For more than one generation of cinema-goers, the original "Star Wars" trilogy occupies an iconic place as one of those cinematic events of childhood from which one never fully recovers.
But while everyone remembers enjoying the films as children, only one part of the series actually improves with age, and that is "The Empire Strikes Back".
When the Empire attack the rebel forces on the ice planet of Hoth, the Millennium Falcon escapes with Han, Leia, C-3PO, and Chewbacca aboard. They seek refuge in the Cloud City of Bespin. Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 have flown to Dagobah to seek a Jedi master. But when Luke realises that his friends are flying into a trap, he decides he must go to their aid.
No expense has been spared on the special effects, and the action sequences are truly astonishing - the 1997 special edition extras for once add to the experience. And the plot, although slight, is well paced and affecting.
Because "Empire" is the central part of the trilogy it is freed from having to seek an easy resolution, and the whole film benefits as a result. Han Solo's true heroism is not best explored in blaster battles, but in his reactions to carbonite freezing. Luke comes most clearly into focus when his terrible destiny is made clear to him, and in the process Darth Vader is transformed from a caricature villain into a terrifyingly dark, but human creature.
By far the best part of the trilogy, "Empire" is a classic that completely transcends its genre, with a reputation that can only grow and grow.
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