Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Charles Champlin
    May 14, 2015
    100
    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]
  2. 100
    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.
  3. 100
    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]
  4. 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]
  5. 100
    It balances bloodshed with charm, spectacle with childlike glee. It's a near flawless movie of its kind.
  6. Technical virtuosity and entertainment ingenuity.
  7. 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]
  8. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    100
    A technological triumph. [19 May 1980]
  9. Reviewed by: Chris Gore
    90
    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]
  10. Reviewed by: Bob Stephens
    88
    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]
  11. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    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]
  12. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    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.
  13. Reviewed by: Judith Martin
    60
    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.
  14. Reviewed by: Stephen Godfrey
    50
    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.
  15. It's a big, expensive, time-consuming, essentially mechanical operation.
  16. 40
    Mainly it's marking time: the characters take a definite backseat to the special effects, and much of the action seems gratuitous, leading nowhere.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 600 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 91 out of 94
  2. Negative: 2 out of 94
  1. Sep 24, 2011
    9
    Simply the best Star Wars movie created in the franchise. "The Empire Strikes Back" focuses not only on the graphics, but also a deep,Simply the best Star Wars movie created in the franchise. "The Empire Strikes Back" focuses not only on the graphics, but also a deep, profound story that pertains ready in movie quotes. Bravo!!! Full Review »
  2. Jul 25, 2011
    10
    The best Star Wars movie! It takes a movie that seemed to have perfect characters with perfect interaction face reality as the movie took aThe best Star Wars movie! It takes a movie that seemed to have perfect characters with perfect interaction face reality as the movie took a turn towards the dark side(excuse the pun). We get the most memorable faces of the franchise. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Han Solo, and even Yoda. This is where Star Wars went from being a fantasy story and became a story to be loved by those of all ages Full Review »
  3. Aug 9, 2011
    10
    This is one of the best films of all time. It's way darker than A New Hope and even more brilliant. Everything about it is genius. It'sThis is one of the best films of all time. It's way darker than A New Hope and even more brilliant. Everything about it is genius. It's thought-provoking, too. Not to mention "The Scene" near the end. Full Review »