best films: #59: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

All right, so I may be heightening my nerd factor big time by putting two Star Wars movies in such close proximity to one another, but it’s just a very difficult decision to rank movie such as this (for further difficulties, see choosing among the Lord of the Rings films). But I have to say that, bottom line, The Empire Strikes Back is the best of the trilogy. Now, I wasn’t always a believer in this middle entry. In fact, when I went to the 1997 re-releases in theaters and saw the movies for the first time, I of course was so enthralled with Yoda and those damn Ewoks to even notice the genius of the second flick. But as time has passed, I’ve definitely turned to the dark side, so to speak, and opted for Empire. It easily has the strongest character arcs and development, it gives us a meaty storyline from velvet-voiced Lando Calrissian who basically oozes cool, and it focuses on the relationships between the villains and between the villains and their nemeses. And who can slam “The Imperial March,” one of the best and most undeniably awesome themes in filmdom. I’d say it’s right up there with the Wicked Witch of the West theme for best villain entrance music.

Standout Performance: I’m sort of partial to Harrison Ford as a general rule, but I hesitate to say that my favorite character in Empire is probably the ongoing sexual tension between he and Carrie Fisher, who becomes more and more pure comic gold as she gets older.
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