Director: Irvin Kershner
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, Frank Oz
Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan
124 mins. Rated PG for sci-fi action violence.
- Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
- Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award (for visual effects)
- Academy Award Nominee: Best Art Direction
- Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score
iMDB Top 250: #12 (as of 6/3/2015)
On the very short list of the Best Sequels of All Time, The Empire Strikes Back is pretty darn close to the top. Director Irvin Kershner (RoboCop 2, Never Say Never Again) brought not just the best installment in the Star Wars franchise, but also an amazing science fiction epic.
It has been three years since Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, TV’s Regular Show, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and the Rebels destroyed the Death Star. While Luke heads to the Dagobah System to train with the Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz, TV’s The Muppet Show, Zathura), Han Solo (Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Age of Adaline) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, Maps to the Stars) evade the malicious Empire while trying to find somewhere to hide out when they come across Cloud City and Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams, Batman, Barry Munday).
Kershner presents Empire as a dark continuation of the Star Wars Saga. Luke is challenged in his furthering of his Jedi abilities with Frank Oz puppeting the creature Yoda in a great performance of the little green Jedi Master (there was even a campaign to win Oz the coveted Oscar for an acting role), while Han and Leia are tested in their abilities to trust, both one another and those close to them as they carefully avoid detection by the enemy. New to the series, Billy Dee Williams handles his role capably and intermingles into the cast with ease.
The film is beautifully shot and looks just as nice now as it did 35 years ago. Ben Burtt displayed some great new sound effects for this film, setting a new standard for sci-fi while setting itself above the rest. The film is also perfectly paced. I could watch it ten times in a row and it would still flow well.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in the series (and also the only one not written by George Lucas). It proves that some films can best their predecessor. The film, now 35, is still an amazing piece of cinema.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, click here.
For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, click here.
For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, click here.
For my review of George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, click here.