Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars….
In Minute 9:00, we get our first example of why Mark Hamill had less fun shooting Empire than Harrison Ford.
Harrison Ford gets the girl, has a roomy spaceship and hangs out in Cloud City. He's even given a nice dinner hosted by the most famous person in the galaxy. Mark Hamill gets a swamp-muppet, has his hand cut off, and hangs upside down in an ice cave, in a marshland and from a weathervane.
Opening on Han, the minute follows Solo as he tells off the Rebel underlings shoveling Tauntaun turds. When Han takes a Tauntaun to go search for Luke, the Rebel Tauntaun Wrangler warns about Hoth's dropping temperatures:
Rebel Wrangler: Sir, your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the South Marker.
Han: Then I’ll see you in hell!
So “Hell” exists in the Star Wars universe? I thought everyone either believed in the Force or were agnostic. How can there be a hell when, if you’re sorry enough, you can be redeemed for being an emotionally messed up youngling killer with the inability to rationally express your feelings.
Too bad there’s not enough time to dwell on Hell because we’re immediately whisked off to the icy wilderness. Transitioning from Han’s line to the cave, we’re treated to a menacing John Williams cue which contains hints of “The Imperial March” and shows us why it’s better to film in Norway than on a soundstage. Although, they did have to shoot many sequences just outside their hotel door due to frigid blizzard conditions.
The first shot we see in the cave contains the bones of a large animal - to illustrate the threat Luke is facing - and we spot him hanging upside down, his boots iced to the ceiling. The Wampa roar is heard but we only see its shadow moving against the ice cave. This build of suspense relies more on imagination than a special effects budget - it's effective old-school thrills. In 1997, with the Special Edition release of the original Star Wars movies, the Wampa scene was edited to include shots of a man in a suit. And let’s just say the 1997 Wampa suit is a big improvement over the 1980 puppets. Here’s a comparison of old vs. new versions:
Minute 9:00 is the start of an exciting Wampa sequence and while it doesn’t have the thrill of, say, a giant ball chasing Indiana Jones down a hallway, this scene lays the groundwork for Luke’s growing Jedi powers and his need to complete his training.
Best Performance by a Human: Han Solo telling off underlings.
Best Performance by a Non-Human: The imposing shadow of the Wampa.
Best Line: “Then I’ll see you in hell.”
Rating: 2.8 out of 3 meters, the average height of a Wampa.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Minute 10:00 to see the first of many severed limbs that Empire has to offer!
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com