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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

Fleeing the planet Hoth, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and R2-D2 and C-3PO escape in the loyal, albeit weathered Millennium Falcon, but are captured en route to safety by Darth Vader on planet Bespin. Meanwhile, Skywalker follows the goals of Ben Kenobi, receiving Jedi training from none other than Yoda on planet Dagobah.  But can Skywalker master his Jedi training in time to rescue his friends from the evil dark lord, Vader?

The cast includes: Mark Hammill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Alec Guinness, Clive Revill, and John Ratzenberger.

Director Irvin Kershner's "The Empire Strikes Back" offers a darker, but no less entertaining look at the "Star Wars" universe.

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"The Star Wars saga continues... "


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EPISODE 5: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the second Lucas film made in the first Star Wars Trilogy. The basic story involves the Empire's response to the destruction, by rebels, of their Deathstar in "Star Wars." In this film, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) begins his Jedi Night training with the Jedi Master, Yoda, while Hans Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewy (Peter Mayhew), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and C Threepio (Anthony Daniels) find themselves on the damaged Millennium Falcon, with a broken hyperdrive; (no light speed capacity), hiding on an asteroid, from the relentless pursuit of Darth Vader (David Prowse), determined to catch them. They wind up landing on "City in the Clouds," a mining station/community run by an old "friend" of Hans, Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), with hopes of getting the hyper drive fixed, unaware that they are walking into a trap.

Before Luke finishes his training with Yoda, he rushes off to try to rescue his friends, when he sees into the future and sees that they will be in pain and are in big trouble. Luke finds himself in a laser fight, way above his newly developed Jedi skills, and learns some unexpected, awful knowledge, that he emotionally or mentally wasn't prepared for. Instead of saving his friends, he winds up having to be saved by them in the nick of time, minus Hans Solo who is encased carbonite taken prisoner by a bounty hunter Boba Fett, who is taking him back to Jabba the Hut.

EPISODE 5: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, is the "STAR WARS" saga that introduced Yoda, Lando Calrissian, and Boba Fett. Movie audiences responded to Yoda with great enthusiasm. Frank Oz provided the voice.

Director Kershner, primarily known for dramas ("Loving") seemed like an odd choice at the time to helm a "Star Wars" movie. Looking back now, however, his strength in character driven film drama apparently aided him in fleshing out the characters, as well as providing a maturity and depth that some felt was lacking in the original film.

The film's strong, dramatic script was by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (story by George Lucas). The later Leigh Brackett also contributed to the script for the classic '40's private eye film, "The Big Sleep."

For romance fans, there's the growing romantic relationship between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). While slightly squirmy for the small fry, most audience members will enjoy these interludes.

Favorite scenes include: Invasion of the rebel base and fighter sequences, Luke Skywalker's Jedi education by Yoda, Han & Leia's adventures in the asteroid sequences, Scene sequences that show the trouble Han & Leia land into on the City of the Clouds, the laser fight, the exciting escape, and the rescue of Luke. And, of course, when it looks like they are about to be recaptured, how the Millennium Falcon manages to escape by the skin of its teeth, much to the frustration of Darth Vader.

The drama, comedy, and action of this film is again tied together by the marvelous music. It's hard to imagine a "Star Wars" movie without its classic music soundtrack. Once again, John Williams provides the exciting, excellent Musical Score.

Some people think EMPIRE is inferior to STAR WARS or JEDI. I disagree. It's not better, or worse, its just a different, darker take on galactic affairs. Others criticize it as leaving the audience hanging too much at the end of the film, wondering what was going to happen next. One has to realize that the model for this trilogy was the old Saturday serial Flash Gordon film series, that often ended with the audience wondering what was going to happen next. Flash Gordon fans would have to wait until the following Saturday. Of Course, Star Wars fans had to wait two years, but it gave them a chance to imagine how Hans was going to get out of the pickle, (carbon hibernation), that the film left him in.

If you enjoyed THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, you may like "STAR WARS, "RETURN OF THE JEDI. (It is best to see this trilogy in order.) You may also enjoy the first two prequel films made, STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MEANACE and STAR WARS EPISODE 2: THE ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

Quotes:

C-3PO to Han Solo: "Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!" Hans Solo: "Never tell me the odds!"

(While the Millennium Falcon is hiding in a cave on an asteroid, the ground shakes and Princess Leia falls into Solo's arms).
Princess Leia to Han: "Let go please!" Han: "Don't get excited." Leia: Captain, being held by you isn't quite enough to get me excited!"
Han says, with a rougish smile: "Sorry sweetheart. I haven't got time for anything else."

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