Friday, May 1, 2020

Why Is The Empire Strikes Back Overrated?

While I was online this morning, firing up BBC Radio as I sat down at the computer to work, I noticed an attention-grabbing headline -- colourized with a photo from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Why The Empire Strikes Back is overrated
The general consensus is that the second in the original Star Wars trilogy - released 40 years ago - is the best. In fact, it’s to blame for the franchise’s problems, writes Nicholas Barber.

By Nicholas Barber
30 April 2020

Minutes ago I got around to reading what dropped down from the sensational headline. It's been years since I last saw my second favourite Star Wars movie, but I've seen it enough times to have much of its structure and DNA embedded in neural carbonite.

My reaction to the provocative piece overturned any suspicions I may have harboured about its obvious clickbait headlining. The writer makes some good points.

It's too late in the day for me to explain why I agree with much of what Mr Barber explodes.

Chapter Two, tomorrow.


Jon said...

I don't think this holds up very well. Preference is individual, of course, but claiming that the film is merely a reshuffling of tropes like "the heroine is captured by the bad guys" as opposed to Lucas' original brilliance in "dreaming up" such basic adventure tropes is nonsense; they were in the serials he mined for ideas from the beginning. Having a ghostly Obi-Wan as a constant character training Luke would never have worked, and I suspect a good part of including Yoda was also driving the inclusion of Calrissan: people noticed that the only significant characters in the first film were white guys plus one white heroine, robots who kinda read like slaves, and some goofy aliens. The Yoda character went a long way to addressing that.

And strategically, it doesn't seem hard to believe that destroying the Empire's superweapon/McGufffin did not win a civil war which had already dragged on for years, but instead forced the Empire to carry out a more traditional offensive, driving the rebels out of a major base and putting them to flight by the film's end. That's a decent counterpunch. (I would say the rot set in by the third film, since no one seemed to be able to come up with anything other than the Empire building ANOTHER Death Star which had to be destroyed in a slightly different fashion.) A friend once commented that in this setting Jedi/Sith were like nuclear weapons, as goofy as it may be, so a natural part of the Imperial offensive is for Vader to lay traps in pursuit of his son, hoping to bring him over to the Imperial side to great advantage. I find it quite consistent, actually.

Simon St. Laurent said...

Good points. But the writer's greater point was that, with Empire starting a complexity that was not in the original film, and shouldn't have been since Star Wars works best as a streamlined and uncomplicated idea, the franchise went down a path into unnecessary convolution. I think.

Contradiction can be a byproduct of complication. Star Wars is now a mess.