Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Star Wars Episode 5 - The Empire Strikes Back

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford as Han Solo
Carrie Fischer as Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels as C-3PO
David Prowse as Darth Vader
Kenny Baker as R2-D2
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca
Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda
Director: Irvin Kershner

Fleeing the evil Galactic Empire, the Rebels abandon their new base in an assault with the Imperial AT-AT walkers on the ice world of Hoth. Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca and the droid C-3PO escape in the Millennium Falcon as the Imperials pursue them across the galaxy. Meanwhile, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the droid R2-D2 travel to the swamp world of Dagobah to learn the ways of the force from the legendary Jedi Master Yoda after receiving a vision from Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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The Empire Strikes back is the best Star Wars movie ever made and also one of the best films of all time. It was a hard act to make a follow up to original, but Irvin Kershner more than manages it. Dark and powerful, it improves on everything that was great in the first movie – it’s overall a masterpiece.

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Tone-wise, The Empire Strikes Back is darker than Star Wars but not too dark. The story picks up after the events of the first movie and from start to finish, always interests the audience. The first act is really good and starts off on a great note, it is the invasion of Hoth; the battle is so well put together and filmed and is one of the best scenes in the franchise. There is a particular plot point near the end of the movie that no one could have predicted at the time – which I will not spoil for those few people who haven’t watched this movie yet. If that same thing was repeated in another movie today, it wouldn’t really work, not just because this movie used it; with this movie, it is appropriate and somehow strangely works. The ending also is a little bit of a cliff-hanger. It isn’t like the previous movie with them invading the Death Star but somehow ends up being more satisfying.

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Just about everyone from the previous film returns here. A lot of the characters go through changes – overall they are much stronger characters. Luke is starting to learn about becoming a Jedi. Darth Vader in this movie is also more of a threat than in the previous movie. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fischer have great banter and dialogue between them which are effective, fun to watch and further the characters. The new characters introduced are also well acted, such as Billy Dee Williams in the role as Lando Calrissian; although he doesn’t have that much screen time and not much information is given about him, he is definitely a great addition to the cast. However the supporting character who steals the show is Yoda, played by Frank Oz who is a scene stealer and makes the character so special. Oz actually manages to go beyond Yoda being a puppet, and has successfully made him a character that really lives and breathes.

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The special effects are similar to Star Wars but end up being slightly better. The film takes a variety of locations, from the ice planet of Hoth, the swamp planet Dagabah and many others. John Williams’s score here continues to impress. The song that stands out the most is the Imperial March which is mostly used for Darth Vader; it gives such a dark and powerful vibe and in my opinion it is actually better than the original main theme of Star Wars.

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The Empire Strikes Back isn’t just the best Star Wars movie; it’s also one of the greatest films of all time. It improves on every element, from the acting, to the effects, locations, art directions and even the writing. It is up there with movies like The Godfather Part 2, Aliens and Terminator 2 as brilliant sequels that are better than the original. Absolutely brilliant, the Empire Strikes Back is a fantastic film in every way.

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