STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Revisited - Looking Back At 5 Things That Worked And 5 That Didn't

We've finally reached The Empire Strikes Back in our look back at the Star Wars franchise, but which moments in this iconic movie worked...and which arguably failed to live up to those classic scenes?

Features Opinion

The Star Wars franchise returned to the big screen in 2015 with The Force Awakens, though this Galaxy Far, Far Away has since found greater success on television than in theaters. The future of the franchise on the big screen now feels somewhat uncertain, though a handful of projects are in various stages of development. 

None of them have definitive release dates, unfortunately, and it seems Lucasfilm is currently on expanding this franchise through Disney+ instead (which has proved to be no bad thing thus far).

To fill that Star Wars shaped void in your lives, we're now taking a look back at the Skywalker Saga, and after delving into The Phantom MenaceAttack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith earlier this year, we're heading even deeper into the classic original trilogy. We've touched on A New Hope already, but it's time to take a closer look at arguably one of the greatest movies of all-time: The Empire Strikes Back.

Honestly, saying anything bad about this one just feels wrong, but there were definitely moments which didn't quite work.So, to check  this breakdown out, all you guys need to do is click the "Next" button below...

Did Work: Boba Fett's Introduction

Bounty

Who could have guessed that Boba Fett’s fleeting appearance in The Empire Strikes Back would turn him into the icon he’s since become? After showing up in a retrofitted blink and you’ll miss it cameo in A New Hope, and then in the line up of Bounty Hunters you see above, Boba and Slave I may have taken on a larger role in the final act, but he still only had a line of two. 

As a result, Fett's role here can only really be classified as a minor one in the grand scheme of things, but The Empire Strikes Back still did a great job of making sure he came across as a complete badass, hence why it shouldn’t come as a surprise he’s been embraced by fandom in such a big way.

Just thinking about the bounty hunter is getting us psyched for his return in The Mandalorian...

Didn't Work: Luke's Jedi Training

Yoda

To say Luke’s training to become a Jedi was underwhelming would be something of an understatement. While there was nothing fundamentally wrong with it all (it certainly doesn’t damage the movie in a significant or long lasting way), his time with Yoda on Dagobah could and should have been handled better. For starters, the whole thing just took place over far too short a period.

Luke leaving before his training was completed obviously played a big part in the final act, but it felt like he was only really on Dagobah for maybe a day or two! Throw in the fact that his training seemed to boil down to running around the forest and working on his concentration, and this whole sequence just didn’t impress or pan out anywhere near as well as it should have.

If this is all it takes to become a Jedi, it feels like pretty much anyone could do it, and this also made his sudden transformation to Jedi Knight in the next film feel very disjointed and forced. 

Did Work: "I Know"

Solo

One of the most iconic moments in Star Wars history, this scene works on a number of levels.

The fact that Han Solo was actually taken prisoner by the Empire was a huge moment here as the movie took this fan-favourite hero off the table and left his fate uncertain. That’s a ballsy move, and one which no doubt had fans at the time completely on tenterhooks until the second Return of the Jedi was released.

This tense and anguish filled scene is topped off with the long overdue reveal from Princess Leia that she does indeed love the roguish space pirate, something he responds to in typical fashion with, "I know." That’s the kind of thing that makes Han a great character, and this beautifully shot scene plays out perfectly.

Didn't Work: More Threepio "Comedy"

Threepio

We're sorry to single out C-3PO yet again in one of these recaps, but his role in The Empire Strikes is hard to stomach, and if there’s one thing the movie never really needed, it’s comedic relief.

Threepio being hauled around on Chewbacca’s back may have made for a fun piece of imagery, but a little too much time was devoted to this "subplot," and of all the things which should have been used to split up the final lightsaber battle – which was amazing from start to finish – this probably shouldn’t have been it.

The droids of Star Wars have often been used for the franchise’s lighter moments, but with a movie like this one (the darkest of the lot), it felt forced and out of place, hence why it stands out as a weak point.

Did Work: The Millennium Falcon's Escape

Crew

Arguably one of the most white knuckle, edge of your seat moments in the entire Star Wars franchise came when the Millennium Falcon made its way through that asteroid field with the Empire in hot pursuit. This sequence was a great way to prop up the arguably much weaker moments spent on Dagobah with Luke and Yoda.

The fact that things got even more perilous when the heroes had to escape from a giant creature on one of those asteroids was an unexpected treat, and led to an iconic escape sequence. 

So too was the genius way that Han managed to escape the Empire by pretending to be, well, garbage (much to Princess Leia’s obvious delight), and the later reveal that Slave I was tailing this band of heroes was a great tease which paid off wonderfully a little later on in the movie.

Didn't Work: The Apparent Non-Ending

Ending

Honestly, we don't have a huge issue with the way The Empire Strikes Back wraps up, but it's easy enough to see where a filmmaker like Joss Whedon was coming from a few years back when he pointed out that the movie doesn’t technically have an ending.

There’s very little in the way of resolution to some of the its main plot threads, with the fate of many characters left totally up in the air and the audience forced to wait until Return of the Jedi to see them resolved. Perhaps that was to be expected with a middle chapter, but it's still a weak point in many ways and makes it harder to appreciate the film as a standalone feature. 

This is a minor niggle, but one which has definitely stood out to a lot of fans over the years. 

Did Work: The Battle Of Hoth

Hoth

Even all these years later, this remains one of the greatest battle sequences in cinematic history. The most amazing thing, of course, is the fact that this opened the movie; it could have just as easily been used for the final act to end The Empire Strikes Back...it's just that damn epic. 

The massive AT-AT Walkers were, and still are, a sight to behold, and the excitement surrounding their march toward the shield generator as Han and company struggle to get the Millennium Falcon flying is huge. Throw in the sight of the Snowspeeders swooping around the legs of them and Luke utilising his lightsaber to take one down and everything just comes together perfectly.

It says a lot that none of the new movies - not even Rogue One - have been able to top this sequence. 

Didn't Work: Luke's New Hand

Hand

It's hard to find much wrong with The Empire Strikes Back if we're being honest, and it’s not the hand which is specifically the issue here, but more the fact that The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t give us anywhere near enough time to digest the reveal that Dark Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.

Almost immediately after he’s rescued, Vader is trying to capture him again and Luke is already addressing him as "Father" having been given only minutes to digest that shocking reveal.

Once the Millennium Falcon escapes, we see that Luke already has a new hand, yet another sign that what happened earlier has had little in the way of lasting implications. It all feels too rushed, and almost as if George Lucas couldn't quite decide the best way to conclude this middle chapter.

Did Work: "I Am Your Father"

Father

Undoubtedly one of the best movie twists to ever grace the silver screen (even if you had this spoiled before watching, then it more than likely had a lasting impact on you as a Star Wars fan), the moment when Darth Vader reveals that he’s Luke Skywalker’s father is jaw-dropping.

The ramifications of this scene meant that the franchise was shaken up in the most dramatic way possible; the movie’s villain – who had previously been very frightening, but somewhat one dimensional – being outed as the hero’s dad made everything more personal and left moviegoers with a very long list of questions.

Unfortunately, most of those were answered unsatisfyingly in the prequels, but that still takes nothing away from this shocking moment, and there's a reason it's still frequently discussed today.

Didn't Work: Showing A Little Too Much Of Darth Vader

Head

When Darth Vader unmasks in The Empire Strikes Back, we catch only a glimpse of what lies beneath the villain’s helmet. It’s an intriguing, exciting moment, but also one where it's hard to escape the feeling that it should have been left a mystery. It was, however, an intriguing tease which served to make the ultimate reveal of his face all the more shocking and anticipated.

Of course, a different unmasking takes place later on during Luke’s training as he strikes a hallucination of Vader down and sees his own face within the remains of the helmet. Likely meant as a way of signifying that Luke could turn to the Dark Side, having his face inside was still more than a little silly; were we supposed to think he’s take Vader’s place and start wearing his suit?

Admittedly, this is definitely a nitpick, but it's one worth highlighting (even if, uh, it did mostly work). 

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