Film: Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Opened: May 21, 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, James Earl Jones, Alec Guinness, Denis Lawson, John Hollis, Julian Glover, Kenneth Colley, Michael Sheard, Michael Culver & John Ratzenberger

The second film of the original Star Wars saga improves upon the legendary first film by digging deeper into the characters and upping the stakes.

As the fight against the Galactic Empire continues, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) begins studying the Force under Jedi Master Yoda (Frank Oz). Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) continue to battle Darth Vader’s (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) forces and enlist help in Han’s old friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).

Of all the middle films in the Star Wars saga, this is by far the best. The first act on the frozen planet of Hoth is action-packed and immediately draws the audience in. Then the film finishes with a dark reveal, as well as a feeling of hopelessness that perfectly sets up a third film.

Final say: Successfully launches the franchise’s continuation. ★★★★★

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