The Empire Strikes Back (review)

Released: 1980
Grade: A

 Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
(1980) on IMDb


Luke Skywalker and his companions have set up a temporary base on the icy planet, Hoth. They realize Darth Vader and the Empire will always be looking for them, especially after the Rebels destroyed the Death Star (in the previous movie). Of course, the Empire finds the Rebels and tries to destroy them before they can escape. After leaving Hoth, Luke Skywalker goes to the planet Dagobah to meet a Jedi Master named Yoda.


This is my favorite movie of all time. Aside from Star Wars and Return of the Jedi, ESB is still the only movie I have ever seen in a theater more than 4 times (I lost count somewhere around 11 or 12). In fact, my brother and I saw this movie so many times that we actually had the entire film memorized. We could recite all of the dialogue from memory without forgetting anything from beginning to the end, and that includes special effects sounds as well!

In my opinion, movies just don’t get any better than this. Everything about this film is perfect, and it could not have been better. We are totally drawn into the storyline from the very beginning, and there is never a dull moment. You always have the feeling that you’re in the middle of the film, witnessing all of the action. The acting is outstanding, and on par with some of the best movies in history. The special effects are convincing and used only to enhance the plot. The characters are very well-developed, and by the end of the movie, we feel like we know these people. I can say in all honesty that there has never been a film that has so completely drawn me into it as this one did. Some films may have done it equally well, but none have been done better.

This is also a perfect example of what a cliffhanger film should be. The characters, the acting, and the storyline draw you into the film so completely, that when the end comes, you just want it to continue. I could not wait for the Return of the Jedi.

Empire Strikes Back rates very high on, and in fact, at one point it was as high as #9 on the Top 250 list. This is probably about right, though I personally think there are several films rated higher that should not be. I am a bit surprised that ESB did not win the Best Picture Oscar in 1981, but I know the Academy doesn’t like to recognize Sci-Fi movies.

Because Harrison Ford had not signed a contract to star in the next film after this one, his character (Han Solo) was written in such a way that he could be left out of Episode 6, if needed. Of course, he did appear for the final film of the original trilogy, but we have been left with a great ending in Empire Strikes Back.