drowning my morale. Let’s hope the next one is better.

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The author tweets as @soumya1405

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    Soumya Srivastava is Entertainment Editor at Hindustan Times. She writes about movies and TV because what else is there to life anyway.

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