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, the sequel that started it all. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars.
Minute 2:00 starts midway through the crawl and ends with a Star Destroyer... but it just isn't as exciting as the last film’s opening. That one had Death Stars and started mid-battle, this one has an intergalactic battleship slowly parallel parking next to Hoth. At least they got the text right, because the same can’t be said for The Force Awakens. TFA's opening has a typo, which is crazy considering this opening crawl is supposed to be some all-knowing exposition-spouting entity. Basically, The Force Awakens' issue is that there are no commas around “Luke” making the phrase “her brother Luke” imply that Leia has more than one brother. It doesn’t work for the movie, but it does work as an Alternative Fact for any candidate running against Leia for Mayor of New Alderaan.
Another reason to give Empire's opening more leeway than The Force Awakens: the 2015 installment was the first Star Wars movie to dare changing the font of the opening text. Maybe it wasn’t noticeable to you, but Medium User “Fixthecrawl” – who could probably find more useful things to protest nowadays – revealed that JJ Abrams used New Gothic as opposed to the originals’ Univers text.
Not only does “Fixthecrawl” argue the new font makes it all look less epic but Dan Perri, the crawl designer on the original films, argued against Abrams’ use of New Gothic too, saying:
“I know the New Gothic lines well and I can tell you I used it on Raging Bull because it was from the era, from the 40’s and ‘50’s. No I would not have used New Gothic on Star Wars”
As the minute continues, we learn that the rebels have found a new home on Hoth and that they’re actually led by Luke Skywalker. It’s a real Cinderella story – the kid went from bulls-eyeing womp rats on his T-16 back home to gaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Rebel Alliance. But enough with this “commander” nonsense. If some guy blew up the Death Star (without even looking at a targeting computer!) I’d immediately make him general. With those rebels, you really have to earn your ranks. Which brings us back to this misleading crawl – sure, it’s talking about Luke because we the audience are big "Luke" fans, but what about rebel leaders like Mon Mothma, Princess Leia, Admiral Ackbar, General Rieekan, General Dodonna, Commander Cliff Clavin, Colonel Treat Williams. It’s as if Luke bribed the crawl writer because he’s hoping Alliance brass will give him a promotion – and it’s a real resume packer.
The crawl proceeds, bringing back “the evil lord Darth Vader…” and his “obsession with finding young Skywalker.” It’s a subtle hint to their deeper connection, but it doesn’t give any bit of the twist away. First time viewers could just interpret this as the dark lord seeking revenge for some punk from the outer rim blowing up the Empire’s biggest pet project. If some teenager from Albuquerque broke the government’s best missile silo, you better believe Homeland Security Secretary is going to be on that. And how is Vader going to find him? Dispatching a bunch of probes into space. It’s sad that the word “probe” really conjures uncool images of the least comfortable part of an alien abduction. Or what an ENT uses to find their way through your septum. It’s not the coolest tool in Darth Vader’s sweaty leather utility belt, but maybe that’s what Lucas and director Irvin Kirshner wanted – the audience sees “probe” and we’re subconsciously uncomfortable which is the perfect feeling to associate with the Empire.
Overall, their use of buzzwords nicely sets up the showdown between Luke and Vader but it just doesn’t carry the dramatic weight of the original Star Wars’ crawl. That one had more thrills. It set up a war. Instead of “probe” we had a “Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet!” It promised so much fire and blood, it’s the Daenerys sTargaryen of government death rays. Empire’s opener lacks the stakes, so much so that when the frame pans downward, we just see a lone Star Destroyer not chasing anything. BORING. Despite all its grandeur, I give this minute 700 out of 1000 probes.
And look, I don’t like ice. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Tune in tomorrow, though, and we’ll visit this cold, cold planet!
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com