Countdown to Skywalker: “Empire Strikes Back” Review

December 14, 2019


“Do or do not, there is no try.”

“I love you. I know.”

“No, I am your father.”

These three quotes are quite possibly some of the most well-known quotes in pop culture history, and they all come from one movie, “Star Wars: Chapter V—The Empire Strikes Back.”

Arguably the best Star Wars movie in the saga, “Empire Strikes Back” picks back up the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) as they continue their fight against the Empire. In this movie specifically, Luke begins his training with Master Yoda on Dagobah and Han and Leia work on the rebel base and attempt to reconnect with an old friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), which quickly goes south.

“Empire Strikes Back” manages to do two things that make it so unique and groundbreaking—it breaks the trend of sequels not living up to the first movie and the good guys don’t come out victorious in this movie.

“Empire” manages to top “A New Hope” in a number of ways, starting with its storylines. You have Luke’s emotional and challenging training which goes into the psychological and twisted thoughts he must overcome to ensure he doesn’t fall to the dark side. Then you have Leia and Han which includes not only the fight against the Empire, but the rising tension which leads to their eventual relationship.

It is important to note though that the real-life Han and Leia, Ford and Fisher, weren’t as romantic and in love as their movie counterparts. Ford started an affair with Fisher in 1977 during the filming of “A New Hope” which hurt Fisher a lot. Ford had two kids and a wife at this time and Fisher was only 19 years old. She wrote about this affair in her memoir “The Princess Diarist” and how much it hurt her.

Although this can affect the viewing experience when watching “Empire,” it doesn’t take away from the amazing sequences and scenes this movie offers. Having the separate stories of Luke training and Han and Leia attempting to reach out to Lando and them coming together in one grand finale where Han is frozen in carbonite and it is revealed that Vader is Luke’s father (which is one of the best plot twists in cinema history) is beautiful to watch all come together.

The only potential downside to be seen is that the movie doesn’t have a huge fight other than the fight between Vader and Luke, which can hardly be seen as a battle because it’s just a brutal takedown by Vader. This movie relies heavily on storytelling and, in the grand scheme of the trilogy, is the rising action.

This means though that the viewers are left in a state of shock and unease as the movie ends and the rebels are not ahead any more than they were at the beginning of the movie. It’s part of what makes “Empire Strikes Back” so amazing and enticing to the stories—you feel the need to watch the next movie. Han is off to Jabba’s palace, frozen in carbonite, Luke has his hand cut off and Leia’s closest friends and army are facing one of the toughest times of this war. You know you have to watch the next one to just make sure everything ends up okay.

Overall, “Empire Strikes Back” is a phenomenal piece of art that deserves all the credit it gets. From the characters to the innovating storylines to further the trilogy into its final installment, “Star Wars: Episode VI—Return of the Jedi,” its no doubt this movie is a masterpiece.

Featured Image Citation: “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” is by Lucasfilms. This still was released for press and is protected under the fact this is a review and can be used for educational purposes. 

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