An Empire, Striking Back, in the Theater

I took the eldest padawan to a showing of Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back today. What an amazing film. While not my “favorite” Star Wars film, it’s unquestionably a magnificent work.

I was reminded of seeing it in the theater with my own dad, oh so many years ago. It was a moment that brought a tear to my eye, as I wish he were still here to go one more time. I didn’t expect to get that sort of emotional hit from this visit, but memory works in funny ways.

I was reminded of why some movies are so much better in the cinema. The immersive scale and escape of the darkened room that isn’t home, lend themselves to turning off your cares and stepping through a magic window.

I thrilled to the battle on Hoth. I laughed and leaned into the Millenium Falcon’s turns and twists in the asteroid field. I pointed out little bits to the eldest padawan that are so much easier to see when projected on the large screen.

I know this won’t win me any friends, but I really don’t see the MCU being regarded the same way 40 years after its release. It’ll forever be a cultural landmark because of what they managed to accomplish.

But I don’t ever see a future where people get excited to sit down and watch Age of Ultron in the movie theater in 2055. (Of course, it’s a valid question whether movie theaters will exist in 2055, but that’s another argument entirely.)

This was a magic moment in time I’ll always treasure.

No matter how else anything else might be going, there are still little moments of joy we can find. I’m just glad we could have this one.

And I swore to myself that they’d better release Return of the Jedi in three years for its own 40th anniversary year, or I’ll be very cranky.

One Last Note

I too celebrate The Empire Strikes Back. I just respect its place in the whole story, as opposed to regarding it as the only piece.

It’s an introspective film that explores a lot of universal themes and finds them unresolved at the end, while still finding a satisfying conclusion. That’s an incredibly rare feat to accomplish. Just ask The Matrix Reloaded about not doing it properly.

While it still bothers me and is the reason that the whole sequel trilogy fell into a tailspin, I understand from a certain perspective why JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson were so determined to ignore Return of the Jedi and make The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi function as basic sequels to The Empire Strikes Back. It’s a lot of people’s favorite entry, and I guess they just couldn’t work past that when they got the shot to make their own.

I don’t agree with it, but I do understand it.

2 thoughts on “An Empire, Striking Back, in the Theater

  1. Okay, you knew you were picking a fight when you criticized the MCU, so despite me raining on your parade, no complaining.

    As long as Marvel keeps doing what they’re doing — and there’s no indication that they plan to stop — the same motivation will exist for the MCU as exists for Star Wars. People will want to be reminded again where it all started. You smartly tried to pick a less popular example in Age of Ultron, but that movie is as likely to be chosen as any because it’s an ensemble. “Let’s see the original Avengers movies!”

    For Shatner’s sake, you and I have been to Alamo for Star Trek V, and even that was full ( I understand that it was just one showing, and I don’t doubt that a re-release of STV would do worse than ESB, but something as huge as the Avengers will always be a big draw (as would be the Wrath of Khan). Infinity War/Endgame, Iron Man, Black Panther, and both Guardians movies will always be nostalgic draws, and Endgame in particular literally drew bigger numbers than any movie before it. That makes it a landmark that will have recognition at least until those that original saw it are dead.

    Of course, I won’t be around in 2055 to prove you wrong, but if I live to be 87, I’ll see them in the theater. All of them. I won’t be alone. They’ll be some 87 year old jocks there to kick my ass.


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