Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 491 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Three years after the events of "Star Wars," Imperial forces continue to pursue the Rebels. After the Rebellion?s defeat on the ice planet Hoth, Luke journeys to the planet Dagobah to train with Jedi Master Yoda, who has lived in hiding since the fall of the Republic. In an attempt to convert Luke to the dark side, Darth Vader lures young Skywalker into a trap in the Cloud City of Bespin. In the midst of a fierce lightsaber duel with the Sith Lord, Luke faces a startling revelation. (20th Century Fox) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Technical virtuosity and entertainment ingenuity.
  2. 100
    It balances bloodshed with charm, spectacle with childlike glee. It's a near flawless movie of its kind.
  3. 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.
  4. Reviewed by: 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]
  5. Reviewed by: 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]
  6. Reviewed by: 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]
  7. 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.

See all 15 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 77 out of 79
  2. Negative: 1 out of 79
  1. MacM
    Feb 3, 2008
    This is Star Wars! An shining example of the best in Sci-fi/Fantasy film-making..A quite immersive film experience with lots of depth and feeling. You can really feel the danger that the Empire poses to the Rebellion here. George Lucas's saga definitely benefited from the screenplay and direction being outsourced..John Williams's score is superb and flows perfectly with the on-screen action. A wonderful film that is both fascinating and delightful. The trilogy is so legendary mainly from the strength of this film. The saga started to go downhill in Return of the Jedi, though that film still had some strong scenes. Expand
  2. Jul 25, 2011
    The 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 Collapse
  3. Mar 8, 2013
    The best Star Wars. Harrison Ford is great in this movie. The story, lightsaber battle, dialogue, special effects, and characters are all awesome. Review is done but i needed to more characters to post it. Expand
  4. May 28, 2012
    I don't consider it to be the best Star Wars but it is still among the best in the sci-fi genre. This Star Wars presents a lot of unanswered questions that are answered in episode VI. Its a ton of fun to watch. Expand
  5. Dec 6, 2013
    This is hailed as the best work of science fiction out there, if not the best ever. Star Wars becomes a more serious franchise with this instalment. Some time seems to have passed during which Han Solo and Luke Skywalker have grown as thick as thieves. They now look out for each other more fiercely.

    The conflict escalates as the empire assaults the rebels' new base, forcing them to flee. Luke along with his trusted squadron must engage the enemy while the civilians make their escape. A battle ensues in which Luke outsmarts several adversaries and then escapes himself. In the disorder, the three main characters are separated from the rest, and from each other. Luke embarks on a journey to learn to become a Jedi knight, an ancient order of knights that was mainly destroyed but still has one member from whom Luke must learn the trade. Darth Vader chases Leia and Han across the galaxy, anticipating their every move. Han and Leia, pursued by the Empire, seek to hide in an unusual place.

    We are introduced to a new character called Yoda, who teaches Luke everything he can to help him fulfil his destiny. We are also shown for the first time the face of the Emperor. A new city is introduced into the story that gets by on mining. It is there the climax of the movie takes place. A duel between our primary protagonist and antagonist takes place, culminating in a line of dialogue that has since its uttering fascinated fans for decades.

    Most of the alien creatures are in costume or mechanical, and are jittery at times. But the visual effects and set design seemed to improve the nearer we got to the end, especially when we get to see the Cloud City.

    Some of the elements distracted me from the story and prevented me from taking the movie seriously. All planets have atmospheres that humans, and every other being there is, can breathe in. Even in space, you can do without a helmet and suit but put on an oxygen mask just to be on the safe side. Mynocks, and one other creature, can live in outer space without the need for respiration. Lucas makes no attempt to show how this could be happening. His disdain for science becomes more apparent. At one point Luke lands on a planet that has snakes and lizards. If Star Wars takes place in a separate galaxy from the one Earth is in, how could our animals be a part of the ecosystem of this alien planet? Lucas should have stuck with his imaginary alien animals, no matter how ridiculous they looked, for the inclusion of earthly animals made me rethink the intro about this story taking place in some other galaxy.

    But you have to ignore serious debate about science fiction if you are to enjoy this film. Take it as you would any fantasy film. As this film expands upon the mythology of the franchise, it becomes clear that that is where Lucas had intended for us to take our thoughts, even if we are to swallow the whole notion of the Jedi and their supernatural abilities associated with the Force. The Force is a mysterious entity that often takes sides in a conflict and bestows power upon worthy individuals from time to time, but I can be wrong. Because there is Darth Vader to consider. Only Lucas would know the full answer, and he has chosen to use sparing words in order to keep the aura of mystery around it.

    The Empire Strikes Back is the most lauded instalment in the series, and rightly so. It has inspired and influenced many other works in the genre. For that reason it would forever remain in the minds of movie lovers. But if one is to consider it independent of its impact, and choose to scrutinize it with an eye to its value as a piece of art, it falls short in my opinion. Serious work involving logic and reason would always fascinate me more than an adventure tale where the story develops as you go along, and science can be sacrificed at every other turn for the benefit of entertainment.
  6. Feb 16, 2013
    Ok, it looks like I may be on my own here. and I love the star warts, but The Empire Strikes Back is definitely the worst one. It's set in space, but one of the planets has snow. Eh, there's no snow on other planets. That's a BIG mistake. Hand Solo and Luke Skywalker are apparently bessie mates but they don't spend any screen time together. That's a bit like watching a Lethal Weapon movie, but while Riggs is out shooting criminals, Murtagh stays in the office filing paperwork. Then it turns into a romance movie for Hand Solo while Skywalker learns to be a Jedi from a little green boy. Then it all culminates in a sword fight and a BIG REVEAL that we already knew from episode 3, two movies earlier. What a mess. A big step down from The Star Wars Holiday Special. Expand

See all 79 User Reviews


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