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Star Wars Special: The Empire Strikes Back Review

Following the triumphant attack by the rebels, who destroyed the Death Star, Darth Vader is now on the search for young Luke Skywalker. Welcome back to my Star Wars special...

Genre: Action / Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Director: Irvin Kershner

Cast: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Frank Oz, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Billy Dee Williams, Jeremy Bulloch, Alec Guinness, & David Prowse.

Run Time: 124 min.

US Release: 20 June 1980

UK Release: 21 May 1980

German Release: 11 December 1980

Hello everybody, if you recently followed my blog you will know that I am currently reviewing all Star Wars movies, leading up to The Force Awakens which I am going to see first thing on Friday. Having finished all reviews for the prequels and having already posted the first review for Episode IV: A New Hope, I will be writing today about my second favourite film of the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back!

As I already stated yesterday, these films are part of my all-time favourites and are listed in my on my list for my 50 favourite movies! Now, I know some of you reading this will be asking yourself why this is only my second favourite movie and not my favourite; its simple, Episode IV has a higher nostalgia factor for me, being the first Star Wars film I ever saw!


After the defeat by the hands of the rebels and the loss of the Death Star, the Empire is hunting down the rebellion, trying to bring it to and end. Vader (Prowse and Jones), having learned of the young pilot’s identity that destroyed the space station, is obsessed to find him and won't rest until he finally gets to meet Luke Skywalker (Hamill) face to face. While mean, Luke and R2-D2 travel to the planet Dagobah, where he is to be trained by an old Jedi Master.

I love every moment of this revenge piece! The story contains a couple of twists and revelations that left me thinking about it for weeks when I was a kid. The fact that the whole script needed to be revised by Lucas, Kasdan and Brackett did leave some marks, though, as this science fiction classic feels a little disjointed from the previous film. However, I still think that the new story elements fall right into place, even if they contradict some of the previous plot parts. I never think of Vader's revelation, being Luke’s father, as a contradiction or and illogical move, buying into the explanation used in Return of the Jedi and shown in Revenge of the Sith. Old Ben Kenobi doesn't lie to Luke, it just is a matter of perspective. If you see it as I do, you’d come to realise that the person Anakin used to be died through his own hatred. What was left of him was reborn as Darth Vader.

The only problem I have with the plot is during Luke’s training with Yoda and the scenes with Han Solo and Leia, hiding in the asteroid field from Vader’s fleet. There is no clear sense of time between these two segments. The asteroid scene looks like it was resolved in a matter of hours, while the Jedi training seems to take place over a longer period of time.

Something I truly appreciate about Episode V is the dialogue; It has appropriate conversations during serious life-threatening moments, as well as more light-hearted discussions during comedic sections. The dialogues were always fitting to the scenes.

We are also introduced to a number of new characters, such as Jedi grand master Yoda, who has clearly gone partially mad since his exile to Dagobah. He trains Luke in the way of the force, even though, having clear concerns due to his heritage. We meet Billy Dee as Lando Calrissian, an old acquaintance of Han Solo and a shady character at that, who is the head of a smuggling operation that runs Cloud City. And although not being a character, I am very fond of the Tauntauns, creatures indigenous to the ice planet of Hoth.

There are three characters that made major developments in this movie. Leia Organa turned from a damsel in distress to a real leader of the rebellion; it was a joy to see her give orders in the rebellion’s headquarters. She not only proves to be a resourceful lady but also has vast strategic knowledge. Luke also undergoes some crucial changes, as he turns from the naive farmer boy, who dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot one day, to one of the most valued members of the rebellion.

Darth Vader also makes some important character developments. First of all it is revealed that he is not leading the Galactic Empire, showed once he bows down to a hologram of the Emperor, calling him master while discussing a disturbance in the force and young Luke Skywalker. I also consider seeing see the man inside the armour, as a big revelation, since until then the audience was never sure of what or who Darth Vader is.

The biggest relationship I came to value in this sci-fi opera, is that of Leia and Han Solo. Both are clearly attracted to each other, but she rebuffs him due to his rascal behaviour and he clearly doesn't know how to handle his feelings for her. The love story reaches its peak when she accepts her feelings for him, during the tension filled scene when Han is frozen in carbon, ready to be shipped by Boba Fett to Jabba the Hutt.

As far as cinematography goes; while some of the special effects are outdated it is still a treat to watch this movie. I love the dark and dirty portrayal of Dagobah, Luke’s Jedi training and the panoramic shots of Cloud City. One of the most beautiful scenes in the movie is the panoramic shot of the planet Hoth, portraying its dangerous and hostile atmosphere and freezing temperatures.

The original trilogy's musical score is one of my all time favourite film music! The Empire’s Imperial March is a dark and threatening theme, fitting perfectly to the character of Darth Vader and Luke’s theme is a very emotional score.


Verdict: The Empire Strikes Back is one of the most impressive films I have seen in my youth and still manages to draw a smile on my face every time I re-watch it, taking me to a galaxy far, far away. The story is one of my all-time favourites and the characters of the previous movie, develope into more mature figures. The growing relationship between Han and Leia is one of cinematic best and the plot twist is a memorable and unpredicted disclosure. This science fiction film is an incredible experience and I will give The Empire Strikes Back a perfect 10 out of 10.

What was your favourite part of this sci-fi movie? Do you agree with my opinion? If you are interested in my other Star Wars reviews, scroll down to the related reviews! Thank you very much for reading my post and if you enjoyed this review, please subscribe and give it a like.

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