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Fun with Franchises: Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Part V — “It Ain’t Cheating If He’s In Stasis”

Today we begin another entry in our Fun with Franchises series, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Part V. Part V for Episode V.

In case you don’t know how this works — a while back, I decided to rank my favorite Disney movies and rank my favorite James Bond movies. And the Disney ones were mostly straight synopses and not too much fun, but when I got to Bond, I enlisted the help of my friend Colin (whose blog is TokyoRemix.com. Fuck yeah, promotion!), who knows everything about the Bond franchise that I do not, for those articles, and along the way, learned how to have fun with it. And, by the end of the Bond articles, we were having so much fun that I said, “Man, we have to do this again with other stuff.” Because I spent about a straight month and a half putting together those articles. That’s how much time and effort actually goes into something like that. And not once did it feel like work. It was so much fun that I knew, as long as we were doing it for comedy purposes and able to riff off of each other — we could do pretty much any film and it would work.

And very quickly, the first ones you come up with are the major franchises, because those are not only the most fun, but also the most universally known. Everyone’s gonna understand all the jokes we make (well… most of them. Some of them might be limited to three people) about them. So that’s what we’re doing. And if you’re gonna have fun with franchises, it wouldn’t be right if you didn’t franchise it. Also, just so we’re clear, this is all for parody. We’re just messing with them because we love them.

And that’s Fun with Franchises. Right now, we’re doing the Star Wars franchise, and today is the fifth and final part of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back:

The Empire Strikes Back - Title Card

We begin Part V during the most important encounter of this franchise:

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I love circular/tube-shaped sets.

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I also love sets that seem designed for the character. The lights just turned on – they were expecting him. I love when sets expect you.

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I also love that there are lights all down this thing. What possible purpose could this thing have? It doesn’t really lead anywhere, as we’re about to find out. It literally exists just for this conflict and that’s it.

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Oh man, and the doors close behind you. This is some Elite Four shit.

Colin:

Doors that close quickly get chopped.

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Every window looks like this.

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The spatial reveal is nice.

I’m having a real love/hate relationship with the direction of this movie.

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These moments are always good. Someone’s walking around, knowing their adversary is there somewhere, and they need to both find them and keep their guard up in case (and when) they’re attacked suddenly.

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Colin:

Tell Merrill to swing away.

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I feel like whatever was originally written and scrapped for this fight was what was used for the Darth Maul fight. Anyone else feeling that?

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That’s not fair. No foreign objects.

I guess we can credit the building with the… a-sith.

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Seriously, with the throwing shit. This reeks of, “Oh man, he’s gonna beat me,” and pulling out all the dirty shit. Like old school boxing. Putting the dust on the gloves and shit. Come on, now. Where’s Judge Mills Lane when you need him?

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Dude, at least take a swing at it. What the fuck was that?

He’s literally being beaten by flying pieces of plastic. If you isolate just these shots, this is a fucking hilarious little short. Luke being beaten by plastic. The way he’s swinging at this is like, “Stop it! Guys, come on! This isn’t funny!”

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♫ Sky-walker! He’s the man… 

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This gives a whole new meaning to… Luke’ing, out the window.

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This is great. The wind is so strong it literally pulls Luke out of there, and then Vader just calmly walks over.

He is mostly metal these days. If Darth Vader were a Pokemon, he’d be a dual Dark/Steel type. 

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Great shot. Mostly the backdrop.

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Again, this is why you shouldn’t keep a light saber on your belt. What if that shit opened up right now? Dead. It reminds me of a scene in The Thin Red Line, where Woody Harrelson accidentally has one of his grenades open up from his belt, and it goes off and kills him because the pin pops and he can’t get it off of his person quick enough. You don’t keep shit there.

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What a shot. We literally cut to Leia running around a corner and shooting a Stormtrooper in the face.

I feel like anytime something happens “in the face,” it’s funny. (And, as Shiho says, whenever it’s “in the mouth,” it’s gay.)

There’s a fine line between comedy and jizz.

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So she literally shot a dude in the face before getting on the elevator. I sincerely hope the five seconds that preceded that cut were all of them on the elevator and her going, “You know… let me get one more in,” and running back over. I’d really like to think that. The way Morgan Freeman would like to think that Andy didn’t get raped in the washroom by the sisters.

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What if we had midgets that we carried around like 3PO?

That’s it. That’s all I got.

This is the shit that kept me out of the Ivy League.

Though now that I look, doesn’t it look like 3PO is wearing fishnets?

Hmm.

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Deux ex machina. Literally.

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I love how they act like they know what the fuck those buttons do. Motherfucker, why would the future have such unnecessary random shit? Wouldn’t the future be all about streamlined buttons? The 60s and 70s seemed to think that computers were all about flashing lights and shapes.

This is what I was talking about in the first article of the franchise, when Leia’s programming R2 which what appears to be a floppy disk. Some of it is surely that they don’t have the time or the technology to adequately make what they could imagine. But a big part of it is that in imagining the future, we simply take what we’ve got and imagine something a little better. Like early 20th-century portrayals of the distant future always have 747-sized biplanes and shit like that. It’s hard to say what the next step will be in any given development — think about Matrix Reloaded, when they’re coming into Zion, and they show the control room. It’s all white and there are huge holo-monitors and people are pressing buttons in midair and swishing them around and stuff. That looked futuristic then, but now they do that shit on CNN. You have to figure it’d be like…neural implants where you control the screen functions by blinking or looking in certain places. Although that’s now happening with the Google Glass, so…I guess the conclusion is that you can’t really predict a full paradigm shift in technology that far out, so it’s hardly worth trying. We’re left with buttons.

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Oh… apparently Lando has a loudspeaker that reaches everyone in the city.

Do you think Billy Dee Williams even knows how to operate a computer? Answer me honestly.

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He also literally just told an entire city to evacuate. How do you think that’s gonna go?

(Also, my god, with the added CGI.)

Something I’ve always noticed about Lucas’ imagined civilizations — look at how clean and homogeneous this is. It’s pretty much everywhere but Coruscant (and sort of Mos Eisley), but all the buildings look vaguely the same and there are just thoroughfares of empty space and walkways and stuff. I don’t see any neon lights. This is a huge city with probably millions of inhabitants. Look at this. How do you know where you’re going? Where are the pizza places? How are these blocks laid out? It’s a very abstract approach to city development, and in spite of how crisp and pretty the images look, it feels sort of lazy and difficult to relate to. I’ll come back to this when we get to Phantom Menace, but Theed (Naboo’s capital city) is exactly the same. It’s gorgeous, and they clearly went to great lengths to create a desirable visual aesthetic — but all the buildings are indistinguishable in terms of function. They’re having their battle in the street, and I’m wondering, “Is this a residential district? Are these shops? Could they be government buildings?” There are no people, no signs, no evidence of any activity whatsoever. They did a great job building models of cities, but finished without thinking to populate them with real people.

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I think this movie should have taken twenty minutes to show us how that went. Since I’m sure a lot of people immediately panicked and started to flee. Then you have the assholes who were like, “Fuck that, this is a joke, I ain’t leaving.” Then there’s the old people who can’t get out of there, so they don’t bother. People who are happy the Empire is taking over – I imagine some of whom get killed, others who just go on about their business and come into the Empire fold. Some who plan to fight. Some who go into their panic rooms or war bunkers and shit. I imagine the traffic getting out of there would be terrible. Just complete cannon fodder for the Empire. And then the people having to leave with their kids. Trying to pack everything up and the kids not being able to decide what they want to take, having to pee right before they walk out the door, fighting over who gets to take what… there’s a lot of things to look into. Sudden, widespread panic is a fascinating thing.

One of this franchise’s biggest failings is that we keep on getting told how the Empire is evil and stuff, but we never see how it affects people outside our general sphere of characters.

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YEAH CHEWIE!

(P.S. Stunt falls might be my favorite part of action movies.)

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This motherfucker’s just taking people out left and right. This is awesome.

(Also, I’m really curious to know if someone ever tried coming up with the total body counts of this franchise – Empire and Rebellion. You don’t see it, but a lot of motherfuckers die.)

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Colin:

Got that smoke screen!

R2 just pulled a Bond.

Colin:

But the Stormtroopers’ accuracy won’t go any lower!

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And there they go.

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The best part about it is you know they won’t be hit.

You wonder why they don’t get these guys some ranges to practice their aim.

Remember “the precision of an Imperial Stormtroopr”? Laughable.

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Wonder how some people felt in 1980 about a black man flying the Millennium Falcon.

Yeah. Exactly which ‘millennium’ are we talking about?

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This is a terrific set. The whole place. So many places for fight scenes.

Colin:

These huge, random sets are cool, but you’re also like, what the fuck is this place used for on a daily basis?

You also kind of wonder how that little ass walkway is holding up that entire… thing.

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Love the triangle doorway.

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This reminds me of the opening scene of The Fountain.

(Not the other way around.)

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Surprise, motherfucker!

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(See what I mean, though? About The Fountain? I’m the person that makes you realize things like this.)

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Oh yeah, bringing it out on the walkway.

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Colin:

Now we’re playing for keeps. I just shat everywhere.

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Luke has had quite a number of opportunities for kill shots during this battle. I know he’s not a full Jedi yet, but damn, he’s fucking up.

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“You are beaten.”

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“It is useless to resist.”

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“Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.”

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Quick moves.

Which again begs the question – how do you miss those kill shots?

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There you go!

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What about those Jedi flips now?

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Oh, here it comes…

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Colin:

You can always tell when this is coming. One of them starts to draw circles with their sword and the other one is just getting twirled, and someone always ends up fucked.

But shit, that was his beat-off hand. How’s it feel, asshole? That’s what you did to that poor abominable snowman earlier.

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George (thought technically it’s not him here) actually frames lightsabers really well in these movies. Mostly the last two. So I guess it’s not George at all.

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“There is no escape.”

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Colin:

Keep edging backwards. That way looks like it goes somewhere.

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“Don’t make me destroy you.”

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“Luke – you do not yet realize your importance. You’ve only begun to discover your power.”

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Join me and I will complete your training.”

This is why I’m glad that Star Wars isn’t real, cause if I was presented with this choice, I’d be like, “Aight.” I was really pissed off the first time I played through the first-gen Pokemon games (and each subsequent time) when you get to the end of Nugget Bridge and the guy tries to enlist you into Team Rocket. I was waiting for the [Yes/No] box to come up so I could choose ‘Yes’ and join. How amazing would that be, if they did a Pokemon game like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, where you can choose to be good OR bad? And you join Team Rocket and rise through the ranks and oust Giovanni and shit. I would shell out for that game in a SECOND.

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“With our combined strength, we could end this destructive conflict, and bring order to the galaxy.”

(Which is pretty funny, considering you were directly responsible for there being a lack of order.)

(And a lack of a Jedi order, too.)

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“I’ll never join you!”

(This is how I respond when sites want me to sign up for them.)

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“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to you father.”

“He told me enough.”

(No… no he didn’t.)

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“He told me you killed him.”

(He also used the word “betrayed.” Convenient how that’s been forgotten, huh?)

No, the actual line was, “He betrayed and murdered your father.” So Luke’s speaking accurately here.

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“No – I am your father.”

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^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

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Now’s a good time to bring up the question – why the hell does he say it like that? With emphasis on the “I”? Grammatically that doesn’t make much sense. The only way that emphasis makes sense is if there was someone else in contention to be the father. But here, the question is whether Vader killed his father or not. So it should be emphasis on the “am.” Example:

“Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”

“He told me enough. He told me you killed him.”

“No. I AM your father!”

Right? That’s how he should be saying it.

One of the most famous lines in cinema and it actually makes no sense in context.

Now that makes me wonder – was this written differently and they changed it later? Or was James Earl Jones told something different in the recording session as to what the exchange was gonna be? (Since Pixar and Disney do that all the time. People record lines and a lot of the time they don’t even know what part they’re gonna play. They just fuck around in the booth for a while and eventually shit shows up on screen coherently.) Did he just choose to say it like that? It’s fascinating to me how incorrect that line reading is.

That’s like – “What do they call you up there?” “They call ME Mister Tibbs!” You just don’t say it like that.

It’s totally different from Mr. Tibbs. That’s an open ended question, and the ‘who’ is not in contention. Emphasizing the ‘I’ here is contrasting the expectation that someone else was Luke’s father. He’s responding to Luke’s misconception about his own father. You can preface Vader’s line with the sentence, “You’re operating under the notion that your father was some other schmuck.” If you put the emphasis on “AM,” the preface question is whether or not Vader IS his father — which was a question that was never posed. This whole exchange is about Luke thinking some other guy (we’ll call him Tony) is his father. So he’s saying, “You killed my dad! You killed Tony Skywalker!” And Vader responds, “Tony Skywalker ain’t your father. I (!!!) am your father!” I can’t see it working any other way that that. Basically — ‘I (!) am’ is the answer to, “WHO is Luke’s father?” whereas “I AM’ is the answer to, “ARE you Luke’s father?”  

Does it show that I write ESOL grammar curriculum for a living?

As for how they did it — the Vader actor had different lines and only Hamill knew what was up at the time, which is why his reactions sort of work. Then James Earl Jones was told and he did the dub afterward.

Anyway…

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“No. No. It’s not true.”

(Denial.)

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“That’s impossible!”

Driver’s license photo.

Colin:

Hamill’s delivery of the “That’s impossible!” line always made me crack up. Plus, he just looks like the Grinch in this shot.

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“Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”

What if he was just like, “Nope… my feelings tell me that’s bullshit, and they tell me I shouldn’t have gotten the extra chili on that taco I ordered for lunch.”

That’s way too easy an excuse. “Nah, I ain’t bullshitting you. Your feelings are just fucking with you.”

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“NNNNNOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

(Anger.)

Like father, like son.

Also, I guess that means he searched his feelings and the truth was… a-parent.

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“Nooooooo!!!”

Oh, he’s still going.

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“Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny.”

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“Go on…”

(Bargaining.)

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“Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.”

Colin:

This isn’t a bad argument, actually. I’d think about it. Turns out Vader isn’t completely tethered to Palpatine. He’s still something of a family man. We can join forces, kill the emperor and rule together. And honestly, this would be an opportunity for Luke to change some shit and make things less brutal. If it were me, I’d be mulling it over. I don’t even crave power in the slightest, but as a white guy, when someone presents you with an opportunity for world domination, you can’t not THINK about it.

Too bad they don’t dwell on this complexity, because why would that be interesting? (Right, George?)

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(Depression.)

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One of my favorite shots in the entire franchise.

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“Come with me. It is the only way.”

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(Acceptance.)

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“Well… shit.”

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That seems a little too fortunate to be legitimate.

Colin:

Wow, he got sucked right into this little pee hole or whatever it is. Lucky he didn’t hit any walls very hard.

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Sliding down tubes is fun, though.

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Really? You had a trap door RIGHT there?

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“Whoa, fuck!”

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That’s a nice reveal. Start close, then show how fucking scary that is.

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This shot is fucking terrifying because they did it the right way.

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Nuh uh, son. I don’t fuck with that shit.

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I guess now he’s more of a Sky… faller.

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Colin:

Hah. It’s fun to watch the handicapped do shit.

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You is fucked.

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“Ben – Ben, please.”

Who you gonna call, indeed.

You just whip out your celly. You KNOW you have 5 bars here, too.

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Well that’s what happens when you only have one hand.

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“Ben – Leia!”

Nice. The ghost don’t work, so call someone else.

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“Hear me. Leia –”

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“Luke.”

Oh, you gotta be fucking kidding me!

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“We’ve got to go back.”

Fuck you, bitch, we almost got killed leaving!

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Oh, I’m sorry. I spoke too soon. Put quotes around what I said up there.

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I like the way this ship turns around.

Colin:

Simple thing, but when they’re in an atmosphere, on a planet with gravity, doesn’t doing a loop like that flip them upside down? Wouldn’t they all be falling everywhere?

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“Alert my star destroyer to prepare for my arrival.”

Which is the equivalent of, “Call my car. I want to be picked up in ten minutes.”

Colin:

What do they have to do to prepare for Vader’s arrival on the star destroyer? Is it like…stocking his quarters with Hot Pockets or something like that?

You think Palpatine heats up his food with Force lightning?

If he doesn’t, he doesn’t deserve that power.

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What do you call a space dinghy?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It’s a space YACHT TENDER.

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Now… I’m no physicist (overstatement of the century), but wouldn’t a ship coming in like that bring enough wind to knock him the fuck off there? Especially since he’s barely hanging on in the first place with one fucking hand?!

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Colin:

Never got why it was so bright inside the Falcon as Lando comes out of the top hatch, but it looks cool so whatever.

It’s a magnetic lock, of course.

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You think Luke immediately thought the ship was space jacked? You know he did, right? Simple farm boy from a backwoods planet – oh yeah, you know he got that racism inside him.

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I love this shot. Lando hands Luke off to Leia and is like, “Yoink!” with her seat. Just runs over and assumes control of the ship. Like, “Gotcha, bitch! You didn’t call five!”

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HA HA! He locks her out!

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This seems digitally added in later.

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This is always a great shot.

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Well that was more chaste. Or maybe she had to take a second to remember, “Oh, right… I got a man.”

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Though she does say, “I’ll be back.” So maybe she’s going off to get a rubber or something.

“It ain’t cheating is he’s in stasis!”

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This looks like Alien.

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That’s great. “Star Destroyer…” and they just veer away like, “Nnnope, don’t wanna go there.”

That’s all that happens. She’s like, “Star Destroyer,” and then they move. No other dialogue. It’s like when you’re on a cross-country drive, and you’re on a rural highway, and you ran out of shit to say like an hour ago and you’re just chilling, and the person in the passenger seat just points out the windshield and says, “Rabbit,” and you swerve to avoid the rabbit on the road and they you just keep going.

Somehow that was immensely entertaining to me.

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Time for hyperdrive.

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“Punch it.”

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“No! I trusted them to fix it! It’s not my fault!”

Oh man, from now on whenever I say, “It’s not my fault!” I’m gonna start saying it like that. That one’s a new sound drop for me.

Colin:

Nice little parallel between Lando and Han. “It’s not my fault!” It really could work out between Lando and Leia. Actually, I think it’s just something actors say to Carrie Fisher. There was the Han moment earlier in this film, and who could forget this little gem?

But sadly, it doesn’t. That’s okay, though, I think he’ll… Lando-n his feet.

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I love how every time we see a space, we always get a new angle on it. That’s terrific.

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Colin:

For someone who complains about being shut up all the time, C3PO lacks respect for R2, the one consistently correct character.

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Chewie the Riveter.

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“Luke.”

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“Father.”

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“So… what’s up?”

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“Nothing much. You know. No news since you just tried to kill me ten minutes ago.”

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“Is he calling you again? Dude, just hang up.”

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“Good, good. … So, uh… catch the game last night?”

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“No. I was too busy trying to make sure you didn’t kill my friends.”

“You know, it’s all right…. we don’t have to talk. I was just calling my son, making sure everything’s all right.”

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“I know, Dad.”

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Right, though?

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Thumbs up to get my nigga a leg.

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R2 be fixing that hyperdrive.

Colin:

Deus ex R2 fixes shit and we fly away.

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Wow… weird how all it took to activate it was one switch.

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We’re gonna need some new FBI guys.

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Colin:

Is Darth Vader gonna have to choke a bitch?

Also notice this set, if you haven’t already. It’s the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer. We see it again at the end of Revenge of the Sith, when Palpatine and Vader are looking on at the construction of the Death Star, but the Super Star Destroyer doesn’t get made until just before A New Hope. So unless their little epilogue moment is a fast-forward 18 years or something like that, it doesn’t make sense. Unless they have another ship with the exact same bridge, for some reason.

Again, I think you’re going into the stuff written after the movies. Looking at the movies, to me, it just existed and we didn’t see it in the last movie because that was a smaller story. And since we’ve established how little respect I have for the literature in terms of these movies, so I’m fine with it.

Fair enough. And that’s true. But even based on what we see in the prequels, it seems unlikely. You know how the Clone Army ships are like…SORT of like Empire ships? They look similar, but they’re not quite there yet. It suggests a logical progression to get to that point. And at that time, it was a lot of clone troopers, but not really any regular dudes in cloth uniforms. So that makes me wonder if that epilogue bit isn’t actually a good deal later on. It was the beginning of the Death Star’s construction, which could have taken the whole time between the prequels and A New Hope, but then again, the second (and even bigger) Death Star was started immediately after the first one gets destroyed, and by the beginning of Return of the Jedi, it’s mostly complete. So that would suggest that the events of the final shot of Revenge of the Sith happened much later on, which also explains the existence of a Super Star Destroyer and reconciles it with the information that Lucas put out about the ships.

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Lando and Chewie are going off to find Jabba.

Colin:

Wait, now Lando’s wearning Han’s clothes, too?

Why, exactly, are they doing this? I guess Lando feels bad for fucking over Han? Oh, and I guess the Empire entered into an agreement with him which they promptly ignored. So I guess that also has something to do with it. All right, that’s cool. Though it’s weird that he has the Falcon at his disposal and is going back to seek out its owner. That’s like Barbossa seeking out Sparrow after he got possession of the Pearl.

Steal the ship, fuck the bitch, go pillage some places and maybe even rape a little bit.

I think Lando’s job as an administrator has actually made him feel more responsible for people. He does say something to that effect when we first meet him. I’m cool with it because we don’t really get a backstory for the character or any establishment like Han gets. He’s already a dead man, having warned his people and double-crossed the Empire. I guess now that he’s all-in, he’s going to try to do right by the people he’s wronged and help anyone who’s trying to fuck up the Empire. Probably a lot of guilt in there. Not to mention that if they DIDN’T go get Han immediately, Chewie would probably murder him on the spot.

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“Chewie, I’ll be waiting for your signal. Take care, you two. May the Force be with you.”

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Does she remind anyone else of Maggie Gyllenhaal?

It’s really killing my enjoyment of these movies.

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The Pettigrew Special.

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The sexual tension here is certainly… Palpatine.

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Colin:

What the fuck galaxy is THAT? Is that THE galaxy? Cause they’re so far out of it, it must have taken them ages to get here. This doesn’t make much sense.

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If he copped a feel right now, he could totally blame it on that hand.

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Colin:

I guess these other ships are just gonna go over here. Time for Mika’s lovely explanation of this film in broken English.

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we’ll go over our favorite images from the film, Sunday will be the Final Thoughts, then on Monday — Jedi.

(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)

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One response

  1. Chris42899

    There’s no Super Star Destroyer in “Revenge of the Sith”. Just the same bridge set. Vader, Tarkin & Palpatine are onboard a “Ventator Class Star Destoyer” at the end of Episode III (clearly shown in that scene).

    Most Star Destoyer bridges look exactly the same. Even in Episode V, there are scenes onboard an “ordinary” Star Destroyer, which uses the Executor’s bridge set. (e.g. during the battle of Hoth when the line “Our first catch of the day” is spoken.)

    June 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm

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