‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Imperial March

The ‘Star Wars’ saga continues!

‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ is the fifth film in the ‘Star Wars’ movie saga, although this was the second one made in the series. It was released in 1980 and was directed by Irvin Kershner with the screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan and the story by George Lucas.

This movie was included in the original ‘Star Wars Trilogy’ DVD box set and I watched this after I saw ‘A New Hope’. I was getting into these ‘Star Wars’ movies properly by then and it was exciting to watch movies that made cinema history. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ continues the story on from ‘A New Hope’.

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This was a better and stronger film compared to ‘A New Hope’, as it continued the journeys of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca and the rest. It was also a film that revealed some twists and turns about the characters, especially ones hinted from the prequel films.

Like the first original ‘Star Wars’ film, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ features some spectacular special effects; model sequences; creature effects; etc. It’s also a film that made the ‘Star Wars’ saga feel epic, especially in terms of our heroes braving the dangers when they faced the enemy in this galaxy.

During this review, I will identify what’s good and what’s bad about the movie. Again, there’s bound to be more positive than negative to identify with about ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in this review. But saying that, it won’t mean I will consider ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ my favourite of the original trilogy.

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The film takes place 3 years after ‘A New Hope’. The Death Star has been destroyed, but it’s not over for the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Galactic Empire. The Rebel Alliance has now moved their base of operations to the icy world of Hoth. The Imperial fleet continues to hunt for the Rebels.

I like how the opening sequences on the icy world of Hoth are handled in this movie. This includes Luke riding on a Tauntaun to getting captured by a yeti-like Wampa to getting rescued by Han Solo. There are also the very impressive battle scenes of the Empire’s AT-AT Walkers attacking the Rebels’ base.

Very soon however, the Rebels are scattered off their ice base of Hoth. Luke Skywalker gets separated from his friends when he and R2-D2 go off to the planet Dagobah. Han Solo, Leia, C-3PO and Chewbacca have their adventure when in the Millennium Falcon and are being chased by the Empire.

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Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker in this movie. I enjoyed how he takes on board an active role in the fight against the Galactic Empire. He takes part in the fight against the Empire AT-AT Walkers in his own X-Wing fighter. He also faces danger when being captured by a Wampa and uses his lightsaber.

Luke also receives a vision from his former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi who was killed in ‘A New Hope’. He’s told to go to the swampy planet of Dagobah to get some Jedi training from former Jedi Master, Yoda. Luke undergoes some tough challenges when he’s training to become a Jedi by Yoda.

Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo. I enjoyed Harrison Ford’s performance in this movie. Han has been helping the Rebel Alliance for some time when he’s on the icy world of Hoth. But Han plans not to stay long as he wants to return to his trade smuggling with Chewbacca on the Millennium Falcon.

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Han’s relationship with Princess Leia also develops in this movie. They start off being antagonistic towards each other like they did in ‘A New Hope’, which makes me wonder if they did that a lot in three years. But they soon come to grow fond of each other before they fall in love with each other.

Carrie Fisher returns as Princess Leia in the movie. Leia is still in charge of the Rebel Alliance and their cause of fighting against the Galactic Empire. She also shows fondness for Luke more than she does for Han Solo. This is especially as Leia kisses Luke on the lips after he was rescued by Han Solo.

But when Leia is with Han Solo, Chewbacca and C-3PO aboard the Millennium Falcon inside an asteroid field, she finds herself getting closer to Han and they eventually kiss each other. It was interesting how Leia’s love for Han grows out of antagonism and changes dramatically in the movie.

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I must also mention that Leia is pretty good in a gunfight, especially when she and the others are fighting against Stormtroopers with guns. It’s clear in ‘A New Hope’ and ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ that Leia is a very determined fighter in the struggle to overthrow the Galactic Empire in this galaxy.

Anthony Daniels returns as C-3PO in this movie. He’s still the polite, panicky protocol droid that helps out when he can to provide humanoid/cybernetic relations. But even C-3PO can get on people’s nerves. This is when he’s with Han Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon in the asteroid field.

It was funny when C-3PO got torn apart and his robot body parts were scattered about when he and the others visited Cloud City on the planet of Bespin. Many of C-3PO’s remarks when he gets into a panic; when he’s with R2-D2 and when he’s broken up are amusing and entertaining to watch/hear.

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Kenny Baker returns as R2-D2 in this movie. R2-D2 remains the funny, little droid who squeaks and beeps a lot. He accompanies Luke Skywalker when they go to the planet Dagobah. R2-D2 gives the impression that he’s anxious when they go to Dagobah. He even floats up into the air by Luke in this. 😀

I found it funny when R2-D2 worked out how to restore the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive in order for them to get into lightspeed. R2 simply looked it up. 😀 It’s always good to have R2-D2 and C-3PO to provide the comic relief in these ‘Star Wars’ films, especially when things get dark and disturbing.

Peter Mayhew returns as Chewbacca in this movie. Not surprisingly, Chewbacca continues to roar away and not speak English. Even Han Solo continues to understand him. One wonders why nobody put subtitles on for Chewbacca in these films so that we can understand what the heck he’s saying!

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Aside from that, Chewbacca is good in a crisis (most of the time) when he and Han Solo are piloting the Millennium Falcon to get away from the Empire ships attacking them. Chewbacca is also good in recovering C-3PO’s broken body parts and he tries to put them back together before R2-D2 turns up.

Darth Vader returns in this movie, played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones. In this movie, Darth Vader takes an interest in Luke Skywalker, especially when he notices him taking an active role in the Rebellion. Vader also senses the Force is strong with Luke Skywalker in this movie.

In this movie, we see Darth Vader at his most villainous best, especially when he disposes of people who fail him and when he takes part in the action. This includes him capturing Han Solo, Leia and Chewbecca in a trap as well as fighting Luke Skywalker in a deadly lightsaber duel towards the end.

star wars episode v the empire strikes back8This film also sees Frank Oz return as Yoda, a former Jedi Master, although ironically this was the first time Yoda appeared in a ‘Star Wars’ movie. Yoda has been on Dagobah for some time after he decided to go into exile since ‘Revenge of the Sith’. He comes to meet Luke when he’s on Dagobah.

I like how Yoda seems to be playful to Luke Skywalker when they first meet. Luke doesn’t realise that he’s the Yoda he’s looking for and becomes impatient. Yoda reluctantly takes Luke on board as his student and trains him to become a Jedi. The training of Luke by Yoda is interesting as it’s not easy.

There’s also something else about Yoda. He’s returned to his Muppet puppet self instead of his CGI self from the prequels. Now I know the original trilogy was made before the prequels, but it makes things less consistent with Yoda’s appearance. Why couldn’t they have him as a puppet all the time?

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The film also introduces Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Lando is the administrator of Cloud City and an old friend of Han Solo’s. Han Solo; Leia; Chewbacca and C-3PO go to Cloud City on Bespin to get some help from Lando with repairs to the Millennium Falcon. But is Lando that trust-worthy?

It seems apparently not, since Lando betrays Han Solo and the others to Darth Vader when he’s on Cloud City too. Lando seems regretful in his alliance with Darth Vader and the Imperial forces to betray Han Solo and the others. Could there be a chance that Lando can redeem himself in this film?

As I said before, the film also features the return of Sir Alec Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan is now a ghost, which is something that can happen in connection to the Force. Luke Skywalker can see and hear him as well as Yoda. Obi-Wan is anxious that Luke will fall to the Dark Side like Darth Vader.

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The film also features a bounty hunter named Boba Fett, played by Jeremy Bulloch and voiced by Temuera Morrison (for the 2004 DVD version). I’ve met Jeremy Bulloch in real-life at a few conventions. Boba Fett also happens to be the son of Jango Fett from the ‘Attack of the Clones’ film.

Ian McDiarmid (for the 2004 DVD version) makes a return appearance as Darth Sidious, now the Emperor of the Galactic Empire in this ‘Star Wars’ film. The Emperor briefly contacts Darth Vader to inform him of some disturbance within the Force and that Luke Skywalker is Anakin Skywalker’s son.

The film also features some stars I recognise from seeing in ‘Doctor Who’. There’s Julian Glover (who was in ‘The Crusade’ and ‘City of Death’ as well as the James Bond movie ‘For Your Eyes Only’) as General Veers. There’s also Michael Sheard who has been in many ‘Doctor Who’ stories like ‘Pyramids of Mars’, ‘Castrovalva’ and ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’ as Admiral Ozzel, who gets killed. There’s also Paul Jerricho (who played the Castellan in ‘Arc of Infinity’ and ‘The Five Doctors’) as an AT-AT driver in the movie.

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The film also features Bruce Boa, who has been in the ‘Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘Waldorf Salad’, as Rebel Force General Rieekan. I didn’t realise that John Ratzenberger from the American sitcom series ‘Cheers’ made an appearance in this movie as Rebel Force Major Derlin. That guy gets everywhere! 😀

The showdown for the film is pretty awesome. Darth Vader attempts to lure Luke Skywalker into a trap as he uses Han Solo, Leia and the others. Han Solo gets frozen in suspended animation in a block of carbonite. This is after Leia tells Han Solo that she loves him and that he knows…somehow.

Eventually, Luke Skywalker arrives in Cloud City on Bespin and soon confronts Darth Vader in a deadly lightsaber duel. This lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader is pretty impressive compared to the lightsaber duel that was between Vader and Obi-Wan in ‘A New Hope’.

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Saying that, the lightsaber duels in the prequels movies are better compared to this one. However, Luke finds himself fighting against Darth Vader over Cloud City’s central air shaft. This results in Darth Vader severing Luke’s right hand. It mirrors what happened to Anakin in ‘Attack of the Clones’.

Thus the shocking truth is revealed to Luke Skywalker. Luke hears Darth Vader say to him…“I am your father!” Luke says it’s impossible before he searches his feelings and yells “NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” twice. Now…you think I haven’t seen something like this before? Well I watched ‘Toy Story 2’ first. 😀

After this shocking revelation, Luke plummets off the bridge of the central air shaft before he’s eventually rescued by Princess Leia and the others inside the Millennium Falcon. This is after Luke makes telepathic contact with Leia to rescue him. Hmm. What could it mean? Is it a significant thing?

The film’s music is again composed by John Williams. John delivers a stupendous score for this movie, especially ‘The Imperial March’ which has now become the Darth Vader theme. I easily recognise Darth Vader’s theme music and I also easily hum to it whenever I think about ‘Star Wars’.

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The DVD special features are as follows. On the DVD disc for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, there’s an audio commentary by executive producer George Lucas; Carrie Fisher; director Irvin Kershner; sound designer Ben Burtt and visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren.

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‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ is a great film in the ‘Star Wars’ saga! I don’t think it’s as good as ‘A New Hope’ is, since it didn’t have the fast-paced atmosphere it could have had. But it was pretty enjoyable. I like how the twists and turns get revealed especially with the Skywalker legacy.

This is where things start to culminate together especially with what happened in the prequels as well as in ‘A New Hope’. The film ends on a cliffhanger, but it’s an exciting cliffhanger as audiences will want to know what will happen next and they can look forward to the resolution in the next film.

Han Solo has been taken away in suspended animation. Will Luke and Leia find their friend again?

‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ rating – 9/10

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2 thoughts on “‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (Film)

  1. Timelord 007

    Empire is a bridging the gap sequel, moving the narrative of A New Hope forward while setting up events for Return Of The Jedi.

    I love this film, it has everything from awesome action to some very emotional dramatic scenes,Yoda is amazing in this film & i love how he effortlessly lifts Lukes X-Wing out the swamp.

    My favourite scenes include Luke beheading Vader in the cave sequence which has two meanings Luke could turn to the dark side but hints at a possible family connection to Vader.

    The scene we see Vader from behind without his mask & his scarred head was quite chilling & of course the reveal was iconic cinema twist at the time in 1980, i doubt you could keep that a secret with social media nowadays.

    My gripe with this film is you have a bad ass bounty hunter Boba Fett & yet Lucas didn’t do anything with him, why isn’t he kicking the rebellion ass or fighting Landos guard’s on Cloud City? A wasted opportunity there Mr Lucas.

    Awesome detailed review Tim, you put a lot of effort into these reviews my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘The Empire Strikes Back’! I’m amazed I put a lot into these ‘Star Wars’ reviews. They do take a while for me to write, I can tell you! 😀

      Yes that is true in that ‘Empire’ bridges the gap between ‘A New Hope’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’. It’s something that the prequels movies never did and it’s more akin to what ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogies did.

      Thanks for sharing why you love this film so much including its action scenes and emotional moments. I like Yoda in this film especially when he meets Luke Skywalker for the first time. I do prefer him as a puppet compared to the CGI version in the prequels.

      I like that dream sequence where Luke fights Darth Vader too. It’s quite disturbing and it was a shock when seeing Luke’s face in Vader’s mask once he beheaded him. It links things very nicely from the prequels into the original trilogy for me.

      I was quite surprised when they showed a glimpse of Vader’s scared head from behind the mask in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. I had seen it before in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ and I suppose that does spoil the surprise for those who watch the prequels first before the original trilogy like me. Secrets are definitely a challenge to hide behind social media these days.

      I have to be honest with you, Simon. I didn’t think much of Boba Fett from the ‘Star Wars’ films. I gathered he was popular and that he was the son of Jango Fett. But the fact he was underused didn’t help for me to appreciate his character. I can see why that is now from your comments since he didn’t say or do much.

      Glad you appreciate my rating on this movie. I enjoyed it very much, but I don’t think it compares well to ‘A New Hope’.

      Looking forward to next week! I wonder how the ‘Return of the Jedi’ review will turn out. 😀

      Tim. 🙂



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