Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Critics Consensus

Dark, sinister, but ultimately even more involving than A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back defies viewer expectations and takes the series to heightened emotional levels.



Total Count: 97


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,054,934
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Movie Info

The second entry in George Lucas' Star Wars trilogy finds Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), the green-as-grass hero from the first film, now a seasoned space warrior. Luke's Star Wars cohorts Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) are likewise more experienced in the ways and means of battling the insidious Empire, as represented by the brooding Darth Vader (body of David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones). And, of course, "The Force," personified by the ghost of Luke's mentor Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness), is with them all. Retreating from Vader's minions, Luke ends up, at first, on the Ice Planet Hoth, and then the tropical Dagobah. Here he makes the acquaintance of the gnomish Yoda (voice of Frank Oz), whose all-encompassing wisdom comes in handy during the serial-like perils of the rest of the film. Before the film's open-ended climax, we are introduced to the apparently duplicitous Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and are let in on a secret that profoundly affects both Luke and his arch-enemy, Vader. Many viewers consider this award-winning film the best of the Star Wars movies, and its special-effects bonanza was pure gold at the box office.

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Mark Hamill
as Luke Skywalker
Harrison Ford
as Han Solo
Carrie Fisher
as Princess Leia Organa
Alec Guinness
as Ben `Obi-Wan' Kenobi
David Prowse
as Darth Vader
Billy Dee Williams
as Lando Calrissian
Peter Mayhew
as Chewbacca
James Earl Jones
as Darth Vader
Jeremy Bulloch
as Boba Fett
John Hollis
as Lobot, Lando's Aide
Jack Purvis
as Chief Ugnaught
Des Webb
as Wampa Snow Creature
Kathryn Mullen
as Performing Asst. for Yoda
Clive Revill
as The Emperor
Kenneth Colley
as Admiral Piett
Julian Glover
as Gen. Veers
Michael Sheard
as Admiral Ozzel
Michael Culver
as Capt. Needa
John Dicks
as Other Imperial Officer
Milton Johns
as Other Imperial Officer
Mark Jones
as Other Imperial Officer
Oliver Maguire
as Other Imperial Officer
Bruce Boa
as Gen. Rieekan
Denis Lawson
as Wedge (Rogue 3)
Richard Oldfield
as Hobbie, Rogue 4
John Morton
as Dak, Luke's Gunner
Ian Liston
as Janson, Wedge's Gunner
John Ratzenberger
as Maj. Derlin
Jack McKenzie
as Deck Lieutenant
Jerry Harte
as Head Controller
Norman Chancer
as Other Rebel Officer
Norwich Duff
as Other Rebel Officer
Ray Hassett
as Other Rebel Officer
Brigitte Kahn
as Other Rebel Officer
Burnell Tucker
as Revel Officer
Ralph McQuarrie
as General McQuarrie
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News & Interviews for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Critic Reviews for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

All Critics (97) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (92) | Rotten (5)

  • The Empire Strikes Back Displays the same soaring imagination that made Star Wars a filmmaking classic; most other space movies seem clunky and earthbound in comparison.

    Jul 17, 2019 | Full Review…
  • This is a respectable sequel to Star Wars but not as good.

    Apr 27, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The Empire Strikes Back is the ultimate in fantasies, a visual wonder and a movie that should be recommended highly if only because it makes you feel good.

    Dec 15, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Despite a couple of drawbacks, the Empire Strikes Back is an immense amount of fun -- big and splashy and breathtaking in its display of cinematic genius by a huge group of marvelously talented people.

    Dec 14, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Another richly imaginative, engrossing and spectacular motion picture from the redoubtable George Lucas.

    Jun 29, 2015 | Full Review…
  • The Empire may not top Star Wars, but it certainly makes one look forward to whatever new surprises George Lucas and his band of cinematic wizards can conjure up for us.

    Jun 29, 2015 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

  • Jun 22, 2016
    Proof that if George Lucas wants his intellectual property to grow and flourish, he should lay the ground work and then take a step back and let it develop on its own. This is evident in the leap in story depth and character development from A New Hope to Empire Strikes Back. Maybe he should have let someone else take over screenplay writing and directing after Phantom Menace. This film really does get deeper into the characters and is definitely the best film in the first trilogy. Sets are extraordinary and Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian (aka the only black guy in George Lucas's universe) was excellent. They ended the film in a perfect place making the audience crave to know what happens next. The film gives us a chance to grow even more with the characters from A New Hope and has a massive reveal toward the end (at least to those that saw it in the 80s).
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2016
    A masterful film on almost every level, The Empire Strikes Back is not only ambitious in it's undertakings and more emotionally in it's storyline, but it's also an amazingly crafted and stunningly perfect movie that encapsulates everything that is good about the franchise.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 05, 2016
    By far the best of the Star Wars saga. The Empire Strikes Back is a deeper take than A New Hope and has one of the most iconic moments in cinema history. Two Thumbs up!
    Mr N Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2016
    What a marvelous piece of work is "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980). The Rebel forces who are fighting the evil Galactic Empire have destroyed the Death Star, the planet-shaped mechanism that had the capability to blow up planets. And now the Rebels are stationed on a snowy planet, planning their next attack. Young Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has become both a strong presence in the Rebel alliance, and he is also learning to harness the powers of the Force, the energy which binds all things together and which, if used positively, can unleash unseen powers for its wielder. In order to do this, he makes his way to Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), the last remaining Jedi Knight, for special training. The film eventually climaxes in a major confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). This film has been out for 36 years so most people know the big reveal, but still I won't say, supposing you haven't seen it. Suffice it to say, the revelation creates a new sort of conflict in our hero Skywalker that we won't see resolved until the next film. "The Empire Strikes Back" is truly the best film of the original trilogy, and the best film of all the Star Wars films by far. The only film that rivals it is the new film "The Force Awakens" (2015).
    Billie P Super Reviewer

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