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Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Billy Dee Williams
Anthony Daniels
David Prowse
Peter Mayhew
Kenny Baker
Sir Alec Guinness

Irvin Kershner




Time: 124 mins.
Rating: PG
Genre: Action Adventure/Science Fiction

Won Academy Awarda for Best Sound and a Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects. Nominated for Art Direction and Original Score.

I remember making my grandparents take me to see this film when it was released originally in 1980. I was 11 years old and even though I hadn't see STAR WARS in the theater, I just had to go. We didn't attend movies a lot when I was a kid, so you can imagine the experience I had watching the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I had never seen anything like it. Even though my grandmother slept through it, I knew it was something special. Of course, it was a little dark for a naive pre-teen. I remember I was highly disappointed by the ending, mainly because I was – and still am – in love with Harrison Ford. It just didn't seem right. How could they do that to a major character? Twenty years later, I know exactly why they did it and couldn't be happier. What better way to get your butt into a theater seat for the next installment? Not to mention it gives the story additional power and depth. If you didn't care about these characters before, their trials and tribulations in EMPIRE made you crazy with concern.

I can't imagine that there's anyone out there who hasn't seen the STAR WARS TRILOGY, however, I'm sure some do exist. My only question to you would be – where the hell have you been? My 7-year-old nephew is more in touch with pop culture. In any case, for the uninitiated, the films follow the adventures of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), one of the last of the Jedi Knights, in his quest to stop the Empire from taking over the galaxy. He is aided by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), space pirate Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and assorted other creatures. This installment begins with the rebels defending their secret outpost on the planet Hoth. Needless to say, since they've blown up the Death Star, a powerfully deadly space station, the Emperor is pissed and looking for revenge. He's also on the lookout for young master Luke, who he's hoping to turn to the Dark Side of the Force.

"You said you wanted to be around when I made a mistake, well, this could be it, sweetheart."

After a huge battle on the snowy surface of Hoth, the group scatters to the ends of the universe to take care of their own personal business. Luke goes to the remote planet of Dagobah with his droid R2-D2 in order to receive training as a Jedi from Master Yoda. It's not easy, but after many lessons, he starts to feel the power of the Force. Han and Leia, who are beginning to discover their love for each other, narrowly escape the Imperial Troopers and other dangers to arrive in Bespin, a city governed by an old friend Lando Calrissian. Much to their surprise, Darth Vader has arrived before them and is using them as a ploy to draw Luke into his evil clutches. It works, and the epic battle for control of Luke's soul begins. Yoda tries to convince him he's not ready to face Vader, but does Luke listen? Of course not. He races off to Bespin to save his friends, but arrives too late. Some of them escape, others are not so lucky. Luke also uncovers a truth almost too horrible to bear.

In the end, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is a sci-fi soap opera of the highest caliber. You have good versus evil, dark family secrets, swashbuckling heroes, undiscovered romance, brutal betrayal, tragedy, comedy and spectacular special effects. The plot is complicated with subplots flying all over the place. What's even more amazing is how much better the visual effects got in three years. The battle scene on Hoth, the asteroid field, the rescue from Cloud City, the battle between Luke and Vader are all strikingly vivid and exciting sequences. Plus the relationships get deeper and more complicated. You couldn't ask for more. Lucas thought we needed it and added extra CGI effects and footage in the Special Edition version, but I didn't really find any of it interesting or necessary. Does it add to the film? I guess so, but this is one movie that didn't need it. I would suggest seeing STAR WARS before jumping to EMPIRE. This is definitely the better film, but the back story is necessary to gain the most enjoyment from the experience. And believe me, if you've been living under a rock and haven't yet had the pleasure, go, now, rent. You won't be sorry.

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