I know people may wonder after what I've said about the original trilogy how can I then rate Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back 5 stars. There are many reasons. There is the introduction of two great characters in Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian. Also there is the much darker tone, but I'll get to them in my review. To put it simply there are two reasons. One is the sentimental reason. Even as a child I loved this film the best of all the Star Wars films. It's kind of strange because the bad guys essentially won. That just shows how good the film was because even with the dark side basically winning the film was still great, and that leads to the other reason. The Empire Strikes Back is simply a great film. I think that is what all Star Wars films and regular movie fans can agree on that Strikes Back was the absolute best of the original Trilogy.
Unless you were living in a cave or were in a coma for the last thirty two years then you should know the plot of the film and the spoilers I'm going to reveal here that's why I'm haven't given any warning. The plot follows Han, Luke and the gang are while they are on the ice planet of Hoth hiding from the Empire. Darth Vader and the Empire find them and attack. The rebels flee with Luke going in search of Yoda (Frank Oz) while Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO evade the Empire and head to Cloud City where Han's friend Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) is. The Empire has gotten there first which is the first of two plot holes. How did the Empire get to Cloud City before Han did? I know Fett could have told them, but I don't think the Vader or the fleet realized he left. The second Vader talks about using the suspended animation tube on Luke, but how did he know that he would or when he would. I know the force is a mysterious thing, but I found that strange. Still I let go of the two small complaints I had and enjoyed the film. Han used as a test experiment for the suspended animation machine that Darth Vader plans to use on Luke. Luke shows up and fights fader while Leia, Lando and the gang try to rescue Han, but fail. Luke ends up getting his hand cut off and SPOILER ALERT Vader reveals that he is Luke's father. The plot is really by Lucas. I know people have complaints about his directing ability, but the man is a really good writer. He's only written for one bad film Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Then tone of the story was much darker than A New Hope which really added to the story and the film.
Strikes back is a great for many reasons including introducing and pushing characters to becoming so memorable. First there is Boba Fett. He's only in two films, but to many fans of the Star Wars Trilogy he is one of the most beloved. I loved the character. I know he's a bad guy, but I just thought he was and is so cool and bad ass. I mean he doesn't have nearly as much screen time as the rest of the cast, but he outshines many of them. On a side note I also loved how Family Guy made him the chicken. I thought it was the perfect role for him. Then there is Billy Dee Williams who brought coolness to Lando. I don't how anyone else could have played Lando the way Billy Dee did. Han Solo played by Harrison Ford reached new heights of greatness with perhaps his best line. Leia says "I love you." Han says "I know." It was great and truly embodied who Han was though I kind now wish he would have said what Peter Griffin said as Han. Peter said "Fuck Off." That was hilarious and just plain awesome.
The acting of the film was much better than A New Hope. Mark Hamill showed major improvement from the first film. Still even with the improvement in acting and growth in character Luke Skywalker is still the least likeable of the main cast. Carrie Fisher also greatly improved as Princess Leia. Frank Oz did a wondrous job as the voice of Yoda, and Peter Mayhew really brought depth to Chewbacca showing the characters friendship and loyalty to Han. Still if there was on character/actor or stole the show it would be Harrison Ford (Han Solo). The trilogy in my opinion was really more his film as an actor and character then it was Mark/Luke's. The trilogy showed mirrored Han's growth as a character to Harrison's growth as an actor. These films would lead him to the Indian Jones series and Blade Runner which would truly cement his tract to superstardom in the 1980's and 1990's.
With the huge success of A New Hope Lucas could up the budget of Strikes Back and remain mostly independent from the major Hollywood studios. The effects in The Empire Strikes Back were much better including the battle on Hoth, the Imperial fleet and the fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Lucas chose not to direct Strikes back and instead went with Irvin Kershner. I know haters of Lucas will say that's the reason The Empire Strikes back was so good, but I don't think so. I mean look at Kershner directorial list. He wasn't at the time a good director and even now I don't think people would call him a good director. The film was so good because of Lucas's writing, the acting and characters, and the special effects, action and darker tone. Everyone needs to stop bashing Lucas. He's a great idea's man, and writer and a pretty good director. He's nothing special, but he's better than everyone's saying he is.
Overall The Empire Strikes back is an excellent film with great awesome characters and great acting along with really good special effects and action. The directing is also well done. Is it the best Star Wars film? That's hard for me to say. I loved The Revenge of the Sith as well and it's also in the top 50 of my IMDb list of Top 100 films of all time. I flip them around my times and give different answers at different times. Right now thinking about it I say yes The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars film, but in all honest it's in a virtual tie with The Revenge of the Sith. Those two are the two absolute best Star Wars films. Heck I don't think you have to see the other four films to love these two that's how great these two films are. I'll go into more detail about Revenge of the Sith with my review later. Anyway The Empire Strikes Back is a special film that truly put the Star Wars Trilogy on the map. Next up is my review of Return of the Jedi which I'm sure people won't be happy with.