The Better Ending – Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The crown jewel of the series.  Continuing the journey of all of the characters after we left them last, everybody ends up splitting up.  Luke flies off with R2-D2 to a remote planet to train with Grand Master Yoda, and Darth Vader is back with a vengeance, closing in on all of Luke’s friends.  Much like the first Star Wars, the only problem I have with reviewing this series is that I honestly do not believe that I can say anything about The Empire Strikes Back that hasn’t already been said before.  This is difficult for me, because I believe that if one is going to take the time to say something, you better make sure it’s something that’s worth saying, otherwise, why bother?  Of course, this is an absolutely brilliant movie, and it is quintessential to the sci-fi genre, but I’m pretty sure you already knew that.

1It all looks great, too.  From the AT-ATs to the stop-motion Tauntauns.

Now this movie does fall into one of the rare category of film where the sequel outdoes its predecessor.  For my money, it’s this, The Dark Knight, 22 Jump Street and Terminator 2, which is a pretty elite pack of movies.  Now this would be the perfect opportunity for me to do that thing that 20-30 year old men like to do in quoting that one monologue from Clerks explaining why Empire is better than Return of the Jedi.  I could do that (because it’s all true), but I’m not going to, because I don’t want to waste your time.  It is still fantastic universe building, and it has easily the best story in the entire series.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do, and it shows you more new worlds and expands on concepts that have already been established.

2Adding a few cool new characters also didn’t hurt.

Even in closing, the fact of the matter is that there isn’t a whole lot I can say about this that you haven’t already heard before.  It’s exactly the movie that you want to see after A New Hope, showing the further adventures of all of these characters, and it really ups the ante as far as the stakes go.  Everything on the planet Hoth is really cool, and it almost makes for a great mini-movie before the true feature kicks in, following the James Bond model of film making.  Everyone grows, and if I am not mistaken, this is the episode that George Lucas has the least amount to do with, so I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that this ended up being the best one.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) *****

– Critic for Hire


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