English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
Audio commentary - with director George Lucas and various cast and crew.
Star Wars - Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Lucasfilm Ltd./20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 127 mins .
PG . PAL
It has been almost 3 years since we had gotten our first taste of that galaxy far, far away and in what seemed to be a glorious victory for the rebellion, thoughts of a sequel didn't seem likely. But George Lucas had other plans. Now that his original test bed was so successfull, he was able to tell the full story that he had stored in that bearded head of his. Was there more to world of pieces of junk, aliens from all corners of the galaxy and old friends, once thought dead and long gone?
In this sequel, Lucas took a back seat role and gave the reigns to Irvin Kershner, who was soon to be credited with the title of best director in a Star Wars movie amongst the legion of fans around the world. The darker tone of this outing might not have sat well with the general public but the fans absolutely loved it, even if the ending left you with that sinking feeling; both of having to wait for a further sequel and also by the expectations the original had set with it's Battle of Yavin finale.
"Luke, who's your daddy?"
My name is Antonio Skywalker. You kill my father. Prepare to die.
To recap, Lord Vader has amassed a fleet of Star Destroyers, he himself abiding in a ridiculously huge Super Star Destroyer, and has set out to capture Luke Skywalker, the son of a slain Jedi in Anakin Skywalker. It seems Vader is not happy that young Skywalker was single handedly responsible for the destruction of the Death Star.
Along the way, Luke travels to Dagobah to continue his training in the ways of the force by muppet come Jedi Master Yoda. Whilst he is on Dagobah, a love-hate relationship is brewing between Princess Leia and Han Solo, the scoundrel. Solo and his crew are chased across the galaxy by a group of Bounty Hunters hired by the Empire. Vader really wants this bunch of rebels, but what secret is he hiding and what really happened in the corridors of Cloud City, run by long time scoundrel Lando Calrissian.
If you thought the creative situations, locations and battles couldn't be topped, think again as Empire takes us to the ice plant Hoth where giant AT-ATs attack the rebel hide-out, the swamp planet of Dagobah where secrets remain hidden, the asteroid belt where you really can't pick up good reception and the Cloud City of Bespin. The lightsaber battles are grander, the space battles more intense and the underlying love story warming. But that 'twist', that moment where the audience gasps with disbelief, that's the kicker here.
Three years later, improved technology, bigger budgets and grander scale produce a noticeable improvement in visual aspect of the movie. Outside of the special edition tweaks across all three movies of the trilogy, Empire is a leap ahead of Star Wars in production values.
It's a family affair.
This DVD release is an exceptional look at the continuation of the trilogy with another brilliant transfer provided to us. You have to wonder what went wrong on the first DVD released of the Star Wars family in The Phantom Menace where the video just wasn't up to scratch, noticed by more than one reviewer, if they can produce such exceptional quality here.
Big Badda Boom!!! Once again, the tried and tested opening sequence induces that thrill that you're about to experience something special. Could someone other than John Williams have produced such a memorable score for this movie? I doubt it, whilst there are other exceptional composers out there, Williams has made both the Star Wars family and the Indiana Jones trilogy his own, not to mention his other efforts. But when you think of John Williams you think Star Wars and when the Imperial March marches through your lounge room taking every bodily sense captive you can't help but smile.
The subwoofer gets a thorough workout this time around as we begin with the Hoth Battle. Those AT-ATs being heard, but not seen, from a distance start rattling some foundations of even the very best concrete based dwellings. Those lightsaber duels really love the 5.1 treatment as do all the other creatures lurking in the shadows of Dagobah as they whisper, shrill, squeak and squark from every direction. You getting those goose-bumps just reading this?
Once again, appropriately themed menus are used throughout each randomly selected grouping. Confused? Don't worry, all it means is the menus are styled the same as the other Star Wars DVDs currently available. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The deal is soured.
The audio commentary is once again the highlight of the extras with George Lucas once again teaming up with Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren and Carrie Fisher. Unsurprisingly, this is the same format as on the Star Wars DVD with each member putting forward their comments on various specific scenes. It wouldn't surprise me that they each sat through all three movies in sequence and it wouldn't matter as it's thoroughly enjoyable.
Optimise your audio and video even further with this second disc once you've done so with the first disc. Who knows, you may have missed something this time around.
The Empire Strikes Back has grown on me over time. Upon initial viewing many years ago it just ended with a bummer. I think the structure and pacing of the original, Star Wars, set such a high standard that I felt let down by this effort. Subsequent viewings were needed to appreciate what was done here and it is easily the best 'story' of the trilogy. Star Wars still has that sentimental ground breaking appeal to it that will always remain but this one has the stronger emotional pull for this reviewer.
Outside of the subtle changes that this special(er) edition has introduced, this is easily the best way to enjoy the Empire Strikes Back in your own home.