I find when writing about Star Wars, all my tenses get mixed up. The first released trilogy came before the first three episodes and now we're getting not only sequential "sequels" but parallel stories too. Who knows where it will end? After the brash, joyous first (or fourth) Star Wars movie came the second (or fifth) instalment, The Empire Strikes Back. Coming three years after "A New Hope", Empire was a darker, perhaps more downbeat tale both in tone and sentiment. For me, this is/was the best of the the films so far just edging the previous instalment in a number of areas. It continued the plot in a credible and exciting way, developing the characters we had met before and introducing some noteworthy new ones. In particular we got the first screen appearance of the Emperor and the wonderfully realised Yoda. This little, loveable, wise character is imbued with such character and life that you really do forget that he is a puppet. Everything works about him and sadly, in his future (and past) appearances, he never really worked quite as well again. Frank Oz gave him not an instantly recognisable and easily imitated voice and also managed to create a personality that was recognisably human and heartwarming. Some of the action sequences in Empire are just superb. For me, the stand out scene is the sight of the Imperial Walkers attacking the rebel base on Hoth. I remember well seeing the sight of those immense, walking AT-ATs on the big screen as a child and being thrilled. It's a scene that still fills me with a sense of excitement and I don't think has really been equalled for scale and spectacle. The established cast return to their characters, noticeably older and more assured in their performances. On-screen, the three leads bounce off each other well creating a real chemistry between the characters. There is a doom laden air to the action and it all builds up to the cliffhanger ending nicely. Every aspect of The Empire Strikes Back works brilliantly and it still gives me just as much a of thrill to watch it now as it did back in 1980.