Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back

Mark Hamill and David Prowse in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back continues the saga by giving audiences a new thrilling adventure with our favorite heroes.

Darth Vader certainly has it out for Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).  Meanwhile, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) take refuge in Cloud City.  It just so happens that Han’s friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), is the administrator of Cloud City.  The Millennium Falcon is in dire need of repairs after the Rebels were forced to flee the ice planet of Hoth.

While Han, Leia, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) do their best to escape Darth Vader’s (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) clutches, Luke is off to the Dagobah system.  It’s here where Luke is to train under a great Jedi Master, Yoda (Frank Oz).  And then it’s off to save his friends from Darth Vader.

The film introduces us to new concepts not seen in the first film.  Obi-Wan Kenobi’s (Alec Guinness) body disappeared but we certainly don’t have a clue as to why.  Appropriately, we learn that he became a Force ghost after being struck down.  This is one of those ideas that we ultimately come to learn about during the prequels.  Well, more like the novel tie-in since the scene managed to get cut out of Revenge of the Sith.

It isn’t just new concepts that we’re introduced to in the film.  Perhaps one of the biggest moments comes after Luke leaves to save his friends.  Obi-Wan Kenobi believes that Luke is the last hope and should things fail, hope is lost.  It’s Yoda who informs us that “there is another.”  Who is this other hope?  Tune in next time during Return of the Jedi unless you watched the Star Wars prequels!  I’ll have a bit to say about this!

While it’s true that the prequels do enhance viewing of The Empire Strikes Back, a first-time viewer is best off watching the original trilogy first.  Watching the prequels will certainly prevent viewers from being shocked.  Though with the world being what it is, it is probably hard to go into Star Wars for the first time without knowing said twist.

Speaking of prequels, The Empire Strikes Back is definitely darker than middle prequel film Attack of the Clones.  Where AOTC set up a love story, there’s already a love story here.  It’s not a surprise to see how the Star Wars films have similar themes.  Where we’re better off is that this film doesn’t have to set up the love story between Han Solo and Princess Leia.  One could say it was started in the first film but it’s probably been expanded in the books.  This is the beauty of Star Wars.  The saga is more than just the movies.  There are so many books in existence but its hard to keep up with every single one of them.

I envy everyone who gets to watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes back for the first time.  If people go into the film without having seen the prequels, they’ll never see it coming.  I came of age during a world of VHS and later, DVDs and Blu-rays.  As such, I didn’t have to wait three years to see what happens next.  This film managed to give us one of the best twists in cinematic history.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is arguably one of the three greatest Star Wars films heading into The Rise of Skywalker.

DIRECTOR:  Irvin Kershner
SCREENWRITERS:  Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan
CAST:  Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz, and James Earl Jones

20th Century Fox opened Star Wars: Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back in theaters on May 21, 1980. Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.