Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Poster

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Excellent timeless classic, the best sequel of all time!
ivo-cobra825 April 2016
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is an excellent timeless classic that it is the best sequel of all time. I love this film to death, it is my second favorite film and the best sequel in the Star Wars franchise that I love. The Empire Strikes Back is a movie that it is one of the best sequels I can think of, it is right there with Aliens (1986), it is right there with Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) it is an excellent sequel and it really does establish The Empire as a value treat. Empire Strikes Back is still and excellent film which I really believe is a timeless classic. This is my second favorite film from director Irvin Kershner. Number 1 favorite Irvin Kershner film will be RoboCop 2 (1990) which is very underrated action flick. I still have to review those movies someday.

Empire Strikes Back (1980) is the best one of the series, because it's deeper, darker, more philosophical. It's great because Darth Vader and the Empire are at their most menacing, the direction is creative, the characters feel real, the nature of the Force is explored more without losing its mysticism, and the pacing is, as George Lucas would put it, faster and more intense than any other film in the saga.

The plot is actually more a rescue mission that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is coming to rescue his friends Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, C-3PO and Chewbacca are captured on a planet Bespin in Cloud City from villainous Darth Vader. Han Solo's friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) set the up and with Darth Vader he set a trap for Luke. Also Luke studied the Force under Jedi Master Yoda to become a full Jedi Knight but in the end he must confront Darth Vader (David Prowse) by him self. The origins of Luke Skywalker are reveled.

Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980 it is directed by Irvin Kershner this time and not George Lucas. Because George Lucas decide that he want to make this sequel independent one, so he ended up coming with his own, founding for the film. Getting a loan and money he earn from the first movie and it success, so he decided he wanted, to found the film him self, and he wanted to be more an executive producer to keep an eye on the lamp, he moved to a bigger studio in Orange County, California, so he diced to be more a producer he did not want to direct Empire Strikes Back. So his first choice was Irvin Kershner, who was a professor at UC in the UC film school, that George attended too and he always liked Irvin Kershner and of course he was a former professor and it was a hard way talk him to do it and the first time Irvin Kershner didn't want to do it, so George called Irvin's agent and his agent said to Irvin take it so he did and the rest is a history. This stands the test of time, the best film he ever directed! I love John Williams score still the same, but I think John Williams changed the music score for a little bit, but that's just my opinion.

Things that I love in this film: I love the battle with Rebels fighting with the Imperial AT-AT walkers on the ice world of Hoth. That is my favorite scene on ice world in the film. The Imperial AT-AT walkers are incredible well made with classic special effects.

I love that the origins of Luke Skywalker are reveled, that Luke is the son of Darth Vader, who is actually Anakin Skywalker, before he become Darth Vader and went to the dark site.

For the first time ever, we see an Emperor in a Hologram talking to Darth Vader.

The Falcon with Han Solo, Princess Leia Organa, C-3PO and Chewbacca hiding in the rocks try's to eat a monster.

Luke faces with Darth Vader him self face to face and get his arm cut off and then he jumps off the bridge, because he didn't want to join his father in a dark force. The lightsaber duel throughout the chamber between Luke and Darth Vader was excellent and it was epic.

The training sequence with Luke and master Yoda were excellent and epic.

A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back are my favorite films in series, that are in the franchise, this film get's a perfect 10 score for been the best sci-fi adventure sequel of all time.
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All the fun of the original with a much better, darker plot
bob the moo27 June 2002
The Rebellion has struck an important blow to the power of the Empire by destroying it's Death Star, however the power of the Dark Side of the Force remains strong and continues to hunt the rebellion. While the Rebellion base on Hoth is under treat, Luke has gone to a distant swamp planet to receive further Jedi training from Master Yoda. However the power of the dark side should not be underestimated and many dark truths are revealed as the threat of the Empire looms large.

Following Star Wars was never going to be easy but this is actually better. Empire retains the same characters and the same sense of fun that the first had – the battle on Hoth is just one of THE moments of the series. However what gets added to that is a much darker strand. The Empire is not beaten by the destruction of one ship – it's power is barely dented in fact. This sees some startling revelations (I won't spoil it in case you've been living under a rock!) but also sees significant blows to the rebellion. In fact the ending of this film could not be more different from the end of Star Wars.

Like the recent episode two this follows two strands – the more pedestrian scenes with Luke and Yoda and the more action based scenes with Han and company. The scenes with Yoda add depth to the film and hint at the truth. Meanwhile the other half is a lot more action orientated and has comedy and good new characters such as Bobba Fett. The two work well together and come together well for a great finale. The addition of a dark strand to the film makes it all the better as it can be enjoyed as a story and not just a fun sci-fi film with good effects.

The characters are better here than the first. The strong characters from the first (Han, C3P0 et al) are all still good here. However we also get a much more interesting version of Luke as he continues his journey into becoming a full Jedi. Yoda is a good addition (despite sounding like Fozzie Bear!) and Darth Vader becomes a lot more than just a good villain – we learn his past, a revelation then, but a thing of common knowledge now.

Overall this is as good as Star Wars at it's heart, but the darker nature of the film makes it much better. Where the first one was a victorious uprising this is, as the title suggests, the time in history where the Empire strikes back against the uprising. All the music, characters and things that make Star Wars Star Wars are here and it's simply one of the best of the series to date.
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A worthy second (or 5th??) Star Wars installment, might be the best of the bunch.
TxMike7 October 2004
My five children were all pre-teens when 'The Empire Strikes Back' came to the theater. While there had been other Sci-Fi movies with a theme of conflict in outer space, the 'Star Wars' trilogy filled our imaginations like no other movies before them. The fantastic, strange worlds were presented almost like we were there too. Aliens sitting around a tavern, enjoying drinks and speaking in all sorts of languages. Nothing before had approached the sheer size of the space ships depicted here, huge cities traveling all over the galaxy. And how about the jump to hyper speed, then disappearing from the screen as the speed exceeds light speed! And the light sabres of the Jedi Knights. The Jedi Knights, a striking parallel to the Japanese Samurai.

It is fruitless trying to argue 'which is best' in a trilogy, because the first one, in this case 'Star Wars', starts it all and has to be the 'father'. However, an argument can be made that 'The Empire Strikes Back' (now on DVD called Episode V) is overall a better-made movie which has more excitement, and grabs your imagination,than the other two original installments (now called parts IV and VI). The DVDs finally came out last month, and they are near perfect, as we should expect from Lucas Films and THX. The bit rate is high, and the picture is nothing short of superb. As is the Dolby EX surround track.

My wife and I watched all three of the movies on DVD this week -- Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi -- compliments of our local public library. It was an appropriate reminder how good these movies are, and still ahead of their time. Nothing else has been made to compare to them.
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It's NOT the darkest of the trilogy - it's the most mature
Spleen26 October 1999
`It avoids having the standard shoot-'em-up ending,' says a friend of mine, `by not having an ending.' I suppose this is what most people think, but all the same the film manages to form a satisfying whole; or at least, a whole that satisfies me. I'm therefore inclined to think it DOES have an ending. Obviously, I can't discuss this without giving things away to those few who don't know what happens. If you're one of those few, then believe me: your ignorance is precious enough to be worth guarding until you see the film. Stop reading now.

After the surprise attack on the rebel base, Luke Skywalker splits with Han, Leia, et al. Han's party gets away first (is it just me, or is the shot of Luke watching the Falcon flying off while he stands stranded on the ground, a poignant one?), but thereafter they face one narrow escape after another, while Luke slinks off quietly and safely to train with Yoda.

The training scenes are many and Yoda talks a great deal of rubbish. But somehow it doesn't matter. The film is ambivalent in its attitude towards Yoda, anyway. Our sympathy clearly lies with the entirely non-spiritual concerns of Han, Leia and the adolescent Luke. The main story concerns the understanding that builds between Han and Leia. In the end they are honest with one another; and if Han's being frozen and shipped back to Tatooine is the price to pay for this, well, it's the price to pay. It was very important NOT to end with the dashing rescue that opens `Return of the Jedi', which would be dramatically beside the point. Instead we end with the promise that the rescue will some day occur. That's enough.

As for Luke: he abandons Yoda to rescue Han and Leia, and achieves NOTHING WHATEVER. This was my favourite touch. All five Jedis - Luke, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Vader, and the Emperor - find that their conflicting instincts are all entirely wrong. The film is really about the temporary triumph of human impulses over the mystical Force. Luke's human idealism is vindicated, but his supernatural powers, just this once, are not.

When George Lucas gave his Star Wars trilogy a fresh coat of varnish in 1997 he felt he had to justify the expense by making needless changes. You'll notice he made precious few changes to episode V. There just wasn't room. He added a few extra shots of the ice monster, which of course weakened that one scene; but even with those changes in place the Special Edition is virtually identical to the original edition. Since Lucas was so keen on making changes wherever he could this is obviously a tribute to the tightness of the story and the direction. It's also a tribute to the perfection of the original special effects, more innovative than the effects in the first Star Wars movie and better than the effects in any subsequent one.
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Even though he wasn't at the director's helm this time, George Lucas has done it again.
Anonymous_Maxine6 August 2002
In a film like The Empire Strikes Back, especially a few years on the heels of such a mind-bogglingly great film like the original Star Wars, there is something that comes immediately to mind that would at first seem to count against the film, but instead only winds up increasing the respect that it commands. In the 1977 Star Wars, there is a clear reliance on simplicity in some parts. Obviously, it is much more than a simply made science fiction film, but like I said in my review of it, there was a lot of highly effective reliance on things that were not put on screen, such as Obi Wan's description of The Force to Luke. In The Empire Strike Back, the first thing that we are treated to is the traditional scrolling text along a background of stars, depicting what has happened between the last film and this one, and reminding us of the things that were mentioned in the last film but never explained.

At first, this would almost seem to be a way to save money to get more information across to the audience without having to actually put it on screen, but this is really an ingenious way of furthering the story. The very fact that we are so willing to read all this information and forgive our inability to actually see it is a testament to the quality of the series, even at this early stage in its presentation, and we know the story so well from the first film that we are glad to see such a large change in what's happening in the films, not for a second lamenting the fact that we have obviously missed so much action. And besides that, if and when George Lucas runs out of new prequels to release, and maybe if he someday begins to run low on how many hundreds of millions of dollars he has, he could go right back and make these in-between scenes into full length films. What would he call these, if he did that? Introquels? Who cares! The names themselves would be interesting enough, and if you go back and read the stuff that introduces this film, it's obvious that there's an entire film there just waiting to be made. I guess the question of actors would be a formidable one, though.

The Empire Strikes Back is the film where we are first introduced to the great Jedi master Yoda (`Away put your weapon!'), as well as some of the most thrilling battle sequences of the entire Star Wars series, and that includes the prequels. The battle scene where the rebels fight the Imperial Walkers on the ice planet is an incredibly well-made battle scene, not only in the way that it was put together so convincingly using models, but that the machines themselves are so creatively made. Indeed, the Imperial Walkers are some of the most recognizable machines from the entire Star Wars saga, right up there with the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star.

I have just watched this film again, having already seen Episode I and Episode II, and not having seen any of the original Star Wars films for maybe 10 years (except for the original 1977 Star Wars, which I saw and reviewed a few days ago - and these aren't even the Special Edition versions!). When I first saw Yoda when watching The Empire Strikes Back again, I was really struck by how different he looked from in the newer movies. Obviously, he's completely computer generated in the new films, but here in Episode V he looks like a muppet! Even so, I would like to express my opinion that Yoda is more realistic and more interesting here as a puppet than in the newer films as a computer generated image. At least here in the older films you know that he's actually THERE, and that he's not just added into the film later.

Oh yeah, speaking of Yoda, can I just complain for a minute? What the hell was up with the Jedi training? Yes, I realize that I'm just a lowly IMDb reviewer, while The Empire Strikes Back is a part of the greatest science fiction series of all time, but would it have killed George Lucas to write in a little more creative training for Luke? The thing that struck me first about the Star Wars films when I first started watching them was how incredibly imaginative they were, but then Luke started his training. You know, when I was in high school I played football. I was a wide receiver/tight end and I hardly ever got to play because I was too tall and too skinny, but part of my workout was to carry the linemen up and down the stairs to the weight room. Some of these guys weighed 100 pounds more than me, and I still almost never saw the field, and here's Luke Skywalker. He carries Yoda around this boggy swamp and he gets to be a Jedi! What the hell!

There is also the addition of a surprisingly fitting love story. First of all, anyone who has ever read my review of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie will know that I am not the biggest fan of cramming a love story into a movie where it doesn't belong. I can't seem to write anything about Bruckheimer movies without complaining about the idiot love story, and now it's even worse because here's this movie that was made so long before, from which Bruckheimer could obviously have at least learned a LITTLE bit about how to do it right. Han Solo and Princess Leia maintain the personalities that they developed in the first Star Wars film and there is now a sort of love/hate relationship between the two of them, where neither one of them wants to admit their feelings for the other. This romantic subplot is characterized perfectly in the scene just before Solo is carbon frozen, when Leia risks approaching a cheesy romantic moment by saying `I love you' just before Han is lowered into the freezing chamber, and he saves the moment by responding, `I know.' Han Solo. Smart-ass to the last drop.

Before I end I would like to point out that the goofs that can be found on the IMDb for this film are some of the most blatant that I've ever seen in a film. The scene where you can see someone giving a woman at the tactical maps a cue to deliver her lines is amazingly obvious, and some of the other ones, such as the stage hand swinging the light saber prop briefly into view as he switches it for an `off' prop with Luke just after he knocks Darth Vader over backwards, are just as much fun to look for. I have one question about the goofs, though. There's one where Luke looks off into the fog just after R2-D2 is eaten by the sea monster, and you can CLEARLY see a person running to the right a little ways off in the fog. Is that meant to be Luke? It seems that it's supposed to be him running in his search for R2, because you can even hear the FOOTSTEPS of the person running. I can't even IMAGINE how they could have missed THAT!!

It is, however, a testament to the quality of a film when such tremendous oversights in editing do nothing to take away from the overall quality of the film. The Empire Strikes Back remains an extremely powerful and well-made installment in the Star Wars series, not taking even a single step backwards in the sheer breathtaking adventure of the original film. It's not often that a film as good as Star Wars can be released and then followed up with a sequel that is just as great, as is clearly the case here. Star Wars was a gigantic film upon its release, and with The Empire Strikes Back, Lucas has begun the formation of one of the greatest film series' in cinematic history.
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I enjoy this one more than A New Hope
UniqueParticle16 January 2020
So much amazing action and beautiful cinematography makes for such an enlightening experience! In The Empire Strikes Back you know who everyone is which is great plus Yoda is introduced! I love this movie the music is soothing, there's romance, more of Darth Vader, and introduces Emperor Palpatine what more can you ask for? A lot to relish and get excited about; it's such a classic gem.
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Manages to be even better than New Hope, and that was just as brilliant
TheLittleSongbird29 November 2009
The original trilogy of Star Wars contain three films, all of which are sophisticated, imaginative and enormous fun. I feared it wouldn't be my thing, but it was exactly that. I loved the original trilogy for all those reasons. Empire Strikes Back maintains all the fun of its predecessor, while even darker and more mature. Visually it's a marvel to look at, with the stunning special effects and highly imaginative-looking sets. John Williams's score is just outstanding, epic and monumental in every way. The story is darker than that of New Hope and perhaps more sophisticated, and I loved the fact the filmmakers made the romance between Leia and Han more developed. The battle sequences are mesmerising, the beginning is bound to have you on the edge of your seat, but the battle between Luke and Darth Vader was simply out of this world. The script is still as affectionate as ever, the pace is fast and the acting is great. Mark Hamill is ever as likable as Luke, and Carrie Fisher still has her spunk and vivacity. Harrison Ford is noticeably more subdued, but he is still terrific, and Frank Oz is a perfect Yoda. Chewabacca is hilarious, and Darth Vader is a fantastic villain, especially when voiced so magnificently by James Earl Jones. All in all, a perfect successor to an already brilliant first film. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Best Star Wars FILM
SnoopyStyle6 May 2016
After the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has been hounded by the Empire. Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo are with the Rebel forces on the secret base on the planet Hoth. Darth Vader locates the base driving the rebels on the run. Leia, Chewie, and Han with C-3PO escape on the Millennium Falcon eventually ending up in Lando Calrissian's Cloud City. Meanwhile, Luke goes to the Dagobah system and finds Jedi Master Yoda.

There are superior popcorn movies in the Star Wars franchise although there is plenty of eye-popping action in this one. This is the best overall film in the series. The dialog is snappier. The combative romance between Leia and Han is the best. Everything looks great. It introduces Yoda and Lando. There are great legendary twists. It is a Star Wars movie for film fans. Even the Special Edition is the best of the original trio. There may be one or two stiff additions but most of them actually help. There are so many incredible moments in this.
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The best film in the original trilogy.
Dissident2 May 2000
The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in the original Star Wars trilogy. It has all the great qualities that the original Star Wars has: great effects (at the time of its release), appealing characters, and lots of spellbinding action. It also has eliminated some of the problems that plagued the first: the storyline is tighter, and goes much deeper into character development. The performances are terrific, especially by Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. George Lucas has also remembered to include a spellbinding battle sequence with the snowspeeder sequence near the beginning of the film. The conclusion, with a lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, is truly one of the most suspenseful and dramatic scenes in the entire series. This is a truly wondrous film, and serves as a constant reminder that just because a movie is expensive and a blockbuster doesn't mean that it has to be shallow and two dimensional. This film will undoubtedly entertain viewers of all ages from start to finish.
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Fantastic Sequel
claudio_carvalho13 December 2015
The rebels' new base is hidden in the icy planet Hoth and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) commands a unit with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). During the investigation of a meteor crash, Luke is wounded and captured by a creature but succeeds to escape. While dying on the snow, he has a vision of Obi-Wan Kenobi telling him to go to the Dagobah system to be trained by the Jedi Master Yoda. Later he is saved by Han and they are rescued in the morning by the rebels. Meanwhile Darth Vader (David Prowse) sends probe droids through the galaxy to find the location of the base. The rebels are located and they need to leave the planet under the attack of the Imperial Fleet. However Luke heads to Dagobah to find Yoda while Leia, Han, Chewbacca and C-3PO travel to the planet Bespin to meet his friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and repair the Millennium Falcon. However, they are betrayed by Lando and captured by Darth Vader. Meanwhile Luke has a premonition with his friends in danger and he decides to interrupt his training with Yoda to save them, despite the warning of Obi-Wan and Yoda. Will Luke be ready to face Darth Vader and save his friends?

"The Empire Strikes Back", later retitled "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" is a fantastic sequel of Star Wars, with a great story. The plot has adventure, romance, comedy and betrayal and is engaging until the very end. The characters now are more experienced and bonded. The mannerisms of C-3PO recalls Dr. Smith, from "Lost in Space". This is the type of sequel that keeps the high quality of the original film. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): "O Império Contra-Ataca" ("The Empire Strikes Back")
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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Ithaqua198717 December 2004
An excellent sequel to Star Wars, this is easily the darkest and most serious out of all the Star Wars films, at least until Revenge of the Sith comes out. This movie benefits from the introduction of Yoda, a diminutive yet wise Jedi master who helps Luke prepare for his showdown with Darth Vader. It also introduces Lando Calrissian, Han's old gambling and smuggling buddy played very well by Billy Dee Williams. Empire is more character driven than the original and relies more on comic relief to help lighten the mood, but it doesn't go overboard with the humor. The story is more refined and the acting is better as well. Despite all of this I can't really say that I enjoyed Empire more than the original. The original Star Wars has a certain charm to it that none of the sequels (or prequels) have captured. I'd say that it is at least on par with the original though and is a fitting follow up in what is probably the greatest series of movies in the history of cinema.
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One of the best movies of all!
Movie Nuttball2 April 2002
The sequel to Star Wars is argueably the best of all the Star Wars films.This is much darker than the 1st one.Look for the Super Star Destroyer,it is a awesome ship.Boba Fett makes his fist appearence here.The chase scene the M.Falcon is being chased down by the Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters is really a cool scene.I f you like the 1st Star Wars then you will love this one!

Note: The special edition has added scenes,special effects,sounds,and creatures. To ME the highlight of this special edition is seeing the Wampa monster!
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Greatest Movie Ever
morfunkel21 August 2018
This film changed the game forever. The people behind the scenes took an exciting science fiction adventure film with a happy tone where the heroes have a happy tone throughout and throwing that on its side. Throughout the film the rebels are in a constant rush and panic, pushing the viewers to the edge of their seat wondering if the heroes would make it to the end okay. This is done brilliantly by splitting up the heroes putting them in a worried state for one another. As well as that the rebels are all tested as they go through their own personal trails and try to find their way through. Even though this might put you on a constant worry for the characters the movie is paced perfectly with breathers and amazing storytelling by the characters to fill in anything we need answers for. That is just the story, the film also has gorgeous cinematography, going from the AT-ATs on Hoth, to the Imperial pursuit of the Falcon through the asteroid field, all the way down to the beautiful shots of the final battle in Cloud city. Even though we as viewers are worried for the rebels, the imagery is jaw dropping. The imagery is further enhanced by the most popular score of all time, John Williams delivers his best work ever as it has stuck with people their entire lives and is recognizable by even those who haven't seen the film. The film was released in 1980 and all of the set design and special effects still hold up to this day as they are just as convincing now as it was apon first watch for everyone in the past 38 years.
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Why can't they make them like this any more?
BA_Harrison3 March 2007
From it's opening scenes on the bleak ice-ball that is the planet Hoth, to its exciting finale on the cloud city of Bespin, The Empire Strikes back is a worthy sequel to the magnificent Star Wars. Taking over the directorial reins from George Lucas, Irvin Kershner steers the movie into darker territory to deliver a more mature movie than its predecessor.

The Empire is still licking its wounds after the destruction of the Death Star, and evil Darth Vader is intent on finding the rebels responsible for destroying his new toy. Luke's aim, meanwhile, is to become a fully fledged Jedi knight, whilst Han sets himself a more difficult target: he plans on getting into Leia's knickers.

With more incredible FX packed action scenes than you can shake a light-sabre at (highlights include the fantastic battle on Hoth, a chase scene through an asteroid field, and the Luke/Darth light-sabre duel), and THAT moment where we learn the truth about Luke's father, it's no surprise to find that this episode is often said to be the best of the series. Personally, A New Hope will always be my favourite (for sentimental reasons), but The Empire Strikes Back is a very close second.
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Outstanding follow up.
antonjsw112 September 2010
Congratulations have to go to line producer Gary Kurtz and director Irvin Kershner in pushing the production to out-perform A New Hope, even though the consequence was a film that came in massively over budget, and almost cost Lucas his hard fought independence from the Hollywood system.

The plot moves quickly, from an interesting script by Leigh Bracket and Larry Kasdan, focusing on exploring two key relationships. The first is the relationship between Han Solo and Leia Organa, which is touched upon in a New Hope, but is fleshed out more in this film. The other is the more central relationship between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. This relationship is also linked in to the main supporting character in this film, Yoda, who is fantastically well realised by the film crew and performed brilliantly by Frank Oz. There are other characters, but whereas C3P0 and R2D2 were a central part of the story in the previous film, they are more on the sidelines.

What makes this film so great though is the involving and effective way the relationships operate within the broader story. The banter between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher is highly effective and amusing, operating through the classical love-hate relationship. One senses that Kershner, as a director of character driven films, worked very effectively with the actors and gave them the space to develop their characters which meant plenty of choices for the director in terms of their performances. The same goes for Mark Hamill's interaction with Yoda(Frank Oz). This is totally convincing and builds up the confrontation with Darth Vader very well. It was time well spent in getting these performances right. Kershner is very good at keeping the performance naturalistic, but reduces the level of broadness in the characters, making them more complex and interesting. Darth Vader benefits from this with scenes in the film that add to the mystique of the character. The confrontation with Luke Skywalker is riveting and dramatic and elevates the film above the level of its predecessor.

Technically the film is even more impressive than its predecessor. Credit has to go the Oscar nominated Art Direction team. John Barry, who had worked on the previous film, passed away during the production, but Norman Reynolds led the team superbly, with the excellent creations of Dagobah and Hoth, albeit Bespin in the original does feel a bit like a set, and the digital embellishments in the special edition were helpful in creating a bigger feel to those scenes. However, I was disappointed in the reworked scene with Palpatine in the special edition - while putting the excellent Ian McDiarmid was supporting continuity, to show him face on was, in my view an error and the reworked scene would have played much better with his face shrouded, or at the least partially obscured. The whole point of the scene was that the dialogue as strong enough without the need to ram an unsubtle visual at the audience.

Editing is excellent, led by Star Wars veteran Paul Hirsch, but it is known that both George Lucas, and his then wife Marcia were also heavily involved in putting the film together. Peter Suschitzky's photography is more conventional and low key in approach than A New Hope, but is particularly effective on the Dagobah scenes in Elstree Studios, and the location scenes in Norway.

ILM's visual effects were outstanding, and rightly won an Academy Award. The crew consisted of the following: Oscar winning A New Hope veteran Richard Edlund, working with British effects supervisor Brian Johnson (who had just won an Oscar for Alien), effects photographer Dennis Muren (who would become an award winning and digital effects pioneer for ILM for ET, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Innerspace, The Abyss, T2 and Jurassic Park) and compositor Bruce Nicholson, who would go on to win an Oscar for his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark, and work on a wide variety of films in Hollywood. George Lucas took a strong interest and influence in the special effects and also has to take credit for some of the excellent sequences in the film, which also work because they help drive the story along.

Again, like a New Hope, sound work was first rate and Oscar winning. In most cases the sound has to be recorded in a studio and added many months after filming has been completed. Sound re-recordist Bill Varney would win another Oscar for Raiders of the Lost Ark. Steve Maslow and Gregg Landaker also worked as sound-recordists and are both prolific contributors to many high profile movies. They would also win Oscars for their work on Raiders and then some fourteen years later win again for their work on the Keanu Reeves hit movie Speed. Peter Sutton won for his on–set work and has a large body of work in film since this movie. Also credit has to go the Ben Burtt's sound design work, which creates a fabulous sound-scape for the film.

However, despite the above outstanding technical contributions, which serve to enhance and exciting and interesting story, it is composer John Williams who, yet again, takes this film to another level with another astounding musical score. Working with the director and producers, Williams develops and expands original themes. He creates a new and unforgettable theme for Darth Vader, with strong militaristic overtones, and clever themes for Leia and Han, and for Yoda. He weaves the score into the film expertly, giving moments of tension, excitement, thoughtfulness, mystery and tragedy with aplomb. The score feels more operatic than a New Hope, and helps cement this as one of the best adventure/fantasy films ever made.

Congratulations to Mr Lucas for delivering a remarkable sequel, but also to Gary Kurtz and Irvin Kershner for having the courage to push everyone out of their comfort zones so as to reach this level of excellence.
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Best of the best
Dagobah_Man20 November 2007
I cannot believe some people out there didn't like this film, yet claim to have enjoyed Episode One. No comparison whatsoever. "The Empire Strike Back" is George Lucas' best contribution to human history, and it will be remembered long after most other science fiction films have gone the way of the Do-Do Bird. The optical effects still stand the test of time, and the acting is superb. Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher are all better than they we in the original Star Wars, having fully developed and grown into their characters, and the story just keeps going and going, from asteroid fields to swamp planets to cities in the sky, everything in this film works. So ignore anyone who claims to dislike it, and see it for yourself if you haven't already done so. 20 out of 10!!

Oh, and Han Solo shot first! =)
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Star Wars Episode 5 Empire Strike Back
auuwws13 June 2020
One of the best movies in Star Wars is a very interesting movie
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This is among the all time great science fiction movies that is an absolute must see
kevin_robbins21 March 2022
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is a movie in my DVD collection that I recently watched again on Disney+. The storyline picks up where Star Wars left off with the rebellion building their army and the evil Empire rebounding from losing the Death Star. Luke will try to master the powers of the force by searching for a new Jedi to train him; meanwhile, as he digs into his past he discovers more about how he became a Jedi to begin with.

This movie is directed by Irvin Kershner (Robocop 2) and stars Mark Hamill (Sushi Girl), Harrison Ford (Clear and Present Danger), Carrie Fisher (Sorority Row), Billy Dee Williams (Nighthawks) and James Earl Jones (Coming to America).

The Empire Strikes Back was always one of my favorites in the original trilogy. The opening yeti scene was fantastic and a great way tp start the film. The Princess and Hans scenes were hilarious and the banter makes you laugh no matter how many times you've seen it. Yoda is a legendary character introduced in this film and the Hans stasis scene is always sad. The final Luke vs Vader scene is also legendary and fun to watch unfold.

Overall this is among the all time great science fiction movies that is an absolute must see. This is an easy 10/10.
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More than 20 times viewed and it NEVER gets old
lmayer219 February 2007
I literally watched this movie about twenty times when I first got it, VHS , a box-set of the original three. But this one is best! It was the most exciting, it kept you on the edge of your seat and your mind the whole way through. Although, I have to say, Lucas has become very lazy in the Star Wars saga since the Phantom Menace, which was quite poor. This is vintage Lucas and this your vintage space movie. Star Wars (any of the original 3 and Episode 3) is a must see! It includes many household names. Some, though, hate Star Wars with a vengeance. Those people lack in creativity and are subject to boring, lack-luster films. All I can say is have fun because I know you won't for missing out on this 5-star, one of a kind classic. Must see, it's too great for a 10 out of 10 rating. It was way ahead of its time. It's a film of the ages and has caliber modern films dream to re-create!
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Even better than the original
masonsaul17 December 2019
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back is a more mature, unpredictable sequel that continues to expand the universe and is overall even better than the original, as one of the greatest sequels of all time. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and Carrie Fisher are all incredible. James Earl Jones is even better as a more threatening and ruthless Darth Vader and Frank Oz is excellent as Yoda. Billy Dee Williams is a welcome addition in a effortlessly charismatic performance. John Williams' musical score is perfect once again. It's expertly paced and Irvin Kershner's direction is incredible. The action sequences are extremely thrilling and it has the best lightsaber fight in the franchise so far, in my opinion. It also has one the greatest twists of all time.
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Big Improvement Over The First Star Wars
ccthemovieman-110 June 2006
Although called "Episode V," this was second movie in the Star Wars 6-part installment and I've always thought one of the better entries in the series.

If you watch the first Star Wars and then this one, you'll immediately see a vast improvement in the special-effects department. There is a much more polished look to this one, and improved sound In fact, the DVD transfer is outstanding considering the age of this film.

While the first Star Wars was a bit subdued, this one picks up the action right from the start, although lulls are really appreciated because the first 40 minutes are pretty hectic. The most notable of those scenes are the gigantic robots which were awesome when this film first came out, and are still pretty good. The movie calms down after that opening land war but retains the viewer's interest with other things.

The second half of the movie features two stories going on at once: the battle in space with most of the cast involved, and "Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a swampland involved in his training sessions with the Master Yoda.

Some of the movie's dialog is still corny, especially between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) with their love-hate relationship, but it's not overdone. What is overdone is constant bleating noises emanating from "Chewbacca," the wookie. That sheep-in-heat noise can get annoying after awhile. The "Rambo" action continues as it did in the first film, with the villains firing everything at our heroes and never hitting them. Ludicrous, but part of the deal. Those things you just put up with as the film, overall, delivers another interesting adventure, far more than the first Star Wars and leading up to the next one, which was even better.
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Who's Your Daddy?
slokes23 August 2005
After being abruptly evicted from his Death Star digs, Darth Vader seeks out the young rebel warrior responsible, Luke Skywalker. He has plans for the boy. Skywalker, meanwhile, leaves his friends in the middle of an Imperial invasion for a crash course in Jedi Knighthood amid a desolate swampworld with only a faultfinding green gnome for company. Can Luke complete his training before Darth reels him in?

Well, no, actually. That's not the only way this middle installment of the "Star Wars" trilogy leaves things on a decidedly more discordant note than the previous, joyous "Star Wars." People call this the darkest of the original three films because it is, but "Empire" is the only one with an adult orientation. The characters are deepened, and our investment in them from the first film challenged by events that leave them exposed to the sort of cruelties we wrongly assumed them safe from.

George Lucas deserves major praise for putting such a film together, using his well-earned profits from the first film. In essence, he was literally giving the fans back some dividends for their box office proceeds. He also took chances in terms of leaving them less happy this time, knowing the emotional payoff would have to come a film later.

"Empire Strikes Back" is thus a richer film than "Star Wars" emotionally, and in other ways, too. Instead of confining most of the action to the desert planet Tatoonie, the action bounces around from an ice planet to a swamp planet to the most marvelous creation of all, a city hovering high in the clouds of a gas giant, where the action culminates.

Lucas adds some interesting new characters, particularly Yoda, the swamp creature Luke goes to for help, who articulates much of the philosophy and provides much of the fun in this film as voiced by Frank Oz, the guy behind (or under) Miss Piggy and later, a talented director in his own right.

There's also Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, the operator of Cloud City who provides much of the needed moral shading in the film as the stars from the previous movie are all full-blown heroes now. Williams has fun schmoozing up Leia and trying to find his feet as his slick machinations leave him in ever-hotter water.

The best performance in this film is Mark Hamill's as Luke. Hamill had to work harder here than he did in "Star Wars," sharing all his big scenes with a Muppet and a guy with a bucket on his head. But Hamill finds the essence of a character more interesting than the naive farmboy we saw in the first film, playing Luke as confused, fearful, impetuous, and flawed in a way that makes him more likable, rather than less so. How Hamill never hit it big after his great work here is an injustice on par with Cleavon Little's lack of work after "Blazing Saddles."

What else about this is great? The score by John Williams, introducing the recognizable "Imperial March" theme music as well as some rousing material during the final confrontation between Luke and Darth. The interaction between Vader and his subordinates is chokingly funny, in a way that only adds to the suspense and dread. The opening battle around the ice planet is marvelously intense, especially as witnessed from the cockpits of Rebel fighters taking on thickly-armored Imperial walkers.

The returning cast except for Hamill doesn't seem as sharp this time, especially Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia, so charming in "Star Wars," gaunt and miserable here. Much of the whole middle section of the film is draggy and woolly, like the various silly ways the Millennium Falcon escapes Imperial pursuit and the scene in the "cave" that goes on much longer than it should. Even Luke's scenes with Yoda become slow and tedious with multiple viewings.

The enthusiasm that makes "Empire Strikes Back" so beloved today is understandable. It turned "Star Wars" from a great film into an enjoyable franchise. But it doesn't really have the same stand-alone quality "Star Wars" has, needing both that earlier film and the later "Return Of The Jedi" to make it as great as it is.
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The Son
tedg15 February 2007
The Son

I am convinced that movies are about other movies more than life. The original "Star Wars" was a success in my opinion because it had three things:

— a collection of images from other films, distinctly referencing them. Some were film- schoolish like the Kurosawa quotes. But most were like what Kurosawa himself referenced: already deeply embedded visual touchstones, not having lost their power in becoming clichés. These were collected in one large form, the Flash Gordan form let's call it, which all of us slightly knew. It could be recalled with enough familiarity to register but not enough to set expectations, so Lucas could fill the bucket with whatever he found and liked.

— a notion of a complete, understandable cosmology. Its the noir notion that laws of the universe exist and cannot be seen, and if they could they wouldn't be comprehensible. This notion is deep in film, so deep that when a movie comes along that posits a cosmology that is whole, and revealable, it shocks. What that movie did was give us enough of a glimpse into this to believe that we could understand the world, at least THIS world of the "galaxy far away." Remember when that original came out? The images were impressible, but what people talked about wasn't what they saw, but about how the world worked. It settled first in an ersatz religion among geeky kids and now has been swallowed by the "simple" US religions, and its presidential representative.

— the notion of a quest. Its an old form, but cast in the above noted situation, it takes new power. The traditional form, the Goethe-Lytton form was there to remind and reveal mysteries. Here it is clearer, to explain. There was a lowbrow professor at the time of a women's college that a TeeVee interviewer made popular. It was sort of a metaquest. This simple man said that we could actually understand the nature of trying to understand nature. It was a lucky break for Lucas, because it meshed with this shocking notion of a grand cosmology that we know our hero (check out the name: "sky walker") will grasp, master and show us.

That was the first film. A huge success, just huge. It did change many things, but from my perspective the key thing was how it reset that great American invention of noir, as important as jazz, and liberty which form a sort of trilogy of contradictory, three-way tension.

Okay. Now the second big Ted idea, the necessity for the equal size of steps in abstraction when you have two steps. It seems this is hardwired in the brain, a sort of human quantum mechanics. If you look back along the abstraction, say a cartoon in a cartoon, the distance between the two will be precisely the same as the surrounding cartoon.

So, when they made the second Star Wars movie, they could reference the previous one in the way that it referenced its cinematic background. It had a writer in Kasden who knew how to do this. And it had a director in Lucas' film school teacher who did also. Neither had a huge hit other than this because it was such a cool setup, having such a thing to build on.

You'll read lots about trying to humanize, and how faces were used. But all that is simply in the service of abstracting closer to us from the original, in equal portion. This is the son. Why did the franchise fail after this? Because there was no step left to abstract to and maintain the brand.

(This comment is a replacement of one deleted for unknown reasons. This was requested by a reader.)

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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tunesplitter3 July 2020
A true masterpiece. in my opinion the best star wars movie.
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Definitely one of the greatest movies of all time
umlaziking30 May 2022
It's really sad to see what star wars has become these days..unoriginal, uninspiring, lacking passion..I can go on and on and on but I just don't have the stomach for it anymore..but this movie right here, star wars empire strikes back, is just so masterfully inspiring and masterfully done. The fact that George Lucas did this movie on his own with his own money should tell you everything you need to know about how amazingly tenacious he is, not only that, he brought the characters to life..making them memorable, believable and most importantly relatable. Yes it's an old movie, yes it feels out dated...but trust me, if you look really past that and focus on its level of storytelling and the amazing writing of the story, you will understand why this movie has a rating of 8.7...most movies today and even in the last decade haven't even gotten close to that. Give it a won't be disappointed.
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