Probably the best of the "Star Wars" series,
"The Empire Strikes Back" was the sequel to the
immensely successful "Star Wars" film from 1977.
The follow-up retains the strengths of the original:
great sets, costumes, cinematography and special
effects. The story is even tighter and with more
action than "Star Wars", and there is plenty of
quality comic relief. Upon its release, "The
Empire Strikes Back" became the second highest
grossing film of all time, with only "Star Wars"
ahead of it.
The theme once again is good versus evil. Evil
is represented by Darth Vader (chillingly voiced by
James Earl Jones), made more imposing by his black cape
and helmet. Vader represents the Empire, which is
bent on interstellar domination. Battling Vader is
Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), cynical
but passionate Han Solo (Harrison Ford), lovely but
humorless Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), marvelous
clumsy comic relief invention and robot C3PO (voiced by
Anthony Daniels), feisty, bleeping robot R2D2, and
incoherent but endearingly loyal Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).
Skywalker takes time out from battling the Empire
to receive training from wise, aged Yoda (voiced by
Frank Oz), while Solo and company try to hide from
the Empire on a planet run by the unpredictable
Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams).
"The Empire Strikes Back" is a highly entertaining
film. It is difficult and even pointless to look
for flaws, although one could ask why only a handful
of creatures can effectively use the Force, and
one can wonder if those who can use the Force
constitute an exclusive club that one can still
attend even after death. You may conclude that Imperial
Stormtroopers are all really bad shots and should
attend remedial marksmanship classes, while their
counterparts manning the controls of Empire ships
share their inability to hit a target.
In the end, the viewing must discard a cynical
approach to the film, and simply enjoy the production
values that come from a massive budget and meticulous
planning by producer George Lucas. The dual protagonists
of Skywalker and Solo, working independently, with
different goals and methods, and yet acting in concert
against the Empire, creates much more variety and
depth than found in a typical action film. Minor
elements of the film, such as Vader's method of
promoting Empire officers, and his sinister pleasure
in serving Solo to the Alien bounty hunter, work very
well. And comic relief is always around the corner,
especially from C3PO, but also from Yoda and Solo.
Copyright © 1980 Brian Koller