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Simply put, The Empire Strikes back is virtually flawless, and easily my favorite film of all time. Combining the epic story, iconic characters, and wonderful imagination of the original Star Wars trilogy with the masterful character driven direction of Irvin Kershner results in a breathtaking cinematic experience. It can be considered a masterpiece all on its own, and this is in large part to the superior storytelling techniques on display.
Empire Builds on the excellent original film with improved dialog that is consistently witty, and the character development is superb. As with all Star Wars films, the special effects are impressive and provide new exciting worlds to explore. The screenplay deserves credit for giving meaning to the entire trilogy, especially the scenes with Yoda, which get surprisingly deep in the psychological sense.
This may also be the finest score John Williams has ever composed among a career full of them. In fact, this is fittingly one of the greatest scores composed for a motion picture. Every scene is done perfectly, with memorable musical cues for every character, and gives us such iconic themes as "The Imperial March" and the poignant love theme that beautifully closes the film.
There is not a scene in Empire that doesn't serve its purpose effectively. The screenplay is one of the very best, balancing so much character driven story with a thrilling plot and one of the best twist endings ever. Every major character benefits from a strong dramatic story arc. The film is also remarkably effective at achieving a perfect balance of action, humor, tension, and romance. Often times credited with being almost too dark when compared to the other installments, Empire actually stands out as the Star Wars movie with the most genuine wit and humor. It features lots of comic relief, provided by not only the side characters but also with the ever engaging banter between Han Solo and Princess Leia, which adds a level of believability to the romantic subplot. The scenes between Han and Leia are some of the best ever captured in a major blockbuster such as this. Harrison Ford completely cements Han Solo as one of the coolest movie characters of all time in this film.
This episode makes the most out of being the middle act in the trilogy by jumping almost immediately into an exciting battle with the attack on Hoth, and also features plenty of other action, such as the asteroid field chase (both again benefiting from the excellent score). The action on cloud city also serves as being refreshingly suspenseful in its simplicity. And as good as the earlier scenes are, the light saber duel between Dath Vader, the greatest movie villain of all time, and Luke Skywalker is a masterpiece in character driven action. So much is going on between the lines in Empire it would be impossible to fully cover it. Suffice to say that there is more accomplished in thesescenes emotionally than in anything seen in the entire prequel trilogy.The ending of the film is, again, beautifully done, with its cliffhanger nature feeling strangely resolved and poetic.
The spectacle of incredible effects, characters, and story all comes together in one incredible package, and makes The Empire Strikes Back one of the finest achievements in film history. 10/10
After reflection, I reward Christopher Nolan's masterpiece "Inception" a perfect rating, one of only a handful of movies I've ever given that rating to. The man who blew me away with "Memento," "The Prestige," and "The Dark Knight" has easily solidified himself as the greatest filmmaker of the last decade in my opinion.
How good is "Inception?" It's already in my top 10 movies of all time. It might even be top 5. Time will tell if it holds up as well on repeat viewings (EDIT: IT DOES!), but I was blown away many times in the theater in ways I haven't felt since I saw the original Matrix. This film features special effects that you seriously have to see to believe. It has a superbly crafted plot, complicated enough to demand the viewer's full attention but presented in a way that doesn't cheat or degenerate into nonsense. Much like the plot itself, there are many layers to the film that manages to combine so many well known genres, rolling it all together into one of the most unique experiences I've had. It is almost like experiencing two or three amazing movies at once.
It's easy to tell how much work and dedication went into the making of this film. Christopher Nolan has a lot on his mind and it's rare to find a movie that simultaneously pulls off being such an entertaining summer blockbuster while existing as a work of psychologically challenging art. A perfect cast of characters are paired with an amazing score by Hans Zimmer, and "Inception" flies through it's extended running time by taking the intensity meter up to 11 and leaving it there for over half of it's run-time. The viewer barely has a chance to catch their breath while taking in all the twists, turns, and to borrow a phrase from Neo, "Whoa" moments. It is easily the best film to come out since The Dark Knight. You have simply never seen something quite like this before.
Christopher Nolan has gained so much respect by demanding attention to detail from his audience, never insulting them, but always staying a few steps ahead. It's rare for a film to live up to the hype (which I'm no doubt adding to with this review) but trust me when I say this is the kind of movie that makes a great barometer for other critics. To put it bluntly, I can't trust a movie review from someone that can't enjoy this movie on some level.
As this thrill ride of a film was coming to a close, and the theater audience was reacting to the final frame, I confirmed to myself what I had thought several times during the film: "Inception" is something special. 10/10