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Movie Pros and Cons: The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition

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Time for part two of my three part series on the Star Wars Special Editions. I’ll be looking at the changes that work, the changes that don’t and the changes that don’t matter. I’ll skip the more generic changes I mentioned in the previous entry to save time. Did I mention this is my favourite movie? Only a hundred times? OK, well let’s get started.

Change #1: Additional Tie-Fighters
Verdict: On-the-fence
Explanation: We don’t really need extra Tie-Fighters in the opening shots with the Executor. The ones that were there to begin with are fine, and much like most of the ANH changes, this one adds little to the film except cosmetic value, so I’m gonna sit on the fence.

Change #2: The Wampa
Verdict: Pro
Explanation: I like how we actually get to see the monster now and watching it chow down on Luke’s taun-taun makes it even more horrifying and the scene even more threatening

Change #3: Boba Fett’s voice
Verdict: Con
Explanation: Don’t even get me started on how Boba Fett should not have been in Episode 2 and should not be a clone, but Lucas’s decision to cast an actor in his prequel who sounds nothing like the original Fett and then ret-con the change into his original films has always astounded me by how stupid it was. The original Fett voice is cooler, period.

Change #4: the Slave 1
Verdict: Pro
Explanation: There’s a new shot of the Slave 1 following the Falcon and Boba Fett inside the ship tracking them. Any Boba Fett is good Boba Fett.

Change #5: Hologram Palpatine
Verdict: Pro
Explanation: This is my favourite of the DVD alterations. Removing “monkey-face” Palpatine and replacing him with Ian McDiarmid not only makes sense within the films’ continuity, it also looks nicer and somehow lends a new urgency to the scene.

Change #6: the Tibanna Refinery
Verdict: On-the-fence
Explanation: I’m really OK with or without the Tibanna refinery floating just above Cloud City. It doesn’t really add or detract.

Change #7: Opening up Cloud City
Verdict: Pro
Explanation: Unlike the other background changes in A New Hope, where I sat on the fence, I really like the changes they made to Cloud City. It opens up that setting quite nicely and makes it look less enclosed. This was actually one of the things Irvin Kirshner complained about, so it’s nice to see the film follow his vision a little more closely.

Change #8: The People of Cloud City
Verdict: Pro
Explanation: There are several shots of the citizens of Cloud City responding to Lando’s intercom message. This also adds to the opening-up of Cloud City.

Change #9: Vader boards his shuttle/ shuttle takes off
Verdict: On-the-fence
Explanation: It’s nice to see Vader actually board his shuttle and the shuttle landing on his Star Destroyer, but not entirely necessary and it doesn’t add much to the film, so I’m gonna sit on the fence with this one too.

That’s it for Empire. Stay tuned for the third and final part of this series where I’ll look at Return of the Jedi!

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