Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
“The Empire Strikes Back” is a worthy sequel to Star Wars, equal in both technical mastery and characterization, suffering only from the familiarity with the effects generated in the original and imitated too much by others. Only box office question is how many earthly trucks it will take to carry the cash to the bank.
There is good news, bad news and no news about “Return of the Jedi.” The good news is that George Lucas and Co. have perfected the technical magic to a point where almost anything and everything — no matter how bizarre — is believable. The bad news is the human dramatic dimensions have been sorely sacrificed. The no news is the picture will take in millions regardless of the pluses and minuses.
As the most widely anticipated and heavily hyped film of modern times, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” can scarcely help being a letdown on some levels, but it’s too bad that it disappoints on so many.
The Force is back — along with fun and excitement, as well as the bonus of romance — in “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” George Lucas has reached deep into the trove of his self-generated mythological world to produce a grand entertainment that offers a satisfying balance among the series’ epic, narrative, technological and emotional qualities.
The Force returns with most of its original power regained. Concluding entry in George Lucas’ second three-pack of space epics teems with action, drama and spectacle, and even supplies the odd surge of emotion, as young Anakin Skywalker goes over to the Dark Side and the stage is set for the generation of stories launched by the original “Star Wars” 28 years ago. Whatever one thought of the previous two installments, this dynamic picture irons out most of the problems, and emerges as the best in the overall series since “The Empire Strikes Back.” Stratospheric B.O. is a given.
Surely, all “Star Wars” fans hope each new installment will be the best ever. But in the case of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” that seemed like an actual possibility. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, a Sundance alum who established his serious-filmmaker bona fides with his 2005 indie debut, “Brick,” before graduating to young Christopher Nolan territory via the relatively big-budget sci-fi movie “Looper,” Episode VIII seemed to have everything going for it.