Reviews - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
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Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Taglines: The Adventure Continues...

Director: Irvin Kershner

Writers: Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas

Stars: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, ...

Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and Chewbacca face attack by the Imperial forces and its AT-AT walkers on the ice planet Hoth. While Han and Leia escape in the Millennium Falcon, Luke travels to Dagobah in search of Yoda. Only with the Jedi master's help will Luke survive when the dark side of the Force beckons him into the ultimate duel with Darth Vader.

100 | 2015-05-14

It is expansive but more tightly time-framed in terms of plot. I wish it were a handful of minutes shorter, but this is my single caveat about another richly imaginative, engrossing and spectacular motion picture from the redoubtable George Lucas. [18 May 1980]

100 | Roger Ebert

The best of three Star Wars films, and the most thought-provoking. After the space opera cheerfulness of the original film, this one plunges into darkness and even despair, and surrenders more completely to the underlying mystery of the story. It is because of the emotions stirred in Empire that the entire series takes on a mythic quality that resonates back to the first and ahead to the third. This is the heart.
Read More: Chicago Sun-Times

100 | James Berardinelli

The storyline is more interesting and ambitious, the characters -- little more than appealing types in the original -- are allowed to grow and develop, the special effects are more mature, and the tone is deliciously dark and downbeat. [Special Edition]
Read More: ReelViews

100 | Peter Stack

The balance between action and mysticism in The Empire Strikes Back provides fascinating energy. It's as if the kids are given one set of delights, the bravado of battles and elaborate warships zooming through exotic space, and adults are given another, a layered explanation of what it all means in the grand scheme of things. [Special Edition]
Read More: San Francisco Chronicle

100 | Lisa Schwarzbaum

The storytelling is the series' best, with a zingy balance of drama, humor, and Deep Thoughts (in a screenplay by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan, directed with confident exuberance by Irvin Kershner). [Special Edition]
Read More: Entertainment Weekly

90 | Chris Gore

It was incredible to see what is arguably the best of the Star Wars films, on the big screen again. However, I do not believe that any of the minor changes make the film any better. [Special Edition]
Read More: Film Threat

88 | Bob Stephens

This is the bluest film you'll ever see. The haunting color resounds throughout Empire like a sustained, melancholy chord...Empire is essential viewing for lovers of science fiction. [Special Edition]
Read More: San Francisco Examiner

80 | Staff (Not credited)

A darker, richer, and more elaborate film than the original; it suffers most from being just what it is: a middle chapter with no real ending. [Special Edition]
Read More: TV Guide Magazine

80 | Staff (Not credited)

A worthy sequel to "Star Wars," equal in both technical mastery and characterization, suffering only from the familiarity with the effects generated in the original and imitated too much by others.
Read More: Variety

60 | Judith Martin

The total effect is fast and attractive and occasionally amusing. Like a good hot dog, that's something of an achievement in a field where unpalatable junk is the rule.
Read More: Washington Post

50 | Stephen Godfrey

Adds more cosmic cliff-hangers than it resolves, and it's not as satisfying as the original. A star war can be an exhausting bit of business, especially when, in the end, it turns out to be something of a cheat.
Read More: The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

40 | Vincent Canby

It's a big, expensive, time-consuming, essentially mechanical operation.
Read More: The New York Times

40 | Dave Kehr

Mainly it's marking time: the characters take a definite backseat to the special effects, and much of the action seems gratuitous, leading nowhere.
Read More: Chicago Reader