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Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review

Essential

Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star Wars fan. Running in London over 100 nights from June 4th to September 27th, it's more than twice as big as last summer's gigantic Back to the Future project. The epic installation lets visitors live events from Episode IV: A New Hope before an interactive screening of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the best of the six films to date. And with a cast of 400 performers merging seamlessly into the costumed audience, it's an unforgettable evening.

It begins with an evacuation, as earth-based rebels are called to a secret London location. Before arriving, we are given an identity and wardrobe advice (I was Niles Torwyn, galactic explorer) and told to stay low and keep our faces covered. At Earth Cargo Airlines, we are herded into a loading bay and transported through space to Mos Eisley spaceport on the desert planet Tatooine, where we have several hours to walk around the bustling market town, paying for food and drink with galactic credits while engaging with the people around us. Speaking to strangers or walking into doorways will result in quests and training exercises. And among the crowd, there's a chance to interact with characters like Old Ben Kenobi, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and a gang of fast-talking Jawas, but avoid eye contact with the Storm Troopers. There are also special cocktails and music in the busy Cantina Bar before another transport whisks us off to a Rebel Base and the Death Star itself.

Along the way, virtually the entire final act of A New Hope is taking place around us, often in ways that send chills down the spine. It's a thrilling re-creation of a film that transformed our childhood, and there are at least two "wow" moments that are almost overwhelming. This is followed by the next chapter in the story, a bright digital screening of The Empire Strikes Back accompanied by some very cool live action. Originally released in 1980, the film stands up remarkably well with its sarcastic humour, brittle emotions and some very dark drama, leading to a wonderfully maddening cliffhanger ending. Best of all is the way the script remains centred on the characters, twisting and deepening them while allowing Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to further develop their most iconic roles.

Continue reading: Secret Cinema Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review


Extraordinary
When the first Star Wars films came along, they filled a collective need. Movies had gotten too serious -- too much realism, not enough escapism. It was a time when audiences wanted to escape from the headlines -- as we still do -- and return to moral, and cinematic, simplicity. George Lucas delivered the goods.

Watching the first two installments in the series again (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, also the two best films in the series), the most noticeable thing about them is all the ideas that went into them. Lightsaber duels, the Force, model spaceships, Darth Vader's heavy breathing, droids that deliver annoying repartee, aliens that look like Sasquatch and giant frogs, and wisecracking antiheroes like Harrison Ford's Han Solo -- all these things have entered our cultural consciousness. But the makers of the original Star Wars had to think up all these things (or borrow them from non-sci-fi genres).

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review

The Dark Crystal Review


Good
Is there such a thing as a children's cult film? The Dark Crystal may be as close as we have, but Jim Henson and Frank Oz's collaboration won't keep many of today's kids entertained for long. Kooky creatures are the lasting legacy of the film; the story doesn't inspire much excitement -- as one puppet (whose mouth barely moves when he talks) is tasked with healing a broken crystal and thus thwarting the impending rule of a gang of other, evil puppets. His journey takes the form of an almost casual stroll through his magical kingdom, as he encounters one outlandish creature after another en route to victory. Overly simplistic, I'll frankly take Labyrinth when it comes to fantasy puppet movies.

The Dark Crystal Review


Good
Is there such a thing as a children's cult film? The Dark Crystal may be as close as we have, but Jim Henson and Frank Oz's collaboration won't keep many of today's kids entertained for long. Kooky creatures are the lasting legacy of the film; the story doesn't inspire much excitement -- as one puppet (whose mouth barely moves when he talks) is tasked with healing a broken crystal and thus thwarting the impending rule of a gang of other, evil puppets. His journey takes the form of an almost casual stroll through his magical kingdom, as he encounters one outlandish creature after another en route to victory. Overly simplistic, I'll frankly take Labyrinth when it comes to fantasy puppet movies.

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review


Essential
Twenty years will make you forget how good a movie was.

I was excited to see the rerelease of The Empire Strikes Back, but I had forgotten about how masterful the film is realized, and I had especially forgotten what it looked like on the big screen.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back Review

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review


Extraordinary
When the first Star Wars films came along, they filled a collective need. Movies had gotten too serious -- too much realism, not enough escapism. It was a time when audiences wanted to escape from the headlines -- as we still do -- and return to moral, and cinematic, simplicity. George Lucas delivered the goods.

Watching the first two installments in the series again (Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, also the two best films in the series), the most noticeable thing about them is all the ideas that went into them. Lightsaber duels, the Force, model spaceships, Darth Vader's heavy breathing, droids that deliver annoying repartee, aliens that look like Sasquatch and giant frogs, and wisecracking antiheroes like Harrison Ford's Han Solo -- all these things have entered our cultural consciousness. But the makers of the original Star Wars had to think up all these things (or borrow them from non-sci-fi genres).

Continue reading: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Review

American Graffiti Review


Excellent
The Star Wars prequels have tarnished his rep a little, but give him his due --- George Lucas once understood the possibilities and limitations of film like few others. Lucas' second feature film, American Graffiti, was a self-assured gem that established him as a major director (though a lot of studios still didn't want to bankroll Star Wars, proving that studio execs weren't any smarter in the seventies than they are now).

A cinematic collection of slightly exaggerated memories from Lucas' senior year in high school (1962), Graffiti was well-timed; it caught a wave of fifties nostalgia that would crest with Happy Days, Grease, etc. While the iconoclasm of the sixties and seventies would continue to take youth culture in a very different direction, Graffiti helped spark a cultural backlash (or at least a flashback) after the free-love/acid-rock/anti-war era.

Continue reading: American Graffiti Review

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Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review

Secret Cinema's Star Wars event is a mind-blowing experience of a lifetime for any Star...

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