action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 15th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi

star wars episode VI - return of the jedi

Every series must come to an end, and so it is with Star Wars. This movie has always had a sort of bitter sweet memory to it as this came out right as my parents’ divorce was finalizing. I remember going to see this in theaters with my dad and it was one of the last movies we saw before we moved to Birmingham. On one of my weekend visits to see my dad, I remember him renting this and watching it again with him, with him pointing out how jealous Han was of Luke at one point in the movie. Bittersweet memories aside, I have a lot of good ones regarding this so let’s finish off the trilogy with today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi.

The plot: As a Star Destroyer approaches the forest moon of Endor, an Imperial shuttle and it’s Tie-Fighter escort departs from the hangar bay and heads towards the new Death Star that is under construction and in orbit around the moon. When the shuttle lands inside the Death Star, Vader disembarks and speaks with Moff Jerjerrod, the commander of the new Death Star, telling him he is displeased that they are falling behind and that the Emperor will be paying a visit to the station to ensure things go as scheduled. Meanwhile, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are on Tatooine and making their way to the palace of Jabba the Hutt. After gaining entry inside, they are escorted by Jabba’s major domo, Bib Fortuna, to the throne room, where R2 plays a holographic message from Luke Skywalker addressed to Jabba. In the message, Luke asks to meet with Jabba to bargain for the return of Han Solo, offering R2 and 3P0 as a gift. 3P0 is shocked when he hears that but Jabba laughs, saying he has no intention of returning his favorite decoration, staring at the wall where Han’s carbonite frozen body rests while 3P0 and R2 are fitted with restraining bolts and assigned to their new tasks. Back in the throne room, the crowd is watching as Jabba feeds a slave girl to the Rancor in the dungeon beneath the dungeon when an explosion is heard and a bounty hunter named Boushh enters, dragging a captured Chewbacca with him. After negotiating on the bounty, with Boushh threatening to kill them all with a thermal detonator when Jabba offers a lower price, Chewbacca is taken away while Boushh looks around and notices Boba Fett standing nearby, who nods a sign of respect towards the other bounty hunter. That night, as everyone is asleep, Boushh sneaks into the throne room and activates the controls on the carbonite and defrosts Han, who collapses to the ground. As Boushh checks on him, he takes off his mask to reveal he is really Leia, who kisses Han before helping him up. Before they can leave, they hear Jabba laughing and Jabba and his guards pull back the curtain they were hiding behind. Han, who is temporarily blind due to hibernation sickness, tries to reason with Jabba but Jabba has him taken to the dungeon, where he is reunited with Chewbacca, while keeping Leia to serve as his newest dancing/slave girl. The next day, Luke enters Jabba’s palace, using the Force to help him get past the guards and influence Bib Fortuna to announcing him. Jabba smacks Bib Fortuna, then laughs at Luke when he tries to influence Jabba’s mind. When that doesn’t work, Luke uses the Force to grab a blaster from a guard but Jabba activates the trap door, sending Luke and a Gamorrean guard to fall into the dungeon. As the Rancor is unleashed, the Gamorrean tries to climb back up the tunnel but the Rancor quickly grabs and eats him. As the Rancor turns and grabs him, Luke picks up a large bone to defend himself with and manages to wedge it in the creatures mouth, causing it to drop him before it snaps the bone in it’s jaws. Luke makes his way to a door behind the Rancor only to find guards taunting him so Luke picks up a skull and throws it at the door controls has the Rancor starts to enter the room, bringing the heavy door crashing down on it’s head and killing it. Jabba is enraged and orders Luke, Han, and Chewbacca brought before him, where he orders them to be thrown into the Great Pit of Carkoon, where the Sarlaac that lives there will digest them over a period of 1000 years. As they make their way to the pit, Luke tells Han to stay close to Chewie and Lando, who is disguised as one of Jabba’s guards. As Luke is pushed off the gang plank, he turns and grabs it, using it to flip over the guards just as R2, who was on the barge, launches Lukes new lightsaber that was hidden in him, into the air. Luke summons the lightsaber to him and begins attacking the guards, then frees Han and Chewie. As Jabba’s guards start firing on the skiff they are on, Boba Fett uses his rocket pack to head over there and attempt to capture Luke but Luke disarms him as a blast knocks them both to the floor, then Han accidentally hits Boba Fett’s rocket pack, sending him flying into the side of Jabba’s barge before tumbling into the Sarlacc. Inside Jabba’s barge, Leia uses everyone’s shock at what is happening to strangle Jabba with the chain holding her prisoner, then she is set free by R2, who then rescues 3P0. Meanwhile, Lando is knocked off the skiff and grabbed by the Sarlacc but Han, whose vision has returned, manages to shoot the tentacle and help pull Lando back to safety. Luke jumps onto Jabba’s barge and starts attacking the guards, as Leia arrives on the deck. Luke tells her to point the deck cannon at the deck, then he fires it as he grabs Leia and swings onto the nearby skiff and they fly off, picking up R2 and 3P0 from the sand where they had jumped to safety. As they leave Tatooine, Han, Leia, LAndo, Chewbacca, and 3P0 go to meet back up with the Rebel Alliance and Luke says he will meet them later, as he and R2 head to Dagobah to keep his promise to return to Yoda to finish his training. Meanwhile, the Emperor arrives on the Death Star and meets with Vader, who says the Death Star’s construction is on schedule and wishes to go looking for Luke again but the Emperor says that Luke will come to them too and together, they will turn Luke to the Dark Side of the Force. On Dagobah, Luke looks on in sadness at his dying Jedi master Yoda, who teases Luke about his reaction. When Yoda says he is dying and tells Luke he has nothing more to teach him, Luke asks if he is a Jedi now but Yoda tells him he must face Vader one more time. Luke asks Yoda if Vader is his father and Yoda confirms it, then says it is unfortunate that Luke found out this way, as if he had finished his training instead of rushing off, he would have been better prepared to handle the burden of the truth. Yoda warns Luke to be careful of the Emperor or else he might suffer the same fate as Vader and says when he dies, Luke will be the last of the Jedi but says the Force is strong in his family and says there is another Skywalker before he dies and his body disappears into the Force. Luke heads back to his X-Wing and is visited by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When Luke asks why they never told him the truth, Obi-Wan explains that when Anakin turned into Vader, the Jedi he knew ceased to be so it was true from a certain point of view. When Luke asks about Yoda’s last words, Obi-Wan tells him that Luke had a twin sister, which was separated from him as Obi-Wan and Yoda wanted to keep them both safe from the Emperor and Vader. Luke realizes that Leia is his sister and Obi-Wan warns him to be careful, as Vader or the Emperor can use that knowledge against him. Back at the Rebellion rendezvous point, Han and the others attend a meeting, with Han expressing surprise that Lando was made a general in the Rebel Alliance. Mon Mothma brings the meeting to order and tells the assembled rebels that their spies located the location of the second Death Star. As Admiral Ackbar tells them that the Death Star’s weapons systems are non operational but is protected by an energy shield generated from Endor and that Lando will lead the attack on the Death Star once the shield is down. General Nadine then explains that they stole an Imperial shuttle and command codes and plan to use it to send a strike team to Endor to destroy the shield generator, then surprises everyone when he asks Han, calling him General Solo, if his team is ready. Han says his team is ready but not his command crew for the shuttle and Chewbacca, Leia, and a returning Luke quickly agree to go with him. As they prepare to leave, Han speaks with Lando and says tells Lando to take the Falcon on his assault, as it is the fastest ship in the fleet, and Lando agrees, promising that he won’t put a scratch on it. Han and Chewie pilot the shuttle to Endor, transmitting the code to get clearance, and as they wait, Luke senses Vader on the Super Star Destroyer that they are approaching. On board the Executor, Vader asks the ship’s commanding officer about the shuttle and when he is asked if they should hold it, Vader says to let it go. The shuttle lands on the moon and the team disembarks and starts making their way to the shield generator. When they come across a pair of Imperial Scout troopers, Han and Chewie try to take them out quietly but Han steps on a branch, alerting the troopers to their presence. As they start fighting with them, Luke and Leia see two more leaving on speeder bikes and they hop on a speeder bike and chase after them. They catch up to one of them and Luke jumps on the speeder bike, throwing the trooper into a tree, and they continue chasing after the second trooper. When two more troopers appear behind them, Luke slows down to deal with them while Leie keeps after the other trooper but both Leia and the trooper end up crashing their speeders. Luke finishes dealing with his two and heads back to Han and the others only to find that Leia hasn’t returned so Luke, Han, Chewie, R2, and 3P0 go looking for her. Leia is woken up by an Ewok named Wicket, who is cautious about her but grows more trusting as she gives him some food. Suddenly, Wicket grows nervous and starts looking out into the forest just as a laser blast is fired at them, and he quickly hides under the log they were sitting on as Leia looks for who fired at them. Leia is captured by a Scout trooper but Wicket hit’s his legs with his spear, allowing Leia to kill him and his partner, then Wicket leads Leia off into the woods. Vader goes to the Death Star to inform the Emperor that Luke is on Endor, which surprises the Emperor as he did not sense Luke’s presence, and he sends Vader to the moon’s surface, saying that Luke will come to Vader and then Vader should bring Luke to face him. Back on Endor, Luke and the others find evidence of Leia’s fight with the troopers but no sign of Leia. Chewie suddenly runs off into the forest, with the others following, but the only find a dead animal and when Chewie grabs it, they are caught in a net. R2 cuts them free and after they sit up, they find themselves surrounded by Ewoks. When the Ewoks see 3P0, they believe he is a god and take them all back to their village, where they prepare to sacrifice Han, Luke, and Chewie to appease 3P0, though 3P0 tries to tell the Ewoks to let them go. When Leia appears from a hut, she tries to convince the Ewoks to let the others go but the Ewoks refuse. Luke has 3P0 warn the Ewoks to stop or he will use his magic and when the Ewoks refuse again, Luke uses the Force to lift 3P0 and the chair he is in and start spinning in the air. The frightened Ewoks quickly free Han and the others and Luke lowers 3P0 back to the ground. That night, 3P0 tells the Ewoks of the fight between the Rebels and the Empire and the Ewoks’ leader, Chief Chirpa, and their shaman, Logray, make Han and the others members of their tribe and agree to help them. As the Ewoks all cheer, Luke steps outside and Leia follows after him and asks what is wrong. Luke tells her that Vader is on the moon and reveals that Vader is his father and Leia is his sister, and tells her he has to leave to face Vader, hoping to turn him back from the Dark Side. Luke leaves and Han goes outside to find out what is going on, getting jealous when Leia won’t tell him what her and Luke were talking about but he quickly apologizes and she hugs him. Vader arrives on Endor just as Luke surrenders to the Imperial troops and Vader speaks with Luke alone. Luke tries to convince Vader to leave with him and let him help him break free from the Emperor’s control but Vader says it is too late for him as he summons some stormtroopers to take Luke onto the shuttle. In the morning, Han and the others head to the shield generator and find it heavily guarded but the Ewoks tell them of another entrance and they make their way there. When they get there, one of the Ewoks sneaks down and steals one of the speeder bikes and rides off, with 3 scout troopers chasing after him, leaving only one guard at the entrance. Han and the others leave 3P0 and R2 behind with Wicket, then quickly subdue the guard and head inside the bunker. On the Death Star, Vader takes Luke before the Emperor and hands him Luke’s lightsaber, then taunts Luke about knowing the Rebel’s plans to attack the Death star and how he allowed the Rebel to learn of the station’s location in order to lure them into a trap. On Endor, 3P0 and R2 watch as an Imperial squad rushes into the bunker and captures Han and his team and Wicket runs off to get help. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fleet arrive to begin their attack on the Death Star but when Lando realizes their sensors are being jammed, he realizes it is a trap and breaks off the attack. As they move away from the Death Star, they find themselves facing a fleet of Star Destroyers and are suddenly attacked by waves of Tie-fighters. On the Death Star, the Emperor has Luke watch the Rebel fleet fighting the Imperial fleet and taunts him into trying to attack him. Back on Endor, Han ad the others are led outside and 3P0 call out to the the Imperials and when some stormtroopers move to capture them, they are attacked by a group of Ewoks, who then summon more Ewoks to start attacking the Imperial troops. As the Ewoks use their primitive weapons to attack the stormtroopers, they find themselves being overwhelmed by the AT-ST’s. Out in space, Lando and the Rebel fighters continue fighting against the Tie-fighters when he notices that the Star Destroyers haven’t moved to attack them. Suddenly, the Death Star fires at the Rebel fleet and destroys one of the cruisers and Admiral Ackbar starts to order a retreat but Lando tells him that they won’t get a second chance at this, then tells him to move the Rebel fleet to attack the Star Destroyers, in order to keep the Death star from firing at them lest they hit their own ships. Back on Endor, Leia contacts R2 to try and get him to open the bunker but he is shot by a stormtrooper and damaged so Han attempts to hotwire the door. Chewie and two Ewoks swing onto an AT-ST and manage to take it over, then use it to destroy another one and begin attacking the Imperial troops while the Ewoks are finally able to destroy some of the other AT-STs. Back at the bunker, Leia is injured and when Han goes to check on her, they are captured by two stormtroopers but Han’s position has Leia hidden from the troopers’ view and she pulls out her blaster and shoots them. When Chewie arrives in the stolen AT-ST, Han starts to bring him down to help him with Leia but then changes his mind, saying he has an idea. On the Death Star, the Emperor’s taunting finally gets to Luke and he summons his lightsaber and tries to kill him but Vader stops him and the two begin battling. On Endor, Han uses the AT-STs communications system to tell the officers in the bunker that they need more men to hunt down the Rebels and when they open the blast door to send out more troops, the soldiers are captured and Han and the others head inside to set the charges. Back on the Death Star. Luke and Vader continue to battle and as Luke tries to reach out to his father and turn him from the Dark Side, Vader is able to sense Luke’s feelings and discover he has a sister. When Vader threatens to try and turn his daughter to the Dark Side, Luke becomes enraged and renews his attack on Vader, eventually cutting off his hand. The Emperor laughs and applauds Luke and tells him to kill Vader and assume his place at the Emperor’s side but Luke refuses, saying he is a Jedi like his father was. In retaliation, the Emperor begins electrocuting Luke with Force lightning and Luke cries out to Vader to help him. Seeing Luke close to death, Vader turns on the Emperor, grabbing him and throwing him down a shaft tothe power core but he is severely injured from the Emperor’s errant lightning strikes as well as the explosion of energy when the Emperor died. Han blows up the shield generator and Lando leads the fighter squads inside the Death Star to blow up the main power core, having some of the fighters break away to lure away some of the Tie-fighters chasing after them. Meanwhile, Admiral Ackbar orders his ships to concentrate their fire on the Executor and succeed in destroying the ship’s bridge, causing it to crash into the Death Star. Luke is carrying the injured Vader to a shuttle when Vader tells him to take his helmet off so he can see Luke with his own eyes. After Luke does as he asks, Vader thanks Luke for saving him and asks Luke tell his sister that Luke was right about there still being some good in him before he dies. Luke carries Vader’s body into a shuttle and escapes the Death star just as Lando and Wedge Antilles destroy the main reactor and escape themselves before the Death Star blows up. On Endor, Han, Leia, and the others see the Death Star’s explosion and Han tells Leia that Luke probably wasn’t on there when it blew. When Leia says that he wasn’t because she could feel it, Han offers to step away from the two of them but Leia explains that Luke is her brother before kissing the shocked Han, who smiles and kisses her back. That night, Luke places Vader’s body on a funeral pyre and lights it, paying his respects to his father before heading to the Ewok village and joining the others in celebrating their victory over the Empire. As the friends all greet each other and share stories, Luke walks away from the others for a bit, where he sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin Skywalker smiling at him, before Leia pulls him back to join the celebration.

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi met with mostly praise from the critics, holding an 80% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though failing to reach the cinematic heights of its predecessors, Return of the Jedi remains an entertaining sci-fi adventure and a fitting end to the classic trilogy.” The Imperial officer who attempts to stop the Rebels in the bunker and is knocked off the railing when a satchel bomb is thrown at him is Ben Brutt, the man who rediscovered and made famous the “Wilhelm Scream”, and attempts to recreate it when he falls. The movie was a box office hit, earning $475.1 million off of a $32.5 million, making it the least profitable movie in the franchise.

I am not the least bit ashamed to admit this, this was my least favorite Star Wars movie before the prequels came out. The acting was good, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Harrison Ford (Han), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) all doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked Ian McDiarmid’s performance as the Emperor, as he really made the character feel like the embodiment of ultimate evil, and was glad that he was recast to play Palpatine in the prequels. The story was also good but I felt like the “tidy” ending was somewhat rushed, which it kind of was due to some personal issues in George Lucas’ life causing him to change how he originally visioned it. The puppetry with some of the character, such as Jabba and the Rancor, was very well done though some of the blue screen with the Rancor was a little weak. My favorite part of this movie though was the score, with the music during Luke and Vader’s fight helping to showcase the emotion involved in the fight. A good movie to watch and a fitting end to the series, but I still wish we could have seen things play out how Lucas originally wanted to do it.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 10th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

star wars episode V - the empire strikes back


To this day, this remains my favorite movie out of the Star Wars franchise and I have a lot of fond memories concerning today’s movie. For one, this is the first movie I remember seeing in theaters when I was a kid. Yes, this came out back when I was 3 but I, like a lot of kids at that age, was a dinosaur nut and I thought this movie was awesome because it had robot dinosaurs that shot lasers in it (the Imperial Walkers). As fond of a memory as that is for me, my friends actually prefer a more recent memory regarding this movie. See, back when the Special Edition versions were released in theaters as a part of Star Wars 20th anniversary and I decided to take my two baby brothers to see them, so they can get a chance to see them in the theaters. So there we were, at a late night screening on opening night, enjoying the movie. All of a sudden, as the movie is nearing the end, one of the scenes featured one of the “changes” that were part of the special edition. In this case, a scream was added to the scene where Luke falls down the air shaft after learning Vader is his father (this was removed from the DVD release but you can see it here). So imagine if you will, a packed theater watching this movie and when that scene occurs, someone loudly yelling “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!” Needless to say, we were visited by an usher pretty quickly, who was going to have us leave but was nice enough to let us stay in the hallway so we could finish watching the movie. Anyways, those are some of the reasons why I love today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.

The plot: Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, The Empire has pursued the Rebel forces across the galaxy and forced the Rebellion to find a new base of operations, which the eventually do on the ice planet Hoth. With Darth Vader wanting to capture Luke Skywalker, as he was the one to destroy the Death Star, he orders hundreds of Imperial probe droids to be released across the galaxy, one of which happens to land on Hoth. Luke, now a Commander in the Rebellion, is riding a tauntaun out on patrol when he sees what appears to be a meteor strike and radios in to Han Solo, who is heading back to the base from his patrol. After ending the communication, Luke’s tauntaun suddenly acts up and as he tries to calm it, they are attacked by a wampa, which knocks Luke unconscious and kills the tauntaun, then drags them back to their lair. At the Rebel base, Han reports to General Rieekan and tells him that he has to leave and pay off the death mark that Jabba the Hutt has placed on him, as he had a recent encounter with another bounty hunter. Han then goes to say goodbye to Leia but the two end up arguing when Han insinuates that she has feelings for him. Later, C-3PO and R2-D2 speak with Han, who is working with Chewbacca on making repairs to the Millennium Falcon. When 3PO tells him that Luke hasn’t come back from patrol yet, Han has some men double check and when they confirm that he hasn’t returned, he mounts a tauntaun and heads out to find him, despite being told that it is getting too cold to be out there. Meanwhile, Luke finds himself suspended from the ceiling of the wampa’s lair and, noticing his lightsaber in the snow below him, uses the force to summon it to his hand. Quickly igniting it, he frees himself and then fends off the attacking wampa, cutting off the creature’s arm, and escaping the cave as the wampa backs away in pain. At the Rebel base, all of the patrols looking for Luke have returned except for Han and they are forced to close the blast doors to shield everyone from the cold, causing Chewbacca to roar out in anguish while Leia, 3PO, and R2 express their own concern. Out in the snow, Luke sees the ghost oh Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi, his old mentor, who tells him to go to Dagobah and learn from the Jedi Master Yoda, who had trained him. As Luke calls out to Ben, the ghost disappears but Han shows up and quickly races to his friend. As he checks on him, Han’s tauntaun dies from the cold so Han uses Luke’s lightsaber to slice open it’s stomach and places Luke inside to keep him warm while he works on building a shelter. The next day, Rebel Snowspeeders, finally adapted to the cold weather of the planet, search for Han and Luke and eventually find them. Luke is placed in a bacta tank in order to help recover from his injuries and afterwards, his friends express their happiness at seeing him still alive. Han again talks with Leia about her feelings for him and Leia, deciding to show Han that he is wrong, kisses Luke before leaving the room. Some time later, the Rebels detect a strange transmission on the surface and Han and Chewbacca go to investigate and discover the probe droid, which attacks them before destroying itself. Han relays the encounter to Leia and Rieekan, who realize the Empire most likely knows where they are now and they prepare to evacuate. On board the Executor, Vader’s Super Star Destroyer, Vader and his command staff receive word from the probe droid and Vader orders his men to head to off, telling General Veers to ready his men for a ground assault. The Imperial fleet comes out of hyper space too soon, allowing the Rebels to power an energy shield to protect the base from orbital bombardment so Vader kills Admiral Ozzel and promotes Captain Piett to Admiral. The Rebels prepare for a ground assault on the power generator while launching the evacuation ships for most of their forces, using an ion cannon to disable enemy ships that are preventing their escape. A force of Imperial Walkers (AT-AT’s) march on the generator and Luke commands Rogue groups Snowspeeders as they try to stop them. When their armor proves to be too thick, they use tow cables to entangle the walkers’ legs and topple them. Luke is eventually shot down but manages to survive and uses his lightsaber, grappling hook, and an explosive to take out another walker but the generator is still destroyed and Vader and his troops land to make their assault on the base. Han grabs Leia and takes her and 3PO onto the Falcon so they can escape while Luke makes it to a secondary evac site, where R2 is waiting in his X-wing fighter and they take off but instead of meeting up with the rest of the fleet, he tells R2 they are heading to Dagobah. Meanwhile, Han is trying to evade the Star Destroyers that are trying to capture them but when he tries to go to light speed, it fails and 3PO tells him that the hyperdrive is damaged. Leaving Leia to pilot the Falcon, Han and Chewbacca try to make repairs when Leia alerts them to the face that they are entering an asteroid field. Han resumes control and managed to pilot the Falcon through the asteroids, which destroy the Tie-Fighters following them, and eventually lands in a cave on a large asteroid. While this is going on, Luke arrives on Dagobah and ends up crashing his X-wing in the swamp. After getting R2 and some supplies from the ship and setting up camp, Luke is surprised to see a small figure watching them. As Luke speaks with the strange figure, it begins rummaging through his supplies and eventually grabs a small lamp, which it says is his if Luke wants it’s help. When Luke says he is looking for a Jedi Master, the creature says he is looking for Yoda and offer to take Luke to see him but says he must come back to his house for dinner first, then heads off into the swamp. Back in the asteroid field, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and 3PO work on making repairs on the Falcon, and Han and Leia end up getting closer and eventually kiss before 3PO interrupts them, causing Leia to run off to figure out her feelings. Meanwhile, Vader has the fleet continue into the asteroid field to search for the Falcon but when he gets word that the Emperor wants to speak with him, he has the Executor moved out of the field in order to ensure a clear transmission. After making contact with Vader, the Emperor tells him to destroy Luke Skywalker before he can become a Jedi but Vader suggest trying to turn Luke to the Dark Side, and the Emperor agrees when Vader says if it can’t be done he will kill him. Back on Dagobah, Luke is inside the figures hut and eventually realizes that he is Yoda after hearing him speak to Ben’s ghost. Yoda says that Luke is not ready to begin the training, seeing too much anger and recklessness in him but Ben argues for Luke’s training and Luke says he is not afraid of the training so Yoda reluctantly agrees to train him. Back in the cave on the asteroid, Leia is in the cockpit thinking about what happened with Han when she sees a strange creature attach itself to the hull. She tells Han about it, and he decides to go out and investigate, with Leia and Chewbacca accompanying him. Han shoots a mynock off of the ship and tells Leia to head back inside while he and Chewbacca check the rest of the ship when a flock of mynocks fly past them. Chewbacca fires at them and strikes the cave wall, causing the cave to shake and a roar to be heard. When Han fires into the ground, the roaring and shaking grow more severe and he quickly has every get back on the ship so they can leave, as he realizes that they are not in a cave, but a giant space worm. Back on Dagobah, Luke is beginning his training and Yoda discusses the differences between the Light and Dark Sides of the force and how Vader had fallen to the Dark Side. They eventually reach a cave, and Yoda tells Luke he must head inside. Luke starts to buckle his lightsaber to his belt and Yoda tells him he will not need his weapons, but Luke chooses to arm himself anyways. Inside the cave, Luke comes face to face with an apparition of Vader and he fights with it and manages to beat it, cutting off Vader’s head but as the head rolls to a stop by his feet, the helmet bursts open and Luke’s own face stares back at him. Back in space, Vader has summoned several bounty hunters to the Executor and gives them the task of finding the Millennium Falcon when he receives word that his men have located the ship. The Falcon makes it out of the asteroid field and attempts to go to light speed but the hyperdrive is still malfunctioning. Han then turns around and heads towards the Star Destroyer chasing them and flies past the command bridge before disappearing off of their scopes. On Dagobah, Luke’s training continues but he gets distracted when R2 alerts him to his X-wing sinking into the swamp. Yoda tells Luke to use the Force to lift the X-wing from the swamp, chastising Luke for his excuses and negative thoughts. Luke attempts to do so but fails and Yoda easily lifts it from the swamp, telling Luke that his lack of faith is what caused him to fail. Back in space, Vader has his men search every possible system that the Falcon could have flown too and the fleet starts to disperse. Meanwhile, Han had managed to use the landing claw to attach the Falcon to the back of the command bridge and as the fleet disperses, he has Chewbacca get ready to disengage the claw. Han then tries to figure out where to go to repair the Falcon and discovers that his friend Lando Calrissian is close enough for them to reach. When the Star Destroyer empties it’s trash before leaving, Han has Chewbacca release the landing claw so they can drift away with the trash and once the Star Destroyer leaves, they head towards Bespin, unaware that the bounty hunter Boba Fett, one of several bounty hunters Vader had hired to find the Falcon, is following them in his ship, Slave 1. When they arrive on Bespin, Lando greets Han and Chewbacca, then begins flirting with Leia before Han separates them. As Lando starts talking with Han and shows them to their quarters, 3PO wanders into a side corridor and sees some Stormtroopers but he is shot before he can leave. Back on Dagobah, Luke sees a vision of Han and the others in trouble and decides to abandon his training in order to go rescue them. Yoda and Ben try to stop him but he refuses to abandon his friends and as he takes off, Ben says that he is their last hope but Yoda says that there is another. On Bespin, Chewbacca finds 3PO in a junk yard and brings him back to their chambers, and Leia asks if he can repair him. Lando enters the room and invites them to dinner but they learn that he set them up when they see Vader waiting for them and Lando apologizes, explaining that the Empire had arrived before they did. Vader has Han and Leia tortured, which is what Luke saw in his vision, then tells Lando that Chewbacca and Leia must remain in Cloud City while Han will be turned over to Boba Fett, which upsets Lando. When Vader sets a trap for Luke and decides to test the carbonite freezing process on Han, Chewbacca attempts to break free, attacking several Stormtroopers in the process. Han manages to calm Chewbacca down and tells him he needs to watch after Leia. He then kisses Leia, who tells him that she loves him and he responds, “I know” before he is frozen. Lando checks and says that Han survived so Vader orders the machine reset for Luke then tells Lando to have Leia and Chewbacca (along with 3PO) taken aboard his ship. Luke arrives at Cloud City and as he makes his way through the area, sees Boba Fett carrying the frozen Han towards his ship but Boba Fett spots Luke and fires at him, keeping him from following. Luke then encounters the group with Leia and Chewbacca and Leia tries to warn him it is a trap before she is carried away. As they continue moving, Lando secretly summons his assistant Lobot and his guards, who hold the Imperials captive while he frees Leia and Chewbacca. Chewbacca attacks Lando but stops when Lando says they have a chance to save Han. They head off to stop Boba Fett, joined by R2 who had been separated from Luke, and reach the dock just as Slave 1 blasts off, then are forced to run as they are attacked by some more Stormtroopers. Meanwhile, Luke reaches the carbonite chamber and encounters Vader and the two fight, with Vader managing to knock Luke into the chamber but Luke is able to jump out before the chamber is activated. Luke continues the attack on Vader and manages to knock him off the platform. Luke follows after him and continues the attack but Vader uses the Force to start flinging object at Luke, eventually breaking a window and the decompression blows Luke through the window into the central air shaft but when Vader looks out the window, he sees Luke survived and landed on a platform some ways below. Lando and the others head towards the Falcon, with Lando issuing an evacuation order to the citizens of Cloud City. When Lando’s security codes have been changed, R2 plugs into a computer terminal to open the door, learning the status of the Falcon’s hyperdrive in the process, and they quickly board the ship and take off. Back in the air shaft. Vader renews the fight with Luke and Luke manages to wound Vader on his arm, which enrages Vader and he retaliates by cutting off Luke’s hand. As Luke backs away in pain, Vader tries to convince Luke to join the Dark Side but Luke refuses to join Vader, saying Vader killed his father and Vader tells Luke that he is Luke’s father. Luke doesn’t want to believe him and as Vader reaches for him, he chooses to drop down the air shaft, eventually following into a side chamber before being dropped outside of the city, where he is left hanging from a communication antennae. Luke reaches out to Leia through the Force and she has Chewbacca turn around so they can rescue Luke. After Lando rescues Luke and brings him on board, they leave Cloud City and head out into space. Leia tends to Luke’s injuries while Lando and Chewbacca pilot the Falcon but as they prepare to go to light speed, they find that it is not working. Chewbacca roars out in frustration and heads back to repair it while Lando pleads his innocence in the matter. As the Executor’s tractor beams prepare to bring the Falcon on board, Vader reaches out to Luke through the Force and Luke asks Ben why he didn’t tell him the truth. Before they are captured by Vader, R2 reactivates the hyperdrive and they safely escape. After rejoining the Rebel fleet, Luke is being fitted with a cybernetic hand and he and Leia talk with Lando and Chewbacca, who are heading off to try and locate Boba Fett and Jabba the Hutt, with Luke saying they will meet on Tatooine after they do so. With the hand in working order, Luke goes to stand by Leia as they watch the Falcon take off to find their friend.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back met with slightly higher praise from the critics than it’s predecessor, earning a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.” In order to avoid sharing creative rights, George Lucas decided not to go through a major Hollywood studio to finance the movie. Lucas bankrolled the movie himself using profits from the first movie as well as a bank loan, a risky move that worked out for Lucas as he made the money back 3 months after the films release. While not as successful as the previous movie, the movie was still a box office hit, earning $538.4 million off of an $18 million budget and though Lucas initially thought it was the worst movie in the series, he changed his mind when many people said they felt it was the best one.

Like I said before, this is my favorite movie in the series and I love watching it every time. The acting was really good, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia), and Harrison Ford (Han) doing great jobs returning to their characters. I also liked that they played up the romantic triangle between the three of them, with Leia kissing Luke early one, which makes Han jealous, but then kissing Han and admitting her feelings towards him later on. I also liked Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and loved Frank Oz as Yoda, though I admit that I kept picturing Grover saying those words every time I hear Yoda talk (since Oz voiced both characters). The story was great and did a good job of further developing the main characters without taking too much time away from the main story. The one difference with this movie, and to be honest it was pretty much unavoidable, was that this wasn’t exactly a stand alone movie like the original movie was but ended as a complete set-up for a third installment. The special effects were just as good as the original and did a great job of accenting the plot without overshadowing it like some other sci-fi movies in recent years (*cough* Transformers *cough*). A great movie that does a good job in continuing the story George Lucas started.

Rating: 5 out of 5

action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 9th, 2017 Movie – Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

star wars episode IV - a new hope

Whoever could have imagined that a movie that came out 40 years ago would have such a massive impact, not just on movies in general, but pop culture as well. Certainly not the director, as George Lucas felt sure that the movie would be a flop. Never-the-less, this is the movie that would start an empire. Supposedly, I saw this when it was in theaters, though since it came out 5 days before I was born, I’m guessing it was when it was re-released the next year. Either way, the first time I remember seeing it was after I had seen The Empire Strikes Back in theaters (which I definitely remember seeing) and immediately enjoying it. Since then, I was hooked, as I remember getting dozens of the toys and action figures as a kid, then buying the books, comics, and video games later in life. I have probably given George Lucas hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars over the years and don’t regret a single bit of it. I had copies of the original trilogy on VHS and wanted to upgrade them to DVD but the only version released was the Special Edition versions that came out in 1997. I kept waiting and waiting for the original theatrical versions to be released and finally, a 2-disk set came out that had the original version of the film, albeit from the 1993 LaserDisc release, but it was probably the best I would get to owning the theatrical versions so I happily bought them up. Now let’s sit back and watch an adventure in a galaxy far, far away in today’s movie, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.

The plot: During a period of galactic war, Rebel spies have managed to steal plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. As the Rebel ship makes it’s way back to the Rebel base, they are pursued by an Imperial Star Destroyer, which eventually disables their ship. As the Rebel soldiers prepare to repel boarders, C-3PO, a protocol droid, and his astromech counterpart R2-D2, find themselves caught in the crossfire and quickly make their escape. 3PO loses sight of R2 momentarily but soon finds him with Princess Leia, who gives R2 something and sends him away. As Darth Vader boards the ship and begins to interrogate the prisoners, R2 and 3PO board an escape pod and R2 jettisons it, where it heads towards the nearby planet of Tatooine. Meanwhile, Leia is captured by some Stormtroopers and taken to Vader, who doesn’t believe her claim of being on a diplomatic mission and, after hearing that an escape pod had been jetisoned during the fight, sends a squad down to see if the plans were inside while he takes Leia to the Death Star for interrogation. On Tatooine, 3PO and R2 get into an argument when R2 says he has a mission to perform and they end up going their separate ways but they both end up being captured by Jawas, a species of desert scavengers, and taken aboard their massive Sandcrawler. Fitted with restraining bolts, 3PO and R2, along with several other droids, are taken outside to be displayed for sale. Owen Lars, a moisture farmer, buys 3PO and another droid, R5-D4, but when R5 malfunctions, he takes R2 instead and has his nephew Luke Skywalker clean them up. As Luke is cleaning them, he finds a hidden message in R2 memory banks from Princess Leia, asking someone named Obi-Wan Kenobi for help. Luke wonders if the Leia is talking about Old Ben Kenobi, a hermit that lives out in the desert, and tries to replay all of the message. 3PO tells him that R2 says the restraining bolt might be interfering with his playing all of the message so Luke removes the bolt but the message disappears and R2 says that his memory banks are malfunctioning. Lukemis called away to dinner and he talks with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru about the droids and the message but Owen tells him to ignore it and have the droids memory erased. Luke then mentions about his signing up for the academy and Owen tells him to wait till after the harvest, which disappoints Luke and he leaves the room. After he leaves, Beru tells Owen he can’t keep Luke here forever as he is too much like his father, and Owen tells her that is what worries him. Luke returns to the maintenance pod and finds 3PO hiding behind some crates and R2 has run off. The next morning, Luke and 3PO go looking for R2 and eventually find him but R2’s scanners detect some creatures approaching. Realizing that they might be Tusken Raiders, commonly referred to as Sand People, Luke goes to investigate and sees some Banthas, a large creature the Sand People ride, and a lone raider when he is attacked and knocked unconscious by another raider. The raider drags the unconscious Luke to his airspeeder, where some other raiders are preparing to loot it when they are startled by a loud noise and an approaching figure waving his arms, causing them to quickly flee. The figure bends over to check on Luke and, sensing R2 watching him, motions him to come forward. Luke regains consciousness and, after recognizing Ben, tells him about the droid. Ben admits that he is Obi-Wan but doesn’t recall ever owning a droid and as they hear more raiders approaching, they quickly gather 3PO and head to Obi-Wan’s house. As Luke works on repairing 3PO, he learns that his father had served with Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars, and then gives Luke his father’s lightsaber, the weapon of the Jedi Knights. Luke, who has no knowledge of his father, asks Obi-Wan how he died and Obi-Wan tells him that a former pupil of his, Darth Vader, killed him. They then play the entire message and Obi-Wan asks Luke to accompany him to Alderraan but Luke says he can’t go as he has too much work to do here but offers to take him to Anchorhead so Obi-Wan can head to one of the space ports. Meanwhile, Vader’s Star Destroyer arrives at the Death Star, a moon-sized battle station, and accompanies Grand Moff Tarkin to a meeting of several high ranking officers, where Tarkin informs them that the Emperor has abolished the Senate and that the regional governors will now control their sectors of the Empire. Back on Tatooine, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids find the remains of the Jawas’ Sandcrawler and when Obi-Wan says that Stormtroopers did this, Luke realizes that they could have traced the droids back to his home and he races back there only to find it destroyed and his Aunt and Uncle have been reduced to skeletons. Luke returns to Obi-Wan and the others and tells him that he will go with him and asks him to teach him the ways of the force so he can become a Jedi like his father. They travel to Mos Eisley, where Obi-Wan uses the force to convince a Stormtrooper patrol to let them pass, and head into the cantina. Inside, Obi-Wan and Luke meet with Han Solo and his Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca and they bargain for passage on his ship, the Millennium Falcon. As Chewbacca leaves to get the ship ready, Han is confronted by a bounty hunter named Greedo, who is there to collect the bounty that Jabba the Hutt placed on Han, but Han manages to shoot him first and quickly leaves. Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids meet up with Han and Chewbacca and board the Falcon but an Imperial spy followed them and alerts some Stormtroopers and tries to stop them from leaving but they manage to take off, then avoid a pair of Star Destroyers before making the jump to light speed. Meanwhile, Leia has proven able to resist the mind probes so Tarkin has the Death Star head to Alderraan, then threatens to blow it up unless Leia reveals the location of the Rebel base. Left with no choice, Leia tells him that the base is on Dantooine but Tarkin goes ahead and has the Death Star destroy Alderraan, as a show of force to dissuade other planets from joining the Rebellion. As they travel through hyper space, Obi-Wan feels the destruction of Alderraan but doesn’t know exactly what it was and tells Luke to continue his training with the lightsaber. When they reach Alderraan, the come out of hyper space only to find the planet is gone and nothing but planetary debris in the area. When an Imperial Tie-Fighter flies by them, they follow it and end up being captured by the Death Star’s tractor beams and brought inside the station. The group hide in Han’s smuggling compartments to avoid being detected and after the majority of soldiers leave the hangar, they knock out the scanning crew and it’s guards. Han and Luke then don the Stormtrooper armor as disguises and they take over the control room. R2 heads over to the computer and locates the tractor beam control console and Obi-Wan makes his way their to power it down so they can escape. After he leaves, R2 says that he found Leia on the station and Luke convinces Han and Chewbacca to help him rescue her, leaving 3PO and R2 in the control room. Pretending that Chewbacca is their prisoner, Luke and Han escort him to the detention and, under the cover of Chewbacca’s escaping, manage to shoot all of the guards and cameras. Han heads to the control panel and tries stalling the Imperial reinforcements while Luke goes to get Leia out of her cell. Meanwhile, Vader senses the presence of Obi-Wan and tells Tarkin, who finds it impossible to believe that he is still alive. When they receive word of the disturbance in the detention center, Tarkin orders his men to stop them while Vader goes to confront his old master. Inside the detention center, Stormtroopers blast through the door, cutting off their escape so Luke radios 3PO but they are unable to help them as Imperial troops are attempting to get into the control room. Finding themselves trapped, Leia grabs Luke’s gun and blast the hatch off the garbage chute and jumps down into it, followed by Chewbacca, Luke, and Han. As they try to figure out how to get out of there, they hear a strange roar and Luke is suddenly grabbed by a tentacle and dragged under the trash-filled water. He briefly surfaces and Leia and Han try to help him but is dragged back under when a clanking sound is heard and Luke surfaces, saying the creature just disappeared. Suddenly, the walls start moving towards each other and as Han tries to brace them with debris, Luke tries calling 3PO for help but gets no response. In the control room, Stormtroopers open the door and find 3PO and R2 trapped in a closet, claiming that the intruders locked them in there. After 3PO points them in the direction of the prison, he convinces the guard to let him take R2 to maintenance for servicing, then they duck into a corridor on the landing dock and contact Luke, who tells him to shut down the garbage chutes on the detention level. Obi-Wan makes it to the tractor beam power center and lowers the power to the tractor beams, then heads back to the Falcoln, using the Force to distract some troopers who are in the area. Meanwhile, Han and the others exit the garbage chute and head towards the Falcon but when they run into some Stormtroopers, Han fires at them and starts chasing them, with Chewbacca following behind him, leaving Luke and Leia to make it to the Falcon on their own. As the two pairs head to the Falcon, Obi-Wan encounters Vader and the two begin dueling with their lightsabers. As their fight takes them close to the hangar, it attracts the attention of the guards, leaving Luke and the others free to head to the Falcon. As they are getting on board, Luke sees the fight and Obi-Wan notices him, then allows Vader to strike him with his lightsaber, causing him to disappear leaving only his lightsaber and his robe behind. Luke cries out and starts shooting at the Stormtroopers when he hears Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to run and he quickly boards the Falcon so they can leave. As Luke grieves over Obi-Wan’s help, Han has him help man the Falcon’s quad cannons so they can take out the Tie Fighters that are chasing after them. The Falcon makes the jump to Hyper Space but unknown to them, Tarkin and Vader had a homing beacon placed on the ship so they could follow them to the Rebel base. As they head to the Rebel base, Han and Leia get into an argument over his helping only for a reward and Han later messes with Luke’s obvious attraction for Leia by asking if he thinks she would go for a guy like him (Han). The Falcon reaches the Rebel base on Yavin 4 and they analyze the plans that were inside R2 to discover the weakness to the Death Star; an exhaust port that leads to the main reactor. A briefing is held to explain the battle plan, as they know the Death Star is on it’s way to Yavin and Luke joins up to fly into battle. Before he leaves, he tries to convince Han to stay and help but Han tells him that he has to pay off some debts and asks Luke to come with him but they admit they have their own paths to follow and wish each other luck. The Rebel fighter groups take off in their X-Wings and Y-Wings and approach the Death Star, taking fire from the turrents that are on the surface of the station. When the turrents have little effect hitting the smaller fighters, Tarkin has Tie Fighters released to combat then while Vader heads out in his own personal fighter with two fighters serving as his guards. Gold group heads into the trench to make a run on the target but they are attacked and killed by Vader and his group. Red leader and two members of Red group head down into the trench to make their attack run, telling Luke that he will make the next run with Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter. Red Leader loses his cover ships but manages to make the shot only for it to miss the exhaust port. Red Leader orders Luke to make his run right before he is killed so Luke heads down into the trench, with Wedge and Biggs staying behind to cover him. Wedge’s X-Wing is damaged and he is forced to leave the trench while Biggs is killed. Luke begins to target the exhaust port but he hears Obi-Wan’s voice telling him to use the Force so he turns it off, causing the Rebel base to be concerned. Vader fires on Luke and manages to hit R2, damaging him, but before Vader can destroy Luke’s X-Wing, Han and Chewbacca arrive in the Falcon, destorying one of Vader’s flanking ships while causing the other to crash into Vader, destroying it and sending Vader careening into space. Just as the Death star gets into range to fire at Yavin, Luke takes his shot and the proton torpedoes go in the exhaust port, destroying the reactor and causing the Death Star to explode. As the surviving fighter return to Yavin, Leia is there to greet the triumphant Luke, Han, and Chewbacca as the Rebel forces all cheer their victory while 3PO worries about the damaged R2 and begs that he be repaired. Some time later, an awards ceremony is held with Leia giving Luke, Han, and Chewbacca medals, while 3PO and a repaired R2 cheer from the side.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was highly praised by the critics,receiving a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster film making and things have never been the same.” The Krayt Dragon skeleton that C-3P0 walks by in the desert was left in the Tunisian desert when filming was finished and when Attack Of The Clones was filming, the film crew went to the site and discovered it was still there. While Lucas was filming in Tunisia, the Libyan government was concerned about the massive military vehicle parked outside their border, so the Tunisian government asked Lucas to move the Sandcrawler further in country and away from the border. Contrary to Lucas’ belief, the movie was a massive box office hit, earning $775.4 million off of an $11 million budget, surpassing Jaws as the highest grossing film of all time and, when adjusted for inflation, is the third highest grossing film in the world. The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning 7 of them, and was one of the first films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry while the soundtrack was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry in 2004.

No two ways about it, I love this movie. The acting was great, with Mark Hamill (Luke), Alec Guinness (Kenobi), Harrison Ford (Han), and Carrie Fisher (Leia) were all fantastic in their roles and the chemistry between them was great. I also liked Peter Cushing as Tarkin, who made for a great bad guy though almost everything I have seen him in since he has played the good guy. The story was fantastic, bringing a sword and sorcery element to a sci-fi movie the likes of which I don’t recall seeing before. While Luke probably had the most character growth throughout the movie, I thought it was good that they also showed more depth with Han and Leia, instead of making them simply two dimensional characters. At the time, the special effects in this movie were incredible and, while dated, still hold up to quite a degree and are part of the reason this movie became the hit that it was. Without a doubt, an iconic movie that everyone should see.

Rating: 5 out of 5