The incredible dark sequel; why kids should watch it
I would do a normal review of this film, but honestly, everyone has talked to death about the first six Star Wars movies, and soon the same may apply for the new Disney-made trilogy currently in the works. What I want to talk about is why I agree with the relatively low age rating for this movie. For a movie with dark, limb-severingly intense situations, how does it just gain a year on A New Hope, at least as far as CSM is concerned?
The original movie was no cakewalk. It had some impactful character deaths and the obliteration of an entire populated planet, though only seen from space. Though there are few major deaths in Empire, tone accounts for everything here. The story has shifted from one of adventure to one of survival, as the rebels and our heroes are forced to flee the Empire's forces time and time again, from the bleak atmosphere of Hoth to the black reaches of an asteroid field and the clean halls of Cloud City. The majority of the second act is spent in dark environments, the swamp planet Dagobah and Outer Space, the latter including an asteroid field with a dark mysterious cave on one of the asteroids.
This is all just to set the mood, though. The dark and foreboding atmosphere is just here to accentuate the darker story, which like I said before includes more limb removal. The first film had a single example, this one has two, though I can't recall if the original cut has both of them. One of them, which is in all cuts I can think of, is much more serious than the other ones that we see in the series. There is also a decapitation included in an intense scene in another cave. While a lot of the rest of the gang's travels are very much in a similar tone to the original, Luke and R2's experiences on Dagobah range involve a lot of introspection and philosophy, due to the nature of Luke's training and unexpected trials. Things never get too slow, though, and things pick up in the third act, where a few characters get incapacitated in some very unsettling ways, and Luke gets into a tense battle with the main villain, where he ends up not only injured, but suffers serious emotional turmoil. In the end, not only is not everything resolved, but the audience is left with some deep and dark questions to ponder while they wait to see Episode VI.
This movie is much darker than Episode IV, but a lot of it is in tone, which is merely aesthetic. Still, some elements could be very distressing for very young children. It seems like this movie would be on a very much different level from New Hope, perhaps two or three years older instead of one. However, lots of kids are going to like the first movie, and if they know there are more, they'll want to see them. Above all, however, this movie is a unmatched classic. It's so iconic and complex, that it has to be seen at as young an age as possible so that it can make its impact properly. One can watch for the first time as an adult, and still appreciate the quality of the movie, but to see it at a young age, and continue to see it as you age, and have your viewpoint mature, is the best possible way to experience it. Its intense situations and may seem like a lot for some kids, but frankly, this is the perfect film to transition them to the darker stuff.