The adventure continues in this "Star Wars" sequel. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader (David Prowse). (1)
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Episode V returns with many of the same characters and carries the same level of fun but there is a much darker undertone this time around and as a result the ending is vastly different from Episode IV. After the events in Episode IV one would think that the Rebellion has the upper hand now but it becomes clear the power of The Empire has not been dented with the destruction of a primary ship. Consequently, this proves to be a significant blow to the Rebellion and also reveals some startling revelations about The Empire.
Following the Star Wars films has not been very easy recently, what with the disappointing prequel trilogy and some awkward timelines and dialogue contradictions. Of course, the Star Wars films go far beyond being the overdone, simple sci-fi films of old and new. In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) viewers are treated to the iconic text scrolling on the galaxy background, describing what has transpired between Episode IV and Episode V as well as reminding viewers on a few key aspects that were mentioned, never explained, at the end of Episode IV. At first it would seem that this was a cheap way to remind viewers what had happened before and what to expect in the current film but this turned out to be a ingenious and iconic way of furthering the story. The fact that viewers are so willing to read the scroll is incredible and the film studio should forgive our inability to appreciate the quality of the series for taking care of even the smallest of details. And who knows maybe sometime in the near and distant future George Lucas could go back and make these in between scenes full length films. Perhaps Introquels?
One aspect that made Star Wars great is how connecting and valuable the characters’ relationships are within the story. Director Irvin Kershner worked effectively with the actors whilst giving them some much need time and room to develop their characters. As a result, the main characters have grown up some after the events in Episode IV. The banter between Ford (Han Solo) and Fisher (Leia) is amusing as they carry on the classic love-hate relationship. This is also our first introduced to the great Jedi master Yoda (Frank Oz – who played Yoda in all the Star Wars films) and Yoda’s interaction with Hamill’s (Luke) character helps build things up for Luke’s confrontation with Darth Vader. We also get a more interesting performance form Hamill now that Luke is continuing his journey to becoming a Jedi. Also Darth Vader is once again an awesome villain and this time we learn more about his past. The confrontation with Luke is dramatic and riveting as it adds to the mystique of Vader’s character.
Technically, The Empire Strikes Back is even more impressive than Episode IV, courtesy of the Oscar nominated Art Direction team. Production Designer Norman Reynolds took over after John Barry (A New Hope) passed away during this film’s production and he led the team pretty good. There were times when the superb creations of Dagobah1 and Hoth2 looked like sets rather than real places but some of the digital embellishments improved those scenes. This is a testament to the quality of the Star Wars films, when remarkable lapses in editing do nothing to take away from the overall quality of the film. The visual effects were so outstanding that the film rightfully won an Academy Award. With a crew consisting of: Special Effects Richard Edlund (won an Oscar for A New Hope), Special Effects Supervisor Brian Johnson (recently won Oscar for 2017 Alien), Effects Photography Dennis Muren (who later won awards for ET, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, T2, and Jurassic Park), and Optical Photography Bruce Nicholson (who later wins an Oscar for Raiders of the Lost Ark). Writer George Lucas, although not directing this film, also deserves some credit for being a strong influence in the special effects process and created some excellent sequences, which in turn helped drive the story along. This is a tribute to the high level of perfection that Episode IV held as well as being even more innovative with the special effects than it’s predecessors and subsequently being better than is successor.
Nonetheless, despite some of the most outstanding technical contributions in film history and an amazing story, one aspect that further enhance an already interesting story is the music. Composer John Williams once again takes Episode V to the next level with another astounding musical score by creating and expanding on the original themes. For Darth Vader he creates a new and even more unforgettable theme song that carries a more militaristic overtone, while Leia and Han have more clever theme songs that highlight their evolving characters. Williams expertly weaves the score into the film so that it enhances and highlights the scenes appropriately. He pushes the excitement, stiffens the tension, stirs the thoughtfulness, deepens the mystery, and distresses the tragedy. In end we are left with an amazing musical score that will leave audiences speechless.
Overall, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is a powerful and breathtaking installment into the Star Wars series. It’s unheard of when a sequel film is released and it’s rating exceeded that of the original film. Although George Lucas was not the Director of this film he still had a hand in the Writing, Production, and Special Effects which are even more amazing than Episode IV. The music score carries some similarities to Episode IV but this time it’s more operatic and helps cement the feeling within each scene. The cast is made up of new and old characters, the later having now evolved into more matured and experienced characters. Also since the characters have matured so has the overall tone of the film. It’s almost like some of the innocence and naivety that was in Episode IV has been taken out of this film and was replaced with a more darker undertone.
BEST ORDER TO WATCH THE SERIES:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Film (2016)
Star Wars Episode IV: New Hope (1977)
Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone Wars (2002)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)Star Wars Episode IX (TBA)
"Love you."... "I know."
- Princess Leia and Han Solo
Worth Seeing: 4.9 of 5 star
Worth Buying: 4.9 of 5 stars
I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back (1980).
John Carter (2012)
Rogue One (2016)
Star Trek 1 (2009)
Star Trek 2: Into Darkness (2013)
Star Trek 3: Beyond (2016)
Star Wars I: Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars II: Attack of the Clone Wars (2002)
Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Star Wars IV: New Hope (1977)
Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
Cast & Crew
Directed by Irvin Kershner
Writing Credits Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, and George Lucas
Jim Bloom ... associate producer
Gary Kurtz ... producer
George Lucas ... executive producer
Rick McCallum ... producer
Robert Watts ... associate producer
Howard G. Kazanjian ... producer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography by Peter Suschitzky
Film Editing by T.M. Christopher, Paul Hirsch, George Lucas, and Marcia Lucas
Casting By Bob Edmiston, Irene Lamb, and Terry Liebling
Production Design by Norman Reynolds
Art Direction by Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, and Alan Tomkins
Set Decoration by Michael Ford
Costume Design by John Mollo
Mark Hamill ... Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford ... Han Solo
Carrie Fisher ... Princess Leia
Billy Dee Williams ... Lando Calrissian
Anthony Daniels ... C-3PO
David Prowse ... Darth Vader
Peter Mayhew ... Chewbacca
Kenny Baker ... R2-D2
Frank Oz ... Yoda (voice)
Alec Guinness ... Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi
Jeremy Bulloch ... Boba Fett
John Hollis ... Lando's Aide
Jack Purvis ... Chief Ugnaught
Des Webb ... Snow Creature
Clive Revill ... Emperor (voice)
Kenneth Colley ... Admiral Piett
Julian Glover ... General Veers
Michael Sheard ... Admiral Ozzel
Michael Culver ... Captain Needa
Bruce Boa ... Rebel Force General Rieekan
Christopher Malcolm ... Rebel Force Zev (Rogue 2)
Denis Lawson ... Rebel Force Wedge (Rogue 3)
Richard Oldfield ... Rebel Force Hobbie (Rogue 4)
John Morton ... Rebel Force Dak
Ian Liston ... Rebel Force Janson (Wedge's Gunner)
John Ratzenberger ... Rebel Force Major Derlin
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