Quick View: The Death Star is destroyed, but will young Luke and his band of rebels be able to survive against the empire now that they’ve kicked the hornet’s nest? Will young luke be able to master his force powers with his mentor Obi-wan gone?
Full Review: Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back is the second installment of George Lucas’ groundbreaking Scifi-fantasy space adventure. Following on the heels of his very successful first film, Lucas delivers a very strong, very well made sequel that puts many imitations to shame. Many people had doubts about whether or not the next installment could live up to the Star Wars name, and George Lucas blew the critics out of the water. Even today, more than 30 years later, finding faults in this film is very hard as most of
the lacking parts of the film actually give the movie a sense of style and originality. This film is heralded by many as the best movie ever made, and definitely deserves the recognition.
The story follows Luke Skywalker and his friends, Han solo and Leia Organa, as they continue their fight against the empire. After an accident on the Snowy planet of Hoth, luke finds himself fighting off a large bear-like beast, demonstrating his use of the force to grab his lightsaber and free himself from an ice trap. Injured and delirious, luke sees the force ghost of his former mentor and friend, who tells him to seek out Jedi Master Yoda in the Dagobah star system. Han Solo finds the injured Luke, and brings back to base, not long before the empire finds and assaults the Rebels snowy hideaway. After helping buy time for the rebels to flee, Luke and his friends go separate ways as Luke sets out to find the former jedi to help progress his training in the ways of the force. Meanwhile, Han, Leia and Chewie find themselves being chased by the empire, and seek refuge in cloud city, under the protection of Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian. Whilst luke trains with the the small, strange jedi master, Han finds, to his dismay, that his friend Lando had made a deal with Vader, leading to Hans torture and subsequent Freezing in carbonite. The pain caused to his friends is felt through the force, and Luke ends his training early to go to their aid, at the protest of his small green master. Luke encounters vader, and a lightsaber duel ensues. Vader shows his proficiency throughout the fight, and toys with the young apprentice as he vainly attempts to defeat the sith lord. After losing his hand and on the edge of a large endless wind tunnel, Vader reveals a shocking truth to the young force user. With nowhere to turn, Luke escapes down the tunnel, and is rescued by the his friends and Lando who helped free them and aid in their escape.
The character development in this installment blows the previous film out of the water. We see relationships bloom, characters learn and change, and see Luke start to explore his latent ability with the force. We have new more interesting characters, and groundbreaking reveals about the history and relationships between all the different people in the film. The actors do a great job, and the performance is seamless. We get to see the former victors feel the pressure as the empire squeezes their efforts, and the tense atmosphere is made better by the spot on talent.
The environments and locals are still just as good, and we are treated to more of the beautiful set design by Lucas’ crew. Most people probably don’t notice this, but the prop design and costuming in this film is absolutely superb. Minor improvements were made to the lead casts attire and it adds a new level of detail (For example, Vader’s collar is Silver and black instead of matt and reflective black, and han solo rocks a nice ironed blue jacket instead of his lanky black vest). The makeup department also did a great job with Luke and Han as they both go through traumatic experiences. In fact, Mark Hamill was in a car accident, and the beginning scenes of him being attacked were added in to allow for his wounds to make sense canonically.
At the end of it all, the production quality, writing, performance, and entertainment value of the movie blows any critique or shortcomings I can think of out of the water. The mere fact that many of the events in this movie were worked around real life incidents with the crew make it that much more of an impressive feat. Lucas proved with with this movie that even with the limited technology of the 80s, a breathtaking space thriller could be done right.
Final Score: !!! 10/10 !!!