Star Wars: The Empire strikes Back (1980) Movie review

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Rated: PG

Director: Irvin Kershner

Released: 1980

Runtime 127 min

Genre: Science Fiction, Action/Adventure

Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, and more

Budget: USD 33 million

Box Office: USD 547.9 million

Luke Skywalker and the rebel alliance have set up a secret base on a remote ice planet of Hoth. While on a scouting mission, Luke radios base and lets them know he’s found no life readings and will return to base shortly. Han agrees that the extreme conditions are too much for any life forms to handle. Suddenly, BAM!! Luke gets attacked by a ferocious Wampa Ice Creature and finds himself in terrible danger. Han Solo informs rebel leaders that he can no longer stay as he needs to go pay off the debts he owes Jabba the Hutt. Princess Leia is in evident distress as Han is getting ready to leave. I love the back and forth between Han and the Princess and always find myself laughing at Han’s antics. He just knows the Princess has the hots for him. Right as Han is ready to leave, he overhears that Luke hasn’t returned, and they’ve been unable to locate him. Han immediately forgets his plans to go pay off his debts. After being advised that conditions are too extreme for the rebels to resume searching for Skywalker, Han reminds that Luke is out in those elements, and there is no time to wait around for conditions to improve. Han proves his loyalty as a friend and braves the elements to search for his friend. It’s a good thing because Luke is nearly frozen to death when Han finally does catch up with him. All this happens before imperial forces can locate the rebel base. Lord Vader is desperate to find young Skywalker and is willing to Force choke all those that question his methods. After discovering where the rebels are hiding, Vader launches an attack on the secret rebel base. The rebels fight off the imperials but, since their base was found and destroyed, they proceed to scatter to avoid being captured by the terrifying Vader. The opening sequence of this movie beautifully sets up this action-packed sequel.

Legendary Jedi Master Yoda makes his onscreen debut in this film. After seeing a vision of Obi-Wan instructing him to seek out Yoda, Luke heads for the Dagobah system after escaping Hoth. We start getting more of a glimpse of the Darth Vader back story as Yoda and Obi-Wan debate whether Luke has what it takes to restore the Jedi to prominence. I can’t help but wonder why Yoda is so against training Luke. It’s not like Yoda’s doing anything else here. He has no students and is seemingly just waiting to die as The Empire is unleashing complete chaos on the galaxy. Yoda’s behavior makes me question the entire mission of the Jedi. Moving along, I really like the scene where Luke envisions himself fighting Vader and ultimately beheads the Sith Lord only to see his face inside of Vader’s mask. It’s a great way to lead into the huge plot twist at the conclusion of the movie. Yoda does ultimately train Luke but seems to question him every step of the way. Who am I to questions the methods of such a legendary Jedi Master? The relationship Luke has with his friends is well established throughout the films, and the audience can completely relate to Luke’s decision to go and attempt to rescue them. 

I love the Star Wars villains and feel they are a significant reason for the success of the Star Wars franchise. Here we have Lord Vader, the most ruthless bad guy in the entire galaxy. And in The Empire Strikes back, we find out he’s not even the head of the bad guys. Emperor Palpatine also makes his onscreen debut and gives us a glimpse into the ways of the Sith. Palpatine views Luke as a threat and wants to force a confrontation on his own terms rather than wait for Luke to complete his Jedi training. Vader ends up going after Lukes’s friends to force a showdown. Even though Yoda and Obi-Wan advise against it, Luke goes after his friends. I really don’t know what the Jedi expect sometimes. Han saved Luke at the begining of the movie, yet Obi-Wan and Yoda are pretty much telling him to let Han die at the hands of Vader? That’s pretty messed up. I think we should all be glad that Luke didn’t listen because good friends are hard to come by. The showdown between Luke and Vader is legendary. Luke goes and faces Vader before he’s ready. Though he resists Vader’s attempts at convincing him to join the Dark Side, Luke ends up getting his hand cut off and fleeing for his life. Oh, and Vader fills him in on a little secret. This movie ends with Luke failing to rescue his friends. Luke is also left wondering why Ben (Obi-Wan) hid the fact that Vader is his father from him.  

Did you know?

The original line was supposed to be, “You don’t know the truth, Obi-Wan killed your father.” Mark Hamill initially thought that Obi-Wan was going to be revealed as the real villain and thought that would be a fantastic twist. Director, Irv Kerschner, told Mark Hamill that the actual line was going to be “No, I am your father.” Kerschner then tasked Hamill with keeping this a secret from his fellow castmates for several months. Check out this clip from The Graham Norton Show, where Mark Hamill explains what happened: https://youtu.be/jYgY8xXFCOY

Many people would agree that Vader turning out to be Luke’s father is the greatest plot twist in film history. Imagine finding out this terrible murderous dude was actually your father? Then, imagine having to deal with not being told about it?

Memorable Quotes:

“Don’t get all mushy on me. So long, Princess.” -Han Solo

“Luke…Luke! You will go to the Dagobah System. There you will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder.” -Princess Leia

“Laugh it up, Fuzzball.” -Han Solo

“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral.” -Darth Vader

“Never tell me the odds.” -Han Solo

“There is a great disturbance in The Force” -Emperor Palpatine.

“He’s just a boy. Obi-Wan can no longer help him.” -Darth Vader

“The Force is strong with him. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi.” -Emperor Palpatine

“If he could be turned, he would become a powerful ally.” -Darth Vader

“He will join us, or die, master.” -Darth Vader

“I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.” -Yoda

“I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.” -Luke Skywalker

“You will be. You…will… be.” -Yoda

“There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millenium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations!” -Darth Vader

“Do or do not there is no try.” -Yoda

“I don’t… I don’t believe it.” -Luke Skywalker

“That is why you fail.” -Yoda

“Apology accepted, Captain Needa.” -Darth Vader

“Don’t fail me again, Admiral.” -Darth Vader

“Captain Solo, this time, you have gone too far.” -C3PO

“You do have your moments. Not many of them, but you do have them.” -Princess Leia

“Through The Force, things you will see. Other places. The future… the past. Old friends long gone.” -Yoda

“If you leave now, help them you could, but you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.” -Yoda

“No, I don’t have a landing permit, I’m trying to reach Lando Calrissian.” -Han Solo

“Why, you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler. You got a lot of guts coming here after what you pulled.” -Lando Calrissian

“It is you and your abilities the Emperor wants. That is why your friends are made to suffer.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“This is a dangerous time for you. Where you will be tempted by The Dark Side of The Force.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Luke, I don’t want to lose you to the Emperor the way I lost Vader.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Only a fully trained Jedi Knight, with The Force as his ally, will conquer Vader and his Emperor. If you end your training now, if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did, you will become an agent of evil.” -Yoda

“If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Luke, don’t give in to hate. That leads to the Dark Side.” -Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Told you, I did. Reckless is he. Now, matters are worse.” -Yoda

“We would be honored if you would join us.” -Darth Vader

“He’s not good to me dead.” -Boba Fett

“Perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly?” -Darth Vader

“I do not want the Emperor’s prize damaged. We will test it… on Captain Solo.” -Darth Vader

“I love you.” -Princess Leia

“I know.” -Han Solo

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” -Darth Vader

“Luke, don’t!” It’s a trap! It’s a trap!” -Princess Leia

“The Force is with you, young Skywalker. But you are not a Jedi yet.” -Darth Vader

“Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker. Obi-Wan knew this to be true.” -Darth Vader

“Impressive… Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well. You have control of your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.” -Darth Vader

“I never doubted you for a second. Wonderful!” C3PO

“You are beaten. It is useless to resist. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi-Wan did.” -Darth Vader

“There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you… Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.” -Darth Vader

“I’ll never join you!” -Luke Skywalker

“If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Ob-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” -Darth Vader

“He told me enough… He told me you killed him.” -Luke Skywalker

“No, I am your father.” -Darth Vader 

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