Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford
Director: Irvin Kershner
Running Time: 127 mins
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is an American film and the second in the Star Wars saga. Following the destruction of the Death Star, the Galactic Empire hits back at the Rebels as Luke Skywalker trains to become a Jedi Master, and Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO desperately attempt to escape the clutches of a relentless imperial pursuit.
Following on from the great adventure that was the first Star Wars, we get one of the most compelling, unpredictable and dramatic films of all time: The Empire Strikes Back. With some of the best dialogue of the saga, coupled with an intricate and well-held plot, as well as thrilling action throughout, it’s almost impossible to argue against the brilliance of the second Star Wars movie.
The main reason that The Empire Strikes Back is simply such a good film is because so much happens in its two-hour runtime. We’ve seen Star Wars movies that go beyond that length, and nearly nothing happens, but here, we get a thrilling story that’s both hugely significant in terms of the overall story arc of the original trilogy, and massively instrumental in the development of our main characters.
Starting with Luke Skywalker, he’s a more experienced warrior than he was in Episode IV, but in this film, we get to see him face his greatest challenges as he attempts to become a Jedi Master, and it’s absolutely fascinating to watch him go up against all the odds, and not always come out on top. The film is a real learning curve for our main hero, but it makes for a truly enthralling story.
And then you’ve got the development of the relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia. Apart from the fact that we now see the two of them as hardened rebel fighters, even more courageous than last time out, what is arguably the most compelling story in The Empire Strikes Back is the way in which the two change from bickering frenemies to a believable, interesting and entertaining romantic couple.
Of course, there’s so much more about the story here to talk about, and that’s testament to how much happens, and how much there is to be interested in, but there are also some other impressive points we need to talk about.
Building on the legendary success of the first film, this takes the special effects capabilities to a whole new level. Whilst I said that the effects in A New Hope do stand up today, there are some slightly iffy moments here and there, but The Empire Strikes Back has no problems at all. The visuals aren’t at all dated, and it makes for a truly beautiful watch, further embodying the scope of the Star Wars galaxy far beyond what you could imagine.
Finally, credit has to go to writers Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett for the excellent screenplay here. Whilst we know George Lucas can do wonderful things with the story, as he’s proved in A New Hope and this film, his dialogue is often a bit wooden. However, Kasdan and Brackett take his thrilling story, and mould it perfectly, with two hours of perfectly-executed, fast-paced and captivating dialogue that edge this to being a better film than Episode IV.
Overall, The Empire Strikes Back is a simply stunning film, with a thrillingly unpredictable plot, fascinating character development, a genuine sense of importance, beautiful visuals and brilliant dialogue, and that’s why I’m going to give it an 8.9.