What makes THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK so great? Why is it the favorite among the majority of Star Wars fans? It can't just be because of Boba Fett can it? I mean come on, how bad ass can the guy really be? He fell into a pit and died at the beginning of RETURN OF THE JEDI.
I'm just kidding. Boba Fett is cool, don't worry. But seriously, what makes Episode VI so great? The simple answer is that the film delivered on fan expectation. Everything about the sequel is bigger and better. It has a bigger budget, better special effects, excellent script, and good direction. All these elements distract the audience that the film itself has a weak plot. The plot of the film is simply Darth Vader hunting down Luke Skywalker and the Rebellion.
The film opens with a bang. The Hoth sequence rivals the Battle of Yavin from the first film. And what's really cool about the Hoth ground assault scene is that it happens at the beginning of the film. 99% of the time a sequence like this is always at the end of the film. I believe there are two reasons for this; Lucas wanted to give audiences something to rival the climax of STAR WARS right off the bat, and the second reason is Lucas is again playing with conventions and audience expectations.
The film doesn't slow down because next our heroes split up. A first for a Star Wars movie. Luke takes a detour from the Rebellion rendezvous to visit Yoda, the Jedi master. And Han and Leia would like to meet up at the rendezvous but are having a hard time shaking off the relentless Empire.
Watching the movie for the first time I loved Yoda. For the longest time he was my favorite character. As a teenager the scenes on Dagobah bored me because of a whinny Luke Skywalker. With the exception of one scene. And that's Yoda lifting the X-Wing from the swamp. That scene will always be an all time favorite of mine in the Saga.
I always wanted to get back to the relentless pursuit of Millennium Falcon. The tension still holds up today! Darth Vader killing officers left and right, the asteroid field, and the bounty hunters. What a movie!
The bounty hunters must have left a huge impression on me because I believe I had pretty much every toy related to those iconic characters. Boba Fett's ship, Slave-1 was my favorite toy second to the Millennium Falcon. And I'll never forget my oldest cousin giving me his mail away action figure of Boba Fett. My cousins are some of the nicest people I know.
It wasn't until RETURN OF THE JEDI that the big twist at the end of Episode VI had any real impact on me. The only thing I remember is being scared and I thought Luke was going to die. Pretty dark and deep material for someone who hasn't even started kindergarten yet.
But for the past 15 – 20 years that lightsaber duel at the end of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is my second favorite duel in the series!
From start to finish the film is just a masterpiece of genre cinema. While the first film is art out of adversity, it's clear that the money is on the screen for the sequel. While still having a budget, it's obvious Lucas spared no expense.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the best Star Wars movie. And THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the greatest film ever made!