ByJames M. Tate, writer at
Top Shark Cinema Writer at and Now a Movie Pilot Remora...
James M. Tate

STAR WARS: What makes this stand out from the others, including the progressed follow-up THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, is the introduction to the thoroughly addictive universe and those wonderfully involving characters, as well as writer/director George Lucas's sublime use of building suspense in every frame.

Almost there is not only a line muttered by a pilot in the final battle, but an underline throughout a film that continually keeps the viewer entranced in what's about to happen...

From the doom-awaiting soldiers in a captured spaceship; to a frightened droid rolling along a shadowy canyon; to a distress call from a trash compactor; to those delicate moments as the Death Star aligns to blow up the Rebel base...

A young George Lucas who, years later, would abandon precision and timing for billion dollar green-screen computers, was a master at creating his own galaxy and keeping the audience completely enthralled within

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: Perhaps the greatest science-fiction adventure ever made, this, the follow-up to STAR WARS, replaces introduction with non-stop action: pitting our heroes against a much stronger Empire, using, instead of the Death Star, a fleet of formidable Star Destroyers.

This time the black-masked baddie has a personal agenda: to capture Luke Skywalker who, after battling Imperial Walkers on the ice planet Hoth, trains under a brand new (and thereafter iconic) character, Yoda, brilliantly voiced and maneuvered by Frank Oz.

The story, written by George Lucas, was, before Lawrence Kasdan took the helm, scripted by Leigh Brackett, author of classic Sci-fi Pulp novels which this is slick replica of: including masculine bravado, seemingly doomed characters fighting impossible odds, vile thugs, betrayal, budding romance, and a cliffhanger ending.

EMPIRE is not a film, it's a visual symphony... and then some.

RETURN OF THE JEDI: Don’t let the Ewoks ruin what’s an almost perfect science-fiction yarn...

Mark Hamill, better than ever, along with Darth Vadar and Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, are the real focus while Harrison "Han Solo" Ford and Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher provide the essential B-story...

Having landed on the Forest planet of Endor, they must shut down the Death Star's shields so that the rebels, led by Billy Dee Williams, returning as Lando, can blow up the new, under-construction Death Star in a dogfight like no other, even surpassing the original...

The light saber battle between Luke and Vader – Luke resisting the Emperor's temptation... is what really shines, capping the timeless series in an almost Biblical fashion.

And the first act in Jabba the Hutt’s palace of goons... mostly created by Jim Henson... the creatures seem more real and actual than any computer animation.

The cast celebrating "Life Day"
The cast celebrating "Life Day"

STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL: Before the horrid prequels it seemed impossible for George Lucas to back a travesty. Yet despite the sought-after camp legacy, this TV special, aired only one time in 1978, is downright boring.

Overlong "comedy" and/or musical skits featuring Harvey Korman as a robot, Bea Arthur as the Cantina bartender, Art Carney as a chummy mechanic, and Chewbacca's family: consisting of wife, son, and dad...the latter having a virtual reality "experience" with hologram Diahann Caroll... make for the longest ninety minutes ever filmed...

And perhaps the worst skit has Bea Arthur as the owner of the Cantina, singing a melancholy song after closing time. Not forgetting a wimpy Jefferson Starship video and Carrie Fisher crooning to red-robbed Wookies about "Life Day": a Christmas type celebration the Empire wants to stop.

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and the faithful droids also make embarrassing cameos. But throughout the immense torture, a ten minute cartoon introducing Boba Fett is actually pretty cool.

By James M. Tate


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