(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing trailer clips and screenshots from Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back)
Doug (vo): How do you top one of the highest-grossing, most seen movies of all time? You give it a sequel that doesn't do the exact same thing over, but instead continues the story, and in a dark, dark way. The Empire Strikes Back is often said to be the best of the Star Wars trilogy or really any of the Star Wars films, and...yeah, they're pretty much right.
Doug (vo): We open once again with the Empire seeking out the Rebels, led again by Darth Vader, as Luke gets a message from a deceased Obi-Wan that he is to seek out Yoda, the Jedi Master that taught him. After being attacked by the Empire, Luke separates from Han and Leia in order to find this master Jedi and learn the ways of the Force. While learning these new ways, the rest of the gang takes shelter in Cloud City, a place ruled by Lando Calrissian. But little does everybody know that the Empire has an evil trap for all of them, especially for Luke, who Vader has a keen interest in.
Doug (vo): It's so refreshing that the sequel to one of the highest-grossing films of all time is actually doing something a little different. Not just different, but taking chances. The pacing is slower, the imagery is darker. It wasn't telling the story like it was a sequel, it was telling it like it was the second part. In fact, this was the first time on the big screen they actually put "Episode V" on there, with Lucas revealing this is now a six-part movie series. Why start at #4? Who knows? But people were enjoying it so much, they didn't care. They just figure he could do no wrong...which, ha-ha...oh, we'll get to that later.
(An image of George Lucas shrugging is shown, before going back to trailer clips and images)
Doug (vo): Everybody likes this movie for different reasons. Well, actually, that's not true. They all like it for the same reason: it's darker. There's more drama, it leaves you on a cliffhanger, it's taking this happy-go-lucky adventure that we have with the first one and making it much more gritty. Me, personally, I like it because it took the very basic good vs. evil story and started to grey it out a little bit. I think most people know the big surprise in this film, but I'm not gonna give it away in case you don't. I will say when it was revealed, I didn't see it coming, but my mind wasn't quite blown like everyone else. I actually kind of thought to myself, "Yeah, that sounds about right." That solid line of good vs. evil, black vs. white, was suddenly being blurred, and it was actually very welcoming. As much as we love to say "the dark side and the light side", this suddenly made it a little bit more interesting. It didn't always have to be the cowboy with the black hat and the cowboy with the white hat. You could get a little bit more three-dimensional with it.
(Several of the film's characters are shown)
Doug (vo): And speaking of which, the movie really does seem more three-dimensional. A lot of it is spending time diving inward. We have a romance blooming with Han and Leia, we have Luke trying to figure out how to use the Force. There's a lot more symbols and foreshadowing in it. It went a direction I think a lot of kids didn't see coming, and hell, even probably a lot of adults didn't see coming. But that's great, because it just got us more invested.
(Several stills and clips showing the movie's visual effects are shown, but mainly focusing on Yoda)
Doug (vo): The effects, once again, for the time, are still pretty damn incredible. The puppet work on Yoda, even though, yeah, he does look like a Muppet, still feels very much alive. The eyes, the expression, the moving of the wrinkles on his brow. It's the same as watching Kermit the Frog. You know he's not real, but he...feels real. He would later be replaced with a CG Yoda in the prequels and, even when he looked the most realistic, you never got the impression he was really there. You got the impression Obi-Wan was looking at nothing. Here, you never feel like Luke's just talking to a guy holding a puppet, you feel like he's talking to Yoda. And it's not just the use of a great practical effect, it's the use of great writing and acting. All of it plays a part.
(The villains are shown)
Doug (vo): I also love how much more menacing they make the Empire in this. Not that they were not threatening in the original, but good God! Vader just went from this guy who sort of stood in the corner to this monstrous beast! Whenever he comes out with that lightsaber, you feel the intimidation, you feel like you're gonna lose to this guy! This is when he suddenly went from just being a cool bad guy to one of the greatest villains ever. He could lunge at you and rip you apart, but he could also stand perfectly still and destroy you. He can be very patient and intelligent, but he can also be stubborn, killing anyone he just doesn't like. It's a brilliant depiction of someone you love to be afraid of.
(More screenshots are shown, focusing on Luke's training)
Doug (vo): The movie also goes much more into the philosophy of the Force, but again, not too much. It talks about what it is, but not how it is. It talks about the experience, but not why you're experiencing it, about feeling it, but not touching it. And again, it's not all done in dialogue. There's a great scene where Luke just goes into this area in the swamp and comes across Vader. We know it's not really him, it can't really be him, and yet, the fight takes place, and he sees his own face inside the mask. Those are the exact right choices that have you say, "Oh, my God! What does that mean? What can it mean?" It gives you just the right tools to build your own conclusion, again, as good storytelling should.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So, yeah, like everyone else, it's my favorite out of the Star Wars films. Are there still details that don't make sense? Sure. But it's the same as the first one. You overlook it, 'cause the rest is just so good. And you know that's not the focus. The focus is to be sucked into this world and its characters, and most of the people who watch it are. It's more intense, more suspenseful, more visual, more philosophical, more dramatic, more of which you come to love. The Force is strong with this one.
(A shot from the film's trailer, showing the Star Wars title exploding, is shown)