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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Drama, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
IMDB rating:
Irvin Kershner
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher as Princess Lea
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Frank Oz as Yoda
Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Jeremy Bulloch as Boba Fett
John Hollis as Lando's Aide
Jack Purvis as Chief Ugnaught
Des Webb as Snow Creature
Storyline: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader.
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The Son
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.
This one is just as great as IV and VI
I think when this came out in 1980, no one saw the twist at the end coming. If you don't know the twist because you have been blocked from or chose to block the Star Wars saga, you are missing out. I don't know a lot of people who don't know how it ends.

I will tell the story as best as I can since I don't have it at home (it's sad, I know): We begin at a very cold planet where Luke goes out and is missing. Many people want to give up searching for him. Meanwhile, Luke gets kidnapped by the 1980's version of an alien Abominable Snowman. After escaping the monster and killing it (I think), Luke goes out into the blizzard and sees Obi-Wan's spirit in the distance, telling him to go to Yoda on the planet Dagobah, and continue training. Han Solo finds him, about to freeze to death, and rescues him. Back at the base, they treat him and he makes a full recovery. Later on in the movie, the evil guys come to the planet and attack using those AT-AT walkers. The big battle begins and of course, the good guys win. What did you expect? On Dagobah, a little green man meets with Luke and R2D2. He is revealed to be Yoda. What I find cool is that Frank Oz has done the voice of Yoda for all of the Star Wars movies. You can tell that it's him in the Return of the Jedi because when he says "When 900 years old you reach, looking good you will not be" he sounds like Fozzie from the Muppets. Luke starts his training.

Skipping a bit, the gang meets Lando Calrissian, the former owner of the Millennium Falcon. They all try to evade the Empire, but they realized that they've been tricked by Lando, who says that he had to join the bad guys to keep them from invading the city they're in. Luke is lured by his friends to the Empire and Darth Vader.

Getting close to the intense part of the movie, they take Luke, Leia, and Han to a new place. Han gets frozen in carbonite. You'll see him like this in the next movie. When everyone leaves except for Luke and Darth Vader, the battle of all battles commences.

As their fight ensues, they reach an area where if you fall, that is almost certainly your doom. Darth traps Luke and chops his lightsaber along with his right arm and they both fall down. Luke tells Darth that he killed his father.

And then, the big twist............ are you ready? Here it is. After Luke says that here is what Darth says:

"No, Luke. I am your father." In my opinion, best twist they made back then. Naturally, Luke denies this. Darth offers Luke to join the Dark Side, but instead, like any crazy fool, he jumps. He calls to Leia, using the Force (foreshadowing? Maybe...) and he gets rescued. They look for Han, and the movie ends.

How was that? Make your pick on which of the original ones was the best. I don't care, really. George Lucas is awesome. The movies are awesome. Watch and you won't be disappointed.
One of cinema's greatest achievements...
In cinema, there is two categories, movies and films. Movies are the simple ones, such as Transformers, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games. Films are the ones that transcends and push the borders, such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction. The Empire Strikes Back is a film. It set the bar for ALL movie sequels to come and pushed the borders of how a sequel should be. This is a rare sequel that improves on it's predecessor. For starters, the characters change. Luke matures, Han Solo and Princess Leia start a relationship, and Darth Vadar becomes more evil in his actions. The story here puts our heroes at their lowest point. The tone throughout the movie is very bleak and depressing. You feel bad for our heroes and all the bad crap they have to endure throughout the movie. So DON'T expect this film to be a rehash of the first movie like Age of Ultron was to The Avengers. Like Star Wars, the only bad thing about this film is the Special Edition. Luckily, this is the Star Wars film with the least changes in it. If you are a proud cinephile, like I am, and want to see a masterpiece in cinema, this is it.
The Saga Continues...
It's very rare when a sequel outshines the film that came before it,"The Empire Strikes Back" manages to do that in many ways. "Star Wars" always will be considered an all time classic,but "Empire" is a great follow up.

According to George Lucas,It's "Episode V" in his space opera. In my opinion it's the best in the series.

The characters are more fleshed out this time,and the plot is more complex and darker then the previous installment. The F/X is outstanding.

The film stands on it's own as a great cinematic achievement and should be recognized as more than a sequel,It's a continuation of great epic and all around excellent film.
I love this one!
This is one of my favorite movies, and one of the best movies that has ever been made.Star Wars was a great movie, and a sequel being better then it seemed impossible, but empire strikes back is a better movie with a lot of good stuff.The special effects are still good today and the story is pretty good, i love a lot things that this movie has that star wars didn't.Like a lot better fight scenes, and they show a lot more of places and planets then the 1st one.I was very pleased with this movie and think it is a great film for a true movie fan to watch, i disagree with a lot of people who say it is the best star wars movie.But i can understand why they say it, empire has a lot of things to it that are just well done and impressive.I think this movie is worth owning and is a movie you can watch many times.
The darkest and best of the original trilogy
One of the rare sequels which manages to surpass the original, The Empire Strikes Back is an all-time classic. A much more personal tale, this film is really all about the journey of young Luke Skywalker. A New Hope followed Skywalker as he became involved in the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Here the rebellion is put on the back burner. This is less the story of a grand rebellion and more the story of one young man's growth as he continues to fulfill his destiny.

We pick up with the rebels in hiding on a secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth. All the familiar figures from last time around are here, including Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. And Luke Skywalker is here as well and it is Skywalker whom Darth Vader seems most interested in finding. Last time out Vader and the Empire were simply interested in wiping out the mostly anonymous rebels. Now, Vader has taken a personal interest in young Skywalker. The movie kicks into high gear as the Empire locates the rebel base and a great battle ensues. The rebels are forced to flee their base and here our heroes go off in different directions.

Guided by the spirit of former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness in what is basically a cameo role) Luke Skywalker heads for the distant swampy planet of Dagobah where he is to be trained by the old Jedi master Yoda. Soon to be one of the most beloved characters in the series, Yoda is a 900-year old, two feet tall, green alien creature. The performances of puppeteer Frank Oz as Yoda and Mark Hamill as Skywalker are crucial here. Were the performances lacking audiences might have found it hard to believe these scenes where the young Jedi trainee converses and interacts with the rather odd little creature. But Hamill and Oz pull it off well. On Dagobah Luke (and the audience) learn much about the Force and the ways of the Jedi. In the original film the only Jedi we saw, Obi-Wan Kenobi was a rather mysterious figure. Now some light is shed on exactly who the Jedi are and what is required to become one.

While Luke trains on Dagobah, Han Solo and Princess Leia are sidetracked on their journey to meet up with the rest of the rebels. Harrison Ford is terrific again playing Solo as he has the ultra-confident wiseguy role down pat. Carrie Fisher is again strong in the role of Leia, who drops some of the pretense of the last film and begins to give in to her rather obvious feelings for the swashbuckling Solo. Eventually Han and Leia make their way to Cloud City where we are introduced to another new character in the saga, Han's old friend Lando Calrissian. Han and Leia don't quite trust Lando and it soon becomes apparent that things in Cloud City are not quite what they seem. Sensing his friends are in danger Luke Skywalker leaves Dagobah to attempt to rescue them.

Skywalker arrives in Cloud City to meet his destiny. Han, Leia and the rest of the characters fade into the background as the climax, much as the entire film, will be all about Luke Skywalker. Where the original Star Wars ended with an epic space battle, here everything leads up to a thrilling one-on-one showdown capped by one of the most jaw-dropping revelations ever seen in film.

Some will say the ending of The Empire Strikes Back leaves the audience hanging. It is true there is not a clearly defined traditional ending as in the original film. But the ending here is powerful in its own way. It leaves you in great suspense, eagerly awaiting the inevitable conclusion to the saga. The film is not truly self-contained, it requires the knowledge of what has come before and the expectation of what will come after. It is by not going for the easy Hollywood ending that The Empire Strikes Back truly triumphs.

Taken on its own merits The Empire Strikes Back can be said to even surpass the original Star Wars. The acting performances are again first-rate. Yoda is a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable new character. In playing Lando Calrissian, Billy Dee Williams gives us someone well worth rooting for. Or against, we're not quite sure. The John Williams score, including the famed spine-chilling Imperial March, is magnificent. The visuals are dazzling, as would be expected. And most importantly we have a truly great story. The Empire Strikes Back, much more so than A New Hope, is Luke Skywalker's movie. It is fascinating to watch his journey as he moves towards fulfilling his ultimate destiny.
The Great Galactic War..
**Warning! Spoiler Information Inside!**

After Star Wars (1977) changed film history , the movie of the year was given to Woody Allen for Annie Hall (1977). Go Figure. Undaunted ,by the clear resistance to change Hollywood insiders posed , George Lucas pushed forward and released The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

After the swift destruction of the Death Star , the Empire is in full pursuit ,after discovering the rebels new base the fight is on. Our hero,Luke Skywalker is now an essential component to the rebellion , however he remains unaware how key he is to his movement. Much is at stake as Skywalker (Mark Hamill),faces the ultimate evil in Darth Vader and learns the horrible truth.

Fantastic direction (Irvin Kershner) and dramatic writing are further enhanced by the increased acting chops of returner Harrison Ford (Han Solo), and support from newcomers Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian)and Kenneth Colley (Capt./Adm. Piett). It goes with out much statement that the effects are top notch. The flow is sheer perfection ,the framing paced at speeds appropriate for almost every scenario. There are a few obvious goofs but they hardly detract from the heavy engrossment the storyline causes the willing viewer.

Of the six (more to come) that have been released , I rate Empire as the franchises top entry , almost flawless as film , almost. The Empire Strikes back was also the first film I ever saw.

Worth watching. Over and Over.

Four Stars(of 5.)
This is it!!
If the first Star Wars (1977) was groundbreaking, this one is breathtaking! According to me at least - the best picture in film history! A culminated crown-jewel after a decade of excellent drama productions, such as The Godfather I & II, one flew over the cuckoo's nest etc, etc. Everything is there.. skillful focus on the character-arch.. a relaxed and charming love story.. fantastic action and heroism.. and above all- George Lucas story! What is going on inside that man.. "A modern age Genius". How does he come up with all that weird but super-cool stuff! And John Williams music..!! The themes and their crafted development to the story context.. wow.. Why he didn't get the academy award, still remains one of the biggest mysteries to me, up to this day.. If you find yourself crying, getting goosebumps and laughing at the same time when viewing this piece, don't worry- You're not alone...The force is strong with this one!!
No beginning and no end........The plot darkens
This film, the second of George Lucas' incredible Saga, not only expands on the first and improves upon it in many ways but it also proves that a film can be a huge success without having a true beginning or end. Rather The Empire Strikes Back is but another chapter in the enduring tale begun by a New Hope.But it has enough witty dialog, amazing action sequences and brilliant new characters to make it a wonderful film in its own right as well.

We pick up the story on the remote island of Hoth where the Rebel Alliance has established a base beneath the snow. The Galatic Empire is hot on their tale as Darth Vadar continues his obsessive search for young Luke Skywalker, in whom he has sensed a strength beyond any he himself possesses. Luke meanwhile sets out on his own voyage to the swamps of Dagobah in search of the famed Jedi Master Yoda to train as a Jedi.

In order to help the story along Lucas introduces a range of new and interesting characters. A new villain emerges in the form of the cold hearted calculating Bounty Hunter Boba Fett hired by Vadar to find Skywalker. Fett has his own agenda too. He is being payed by Jabba the Hutt to capture Han Solo from whom Jabba is owed a dept. Another ally is also to be found in Lando Clarissian , smooth talking Administrator of Cloud City mining colony. A gambler, smuggler and old friend of Han he has entered into a tenuous deal with Vadar to protect his city but in the process must betray his old friend to the Empire.Perhaps the most iconic and best loved of all the characters is not a human at all but a small green puppet who likes talking backwards. Jedi Master Yoda is by far the most entertaining non-human character and is a perfect mix humor, mystery and wisdom

This film is much darker and action packed then the first with battles on Hoth and the desperate feeling from the Imperial Fleet of the Millennium Falcon. There is drama coming at you from all angles as Han Solo taken prisoner by Boba Fett in the most cruel manner and Vadar conspires to turn Luke to the Dark Side.We see a crueler, more selfish and sadistic side to Vader than before which adds to the tension.

Here also the ultimate man-to-man combat as Luke Skywalker comes face to face with Darth Vadar and learns in the process a terrible truth about his Father leading to perhaps the most famous quote in Cinematic history.There is also a little romance thrown into the mix as Han and Leia's relationship develops.

The Empire Strikes Back has some of the wittiest lines in the entire Saga. Such memorable quotes as " Laugh it up fuzzball!" and " He is clumsy as he is stupid" when heard in context show the skill of Lucas as scriptwriter. Special Effects beggar belief has giant four-legged walking robots are felled by fighter planes and Imperial Destroyers chase the Millennium Falcon across the Galaxy. Clearly this film is George and Co at full artistic strength.

For a film with no beginning and and no end The Empire Strikes Back is a masterpiece.It continues the Saga in a believable and captivating way and succeeds in leaving the audience gagging for more as we hope and pray Han will survive, will Luke not to give up on his path and be turned to the Dark Side and wonder how the rebels will recover from the blows dealt them by the Empire .
Possibly the best made Star Wars movie
Before I get to in depth with this whole review, I will get one thing out of the way. This isn't just possibly the best Star Wars movie. This is just flat out the best Star Wars movie in terms of film making. However, I will say this though. It is my least favorite of the original trilogy in terms of watch value. I can recognize that it is the best, but sill not really think that it is the greatest to watch.

I will get the stuff that makes it so great out of the way first. First off, it is very well acted at least for Star Wars standards. It had a lot of talent and effort put into it and it shows with the fact that everybody seemed to be at their top here. It also has one of the best endings in the series as well as nice and long training bit with Yoda at Dagobah and it shows that Luke can be able to at least fight sort of in terms of how he can handle the light saber. And the battle of Hoth was a great way to open the movie and gets you into what is going on with just the first thirty minutes or so.

Although one of the reasons on why it is not my favorite one to watch is just that it can be really boring at a lot of times. I will not be sad to admit it since it is true. Such as when Han and Leia are in space with Chewy, it can be a bit of a drag and while it does advance the whole plot line of them falling on love forward, it doesn't mean that it is something that I would be fully invested in. However, the "I love you" and the "I know" line makes up for it.

While I could go on to say something bad about this movie, I don't really feel like I can get myself to do so. And while I could say more positive things about this movie, I don't really know if I actually need to since everybody probably already knows of all the good things that are within this movie. I will say that when you watch Star Wars, you should pay attention to this one since it is one that very much will showcase what good Star Wars is like. Many people love this movie, and it really does make sense why they do. It is a genuinely well made movie, and one that has a story that really gets the series from Point A to Point B.
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