Movie Name: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date(s): May 21, 1980
MPAA Rating: PG
The Death Star has been destroyed, and the Rebel Alliance is on the run. Taking refuge on a planet called Hoth, the Empire has tracked them again. When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) receives a message from Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) to travel to Dagobah for Jedi Knight training with a Jedi named Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), Luke splits from Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to pursue his destiny. Darth Vader (David Prowse voiced by James Earl Jones) has learned Luke’s identity and will stop at nothing to find him, but to get Luke, Vader must find his allies first.
Directed by Ivan Kershner with a script by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back (sometimes called Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back or even Star Wars—Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back) is the follow-up sequel to the blockbuster film Star Wars (1977). Like Star Wars, the movie was a big success, and the film won an Academy Award for Best Sound with a special achievement award for visual effects and nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Original Score.
The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered the best entry in the entire series. With a down ending, ramped up action, and an expanded universe, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back lives up to the hype…but due to sentimental favorite, Star Wars still holds the number one spot for me.
I have no problem admitting that The Empire Strikes Back is a better movie than Star Wars. The movie not only advances the story, but expands on it in a way that feels it adds on to the story that people already liked…it doesn’t take away from it.
The acting also has gotten stronger in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as people find their characters more. The romance developed between Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hammill leads to a creep factor after the revelations of the sequel, but it works here (especially if you try to approach it as pure and unseen). You also have the yin-yang of the Force with the introduction of Yoda to counter Darth Vader. I like the introduction of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian and wish he had been in both movies more.
Visually, the movie is more impressive than the original and this strength in the Special Edition of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back that Lucas released in 1997. A few of the visual effects were tweaked, but as opposed to both Star Wars and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was barely touched (but it did give me more Wampa…one of my all-time favorite Star Wars creations).
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back really established Star Wars as a series instead of a fluke. The movie also realizes that it is going to have a sequel so it isn’t necessary to end it by tying all the strings up. Empire Strikes Back is one of the first movies just to leave the ending open with Han still a prisoner and the Alliance still on the run. Luke knows Darth Vader is his father, and his training is incomplete. It isn’t the classic ending to a movie, and that is what helps make this movie great…and compels you to watch the next film. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was followed by Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in 1983.