Game of Thrones Season 6 Review

  • Series Title: Game of Thrones
  • Season: 6
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  HBO
  • Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Caster-Waldau, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Jonathan Pryce, Diana Rigg
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

Season 5 of Game of Thrones really was The Season Terrible Things happen to all the women. Season 6? The women get their revenge. Revenge has always been a strong theme and a strong motivator in Game of Thrones, but in Season 6 watching many of our favorite women get their sweet revenge is fun. Very fun.

Arya Stark is now a blind beggar on the streets of Bravos. The unnamed girl from the Facemen Men Assassins shows up to attack her, day after day, even through she is blind. She bests the girl once, and returns to the House of Black and White where her sight is restored. But still she cannot kill the actress, and thus she is in trouble. She makes plans to leave Bravos and is stabbed by the Nameless girl. With no one to help her, she turns to the actress who she refused to kill on orders. The actress takes her in and heals her, but the Nameless Girl arrives and kills the actress. Arya runs, but also leads the girl into a cave. She recovers her sword, Needle, and then cuts the only candle that brings light to the cave. We do not see or hear the fight, but we do see that Arya has placed the girl’s face in the hall of faces. She tells her Nameless Assasin friend that she is in no uncertain terms not No One but Arya Stark of Winterfell and she is going home. Arya also kills Walder Frey’s boys, feeds them to Walder Frey in a pie, and then kills him. This after Frey had shown himself to be quite nasty to the Blackfish of the Tullys and to Jaime Lannister.

The season opens with Sansa and Theon alive and running through the woods around Winterfell. They are set upon by Bolton men and rescued by Brienne of Tarth and Podrick. Brienne offers Sansa her service, and this time Sansa accepts. With oaths sworn, Theon decides to leave for the Iron Islands and Sansa, Podrick and Brienne head north. They reach Castle Black and Sansa convinces Jon Snow they need to take back Winterfell. Jon raises an army of Wildlings and men loyal to House Stark – but it doesn’t seem to be enough. The army arrives at a plain before Winterfell, near where Stannis was defeated. Despite Jon’s discussion of strategy with Ser Davos Seaworth, the Red Lady priestess, Sansa, and the new leader of the Wildings – the next day on the battlefield, Jon is provoked in to a massive mistake by the psychopath, Ramsay Snow Bolton. However, just as all seems lost, the Knights of the Vale, led by Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, arrive and the battle is won for House Stark. The Bolton banners fall at Winterfell, the Stark banners are raised, and Sansa and Jon seem to be co-ruling as the lead family of the North. All the Northern families pledge loyalty to the Starks (except some, like the Freys who have already pledged to House Lannister – we have seen what that got them eventually).

It should be noted that not only did Ramsay treat Sansa truly horribly, but he murdered his father, in front of an witness, and ordered that it be said he was, “poisoned by our enemies”. Ramsay also feds his step-mother and baby brother to his dogs. Not only is Ramsay’s army defeated by the Stark troops and the Army of the Vale, and not only is Ramsay humiliated by Jon Snow in single combat, but Sansa – in just about the most just and fitting way possible, destroys Ramsay by feeding him to his own dogs.

Cersei, humilated in the previous season by the High Sparrow, is sent to house arrest in the Red Keep. Margaery, after nearly a year (or more) in the cells of the Sept of Baylor, confesses her sins, but protects her brother. The Lannisters and Tyrells unite an army to attack the Sept and prevent Margery from undergoing the same humiliation as Cersei. But Tommen arrives at the Sept, having made a deal with the High Sparrow. Margaery is released, having simply given lip service to her repentance. She precedes to have the King’s ear, and has him banish trial by combat, which means Cersei will suffer an actual trial by seven septons. Margaery has Loras confess his crimes, being assured he’ll get a deal (he will lose his title and lands, but gain his life, albeit in exile. No doubt Margaery had plans to rescue him from his exile eventually.) But after Loras confesses, and the High Sparrow assures him he will have his deal – everyone notices that Cersei isn’t there. Margaery realises something is horribly wrong. But the Faith Militant and the High Sparrow refuse to let her or anyone else out. Cersai has her “Little Birds” blow up the Sept with wildfire. Tommen commits suicide in sorrow for Margaery. Cersai in the last scene of the season – takes the Iron Throne, becoming Queen Cersai, First of Her Name.

Daenerys, is captured by the Dothraki, and taken to the compound that is home to the widows of Khals. She rallies the women, and when the Khals convene to decide her fate, insulting and sexually humiliating her in the process, she grabs the burning braziers in the hut of the khal leaders. Grabbing the burning hot metal in her bare hands, she thrusts them down – and the hut burns. Daenerys emerges unburnt and unharmed from the hut. After this display, the Dothraki follow her. As the trek back to Meereen is long, Daenerys goes ahead, alone, and returns astride her dragon, Drogon. She gives the pep talk of her life, and gets a huge khalasar of fighting troops who agree to cross the Great Salt Sea on Wooden Horses and fight for her. Later, just as the slavers return to attack Meereen, Daenerys defeats the slavers in a display of Dragon Power.

Yara of the Ironborn discovers her uncle killed her father. Theon returns, but declares himself loyal to Yara and supports her claim. Yara makes a claim for the Salt Throne with Theon’s support. She has support but Euron, her uncle, blocks her claim. She, Theon, and as many loyal men they can gather leave and make their way to Essos. In a brilliant piece of diplomacy, Yara and Daenerys make an alliance – Yara will provide the ships and sailors, Daenerys will provide the army. Daenerys will place Yara on the Salt Throne and guarantee the Iron Islands independence. Yara will stop the pirating, raiding, and looting of mainland Westros.

Daenerys names Tyrion Lannister her Hand of the Queen. Tyrion had become a trusted advisor over the last year and a half. Daenerys, Tyrion, Varys – who had gone on a secret mission but returns, Missandei (her translator and aide), and Grey Worm stand on a ship, under the Fire and Blood dragon banner and head for Westros. Yara and Theon join them, under the banner of the Drowned God for the Iron Born.

Varys’ mission was to meet with Ellaria Sand of Dorne and Olenna of House Tyrell to arrange an alliance. We don’t hear the results of his arrangement, but he survived to return to Daenerys and get on a ship that is part of the invasion fleet.

Even Princess Shireen sees some justice, as Ser Davos finds the stag toy he made for her in the remains of a pyre, challenges the Red Woman priestess, and has her banished from Winterfell.

And young Lady Mormont of Bear Island, who committed 62 men to Jon and Sansa’s forces, is the first to declare loyalty to House Stark and is a bit of a badass as well.

So the women, at this point are winning – and an alliance between Daenerys, Yara, Dorne, Tyrell and House Stark would be awesome (and would soundly defeat the Lannisters). Cersei has, at long last, obtained the Iron Throne for herself, but she has possibly made a few enemies along the way (the sept was quite full when it was blown-up).

But the families are losing out and disappearing. House Baratheon is gone: Robert, Renly, Stannis are all dead – as is Stannis’ wife and child. The three “Baratheon’ children (actually the product of the Cersei/Jaime relationship) – Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are all dead. As far as we know, only Jaime and Cersei are left. The Starks aren’t doing that much better. Only Jon, Sansa, and Arya remain. Bran is alive, but the Three-Eyed Raven. Rickon is dead, killed by Ramsay. The Boltons are all dead as well. Arya kills Walder Frey and his boys.

The Land of Westros may well be experiencing the Year of the Woman – if all goes well.

My Review of Season 5 of Game of Thrones.

My Review of Season 4 of Game of Thrones.

I was unable to watch season 7 when it aired on HBO, but I have the Blu-Ray box set so a review will be coming soon.

 

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Game of Thrones Season 5 Review

  • Series Title: Game of Thrones
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 10
  • Discs: 4
  • Network:  HBO
  • Cast: Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Caster-Waldau, Iain Glen, John Bradley, Aidan Gillen, Gwendoline Christie, Jerome Flynn, Julian Glover, Jonathan Pryce, Diana Rigg
  • Format: Widescreen, Color, Blu-Ray, NTSC

I watched Game of Thrones season 5 when it aired on HBO, and bought the series on Blu-ray when it came out (for the special features), but I delayed re-watching it because it is a very difficult season to watch. I actually now have acquired seasons 6 and 7 on Blu-ray as well, which I will watch and review in due course. But season 5 is just hard – all of the main female characters suffer greatly and this is the season that caused the feminist fan website, The Mary Sue, to drop coverage of the show. However, having seen season 6, it does make this season a little bit easier to bear.

Season 5 opens with Arya Stark going to Bravos and to the House of Black and White, she seeks to become “no one”, to learn the secrets of being a faceless assassin. She’s first forced to merely clean the floors. She sees desperate people come to the House for healing, but only find death. She throws away her clothes and her money, but hides her sword, Needle, even though she’s told to dispose of it to become “no one”. She sees a father come in with his daughter, and convinces the daughter she will be healed if she drinks the water from the pool in the main hall. Later, she washes the girl’s body. Arya learns that the faces of the dead line huge pillars in a room in the House. She is given an assignment to pretend to sell cockles and mussels, but really she’s to spy on a man who holds ship masters in a life debt. While doing this she runs in to a man she knows from Westros, who takes and terrorizes the youngest prostitutes he can find in a brothel. She kills this man instead of the one she was assigned. This gets her in a lot of trouble. One of the faceless men takes poison and collapses, wearing the face of her friend – but it is a false face, Arya pulls several faces off the corpse, sees her own, and becomes blind.

Daenerys, meanwhile, discovers that being a successful ruler in Meereen is a lot more difficult than conquering the three cities she conquered previously. She closed the fighting pits, where slaves were forced to fight to the death. This angers the people. One of her advisors pleads with her to re-open the pits to appease the people, but she continually refuses. A group of rebels, the masked “Sons of the Harpy” attack and kill many of the Unsullied and another of Daenerys’ advisors. Daernerys tries to make a show of force, by planning to put one of the murderers on trial instead of executing him outright. One of the former slaves sneaks in to the prison and kills him while he awaits trial. Daernerys executes the man for murder, even though she probably would have executed the other man after his trial anyway. In an attempt to reduce the tensions in Meereen, Daenerys’ opens the fighting pits again, but to free men only. They are still matches to the death, however. She also agrees to make a political marriage to one of the Masters. Daenerys, Tyrion, Ser Mormont, Missandei (her translator and aide), and her lover/advisor attend the fights in the Great Pit – but the Sons of the Harpy attack, killing many in the crowds, and anyone around. Daenerys escapes on her big, black dragon, Drogon. She finds herself in the wilderness, with an injured dragon. Missandei and Tyrion stay in the palace to try to hold Meereen together, while Ser Mormont and Daenerys’ lover go to find her.

Jon Snow is promoted to Lord Commander of the Knight’s Watch, much to the dismay of some of the more conservative and angry members of the Watch. He leads an expedition to Hard Home to bring the Wildings to safety south of the Wall. They are attacked by the army of the dead and White Walkers. When he returns, Jon ends up sending Sam, Gilly, and baby Sam to the Citadel so Sam can become a Maester. This after Gilly was attacked and nearly raped by two men of the Night’s Watch. Jon is stabbed to death by Night’s Watchmen who were angry members of the Night’s Watch died on the expedition to Hard Home.

Stannis attempts to get anyone to help him attack and re-take Winterfell from the Boltons. Everyone refuses – the Wildings, Jon, other members of the Night’s Watch etc. Stannis also continually faces desertion of his men, especially the sellswords. The Red Lady and Mistress of the Lord of Light convinces him to make a terrible sacrifice to ensure his victory. Stannis reluctantly agrees and burns his own daughter, the Princess Shireen, at the stake. As a result, more of his troops desert, and his wife, who was cruel to her daughter anyway, kills herself. Stannis is routed at Winterfell, his troops killed or run off. He’s found by Brienne of Tarth, who kills him.

Littlefinger arranges for Sansa to marry Ramsay Bolton. Ramsay is, of course, a very sadistic person, who treats her horribly, and even rapes her. Sansa tries to escape once, and the woman helping her is flayed alive. Sansa does find out from Theon (“Reek”) that her brothers, Bran and Rickon, weren’t killed after all, but Theon doesn’t know where they are. Sansa places a light in the tower window, the signal for escape, but Brienne doesn’t see it because she’s off killing Stannis. Sansa and Theon jump from the battlements of Winterfell, and we don’t see the result.

Cersei sends Jaime to Dorne to recover their daughter, Myrcella. Jaime finds her and discovers she’s really in love with Prince Trystane. The leader in Dorne allows the two to return to King’s Landing to marry, but Myrcella is poisoned and dies.

Cersei speaks to the High Sparrow and has him re-establish the Faith Militant. She thinks she can use the Faith Militant to harass Margaery and Loras Tyrell. However, she didn’t expect to also find herself imprisoned, and later, after spending several weeks (or even months) in religious prison to face a walk of shame, naked, her hair sheared off, where she is insulted, stoned, and spat upon.

This season sees a lot of bad stuff happen to the women of the show. Shireen and Myrcella are complete innocents and good people who are killed in other people’s plots. Cersei’s “walk of shame” is hard to watch, and I found myself feeling sorry for her despite all the terrible things she’s done. Arya and Sansa are in percarious positions. And Daenerys seems to be in as bad as or worse a position than before she conquered Meereen and the other cities in Slaver’s Bay. This is a tough watch. But it doesn’t mean one should give up. Season 5 and 6 were both ordered by HBO at the same time, so in a sense, episode 10 of season 5 is really the middle of a 20-episode season. And season 6 has some great things that happen. But enough about that. Overall, this is still a recommended show that is worth watching.

Please also see my review of Game of Thrones Season 4.

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back

  • Title:  Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back
  • Director:  Irvin Kershner
  • Date:  1980
  • Studio:  20th Century Fox
  • Genre:  SF, Adventure, Action
  • Cast:  Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Frank Oz, Julian Glover, Michael Sheard, John Razenberger
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Wars not make one great.”  — Yoda

“Do or do not.  There is no try.” — Yoda

“Size matters not.  Look at me – judge me by my size do you?  Hum?  And well you should not.  For my ally is the Force.  And a powerful ally it is.  Life creates it, makes it grow, it’s energy surrounds us and binds us.” — Yoda

“I love you.” — Leia
“I know.”  — Han

“Luke, we can destroy the Emperor, he has foreseen this.  It is your destiny.  Join me and together we can rule the Galaxy as father and son!”  — Darth Vader

Like Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back opens with a crawl, describing what’s going on and remarking that it’s “a dark time for the Rebellion” despite the success of destroying the Death Star.  This proves true, as Empire can be arguably seen as the darkest of the three original trilogy Star Wars movies.  The movie itself opens with the Empire launching robotic probes to find Luke Skywalker and the rebels he leads.   One such probe lands on a glacier.

This is the ice planet Hoth, where Luke, Han, Leia, and a group of rebels, part of the Alliance, are hiding. Han and Luke are on patrol, each riding a cold-weather animal called a Taun Taun, something like a furry cross between a camel and a kangaroo.  They are finishing up their patrol, and Han tells Luke he’s headed back to the Rebel base.  Luke agrees, but mentions he wants to check out a meteor.  They agree to meet back at camp.  Han returns to the camp and tells the general that he really must leave, he has a price on his head and it won’t be lifted until he pays off Jabba the Hutt.  The general, though upset to lose Han, agrees to his leaving.  Chewbacca and C3PO work on fixing the Millennium Falcon.  Leia confronts Han about his leaving.  They still spark and fight, as in Star Wars, but it’s evident that the two have some affection for each other beneath their arguing.

Luke is attacked by an Abominable Snowman-like creature and taken to an ice cave.  He manages to escape, in part by using the force to pull his light sabre to his hand.  He wanders out into the snow, where he has a vision of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who urges him to go to the Dagobah System to complete his Jedi training under Yoda, a great Jedi master and teacher.  Luke then collapses from the cold.

Meanwhile, the rebels have realised that Luke is missing.  Though the general thinks it’s too late to go looking for Luke (the extreme cold makes it dangerous to be outside late at night or during blizzards) Han insists on looking for Luke anyway.  He takes his Taun Taun to search for Luke.  He finds Luke, and cuts open his own now dead Taun Taun to place Luke inside while he builds a thermal shelter.

At the rebel alliance base, the search parties have been recalled.  At the general’s insistence, Leia orders the shield doors be closed for the night.  Chewbacca cries out in mourning when the door is shut, because Han hasn’t returned.  The next day, speeder patrols are sent out to find the two.  They do find both Luke and Han and bring them to base.  Han is OK, Luke is treated for exposure and frostbite but basically he’s OK too.

Han and Chewbacca find an Imperial Probe Droid.  The rebel general decides to evacuate.

Vader orders an attack on Hoth.

Leia addresses the fighters who will escort the transports off the planet.  She ends with “good luck” and from the sound of things, they’ll need it.

The rebel speeders attack the Imperial walkers invading Hoth.  The walkers are like metal combat elephants.  Very quickly during the battle, Luke realizes their blasters can’t penetrate the armor, and advises using harpoons and tow cables around the legs of the walkers, causing them to collapse.  This does work.

The battle between the Rebel snow speeders and the Imperial walkers, though it takes place on a snowy field, is also on a very bright sunny day!

Getting back to the battle, after losing his gunner, and one successful pass leading a harpoon ship, Luke is hit and crashes into the snow.

Han rushes to the command center to check on Leia, urging her to leave.  She issues the evacuation order.  Although the rebels had some success against the walkers, over all it’s a rout.  As Han is leading Leia away, the tunnel ahead of them collapses.  He tells the rebels he’ll get her out on the Falcon, and they head back the other way.  Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C3PO end up on the Millennium Falcon.

Vader enters the nearly empty rebel base.  The Millennium Falcon escapes.  Luke and R2-D2 get to an X-wing, but Luke heads for Dagobah, not the Alliance rendezvous.

Three star destroyers and TIE fighters chase the  Millennium Falcon.  One star destroyer actually manages to physically hit another one, leaving one to go after the Falcon.  When the hyper-drive fails, Han knows he’s in trouble.  Han and Chewbacca try to fix the ship while in flight, when they encounter an asteroid field.  Han flies into the field, because he knows the Imperial ships won’t follow him.  He impressively loops the Falcon and lands in a cave on an asteroid.

Meanwhile, Luke splash-lands on Dagobah.  R2-D2 falls into the swamp, is attacked by a creature, and is spit out.  Luke gets his camping gear together and tries to figure out what to do.  He meets Yoda, whom, at first, he doesn’t recognize — and he thinks is actually somewhat annoying.  But when Yoda takes him to his home, and has a conversation with the dead Obi Wan Kenobi – Luke realizes this is the Jedi Master he seeks.  Yoda is hesitant, but agrees to teach the young Jedi.

Meanwhile, Vader’s ships fail to find the Millennium Falcon.  Vader kneels before the Emperor for a holographic conversation.  Vader suggests “the son of  Skywalker be turned”.

Han, Chewbacca, and C3PO work on fixing the Millennium Falcon, and even Leia helps.  But something attacks the ship while they are in the cave.  They go out to investigate, and find Mymocks, some type of  bat-like creatures with suckers stuck on the ship.  Han suddenly realises he’s made a big mistake — they all get back in his ship and barely escape.  They weren’t in a cave, but a giant space worm with teeth!  Han lands the Falcon on one of  the Star Destroyers, which gives an incredible sense of  scale.  He manually detaches and floats away with the rest of  the garbage the Empire dumps before going to hyper-space.  They float away and then head for Bespin and Lando Calrissian.

Yoda starts training Luke — physical training, and exercises in using the Force.  He also tries to explain what the Force really is and how it supplies power to a Jedi.  And he warns Luke about the Dark Side of  the Force.  Yoda tells Luke, “When you are calm, at peace, passive… a Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense.  Never for attack.”  They arrive at a cave, where Luke feels cold.  Yoda tells him the cave is strong with the Dark Side, and urges Luke to go in.  Luke starts to strap on his weapons, but Yoda says he won’t need them.  Luke takes them anyway.  Inside the cave, Luke sees Vader… he draws his light sabre and attacks, but when he cuts off  Vader’s head he sees his own face in the helmet.  Yoda continues Luke’s training, but he gets distracted by R2-D2.  Yoda then raises Luke’s ship out of  the swamp, something Luke was unable to do because he did not believe he could do it.

Vader, meanwhile has hired bounty hunters, including Boba Fett, to find Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon.

Yoda continues to train Luke, and urges that Luke learn control.  Luke sees a city in the clouds, and sees his friends in trouble, sensing that they are in pain.  Yoda says Luke has seen the future.  Luke asks if his friends will die.  Yoda says he doesn’t know.  Yoda also urges caution, but Luke wants to go to his friends to help them.  Yoda admits that if he goes he could help them, but if he goes he will also endanger everything his friends stand for.  Ben urges patience, and Yoda urges that Luke wait.  Patience is not Luke’s strong suit.  Luke leaves Dagobah but promises to return to finish his training.  Ben says “that boy was our last hope” but Yoda says “there is another”.

Han Solo has landed in Bespin, a mining colony in the clouds.  Lando says he’s independent, with no Imperial oversight and not part of the mining guild.  But he turns them over to Vader… saying Imperial troops arrived first and he has no choice.  Chewbacca is tortured with sound.  Han is tortured with burning heat.  When Han and Leia are reunited in a cell, Han remarks that they didn’t even ask any questions, and he can’t understand that.  Lando enters the cell, and explains they are after Skywalker.

Vader decided to test the carbon freeze unit with Captain Solo.  Chewbacca fights for Han, but Han calms him down, tells him to care for the princess (Leia).  Han and Leia kiss and for the first time, Leia tells Han she loves him.  His response is, “I know”.  Han is put in carbon freeze but survives.  Han is now a monolith in perfect hibernation.

Vader asks that the princess and the wookie (Chewbacca) be taken to his ship.  Lando’s starting to catch on that he can’t trust Vader, as his “deal” is getting worse by the second.

Luke arrives.  He and Vader clash in an epic light sabre battle.  The battle has three major set-pieces and is inter-woven with other parts of  the plot.

First Luke and Vader crash in the carbon-freeze room, and Luke extracts himself  from the freezing unit before Vader can use it on him.

Lando and his men arrest the Imperial stormtroopers.  They free Leia, Chewbacca and C3PO.  Boba Fett has frozen Han placed in his cargo hold.  C3PO meets up with R2-D2.  They try to catch up to Han Solo but see Boba Fett’s ship leave.

The film returns to Vader and Luke’s light sabre battle.  Vader encourages Luke to turn to the dark side path.  Luke is sucked out a Cloud City window.

Lando urges a city-wide evacuation, telling people they are on their own.  Lando, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C3PO make it to the Millennium Falcon despite being caught in a running laser blaster battle. The Falcon takes off.

Luke rescues himself and for the third time fights Vader.  Vader cuts off Luke’s hand and he loses his light sabre.  Vader tells Luke he’s his father.  At first, Luke doesn’t believe it, then doesn’t want to believe it.  Vader tries to convince Luke to join him, to defeat the Emperor, and to rule as father and son.  Luke escapes down a tunnel and lands on an antenna at the bottom of  Bespin.  Luke calls for Ben for help. Then he calls for Leia.  She senses him.  Leia sees Luke, the Falcon rescues him.  The hyper-drive on the Falcon re-engages thanks to R2-D2.  Chewbacca and Lando take the Millennium Falcon to search for Han.  Luke gets an artificial hand.  Luke, Leia, C3PO and R2-D2 look out a window at a galaxy and the Falcon leaving.

The Empire Strikes Back is darker than Star Wars.  Rather than a fairy tale or fantasy film like Star Wars, this film focuses on the Rebel Alliance which is in trouble, and develops the characters who learn and grow.  Luke is well on his way to truly becoming a Jedi Knight.  Han, though he still talks about leaving, is showing his loyalty to Luke and to Leia.  And Leia herself, the most experienced person of  the three in terms of leading the rebellion, is starting to feel something for Han.  There’s also the hint of  something between her and Luke.  But yes, the Empire does strike back, and our heroes are in trouble even though they escape definite capture by the end of  the film, all that is except Han Solo.

Rather than the harsh white/black/grey color palette of the first film, Empire is more colorful… from the greens of  Dagobah’s swamp to the blues of  the carbon freeze room at Bespin.  This contrasts with the darker plot of  the film.

A second thing to notice about both Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, is the use of  language… specifically accents to denote groups.  The Imperial admirals, generals, and lieutenants generally all speak with British accents (and very precise ones at that).  The Rebels are generally American.  Notable exceptions are James Earl Jones as Vader’s voice, though David Prowse was in the costume, and Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi.  Although this doesn’t consciously affect the viewer, subconsciously it sets the two groups apart.  However, it was most probably an accident not a deliberate choice:  much of  the Star Wars films were filmed at English studios and many British character actors (including Peter Cushing, Julian Glover, Michael Sheard, and even Alec Guinness) were hired on site.  Of course, the film was an American film and main casting took place in the US.  Lucas (executive producer on Empire) hired people he had worked with before or that were young and new.  But I still thing the obvious class differences between the Empire and the Rebels add to the film.

Highly, highly recommended, a must see!

Recommendation:  See it!
Rating:  5 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Star Wars  Return of  the Jedi

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

  • Title:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • Director:  Steven Spielburg
  • Date:  1989
  • Studio:  Paramount Pictures
  • Genre:  Adventure, Action
  • Cast:  Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, River Phoenix, Denholm Elliott, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • Format:  R1, NTSC
“That cross is a important artifact, it belongs in a museum!”  — Young Indy
 
“Nazis, I hate these guys.” — Indiana Jones
 
“I wrote it down in my diary so I wouldn’t have to remember!” — Henry Jones, Senior
 
“You call this archaeology?”  — Henry Jones, Senior

It’s always hard for me to say which is my favorite Indiana Jones movie — “Raiders” or “Last Crusade“.  “Raiders” introduces the great character, and Marion is a great, feisty, independent woman, and it has a good plot — but the snakes still gross me out.  On the other hand, “Last Crusade“, is, again, like “Raiders” a great adventure, set in relatively short “episodes” that span the world, from Indy’s childhood in Utah to his working as a college professor, to Venice, to Berlin, to Austria, to the hiding place of the Holy Grail. But “Last Crusade” also brings back the great secondary characters of Marcus Brody and Sallah who were missing from “Temple of Doom“.  And there’s the great relationship between Indiana Jones and Henry Jones, Sr.

Which is why, though it wouldn’t exist without “Raiders“, Last Crusade slightly edges out “Raiders” as my favorite.  “Last Crusade”, at its core is about a father and son journeying to discover each other as much as it is a great adventure tale about a search for the Holy Grail.  And the film, as I briefly mentioned before, brings back Marcus Brody and Sallah, both from “Raiders” and both sorely missed in “Temple of  Doom“. And neither character just appears just so they can be listed in the credits — both have important parts to play in the plot, especially Marcus. Sean Connery, is perfectly cast as Indiana Jones’ father.  I love the relationship between the two — prickly, yet fun. “Last Crusade” is a fun adventure-filled movie, with lots of great and quotable lines. But it also has heart — when Henry Jones Sr. thinks Indy has died he is truly crushed, and we feel his pain. When the Nazis shoot Indy’s father in front of him to force Indy to get the Grail, it’s a shocking moment, and we feel Indy’s shock and pain — not to mention he’s about to lose his father. Indiana ends up obtaining the Grail to save his father, not for his own aggrandizement, like Harry Potter with the Philosopher’s Stone in that film and book. In other words, he didn’t want it to keep it.  And like the Stone, the Grail heals Henry Sr.

And isn’t Julian Glover just a perfect villain?

River Phoenix really is well cast as young Indiana Jones.  The opening sequence is also great — not only is it full of adventure itself, but we see Indiana become our Indiana, the hero we love.  The transition from the treasure hunter putting the hat on Indiana to the shot of Harrison Ford in the rain, attempting to recover the same artifact, is perfect. And speaking of great shots – the first shot of Sean Connery as Henry Jones, Sr, as he steps into the light is also perfect.  And what can be a more satisfying a ending to a movie than our heroes, Indiana, Henry, Sallah, and Marcus, as riding off into the sunset?

The structure of the film, like Raiders, is again of short episodes, linked into a longer story, which keeps the film moving and the adventure level high. In some ways, the film is a chase film, as much as it is a Quest. And it’s also a Quest of characters of the Joneses coming to know each other as well as the Quest for the Holy Grail.

Recommendation:  See it!  And, again, a great film for kids and teenagers.
Rating:  5 of 5 Stars
Next Film:  Indiscreet