The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back ★★★★★

Although ultimately less commercially successful than its predecessor, this was the highest grossing film of the decade, earning over $500 million in proceeds when it was released on May 21, 1980. Widely considered one of the greatest motion pictures ever made, the 129-minute epic space fantasy adventure was directed by Irvin Kershner - who skillfully incorporated subtly and emotion into the franchise, something Lucas's directorial efforts lacked. Picking up a few years after the events of the previous episode, the older protagonists now have more responsibilities, attempting to protect the Rebel Alliance in that far away galaxy from the reaches of Darth Vader and the evil Galactic Empire.

Mark Hamill leads the ensemble group, as he struggles with an identity crisis while training to become a telepathic warrior known as a Jedi Knight. The sharper and well-acted writing and dialogue results in many amusing and whimsical moments: the lengthy inclusion of Frank Oz's "Yoda" puppet is funny, endearing, and memorable, especially when he's interacting with R2-D2, the spunky little astromech droid portrayed by Kenny Baker. The small green creature is even more interesting when he's revealed to be an ancient Jedi warrior, advising Hamill on his trepidation, "Do or do not. There is no try". Meanwhile, the romantic will-they or won't-they interplay between Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher heightens during the impeccably paced PG-rated film.

All of our favorite characters and actors thankfully return for the immensely fun and dramatic ride, even Denis Lawson as a rebel star pilot who brings moxy and grit to the exciting snow battle on the ice planet of Hoth. Once again, five-time Oscar winner John Williams lends his incredible talents to picture's original score: composing many new themes, the most famous of which, "The Imperial March" is a bombastic and threatening tune signaling the presence and power of the film's primary villain.

Joining the cast of eccentric and lovable characters - whom all rather impressively have their own individual Wikipedia pages - is Billy Dee Williams as a womanizing frenemy who provides for some laughs and tension later in the picture. A darker and more mature experience, but still on the same grand spectacle as its predecessor, this film expertly balances characters and intrigue with thrills and excitement; culminating in one of the most incredible plot-twists in cinematic history.

From a passionate stolen kiss aboard the Millennium Falcon to a nail-biting asteroid-dodging sequence, this picture represents the second-act to a much larger story, ending on a depressing, yet hopeful cliffhanger: one that may ultimately disappoint some audiences seeking a tidier resolution. Sporting the lowest body count, but using the most stop-motion animation, this is a rich and emotionally captivating story with plenty of action and humor to go along with it - making it endlessly rewatchable for years to come. "Star Wars - Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" is a superb sequel, and perhaps cinema's finest fantasy.

This is a wonderful two-hours of cinema representing everything that inspired me to go into video production as a young teen, I of course think it's AMAZING.

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