Movie Review – “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”

Two down, one to go. That one will likely wait until
some time tomorrow, as I work late tonight.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker

Harrison Ford as Han Solo

Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa

David Prowse and James Earl Jones as the body and
voice of Darth
Vader

Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi

Kenny Baker as R2-D2

Anthony Daniels as C-3PO

Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian

Frank Oz as Yoda

Written by George Lucas, Leigh Brackett, and Lawrence
Kasdan

Directed by Irvin Kirshner

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

The rebels are on the run under more intense Imperial
manhunting, now
that the Death Star has been destroyed.

High Point

I think the banter between Han and Leia is probably
the best part,
although there are a few contenders. (The entire
Hoth sequence is
very well made, as is the first face-to-face meeting
between Luke and
Vader.)

I’m also happy that Yoda is still the original
puppet.

Low Point

I’ve always felt that the Slave One was following way
too close to go
unnoticed.

The Scores

This kept up the fresh and original feel
generated in the
first. The knowledge that a sequel was coming
allowed some more
freedom in the choices made for the last few minutes
of the movie,
too. You don’t often see the fast-paced summer
blockbusters making
these kinds of choices. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects still have some jerky stop
motion, but for the
most part, they are very good. Yoda looks pretty
good in many of his
scenes, too. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is probably the best of the series
thus far. I
don’t know why he isn’t still assisting Lucas in the
new ones, based
on his performance here. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting from Harrison Ford and those
under heavy make-up
is still great. The acting from Carrie Fisher and
Mark Hamill isn’t
as good. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response this produces is a
bit biased for me.
My earliest memory of anything is of sitting in a
theater waiting for
this movie to start. (I would have been two years
old at the time.)
Even without nostalgia, this is a lot of fun, with a
number of
powerful moments in the last half hour. It’s also
the funniest movie
of the series, thanks to the Han/Leia banter. I give
it 6 out of 6.

The production is very well done. The
pacing is excellent,
the editing between multiple locations is well done,
and the set
design does have distinct styles for distinct
locations. I give it 5
out of 6.

Overall, this is one of the better summer
blockbusters, that
I recommend without reservation. I give it 6 out of
6.

In total, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes
Back

receives 36 out of 42.

20 replies on “Movie Review – “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back””

  1. Timeshredder says:

    The case for retroactive tampering

    Yeah, it’s idiotic that Greedo shot first in Star Wars aka A New Hope and that we get a full-blown musical number in Return of the Jedi, but there’s also a case to be made for enhanced effects, and this movie makes it. Lucas fixed some sloppiness in the Hoth scenes that had been unavoidable in the original, and enhanced our view of cloud city.

    What really makes this film work are the character interaction and the acting (including Frank Oz’s). Those elements were there from the start.

    Say… Did they ever fix those moments in the original Empire… where R2D2’s blue panels are black?

  2. GusherJizmac says:

    My problem with Empire
    Here’s my problem.

    Fact: Han and Luke split up at the same time
    Fact: Luke finds Yoda and essentially completes his Jedi training during the time Hand and Leia are hanging out at Cloud City and dodging asteroids
    Fact: Anakin was “too old” to be trained and so Luke is clearly WAY too old

    So, how can Luke get what can’t be more than a few weeks worth of Jedi training and not succumb to the dark side and go on to beat Vader and turn him to the good side?

    Furthermore, you’d think Yoda and Obi-wan would learn from past mistakes and not train a Skywalker so late in life.

    • jayhawk88 says:

      Re: My problem with Empire
      Now, I’m no Star Wars expert, but my take:

      Fact: Anakin was “too old” to be trained and so Luke is clearly WAY too old…

      Doesn’t Yoda actually make reference to this when Luke first shows up? And in fact Luke does not complete his Jedi training with Yoda; he rushes off to Cloud City. Now, there is an undetermined amount of time between the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi, and given Luke’s apparent rise in power in Jedi, I had always assumed he had been training for some time on his own between movies.

      At any rate, what choice did Yoda and Obi-Wan have? Yoda has to know he’s not long for the world, and Luke is pretty much the only person left in the galaxy showing any kind of Jedi potential. If Anakin/Vader is going to be stopped, Luke is pretty much the only one that can do it. Sure it’s a gamble, but it’s one of those “We have nothing to lose” gambles.

      What I do find sort of interesting is that it’s Luke, not Anakin, who is apparently the Chosen One talked about by Yoda and Mace, the one who “will bring balance to the Force”. I wonder if this will be talked about in Episode 3?

      • y42 says:

        Re: My problem with Empire

        What I do find sort of interesting is that it’s Luke, not Anakin, who is
        apparently the Chosen One talked about by Yoda and Mace, the one who “will
        bring balance to the Force”. I wonder if this will be talked about in Episode 3?

        In ep.1, there are thousands of Jedis and two Siths.

        After the choosen one did his thing, there are 2 Jedis and 2 Sith.
        He brought balance allright…

      • cb says:

        Re: My problem with Empire

        Now, there is an undetermined amount of time between the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi, and given Luke’s apparent rise in power in Jedi, I had always assumed he had been training for some time on his own between movies.

        I used to think so too, also based on Luke’s apparent growth in confidence and power, but at some point over the years I started to think the time between the two movies was actually fairly short.

        Between the last scene in Empire and the first Tatooine scene in Jedi, there are only two things that have to happen: Luke makes a new lightsaber, and Lando gets a security guard job at Jabba’s. Then in seemingly rapid succession, the driods, Leia and Chewie, and finally Luke, go to Jabba’s.

        I assume they concocted this plan fairly quickly so really the only thing they had to wait on was Lando getting inside and contacting them. My guess is that it’s a few weeks, tops, between the two movies, and possibly as short as a few days, definitely not enough time for Luke to engage in some serious training.

        I think maybe the reason Luke approached the Jabba situation more calmly than the Bespin situation is that he wasn’t running to the rescue trying to save his friends from Vader. As bad as Jabba is, he’s no Vader, and Luke had no reason to think his friends were being tortured and possibly killed.

        But, hey, what do I know?

        -cb

        • fiziko says:

          Re: My problem with Empire



          I used to think so too, also based on Luke’s apparent
          growth in confidence and power, but at some point over the
          years I started to think the time between the two movies
          was actually fairly short.

          According to the novels, it took six months. Landa’s
          undercover persona had to build a reputation before
          getting that close to Jabba.

    • fiziko says:

      Re: My problem with Empire

      So, how can Luke get what can’t be more than a few weeks
      worth of Jedi training and not succumb to the dark
      side and go on to beat Vader and turn him to
      the good side?

      It was a long trip to Bespin on a ship without hyperdrive.
      Time dilation may have a significant impact on how long
      the trip seemed to Han and Leia. Luke could have
      experienced far more time elapse, relativistically
      speaking.

      • tgreco says:

        Re: My problem with Empire

        So, how can Luke get what can’t be more than a few weeks
        worth of Jedi training and not succumb to the dark
        side and go on to beat Vader and turn him to
        the good side?

        It was a long trip to Bespin on a ship without hyperdrive.
        Time dilation may have a significant impact on how long
        the trip seemed to Han and Leia. Luke could have
        experienced far more time elapse, relativistically
        speaking.

        but then Luke would have experienced time dilation when he traveled from Dagobah to Bespin…so it would have balanced out, still leaving only a few weeks of training…
        and actually the MF was travelling sub light, (cuz the hyperdrive wasn’t working) so that throws the whole relativity arguement out the window… unless you want to argue that luke spent time trianing and his light speed trip to bespin was what lead to the time dilation. But alas this only explains that Han and Leia’s torture was longer, and not lukes training…

        applying the laws of relativity to the SW universe just don’t seem to work

        • Babbster says:

          Re: My problem with Empire
          The way my non-physicist brain remembers it, time dilation doesn’t start at the speed of light. It is an effect of all speed, increasing as you get closer to the speed of light. The point of hyperspace, warp speed, etc. is that it somehow, miraculously, evades all of the current theories of physics and eliminates this troublesome property.

          Of course, I don’t see the problem in the first place. Luke started his training, he probably progressed well considering how little he had been taught, he aborted the training to save his friends.

        • fiziko says:

          Re: My problem with Empire

          but then Luke would have experienced time dilation when he traveled from Dagobah to Bespin…so it would have balanced out, still leaving only a few weeks of training…
          and actually the MF was travelling sub light, (cuz the hyperdrive wasn’t working) so that throws the whole relativity arguement out the window…

          Actually, the MF travelling sublight is why relativity works. That means they would be subjected to time dilation, while Luke’s hyperdrive trip and normal, slow space training would have experienced more subjective time. In essence, Luke experienced more time than Han and Leia. If the MF kept tooling around at sublight speeds, Luke could rapidly become the oldest of the bunch.

          Babbster is also correct about when dilation applies. Time dilation happens when you move relative to an inertial reference frame. Jogging regularly not only extends your life by keeping you in shape, but your regular motion means that time slows down for the jogger, and you actually live longer relative to the planet! (Note that if you job at 3m/s every second of a 100 year lifespan, you’ll gain about half a nanosecond for your entire lifespan.)

          • Babbster says:

            Re: My problem with Empire

            If the MF kept tooling around at sublight speeds, Luke could rapidly become the oldest of the bunch.

            You go the trouble to give us a little relativity education and then you use the word “rapidly” in that sentence? For shame, Fiz. ;) (Science comedy is FUN! RIP Douglas Adams.)

            • tgreco says:

              Re: My problem with Empire

              If the MF kept tooling around at sublight speeds, Luke could rapidly become the oldest of the bunch.

              You go the trouble to give us a little relativity education and then you use the word “rapidly” in that sentence? For shame, Fiz. ;) (Science comedy is FUN! RIP Douglas Adams.)

              perhaps it’s just shoddy language use on GLs part, but when they are entering “hyperspace” Han says “ready for light speed…” and then it doesn’t work(what the difference between lightspeed and hyperspace is, is never clearly defined. Do you enter hyperspace by going the speed of light, or is traveling at the speed of light considered being in hyperspace). My understanding is that the body moving faster experiences time dilation (Luke) the the body moving slower (Han and Leia) would be experiencing time in a more natural state…

              so if Luke is doing the cruising at light speed, Han and Leia are the ones that would be experiencing “normal” time and Luke would be the one experiencing dilated time.

              • Babbster says:

                Re: My problem with Empire
                You’re trying way too hard to fit Star Wars into reality. Fiz’s explanation is based on the following assumptions:

                1) Relativity is true in both our universe and the Star Wars universe, thus time dilation occurs when comparing someone at rest to someone moving at speeds approaching (or at) the speed of light in normal space.
                2) In the Star Wars universe, there is a device called a hyperdrive which allows faster-than-light transit between points in space, presumably by accelerating into “hyperspace.” This device also somehow evades the relativity problem, probably because the physical laws in this other dimension are different.
                3) A ship without a functioning hyperdrive is limited to a fixed (though large) percentage of the speed of light because, well, you can’t go faster than the speed of light without violating currently understood physical laws – again, in this respect, our two universes are the same. Ergo…
                4) Luke’s flights to Dagobah and then Bespin evade relativity (through the McGuffin of the hyperdrive) and the Millenium Falcon’s trip to Bespin does not (because they traveled at very high sublight speeds). So, Luke’s time experienced on Dagobah would be longer than the amount of time experienced by those on the Millenium Falcon.

                As a sidenote (which will either complicate or simplify things depending on your perspective), remember that Darth Vader had time to go to Bespin, make the “deal” with Lando, garrison and conceal his troops, send away his Star Destroyers and get comfortable before Han and the kids got to Bespin. That’s a good chunk of work, even for a Lord of the Sith.

                • Babbster says:

                  Re: My problem with Empire
                  PS- Yes, the script muddles these points by using lightspeed and hyperdrive interchangeably. This could be considered either a weakness of the script or that the people in this galaxy far, far away – because they understand that having a Galactic Empire or Republic is impossible without FASTER-than-light travel – simply use the word “lightspeed” as a kind of slang when talking about hyperdrive travel. I’m an apologist from way back so I’ll just go with the latter. :)

                  • Timeshredder says:

                    Top 5 Reasons Luke Was Able To Complete His Training

                    1. Since the Falcon travelled at sublight, it took years to reach Bespin. Only a fluke time-McGuffin, to be included in the next revision, allowed them to appear young again.

                    2. C’mon! It’s the Millenium Falcon, the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs! Our sense of “time” and “distance” just don’t apply.

                    3. During his years in exile, Yoda prepared for Luke’s arrival by developing special “hi-speed Instant Jedi” training techniques. Besides, it’s all about midichlorines, isn’t it?

                    4. Han and Leia actually lounged around Bespin for a couple of months.

                    5. The classic trilogy may be a channeling of myth through pop culture and an extraordinary view, but it remains a film series based on old serials, and we’re really not supposed to worry too much about this sort of thing.

                  • tgreco says:

                    Re: My problem with Empire

                    PS- Yes, the script muddles these points by using lightspeed and hyperdrive interchangeably. This could be considered either a weakness of the script or that the people in this galaxy far, far away – because they understand that having a Galactic Empire or Republic is impossible without FASTER-than-light travel – simply use the word “lightspeed” as a kind of slang when talking about hyperdrive travel. I’m an apologist from way back so I’ll just go with the latter. :)

                    Now I remember why I prefer Babylon 5!!!

            • fiziko says:

              Re: My problem with Empire

              You go the trouble to give us a little relativity
              education and then you use the word “rapidly” in that
              sentence? For shame, Fiz. ;) (Science comedy is FUN!
              RIP Douglas Adams.)

              Yeah, I probably should have just linked to
              the primer I wrote
              for some advanced high school
              physics students and called it a day. At least, until I
              get the whole textbook finished. :)

  3. is says:

    This is one of the best
    because the story is so dark. Nothing like a Jar-jar or an Ewok to take away from the seriousness of the story. If Lucas had directed it would have had something for the kids, maybe a pink Jedi bunny or something.

    really makes me wanna go buy this set.

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