Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, right here on our favorite website! Let’s talk about movies, why we love them, why we hate them, and why they left such an indelible impression on our lives. Have you seen any good films lately? Maybe even not so great films? If so, join the fray below. Reading through everyone’s recommendations during the quarantine has been quite fun, and I personally have added several to my own “Must Watch” list.
This week, we celebrate a milestone of a film that clearly not enough people on the internet have talked about. Let’s take a seat on the ship that looks like a sandwich with an olive on top and head off to time long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
We celebrate the 40th anniversary of Empire Strikes Back. The movie greatly expanded the universe that was set in. We now lived in a world with masters of an ancient religion who could now lift whole spaceships, a motley team of bounty hunters, and a saga that proves to be more familiar than initially. The clunky laser sword duel between two slow moving old men was replaced with something more operatic: Luke and his brash hot headedness clashing against a cold, assured Darth Vader who wounds him more with a revelation than with a slice to the wrist.
When Star Wars debuted, it was all about flying around in those zippy X-Wings and blowing up the Death Star. All you have to do is look at the video game adaptation, which was exactly that. Now it was the smaller, personal, and psychological battles. The Empire struck back in more ways than one.
For many, Empire Strikes Back is the best Part II in movie history. You might not agree. There are a lot of strong contenders, after all. Godfather, Part II; Gremlins 2: The New Batch; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Toy Story 2; Spider-Man 2; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; Batman Returns; The Dark Knight; The Two Jakes, etc.
It used to be “common knowledge” that the sequel would never be as good as the first movie, but history has often proved that wrong. After all, the first movie has to do the heavy lifting of establishing the characters. Now that you know who these characters are, you can get more creative with “Part 2.” We know who the rebels and the Empire are… now let’s see a movie where there rebels are on the ropes and don’t actually win the day at the end.
But there’s a lot of things common about sequels. If a film got a second movie, people loved the first one most likely. You don’t want to take that away… i.e. pull a Highlander II: The Quickening. The instinct, then, is to do the same thing, but bigger. Aliens takes its basic premise and shoves it into a bigger war movie and now a plural of xenomorphs. In Ghostbusters II our heroes now have to deal with a mobile Statue of Liberty, which is some factor larger than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. John Wick 2 brings us more assassins, more factions, and more hotels. And The Two Jakes gives us another Jake. (I’m speculating here. I have never seen The Two Jakes.)
Surely Empire did this. There were better special effects, better choreographed battles, nicer costumes, more locations…. the first movie but more.
Today’s prompt: what is your favorite “Part 2” of a film series?