Hailed as one of the best sequels ever made, The Empire Strikes Back is one of those rare movies that is even better than the original. The film starts off with the rebels now hiding from the Empire on the frozen planet Hoth. Darth Vader is hell-bent on finding the rebels and Luke Skywalker after he destroyed the Death Star. Han Solo must leave and repay Jabba The Hutt in order to save his neck. Princess Leia is having mixed feelings for Solo while she leads the rebellion against The Empire.
Meanwhile Luke is on a lone mission for checking if Hoth has any life forms and encounters a Wampa who captures him and ties him upside down in order to eat him. Luke uses the force for the first time, and manages to get ahold of his light-saber in one of the best movie scenes ever—and gets free after cutting off the Wampa’s arm.
Alone and selfless, Luke sees a vision of Obi-Won Kenobi who tells him to go see his former master Yoda (Not Qui-Gon Jin, I don’t know why Lucas made that up) who lives on planet Degobah just before he passes out and is saved by Han Solo who slices up a dead tauntaun with the blue light saber and places Luke inside. The two manage to survive until morning and Luke is brought back to the base for treatment.
The Empire Strikes Back is extremely dark, but it is also a very funny movie, thanks to the witty banter between the main characters. The chemistry between the characters which was ever so present in A New Hope is even better in this film, since there is a sense of camaraderie and friendship between the characters now, they all care for one another and would die for each other. Han and Leia still go at each other, but you can tell that they are starting to fall in love and appreciate themselves. There is also an extremely awkward scene in which Leia kisses Luke, to make Han jealous, and well, that was probably one of the reasons why nobody expected the series big reveal.
Irvin Kershner did a fantastic job directing this film. The Empire Strikes Back is a superbly well-filmed movie that is magnificently shot and so well paced. There is not one dull moment in this film and for a sequel, that’s a tough thing to accomplish. What Empire Strikes Back does so well is how it expands the world of Star Wars even more.
The empire finds the rebels, and the battle of Hoth begins, which still to this day impresses. It is even better than the assault on the first Death Star, since everyone has something to do. Luke is on the battlefield; while Han, Chewbaca, C3PO and R2D2 escape at the last moment, just before Vader arrives and watches them leave the Hoth Base. The battle is exciting and tension filled. It’s great stuff.
The crew splits off into two parties: Luke goes to Degobah to meet Yoda while Han Solo and Leia are getting pursued by the Empire. What is great about this is that the Millennium Falcon never works, the hyperdrive is always broken and they are always challenged by the Empire’s Tie Fighters, which is what makes this movie so suspensful.
I just love this scene so much; the music by John Williams is just incredible as the falcon swifts across the asteroid field while being chased by Tie Fighters.
They pass through the asteroid field and hide in a meteor in what seems to be like a “cave.” This is where Han Solo and Leia’s relationship really blossoms and where they actually admit that they have feelings for one another.
This film is also the first introduction we get to The Imperial March theme, one of the most famous movie themes ever. It’s perfect and it completely works. Vader hires a squad of Bounty Hunters, and singurlarly singles out Boba Fett, and tells him that he wants them alive, “no disentagration,” which makes Boba Fett such a badass which also means that Vader knows of Fett’s reputation. I also loved the reptile looking guy Bossk, who to me was the second coolest looking Bounty Hunter after Boba.
Vader is also way more evil than in A New Hope. He executes those who fail him one after the other, using the force choke. He promotes an imperial guard to a higher rank and there’s just this look of fear on this guard’s face, which clearly states “I’m going to be next no matter what I do.”
The Empire Strikes Back is the special edition that has the least changes out of the three original Star Wars movies and I think that’s because that’s the film George Lucas is the most proud off and feels that it’s the most complete. There is a couple of added shots, but the biggest thing that was change was the actor who played the Emperor instead of Ian McDiarmid, the actor who played him in Return of the Jedi and all three of the prequels. The dialogue is also changed multiple times, but I must admit that I don’t mind the change, since in the other version it made it looked like The Emperor was some kind of weird green alien.
Luke soon meets Yoda, who is one of the coolest characters in movie history. He is so, so funny when we are first introduced to him as he starts to steal Luke’s stuff and eats his lunch. We don’t even know that this creature is really Yoda at first; he tells Luke to follow him to his home and makes him diner. You soon find out that this is all to test Luke’s patience, and we hear the spirit of Obiwan. Yoda is hesitant to train Luke, since he doesn’t think he has any patience and he is too old, but Obiwan convinces him to do so. I never understand why Yoda doesn’t want to train Luke. He’s the last Jedi remaining. Their only hope against the empire. I think he’d train him instantly concerning the stakes involved.
The Degobah set is just one of the best sets ever. It looks like a real environment. It’s dirty, slimy and foggy and makes you wonder why Yoda would ever want to live there in the first place. Luke has this dark vision of himself battling Vader, which is a vision of the future that might happen and kills Vader and sees himself in the helmet, just before it explodes.
We then cut back to Han, Chewie, Leia, R2 and 3PO who are inside the cave of the meteor and Han and Leia grow closer. They also find out that the cave is alive, and is in fact a giant creature, that breathes in space—that’s weird—and set out for Cloud City to meet with Han’s old acquaintance, Lando Calrissian.
Lando is one of the best supporting characters ever. He’s another smuggler, and he’s charming and doesn’t waste anytime with Leia. I like the way he’s talking with Han and notices Leia and declares, “Hello, how are you doing?”
The Falcon crew stays at Cloud City while ship is getting repaired. C3PO goes missing, and Leia doesn’t trust Lando.
Luke has visions of the future of his friends being tortured, and leaves Degobah even despite Master Yoda’s protests. Even Obiwan himself comes down from heaven as a force ghost to warn Luke that he must stay and continue his training but Luke fails this test like every other test in this movie.
As Luke departs, Obiwan claims to Yoda that he is their only hope.
While Yoda declares “There is another,” setting up Return of the Jedi.
Han and Leia discover that Lando has made a Deal with Vader and the Empire had already arrived before they did. Then we get the diner scene. Han Solo sees Vader and takes out his blaster and shoots at Vader who takes it easily with the force (proving that he still shoots first, so take that George Lucas). It’s just so cool that Han was ready and willing to do that.
Han is tortured, and later it is revealed that the Empire didn’t even ask him any questions. Vader does some pretty dark stuff in this movie.
Vader tells Lando that Leia must remain in Cloud City and Han will be frozen in carbonite and sold off to Jabba The Hutt. Han gets frozen, after Leia professes her love to him, in one of the series most emotional scene ever, to Harrison Ford’s suggested line of “I know,” after Leia tells him that she loves him. Han was supposed to say, “I love you” back, in the original script, but Harrison changed the line to “I know,” since he thought it better fitted the character, which completely works.
Luke goes to Cloud City and faces off with Vader. Now this is awesome. This face off is one of the best confrontations of all time. The two face off, leading to Vader cutting off Luke hands off and the greatest twist of all time.
This scene is so tension filled and perfectly directed that it’s so emotionlly engaging. It’s extremely powerful stuff, and one of the best confrontations in film history. It’s done so well and so beautifully. Luke’s hand is now cut off, and the next lines are now spoken by Vader, leading to most shocking twist ever.
Vader: “Luke, I am your father.”
(The imperial Theme rises; Luke stars at Darth Vader in horror)
Luke: “No it’s not true. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”
Vader: “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”
For me personally, I’ve always known that Vader is Luke’s father. I don’t remember learning that when I was a kid, I just always knew that this was the case since I watched them constintly on VHS.
Vader wants Luke to join him so they can rule the galaxy as father and son, although Luke let’s himself fall into the pit, attempting to kill himself. He didn’t know that by chance he would hang on that little antenna of cloud city, which is why I hate the scream that was added in the special edition when he falls. Luke gave his life, that’s why there was no scream.
Luke calls for Leia’s help, who hears his voice inside her head and asks Lando to turn the falcon around in order to go back for Luke. They find him on the antenna, rescue him and go into hyperspace after R2 fixes the hyperdrive.
Han is now frozen in carbonite, sold of to Jabba The Hutt by Boba Fett, Darth Vader has been revealed as Luke Skywalker’s father, Luke’s hand got caught off and C3PO is still left in thousands pieces as he declares to R2D2. The heroes are all left in peril, the story has yet to be completed, and yet there is still a sense of hope that everything will somehow work out in the end.
The Empire Strikes Back is one of the best movies ever made, and leaves us wanting more with giving us questions that are ultimately answered in Return of the Jedi, which is my personal favorite.
The Empire Strikes Back is the greatest sequel of all time, and the penultimate episode to one of the best conclusions in movie history.
Favorite Characters: Luke, Han, Leia, Yoda, C3PO, R2, Vader, Boba Fett, Lando
Favortie quote: Do or do not, there is no try.
Favorite scene: The big reveal.