12. 'Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back'
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The darkest and best of all the "Star Wars" movies, "Empire" benefits from
the majestic direction of Irvin Kershner and the storytelling magic of
co-screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. From the icy environs of
Hoth to the swamp world of Dagobah to the ethereal Cloud City, this sci-fi epic
is rich with imagination, not to mention intergalactic high drama as Darth Vader
and the Empire relentlessly storm after Han Solo, Princess Leia and company
while Luke Skywalker disappears to undergo Jedi training with the diminutive
Yoda, whose philosophical musings actually make for damn good life advice.
(Voice artist Frank Oz's unusual phrasing is like geek lingo in itself now.)
What the myriad clones that followed in the wake of the "Star Wars"
revolution did not understand was that awesome effects, sweeping sets and
rip-roaring battles mean nothing without endearing characters and memorable
dialogue, and "Empire" has them in spades. It also has a brisk pace that
predated modern action movies where everything is going a mile a minute, but
punctuated here with the right amount of reflection. The climactic light saber
battle, with its revelation that stunned a generation, is fantasy nirvana, and
without a single punch being thrown.
Bing: Watch scenes from 'The Empire Strikes Back'
I'm not sure how I feel about a new "Star Wars" movie with Luke, Leia and Han
coming back (no offense to Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford).
Especially with "Empire" being the standard bearer. Then again, I can always
just watch this one again. And again. — Bryan Reesman
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(Mark Hamill in "Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes
Back"/Lucasfilm Ltd./courtesy Everett Collection)