Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) / Fantasy-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: PG for sci-fi action violence
Running Time: 124 min.
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billie Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels
Director: Irvin Kirshner
Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
Review published February 4, 1997
The Empire Strikes Back continues the Star Wars saga in exciting fashion, with the Empire now having driven the Rebels from their secret base to another on an ice world called Hoth. The Empire eventually finds them on Hoth, forcing an evacuation, whereupon Luke (Hamill, Corvette Summer) is told by the "spirit" of Obi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness, The Quiller Memorandum) to seek out a Jedi instructor named Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz, The Blues Brothers) for training. Meanwhile, romance is brewing between Han Solo (Ford, More American Graffiti) and Princess Leia (Fisher, Hannah and Her Sisters), but Han has problems of his own as he is plagued by bounty hunters and the Empire out to nab him. Excitement erupts as Luke and Vader meet face to face, and some startling revelations occur.
The Empire Strikes Back is not only a terrific sequel to Star Wars, it's one of the best sequels of all time, and some people even think it's better than the first of the series. I don't totally agree with that assessment, but admittedly the special effects are better, the characters more three-dimensional, the artwork more beautiful, and the John Williams (1941, Superman) score still absolutely amazing. The film leaves more questions than answers, and sets itself up in the end for the eventual sequel to tie up all the loose ends.
Empire may ultimately be just a set-up film, but what a setup! It's grand scale and top-notch entertainment of the highest order, and a must-see for anyone who saw Star Wars. The pace and editing of this film is nothing short of perfection...this is how to keep action tight and suspenseful!
-- Followed by Return of the Jedi
©1997 Vince Leo