Once upon a time in a galaxy not too far away, there was a sci-fi sequel called Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back that wasn’t directed by the Star Wars creator, but certainly showed that the series could deliver in epic style.
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
(USA 1980, director: Irvin Kershner)
After being driven into hiding from an assault from the Empire, the rebel’s heroes go their separate ways with Luke Skywalker taking on the training of a Jedi in the swamps of Dagobah and Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, and C-3PO finding refuge in the cloudy city Vespin.
Sequels of successful movies usually drop in quality, either because they try the same or or are too different. Being part of a series can help, but doesn’t mean immediate improvement. Fortunately, The Empire Strikes Back is not only as much fun as A New Hope, but it’s even more entertaining and epic.
While the main characters were introduced to great effect in the first movie, the second one fleshes them out better, but doesn’t fall into the trap of relying too much on building relationships. Again there’s a healthy dose of quiet moments, action set-pieces and emotional twists. It’s clear to see that the movie is only a preparation of the big finale, the third movie, as it starts where the first one left off and ends with a cliffhanger.
The big reveals with the dark Lord Darth Vader who only seemed to be a strong opponent before and Luke Skywalker, and how the Empire tightens the grip around the Rebellion are emotionally challenging and suspenseful at the same time. Introducing the Jedi Master Yoda who is voiced by no other than Frank Oz (who also speaks Kermit and Miss Piggy in The Muppets!) also helps to tell a much bigger story with a better explanation of what the Force actually is, with the right sense of humor and drama. The pacing is even better than in the first one, with more locations to visit and a clear sense of danger from the Empire. Where Episode IV somewhat failed in the rushed finale and militaristic ending, Episode V sets a benchmark for sequels and the trilogy in general.
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