Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back Review


The battle on Hoth! Cloud City! Luke vs. Vader (with THAT revelation)! More Han and Leia chemistry! What else can you say about Empire that hasn’t already been said? Turns out, not much… but I’ll give it a go anyway.


Official Synopsis:

It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy.

Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker has established a new secret base on the remote ice world of Hoth.

The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Skywalker, has dispatched thousands of remote probes into the far reaches of space….

Full Spoilers From Here On Out!

Cast of Characters:

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My current “best lightsaber fight ever”.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) – After escaping the battlefields of Hoth, Luke finally begins his journey as a Jedi full on, which is handy given what Vader is up to…

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) – Still helping to lead the Rebellion, Leia is stuck with the obnoxious Han Solo, who she clearly loves but doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of telling him… at least not until he might die, then she will!

Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) – After getting a bit of a bollocking for letting the Death Star explode, Darth Vader is back with a vengeance, obsessed with the young boy who turns out is his son. Time for some good old fashioned father-son bonding!

Han Solo (Harrison Ford) – Still cocky and a little bit selfish, Solo is still hanging around the Rebel bases following Leia around in the hopes she’ll fall for him. That and freeing the galaxy from tyranny, etc…

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) – Endlessly loyal to Han, Chewie is still roaring around fixing things and shooting things in the name of the Rebellion.

R2-D2 and C-3PO (Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels) – The two comedy bickering droids are still bickering with each other comically, but actually spend most of the film apart, so… that sentence doesn’t actually relate to the film much. Oh well!

Yoda (Frank Oz) – Small, green, extremely old, very odd and currently living in a swamp, Yoda is the former leader of the Jedi who now has to teach Luke the ways of the force, because training a Skywalker when he’s older than the usual trainee always goes well!

Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) – Slightly less cocky and selfish smuggler friend of Han Solo who has seemingly settled down to a quiet life in Cloud City… That is until the Empire came knocking on the door…

The Good:

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AT-ATs on Hoth! Few things can make me smile more…

Well, it seems rather obvious at this point, but the cast is still great. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher rise about the slightly-below-everyone-else-ness they suffered from in the last film and put in fine performances. Harrison Ford as Han Solo is still pure charisma and pulls you into any scene he’s in, especially alongside Leia, which he is for the whole film. James Earl Jones continues to give the perfect ominous voice to go along with the intimidating look of Darth Vader. Chewbacca and the droids (best band name ever?) also continue to be enjoyable. To round off the cast are new comers Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, and Frank Oz as the voice of Yoda, who is now living alone on a swamp planet (and I guess has gone slightly crazy due to it…)

To start off I may as well talk about the start! The scenes on Hoth, both between Luke and Han in the wastes and the battle between the Rebels and the Imperial walkers (the AT-ATs) is still great fun to watch. I still love the designs on the AT-ATs and the scene where the solider uses the scanner and looks at the legs before looking all the way up to the top of the machine is still such a great reveal. Snow speeders and tow cables are all I need to hear to be happy.

After that is a cooling down period, though the scenes with Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C3P0 are full of great dialogue between the foursome, and the music that plays when they’re entering the asteroid field still sends chills down my spine (as does John Williams’ score in general, once again). Oh and the scene where Darth Vader is explaining his contract to a bunch of bounty hunters is still great, not just because of the introduction of Boba Fett, but the designs for all of the bounty hunters sets off your imagination (and 100s of spin off material!)

Then of course we get to Cloud City, which I love the design of by the way. The scene where Han tries to shoot Vader only to have his blasts deflected by the latter’s hand, then his gun taken from him by the Force alone is one of the best “this villain is a bad ass” moments ever. The Han frozen in carbonite “I love you!” “I know.” scene is of course a classic moment, and do I even need to talk about the Vader vs. Luke showdown? The actual duel is good enough, but then the whole dramatic reveal of Vader as Luke’s father puts the cherry on top of the cake.

The Bad:

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A picture of Luke on Dagobah would have made more sense here… oh well!

Not much, but I will say the Luke training with Yoda on Dagobah stuff can get tedious. I mean, there is some funny scenes between the two, and it’s always great to see Alec Guinness as Obi-wan again, but there is a lot of dead time. It’s far from bad, but it’s enough away from good that I can put it here without feeling too bad.

Although it’s not much of a problem nowadays, but I will mention the fact that the film ends of a cliffhanger to be a bit of a downer. Especially since the cliffhanger isn’t followed up in the way it seems. Lando and Chewbacca go to “get Han Solo back”, but by the time Return of the Jedi takes place a new plan involving the entire cast has clearly been created, and some time had passed as well. I don’t mind some things being left open in order to be addressed in the sequel, but this is a little too “on the nose” for me.

Overall Thoughts:

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A whole city in the clouds! … Seems… safe?

As you can see by how little bad there is, what can I say about this film overall? It’s brilliant. Among the best sci-fi … anything… ever. It has a darker tone, but still has plenty of fun, it has great duels both with machines and lightsabers, and it has great dialogue and music throughout the whole runtime. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’d have no problem putting it on and watching it all over again.

5 Star Watch

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