Movie Name: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date(s): May 21, 1980
MPAA Rating: PG
The Death Star has been destroyed, 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. Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO meanwhile try to avoid Imperial forces and bounty hunters sent after Han. Han contacts his friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) for help on Bespin, but doesn’t realize it is an elaborate trap for Luke.
Ivan Kershner takes over the reigns for George Lucas as director for The Empire Strikes back (sometimes called Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back) and sci-fi writer Leigh Brackett and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan handled the script. Like Star Wars, the movie was a big success and like Star Wars also received a lot of nominations but mostly for technical awards.
Now, Empire Strikes Back is considered the best of the series. It is a better film than Star Wars with its downer ending and more twists and turns, but sentimentality makes me put Star Wars as my favorite. Empire Strikes Back has a lot more conflict and the classic “Luke, I am your father” (which at the time was a shocking revelation). It also dives deeper into the role of the Force in life.
The acting also has gotten stronger in The Empire Strikes Back as people find their characters more. Princess Leia has more problems in deciding between Luke and Han, but that just comes up as creepy with the revelation in Return of the Jedi. The Han and Leia relationship is really what helps move the story along and makes it a bit more than a popcorn movie.
The strength of The Empire Strikes Back can be seen in the 1997 release. Lucas barely changed anything. A few establishing shots, some dialogue tweaks, and a bit of an extension of the Wampa scene on Hoth pretty much is all that was fixed.
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 (David Prowse voiced by James Earl Jones) 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.